Sunday, February 26, 2017

Remembering the Farm: How I met your mother Part II

There are a few things I could have added to yesterday's post but they were extraneous to the main story so here they are today.

Bay Boys were not well paid.  HBC, over the centuries, did most of their recruiting in Scotland.  By mid 20th century, recruiting focused on Scotland, Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, which might give you an idea of their respective economies.

I had asked your mother to marry me in July but she said it was not official until she got an engagement ring.  She finally got her ring in October. The only asset I had was a 66 Dodge something with a slant 6 engine and a holed gas tank sitting in the farm yard.  The Ag Rep in Wilkie bought it for, I think, $250.  I bought a money order for that amount and sent it to Birks Jewelers  in Edmonton with a letter explaining that it was all the money I had and what could they do in way of a solitaire engagement ring and a plain wedding band. In due time I got a box in the mail with a lovely set of rings.  The diamond was twice as big as I expected.  I am sure that someone at Birks sent me far far more than I paid for.

When I came out of the North, I had no money.  The nurses had arranged a medivac and I got a free ride out by accompanying this lady on her way to the hospital in Edmonton and looking after her on the plane. I borrowed $400 from your mother to cover wedding expenses - tux rentals for my brothers and I, new shoes, etc.  I didn't marry your mother FOR her money but I did marry her WITH her money.

I had a job working calving out 750 heifers at a ranch south of Battleford about half way to Wilkie.  My shift was noon to midnight.  The day before the wedding I worked a double shift to get an extra day off.  At the wedding rehearsal, I was sick with flu symptoms: chills and  head ache. I wore my knee length arctic parka to keep warm.  My one brother showed up in a green velvet smoking jacket and my other brother, who drove in from Hudson Bay where he was doing a practicum for his Conservation Officer Diploma, came in coveralls with a hunting knife strapped around his middle.

The reason your mother broke up with my friend was that he was "too nice, too easy going".  Which was true. He was and is a wonderful human being I am proud to have as a friend. With your mother's, uh, 'strong' character she knew she would walk all over him and make his life miserable.  (This apparently was not an issue for her as far as I was concerned). Not that it did my friend any good.  He married a woman of, uh, 'strong' character, anyhow.  Whether she walked all over him and made his life miserable is up to him to say. He seems to have thrived.

We did rewrite the wedding vows. Took the "obey" thing right out of hers.  I thought I should add it to mine but she said I couldn't. We got married on a Sunday.  I said there was no point wrecking an entire weekend.  Not appreciated.

We couldn't afford to go anywhere on our honeymoon except to bed, which was fine by me.  We drove into Saskatoon to the long since torn down Pioneer Motel on 22nd street W and rented a room for three nights.  We got ready for bed and my nose started to pour blood rather profusely, which was happening regularly at that time.  I am in the bathroom bleeding into the sink and your mother is lying in bed suffocated with laughter making unprintable remarks about wedding nights.

For all that we had known each other for 17 odd years before we got married, we had never been on a real date.  So on our honeymoon we went for dinner and a movie.  The movie was "The Way We Were" with Barbara Streisand and Robert Redford. It was boring so I went to sleep.  When it was over we went back to our cheap motel room.  I told everyone that we slept together after our first date which totally mortified all the old ladies.

In case you are wondering what became of the letters we wrote each other over the months and years were were courting, you needn't look for them.  When we moved from Cumberland House to Kindersley in 1979, we took the Labatts Blue two-four box full of them and in a small ceremony at our burning barrel, consigned them all to ashes. There was no way we wanted you to ever see them.  Unlike emails which once committed to the ethernet remain forever, real letters can be controlled. Sorry.

12 comments:

  1. I love this so much. I think a lot of young people forget how frugal we were, once upon a time. My own engagement ring (in 1983) cost less than $500. We had almost no furniture -- and what we had was hand-me-down -- and lived in a bachelor apartment at first. And it was just fine.

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    1. Our entire wedding cost $800, all in. Mom L did the dresses and bought all the food for 150 people out of her grocery budget. Having free access to preachers, church and dining hall helped a great deal compared to other weddings. We had a small apartment in NB for a couple months before we moved into Saskatoon.

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  2. This story is even better than the first one! And jeez, contrast your wedding to the mega-extravaganzas that young people insist on having today!

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    1. Weddings with $10K bridal gowns just make me shake my head. Sometimes I wonder if the cost of the wedding is inversely related to the length of the marriage.

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  3. I was wearing rubber boots to the rehearsal too. arrived late and didn't have time to change, just walked down the aisle to join the rest of the party. Somehow I ended up with the '66 Dodge Coronet 440 when I moved to Calgary in 1979. It was so gutless, you had to be going downhill with the wind to pass anything (except maybe wind?). Great stories by the way.

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    1. I forgot about the rubber boots. The three of us were a class act.
      That slant 6 was quite the engine. Three squirrels on a tread mill would have generated more power

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  4. I am not shocked at all by Uncle Stan's outfit.

    I love the engagement ring story. I hope the Jeweler knew how wonderful he/she was.

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    1. I think I wrote them back and thanked them.

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  5. I still have some letters that my dad wrote to my mum, long before I arrived on the scene. They are lovely. And precious.
    I'm enjoying your story, I hope your offspring are appreciating it as much as i am!

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    1. Maybe we should have sorted and redacted anything that was NSFW (or kids). Most were good letters and would have given a picture of our romance

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