Previous General page:
Report on trip Things Mom remembered about the old
Report on trip
Here is a letter that Marjorie Barmby
and my mother, May Quale, sent out after their return from a trip
with Walter and Melvin to Europe. I follow the letter with some of my
memories of the visit as numbered footnotes.
Regina, Saturday, Aug 18, 1973
Dear Family Members and Friends,
Some of you have had recent notes from
us and may wish to skip parts of this letter. We don't want to bore
you. Walter and I are now basking in the lovely hospitality of May
and Melvin. Harold will come for us Sun.
We made the flight from London to
Regina with a stop in Toronto – flying time 10 hours. The huge 747
over the Atlantic was very smooth, the weather beautiful. When we
flew to London on July 4 it was night and we missed seeing the
splendid cloud formations and sometimes sight of land and sea.
Janet and Harry Kwasniak met us in
London and took us to a small hotel in Loughborough (1), about 100
miles north by only 8 miles from their home in Kegworth (2). Both
were having holidays for a while and came for us many times for
sight-seeing (3) and usually took us to their place for supper. We
used our 21 day rail passes for many trips, including five days to
Scotland. We had a crash course on a glimpse of England. Our interest
in the courty's affairs and its past were heightened by what we saw.
We inspected old and very, very old churches, museums and ruins. It
was a great pleasure to view the central country from the train to
and from Scotland (different routes) and later up the eastern area to
Driffield where we visited Walter's cousins, Eva Clarke, Ethel Leake
and her husband George.(4) These cousins were all the Barmby
relatives we found. They live together in a beautiful home and
extended to us the warmest of hospitality. They do not travel and
seemed delighted to have us. We spent hours looking at pictures and
tracing the family tree.
Janet and Harry met us again at
Harrogate (near Leeds). We spent three wonderful days with them at
the home of their friends there. Then we were off by train to
Newcastle where we took a night passage to Bergen. I'll let May
elaborate on the out-of-this-world beauty of Norway, the marvellous
hospitality of Melvin's relatives and our trips by bus, rail, ferry
and car through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Holland. We
spend three exciting days in beautiful Copenhagen. With 5 cameras
among us we feel certain we'll come up with something worth sharing –
perhaps a travelogue for the next reunion.
Walter says, “The old castles,
churches and museums are all very interesting but most interesting is
learning how the common people of Britian and Scandinavia live –
how a Norwegian farmer dries his hay on the family clothesline; why
beer in Denmark is cheaper than coffee; or why you can't get a drink
of water on their trains. Take off your hat to the London bus driver
who can put an 8' bus thro a 7'6” opening and never scratch the
paint. All the good and smart people do not live in the western
Melvin says, “The English train
system is very good but brooms seem very scarce.” He was usually
appalled at the electrical work he saw.
My advice – do all the travelling you
can while you're young with plenty of stamina.
the highlight for me, of course, was
visiting Janet and Harry in their own home and meeting their lovely
friends. I visited Janet at her work in the Biochemistry Dept of the
Leicester University. She is also taking courses in the Open
University and hope to have her degree this fall. She is a very busy
A second highlight was our visit to
Mel's relations in the Valdres Valley – undoubtedly the most
beautiful spot in the world. The beauty was only exceeded by the
hospitality which we enjoyed in eight different homes.
Although the people everywhere we found
to be open, friendly, honest and helpful, the greatest thrill as
always was to arrive home again, safe and healthy. We are adjusting
to the 7 hour time change and a normal way of life is fast overtaking
We learned one thing – When you
travel abroad, take less clothes and more money.
Things Mom remembered about the old
- The small hotel was actually a
bed-and-breakfast run by a family that really took to the foursome.
The landlady had grown up in one of the villages on a local lord's
estate and had baby sat his children years before. Whenever she had
guests that she thought were special enough, she would contact the
lord and get him to give her guest a tour of the manor house and
grounds. So it was that the 6 of us went to the manor. His staff
took us around because he was inspecting some fields in his
helicopter. So we visited a almost stately, but honestly very old
manor including things like its dovecote. Near the end of the visit
we were in the magnificent garden and were being shown medieval
plantings. Marjorie spied a type of mother-hen-and-chicks plant that
she had to have and so when no one was looking she bent down and
started to dig one out with a spoon. It was at this point that the
lord returned from his inspections. He was charming condescension
itself. He helped Marjorie to her feet and told one of the servants
to get a trowel and containers to get the plant for Marjorie. Walter
was vivid, Mom and Mel were embarrassed, and Harry and I were close
to laughing out loud. The lord and his servant were absolutely
serene. On the way back home we were treated to Harry's opinion of
the landed gentry especially ones as rich and family-ed as this one.
We inherited the plant because Walter was not going to have it in
the luggage when they returned to Canada – it's illegal to bring
- We lived in a tiny, newly built
row house. It had one room downstairs which had a kitchen around the
back of the stairway, a table area next to that and then a carpeted
live room. The whole downstairs was smaller than most peoples living
rooms. Up stairs there was a smallish bedroom, a bathroom and a box
room. There was a 'postage stamp' of yard front and back. The
visitors couldn't stay with us but they spent a lot of time there.
They could not get over how small the house was. They also could not
get over how small our car was. When we went somewhere, Harry and
one of them would have the two front seats, three of them would
crowd into the bench seat in the back, and I would sit sidewise on
the floor of the little space behind the back seat. It would take
some time to load and unload the group. Another wonder of our living
style was that we shopped every day and didn't have a frig. After a
few days they went out and brought one. That evening after walking
past the frig several times and not noticing it, I asked Harry where
the milk was (it was usually on the back window sill) and everyone
said at once, “its in the frig”. I opened the frig and got it
and then said, “But we don't have a frig.” Big laugh.
