We recently got back from visiting our grandparents in Penticton, B.C. It was a whirlwind trip and on a scale of one to ten, being uncomfortable in the back seat of my compact car was about an 8 (10 if you were sitting on the hump). But the five of us enjoyed it very much and our grandparents were absolutely delighted to have us there and spoiled us all to pieces (which is still nice even at the ripe old age of 27). When I'm with my grandparents I always try to direct the conversation to their lives in an attempt to hear as many stories as I can. It usually works... For example:
- during the war, when my grandmother was in England and sugar was rationed, she had to completely cut sugar out of her tea and still doesn't drink it with sugar... over fifty years later.
- my grandfather named my uncle, no particular reason for the choice of names, he just liked them.
- my grandmother named my aunt after a name she saw in the paper and liked, and my mom was named after a childhood friend.
- my grandma's father was in the first world war and survived the gas attacks at Vichy only to be buried alive in the field he was in. When he and the other men who were buried were rescued and being dug out, the shovel struck the man next to him in the head and killed him. My great-grandfather got out alive.
- he joined the canadian army during the war because they paid better than the british army.
- they think the gas attacks were the cause of his heart attack years later. He was otherwise healthy and young. On the day of his funeral, at the reception at my grandma's house his best friend sat on their basement stairs, drinking out of a mickey, crying and crying and crying.
- his best friend gave my grandmother away at her wedding which just before the taxi driving them to the church broke down (in Winnipeg in January) and they were late for the wedding and had no way of contacting my grandfather at the church.
- my grandmother got married in January because she always liked the idea of her new life beginning with the new year.
- my grandfather quit school before he was even done grade eight and ran away with a friend, hopping trains to get to B.C. His family finally convinced him to return home.
- when he was young a boy who my grandfather described as being like a brother to him was skating on the river and fell through the ice and drowned.
- my grandfather was stationed in England during the second world war and rode a bike around the countryside trading extra rations for fresh eggs from farmers. He would line the basket of the bike with grass to keep the eggs from breaking.
- he was an airplane mechanic and would be paid $1.25 to sit second seat in airplanes when they were doing tests and fly arounds. For some reason they didn't like sending up pilots by themselves.
- when my grandmother was sent home to Canada from England just after the war started the Canadian government wanted all it's citizens out by the end of December. They booked her passage for October on a ship home and sent her parents a letter telling them the name of the ship and when she'd arrive. My grandmother's uncle had a bad feeling about it and as the day of the ship's departure drew near told her to rebook for December. He was worried about all the submarines and bombs in the water and wanted her to wait just a little bit until things were a little more settled, the war was then still new and fresh. Sure enough, the ship she was supposed to be on was bombed. They rushed and telegraphed her parents because they didn't know yet that she had swiched passages. She made it across safely in December.


ccap said...

Wow. Those are great! The story about the shovel made me shudder.

Michele said...

cool stories