Family Home in Chinook

Summer Sundays

Sunday’s were a great day. The only day of the week that Daddy didn’t have to work all day. He could sleep in an extra hour. Instead of getting up at six o’clock he could get up at seven. He would go to the garage, fire up the big generator. The lights for the whole town ran off a set of big lead batteries. They were about 8 rows deep and produced 120 to 130 volts which powered a 110 volt system. It would throw up big smoke rings out of the smokestack. The power plant had 2 diesel engines, both of them what Dad called "one-lungers" because they only had one big piston.

On Sunday mornings I was occasionally able to go with Daddy and stand in the doorway. He would never let me into the engine room when starting the engine. But I could look in and I remember how shiny and clean everything was – the floor, the engines, the railings, guardrails, the big generator and the board with all the gauges and levers. Ah, it was fascinating and the diesel and oil smelled great. What an exhilarating experience. Mother occasionally liked for me to get out of the house, then she only had 2 boys to look after. And Dad only had time on Sundays. The only time he could look after one of his sons was Sunday mornings, and it was always me. As I got older he told me many things and I thought, and I still think, the man was brilliant.

Daddy would check with a big dipstick down in the floor if there was enough diesel. If there wasn’t, he would have to go outside to a big tank, turn some more valves and let the diesel fill the tank under the floor.

Then it was back to the house. Breakfast was always ready by that time and we all had to get ready for church, except for Daddy. He somehow did not belong to the same group, although he was a church member. But he was too busy, he couldn’t go. I think he made it to all funerals and special occasions like Easter. But other than that, his shirt collars fit poorly, and his suit was never quite as nice as comfortable as his overalls.

But Mother scrubbed we three boys within an inch of our lives. We had our Sunday go-to-church clothes on. It always consisted of a little jacket, and most always a little bow tie. And we had Sunday school. I know that it was probably two cents each and we would put that in the collection plate while the hymn was being sung.

Hear the pennies dropping,
See them as they fall,
Every one for Jesus.
He will take them all.

I knew He was money-hungry, but I didn’t know that He would take them all! However, I can’t really remember a time when we tried to smuggle the money out, instead of putting it in the plate. We were well-trained. There were other kids that came out with their money, and headed for Tom and Charlie’s restaurant because a penny would get you a big chunk of licorice. No, we were too afraid of Jesus to not put our pennies in. He could hear them fall – we knew that.

After church and Sunday school it was back home. If the day was nice, in the summertime, we might take a drive which meant we all trouped up to the garage and got into the new car. We always had a new car which of course was a "demo" waiting to be sold. Even today, there is nothing like a new car smell. There weren’t too many buyers in those days, very few buyers as a matter of fact, but I didn’t know that you rode in anything but a new car, because that’s all we ever had.

But can you imagine as little boys, Keith and I in the back, Mother and Dad in the front with Lorne in between them. Keith and I would really try hard to sit quietly and look out the windows, but normally Keith would get that green flash in the eye, and we would be at it – wrist-twisting or something, just enough to cause a little commotion. Poor Dad was trying to drive, Mother yelling at us. I suppose some days it was more trouble than it was worth. There wasn’t a paved road in the whole area. Everything was gravel. The country roads were all dirt, and fairly smooth most of the time. I can almost see the grader now. Every farmer I think had to put his turn in on the grader to grade up a certain amount of road or else pay taxes. This meant that the roads were kept in pretty good condition until it rained which of course wasn’t all that often.

When we got back from our drive, Dad would drive the car right into the garage, turn it around and back it into the proper stall. We’d get out, he’d lock up the garage and home we’d go. As I said, Sunday was a special day. Sunday was the day of ice cream making. Mother used a custard, pure cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and I’m not sure what else. Dad would get a big lump of ice out of the ice house and we would start to make ice cream. Oh it was good. I can remember being sick on that ice cream more than once. I probably was five at the time. But I never regretted the stomachache. Ah that lovely, golden ice cream clinging to the beaters. There was nothing like it.

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