The Good Old Days?
We were all packed up and ready to go. We consisted of my mother and dad, and two older sisters. Our transport was a hay wagon drawn by a team of horses. Tied to the back of the wagon were my older brother’s saddle horse and a Guernsey milk cow. In the bed of the wagon packed into galvanized wash tubs all our worldly possessions and a few bales of hay on which we sat.
Mom and dad looked grim we were leaving what had been our home for a few years and going to an unknown future in yet another location. Like many other families in the depression we followed from job to job, farming, ranching, logging, this would be the first of many moves I remember.
It was not yet light when we headed down the mountain on the eastside of Penticton on what is now called Carmi Avenue. Our destination a place called Paradise Flats out of West Summerland. An odd name I always thought as it sure was neither flat or a paradise.
My most vivid memory of the trip which lasted many hours had to be the time traveling along the lake shore, this section of road would not see blacktop for twenty some years and the chalk dust which formed the road bed was many inches deep. Each step of the horse’s feet sent up clouds of this talcum powder like dust which settled on us and the animals and our possessions.
I sat at the back of the wagon huddled under a hand me down jacket and talked to the saddle horse called Buster and the cow called Katie. I’d reach out my hand as far as I could and Buster would stretch his head forward and I would pat his muzzle and we suffered the dust together. I don’t remember much in the way of talk between mom and dad, that trip. Looking back on that time from my advanced years I cannot imagine what it was like for them with still a young family to feed and the uncertain times for many years yet to come.
Imagine if you will what it was like to be covered in that dust for hours, to wonder what lay in store for you at the end of a very long day. What kind and quantity of furnishing would be in this house you had never seen, would there even be a stove or firewood, would there be steady work and for how long? This was one of many moves I experienced. Over the following seventeen years I would live in nineteen different places. Some tarpaper shacks, some good homes. The length of stay never more than two years in any of these places. We lived in the upper and lower Fraser Valley, Vancouver, Burnaby, back to the Okanogan
To this day I never let myself get attached to a house or location. I have known many people some great some bad. But I have few real friends due to my many moves.
So still when I hear someone talk about the “good old days” my mind goes back to that long days travel and I remember that there were good days but not all of them.