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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 24, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Stormy Yule best one yet By LILA BENNETT SPENCER My father was funny about Christmas. He didn't believe m long range planning. He seemed to think that Christmas Eve lost its magic without the rush and excitement of last minute shopping. I think he must have done some thinking beforehand. He sometimes looked over our shoulders as we dreamed over the mail order catalogues and painstakingly penned our letters to Santa. It was as if he wanted his Christmas fun all in one big lump. My mother humored him in this. She quietly made her own plans and preparations. She saw that the fruit cake was made and aging and that all the cookie jars were full. She had chosen which two of our roosters were to grace our Christmas feast. During those depression years turkey was unknown to our young palates. Every year late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve she and Dad would drive the short distance from our farm to the sotres in the nearby town, and they did not return until we were all asleep. Christmas morning found our stockings lumpy with sur- prises, and there was always an exciting array on the big table, or under the tree if we were lucky enough that year to have a tree. But the year I was 11, Christmas nearly missed our house. On that December 24 my father announced at 8 a.m. he and the older boys would have to go out to the dry farm to check on the cattle wintering there, and they drove off in the sleigh right after breakfast. When they hadn't returned in the forenoon and our battery radio between crackles of static was predicting storm con- ditions, Mother became anxious. Just before lunch I saw her having a whispered talk with iny youngest brother, a boy of fifteen. Wearing a conspiratorial grin he bundled up and crept out the back door. A few minutes later I heard the sound of sawing coming from the unheated workshop. About every half hour he came in to warm his blue fingers over the kitchen range, his eyes still twinkling secretively. Dad and the boys weren't home at noon. Mother made us scrambled eggs and we ate quickly; none of us felt like talking. Right after the meal my brother disappeared to the workshop again, and after assigning kitchen cleanup to me, and putting my sister down for a nap, Mother returned to her bedroom. Later on, her sewing done, she helped us make popcorn balls, peanut brittle and pull taffy. We took turns trying to see out the window that was thickly spattered with new snow, but there was no sign of the sleigh. The storm set in in earnest and it was dusk when we finally heard their arrival. They came stamping into the entry, shaking the heavy snow off their mackinaws and fur lined caps, announcing loudly, "We're starving'" Mother rushed to prepare something hot and filling. Will Santa Claus get my little sister asked. Mother and Dad exchanged looks. "Oh, I think so." At first light we raced to the living room. Not only were our socks fat with candy, nuts, apples and oranges, but gifts were heaped high. There was a little table and two benches, smelling sweetly of new lumber, waiting for the set of tin dishes and cutlery that Santa brought. Our last year's dolls had new pinafore frocks and little coats with fur collars, matching fur hats and muffs. Dressed in their new finery they rivalled the charms of my sister's new baby doll and my rather smug looking beauty with ringlets the color of my own nutbrown hair it's Chfrtnesf The world is bright and gaily decked Christmas has corne. Spend it in joy and in peace. From the Management and Staff of C A SHEET METAL LTD. 1709-2nd Ave. So. Phone 328-5973 Merry Christmas the spirit of the season we hope everybody has the happiest of holidays wherever you spend it! Your kind patronage is appreciated. A Sincere "THANKS" to Our Many Loyal Patrons From JERRY HISAOKA and STAFF ALCAN SERVICE STATION 1313 Mayor Magrath Drive Phone 328-2728 Jessica shifted the shoulder strap of her purse and balanced her parcels on the edge of the counter as she waited for the clerk to help the two old ladies rearrange the packages in their shopping bags. When they moved on, Jessica said, "Could you show me where the special Christmas cards are, please? I'm on my lunch break and haven't much time. I'm looking for a card for a good friend." The clerk moved aside stacked boxes of ribbon that blocked the view of a tier of cards and flipped through some of them. "Another half hour to my break! Did you see those two 'oldies'? You don't know what they can do to a busy I know, Jessica thought. The short plump one had even looked like Mrs. Walkerton back at the apartment. "What a hectic the clerk said. "Sale on Christmas wrap you know. Say, here's a nice one. 