- When we were sight-seeing. It
would come lunch time and so we would look for a pub with food.
There was one in Loughborough that we went to if we were in the
area. So the publican was familiar with the group. One day Marjorie,
Mom and I arrived at the pub and the publican said, “the lads are
in the corner.” Although they couldn't see us, they could heard
the remark and thought it was very great to be called 'the lads'.
They were on about being the lads for the rest of the day. One of
the first places we took them was a very small, very old church that
I knew was not locked and had a nice brass rubbing plaque. They had
a good time there poking around. I thought that was it for little
old churches. But it was not. Every time Marjorie saw an old church,
she would want to stop. Once when Marjorie said, “Oh there an old
church.” Walter said, “All the villages have churches and all
the churches are old. We can't stop at all of them.” And once when
we were going to see a very old pub in Nottingham. Marjorie was not
keen and said, “You see one pub, you've seen them all.” Melvin
said, “You see one church, you've seen them all.” For all the
discomfort of the little car, and all the remarks about too many
churches or too many pubs, everyone stayed in the great mood. Mel
took the trouble to secretly have a piss in each and every church
- Melvin was quite taken with George
Leake. One, because he took Mel and Walter to the pub right away and
introduced them to his friends there. And two, because he had never
been to Hull or York, the two closest cities. Mel keep saying, “He
never even went to Hull!” I think the cousins fed Walter too much
creamy sweets for he got a gall bladder attack when he was back in
Emily Cushing and I used to play up in
the attic. There were lots of old magazines and we would cut out all
the Campbell Kids and paste them in scrap books.
I was always mixed up in my directions
in the attic. I had to look out the window into the yard to
straighten myself out. I think it was because of the change of
direction in the two stairways going up to the attic.
The house was very well built. The
walls were back plastered with a dead air space for insulation. When
Ronnie Houghtaling cut a window in the south wall of the east bedroom
for Mother he cut through nine layers of material. No wonder it was a
I remember the wonderful aroma through
the upstairs when Mother would have five or six boxes of apples
stored along the south wall in her bedroom. The winter supply of of
apples were of several varieties: Red Delicious, Macs, Golden
Delicious, Winesap, Banana. In the evening we would being down a big
dish of assorted apples for a family treat. Apples in those days had
a delightful smell that they don't seem to have now.
I remember the big folding screen that
was used for a little privacy when a bed was made up in the big front
room. That room often served as a bedroom. There was a huge cupboard
that looked like a chest of drawers. But it unfolded into a bed. Some
times when Emily would come over to stay all night we would get to
sleep in that bed with the screen around us.
I remember the old summer kitchen. It
was made of the two granaries that had been Mothers first home on the
farm. When the house was built the stairway came down into the
kitchen. Then later a landing and a turn were made so the steps came
into the main room.
During the winter months, a big stove
was set up in the front room. The stove pipes went up through the
floor into the west bedroom and then across through the east bedroom
to the chimney. A lot of heat was given off by those pipes. During
the summer, there was the hole in the floor in the west bedroom. If
you lay on your stomach with your ear to the hole you could hear
everything said downstairs.
To make the west bedroom into two
rooms, Dad had Mr. Sonder come out and build a room divider. It
consisted of two clothes closets with cupboards above and a bookcase
desk on the south side.
We used to throw the dirty clothes into
the attic stairway. Then on wash day we'd kick them down the stairs
into the dining room. There they would be sorted into piles of
whites, darks etc. Mother would have a copper boiler of water on the
stove to heat. The hard water had to be softened with lye. A thick
scum would form and it had to be skimmed off. Part of the time the
washing was done in the old kitchen and in the summer in a granary
next to the house, later on the front screened in porch. Before
Mother got a washing machine with a motor, she used a gas engine to
run the machine. She was an expert at running that engine.
Mother made her own soap with beef
tallow and lye. Before wash day some of the hard soap would have to
be cut up and melted down with hot water ready to add to the washing.
I still have the pitcher she used to dissolve the lye when making the
soap. It had to be exactly the right temperature and so did the
melted fat before they were mixed together. It was such good soap but
only worked in soft water.
After Grandpa Krewson died in 1928, the
new kitchen was built. It was partitioned into three rooms, a pantry,
a little bedroom and the kitchen. There was no room for a dining
table, so food was served in the dining room.
Sometimes Mother would say, “I just
have to have a nap”. She would take something to read, and lie down
in the little bedroom. In five minutes she would be back at work. Her
dishwater would not have gotten cold. Two lines of reading were
enough to put her to sleep. What a trick!
When Milly and Ronnie lived on section
28, Milly didn't like the partitions in that kitchen. One rainy day
when Ronnie was sleeping on the couch, Milly woke him to ask if he
would take out the partitions as he had sort of promised. He sleepily
agreed. When he woke up she had removed everything in readiness.
Ronnie wanted to know what she was doing. When she told him what he
had promised, he was mad! The partitions came down and out with a
bang! After that the kitchen was one room and there was a place for a
When the new kitchen was built, a
cistern was made to catch the rain off the roof. The various members
of the family there at the time put their hand prints in the top of
the cistern. Now that the house is gone, the cistern is out in the
open and those hand prints are easily seen. Dad used to get the
cistern filled in early spring from snow melt before the ground
thawed. It was good water. There were no chemicals used at that time
to pollute the water.
The snow used to be so clean. Often
when it came down softly, we would catch some and mix it with cream
and sugar for an ice cream treat. It was easier than turning the
freezer although we did that a lot too. Dad sure loved ice cream.