Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Share Some of Your Memories

It’s Saturday, and Randy over at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge for his readers!

Tonight’s challenge is “Share Some of Your Memories” and here are his three steps to accomplish it:

1) Judy Russell asked six questions in her Keynote address at RootsTech to determine if audience members knew certain family stories about their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. She demonstrated very well that family stories are lost within three generations if they are not recorded and passed on to later generations.

2) This week, I want you to answer Judy's six questions, but about YOUR own life story, not your ancestors. Here are the questions:

a) What was your first illness as a child?
b) What was the first funeral you attended?
c) What was your favorite book as a child?
d) What was your favorite class in elementary school?
e) What was your favorite toy as a child?
f) Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?

3) Tell us in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

Here are some of my memories:

a) Other than having colds when I was very little, the first illness I remember having is measles. I was 5 or 6 years old; my little sister, with whom I shared a bedroom, was also ill with measles; and we seemed to stay mostly in bed, rarely leaving our room. It wasn’t until many years later when I was married and pregnant, that I discovered it wasn’t “ordinary” English measles (rubeola) I had contracted all those years ago, but German measles (rubella). I learned this detail when my doctor ordered screening tests early in my pregnancy.

b) The first funeral I attended was that of my paternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair, who died in March 1967, when I was 8 years old. I don’t remember if there was a funeral mass, but can still see in my mind’s eye being at the cemetery. Since it was winter time in Timmins, with snow on the ground, a brief service was held in a little building on the property. I also remember how sad everyone was and hearing people cry. I felt sad, but did not fully understand what death meant and didn’t realize that I would never see my beloved Mémère again.

c) This one is a bit tougher to remember. I know I loved books from an early age, and easily learned to speak and read French and English. Unlike some of my French-Canadian friends, who lived in a more French language home than I did, my parents were always bilingual with my siblings and I, so I guess it made it easier for us to pick up English. So, I think my favorite books were probably a mix of French and English ones. I also know that I loved choosing books at the Timmins Public Library. The basement floor held children and youth books, and was divided in two sections, French and English, each with their own entrance doors and librarians. I liked the Caroline adventure stories by French author Pierre Probst. (I had to look up the author just now, but knew the character’s name.) For English books, some of my favorites were gifts of book-and-cassette read-along stories, like The Gingerbread Man. ("Run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!") At Christmas time, my most favorite book was ‘Twas Night Before Christmas. My sister and I always had to have Mom read to us from that soft-cover illustrated book while we were tucked in bed on Christmas Eve. When my son Nicholas was born, I made sure I bought him his own copy to read to him.

d) This one is easy! My favorite class in elementary school was Grade 4. As far as I was concerned, I had the best teacher in the whole school: Madame Jeanne Lauzon, whom I just loved. She was a bit strict and gave what I thought was a lot of homework, but I didn’t mind, because I loved learning and it challenged me. She also instilled order in us, like keeping our coats and shoes and boots tidy in the vestiaire [cloakroom] attached to our classroom. One day, she entrusted me with an important task: to go to the principal’s office and get “the strap”. Corporal punishment was still allowed in school in those days (the 1960s and 1970s), but Madame Lauzon didn’t casually resort to it. Nevertheless, I felt uneasy and trembled when I asked the principal (a nun from the order of the Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte-Vierge). As she handed me the leather strap, she said, “J’ai peur, j’ai très peur.” [I’m afraid, I’m very afraid.] (The principal must have shown her concern for what was about to happen to the unfortunate student, which if I remember correctly was a boy.) My favorite subjects were religion, history and reading; couldn’t get enough of them.

e) Without a doubt, my favorite toy as a child was my Barbie doll. My sister and I had a modest amount of these dolls and their accessories. We played with our dolls day in and day out. I loved it when Mom took me shopping at Kresge’s or Woolworth’s (five-and-dime department stores) in town to choose a new Barbie outfit or accessory to add to my stash back home. I still have a Barbie, some of her clothes and the vinyl doll case I bought when I was a bit older.

f) I first learned to swim when I was between 5 and 8 years old. It was in the Mattagami River, not far from my home on Commercial Avenue. I checked Google Earth to refresh my memory of the distance I had to travel. It went like this: from my home, walk three blocks west, turn right and walk three blocks north (the river is on my left at this point, but not reachable at this height), turn left at Algonquin Boulevard, walk west across the bridge, make a left, and go down to the river bank. My sister and I did this journey by ourselves in the summer months. I’m amazed at how much my parents trusted us to get to our lessons without some kind of supervision. (Or did we perhaps tag-along with a group of neighborhood kids?) The lessons weren’t too bad, I think, but I didn’t like getting sand in my bathing suit and the water always seemed cold. One day, all the children on the beach were asked to form a chain, and we were told to walk a short distance into the river, because someone was missing. (Nothing came from  that search.) I probably didn’t regularly attend those early classes, because the lessons didn’t take a hold on me. Later on, as a pre-teen and young teenager, I had more swimming lessons at Gillies Lake (in the northeastern part of town) and at the public swimming pool at the entrance to Schumacher, a community east of town.

I’ve shared some of my memories and left a comment at Genea-Musings!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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