'To My Sweetheart' Jessica shook her head. "No, not that kind of friend. And the words should mean something. Look at this one pretty front and nothing but 'Holiday Greetings' inside." The two "oldies" approached again, looking undecided. The one that resembled Mrs. Walkerton stirred the Christmas wrap into an untidy heap, comparing it to what they had just bought as they whispered and nodded to each other. They left again. The clerk sighed. "Do you know that they took twenty minutes to buy an 89 cent package of wrap! Fuss- ing all the time like sparrows. The one didn't like red santas on a blue background and the other Twen- ty minutes for an 89 cent No offence to you, miss." Mrs. Walkerton fussed like a busy sparrow too, Jessica thought. It was something of a joke at the apart- ment as to who could arrive home from work and manage to slip by her door without being waylayed. It wasn't easy because Mrs. Walkerton made sure her door stood ajar with her easy chair in strategic position. If you didn't go in and sit awhile, she followed you into the hallway, showing you some old yellowed pic- ture or telling you about the latest development on The Edge of Night. And woe to anyone who was home sick for a day. Almost before you had time to phone your boss, Mrs. Walkerton was there with jars and bottles and spoons and blankets, not By FRIEDA DEKKER to mention stories of what dis- astrous after effects your same ill- ness had left with her Uncle Fred. Everyone agreed that in self defence it was absolutely necessary to get back to work as fast as possible. In fact, they said, they were probably the healthiest group of apartment dwellers in the entire city! Mrs. Walkerton quoted often and at length from her many lady friends but no one saw them. Ob- viously she carefully allocated them to afternoon visits only so that she could give her loyal and undivided attention to apartment affairs from five o'clock onward. Maizie and Beth in Apartment 3 planned to ask her if she had ever thought about the lovely rooms in that new high-rise for senior citi- zens but, after reconsideration, decided it was hardly an appropriate comment while their mouths were full of Mrs. Walkerton's shortbread. Mr. Burgess, the new man on the second floor, said angrily that he was going to have a word with the landlord, after Mrs. Walkerton had offered him her best headache remedy following his very late and very noisy return home the evening before. But as Maizie and Beth pointed out, what could you really say about a headache remedy? Not as much as the landlord might have to say to the owner of the headache! Mind you, they suggested, wouldn't it be a good idea to assign a different person every week-end to keep Mrs. Walkerton occupied and diverted from the activities of the rest. After all, what had they left home for if it wasn't a little privacy. It was in Jessica's apartment that the three of them had, amid much laughter (subdued because after all she was right next drafted a long list of excuses to counteract Mrs. Walkerton's daily entreaties to "come in and sit awhile, dear." Once she'd even left an invitation to a "party" tucked under each door, written with neat small squarish letters, with just a trace of wavering lines that hinted of an ag- ing hand. "No Geritol parties for Beth said, and got Maizie's boy friend to arrange an extra date, while Jessica pleaded office overtime. One needed a good supply of spur of the moment excuses, from "I have to wash my hair" to "I promis- ed Aunt Dorothy I'd write." This last one Mrs. Walkerton always understood and Beth had a whole raft of relatives for this pur- pose, any one of whom would have been delighted but immensely sur- prised to hear from her. Maizie said, "why doesn't she invite her afternoon lady friends down in the evening and stop bothering us. Just wait it's going to get worse at Christmas And it did. Every afternoon at five Mrs. Walkerton hovered in the hallway. "My what interesting parcels. What did you buy Or, "You just have to come in and look at my little tree." And, "How many cards did the postman leave for you today, Jessica. I just don't know where to set all of mine. I'm running out of room." By now her fingers would be clos- ing gently but surely on your wrist. "Where will you be spending Christmas, dear? Wouldn't it be fun if we could spend it all together here at the apartment. Or maybe we could have a Christmas party. You didn't get to my last party, you know." It was last night, after the third excuse, Jessica had hesitated at the old lady's door. Mrs. Walkerton's arms flapped bird like to her side as she bustled out of her room and clasped Jessica's hands. From down the hall-way, notably in the area of Apartment 3, came a muffled hiss of "He who hesitates is "Now, Jessica, you haven't even had a piece of my Christmas shortbread. You just come on Jessica sighed and followed her. A small oft used artificial tree stood perched on a doilied end table. There were cards everywhere, on the TV set and hung on a string across the window and propped up in rows across a dresser top. She glanced at them idly as Mrs. Walkerton set out the shortbread on a fancy plate. There was something oddly familiar about them, Jessica thought, even though the names were strange to her. Suddenly she knew. Each message and name was written in small neat squarish letters, with just a trace of wavering lines that showed an old tired hand "Say would this card the clerk asked. "Expensive, but real nice verse "The cost doesn't Jessica said. "It's for a special friend." Tuetday, December 24, 1974 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Molasses and meai made Christmas By LILA BENNETT SPENCER Times were hard. They had immigrated to Canada summer, travelling the 800 miles in covered wagons from beautiful valley home to the sagebrush plains The makeshift buildings in the town had sprung up almost over like mushrooms on the bald prairie. They had made a d' home in the side of a hill of one thickness of lumber wit paper nailed down on the outside with strips of boards. Provisions were getting scarce for they had almob hausted the supplies they had brought with them. There was a small store which offered necessities and dubious luxuries like jam that came in wooden pails and t like wood, stale butter in large tubs, and chocolate candj the consistency and flavor of rubber. Family finances were so low that often the children wi bed still hungry. Their Sunday dessert was sugar and syrup poured on slices of homemade bread As Christmas approached the pioneer mother made She had unravelled an old sweater of Will's and made 1 mittens and socks for each child. Late at night she bent over her sewing, and worked h dim kerosene light to fashion new dresses from scraps f( little girls rag dolls. Louisa, her ten year old daughter, sat by her side, brc rags to make mats to go beside each bed so that bare feet< have something cozy to step on first thing on chilly morr She wished her children had warm footwear, but Alvi eldest, using his imagination, had wrapped his boots with i sacks, and declared that when the sacking got wet and fn kept his feet really warm. It would be lovely if their Christmas dinner cou special Alvin had worked for a neighbor and for payrner brought home half a milk pail of potatoes She had saved an onion, and with it she could make a sage stuffing. Perhaps a boiled molasses pudding woulc treat, even though the children were sick of the tai blackstrap molasses. If only they had some meat' The boys had laid traps b- not caught any rabbits. Manna from heaven The weather stayed mild. On Christmas Eve one o children came running in, "Mamma, come outside and st the prairie chickens." She wiped her hands on her aproi throwing a shawl over her shoulders hurried outside The child was right dozens of prairie chickens were fields, and they seemed so tame. She heard a snapping and looked toward the watering trough where her husband with his team He had a board in his hand and she saw him over and pick up something from the ground "Em, look at he called, and came towards her hole dead prairie chicken. "It was perched on the horse's back hit it Here's meat for our Christmas dinner." "Just like manna from his wife added What a feast they had! There was fluffy mashed pot< prairie chicken baked to a turn, sage dressing, and lovely gravy Even the mollasses pudding tasted better than u: After dinner, the children played outdoors The eldec tied a rope to a slide scraper and tied the other end of the to his saddle horn. The little ones took turns sitting in it wh rode his horse and pulled them, making his pony cut circles. They laughed as they swooped around, and laughed Ic when they were spilled out in the soft snow Tiring of this they carried a scoop shovel to a nearb and took turns sliding down in their improvised toboggan it grew dark they reluctantly came indoors, exclai "We've had the best Christmas, Mamma The pioneer mother was content May the spirit of Christmas be an ever-present joy to you. Roy, Gary, Bill and Hank ELLIS AUTO DROME 1805-2ndAve. So. Phone 327-4453 Rejoice and be happy! To know you and to serve you is our sincere pleasure. Our grateful thanks to you all... From Management and Staff CANADIAN DRESSED MEATS (Lethbridge) Limited Highway 3 East Phone 328-1756 Hi! Merry Christmas Have the cheeriest holiday ever. Best wishes and thanks to all of our neighbors. We value your patronage. Francis Jim Mulock LETHBRIDGE MONUMENT TILE 325-8th St. S. Phone 327-3920 Tc all amigos and amigas, we render heartfelt appreciation this season for the loyal patronage shown to us. Prom HAROLD, LINDA and DON HAROLD'S AUTO SERVICE couttt Highway Phone 329-4664 and Happy New Yea: To the young and young-at-heart. Our holiday wishes...heartfelt appreciatio from WORLD OF SHOES 317A Sixth Street South It's time to be merry and bright. and to thank our many good friends for your valued patronage, loyaltj. good will, confidence and support. From the Management and Staff at MARKERS MARINE LTD ANDY. GARY. MARK A ;