In September 1936, I started school at the age of six and a half.
We had to walk two and a half miles to school. Snow had started to fall at the end of September. It wasn’t too bad when there were only few inches, but one day we had a big storm at the end of October. I remember we had over 12 inches of snow. We always had a lot of snow before Christmas. We had one week off at Christmas time. We had three or four feet of snow in them days almost every winter. There were no plows to clean the roads in those days. It made the walking and driving a sleigh quiet difficult.
It was like that all winter. If we wanted to go somewhere we had to use snowshoes. People would walk on the side of the road with their snowshoes or skis, but mostly snowshoes. After a while it would pack the snow and then we could walk on the trails without any snowshoes on for some time. The boys and girls from the age of 6 1/2 to 15 years old had to walk on the horse trail. We would walk behind one another, after a while the trail would get beat down so it would make it easier to walk on. If it snowed really hard, they would cancel school for that day. If it snowed five or six inches we had to follow the trail and beat it down again. Sometimes we would cut some branches and mark the trail every hundred feet or so, that way we could follow the old trail.
If we would get off the old trail the horse would have snow up to his belly and that’s why they were marking the road with branches especially if we had a foot or so of snow.
Just like any other winter we survived it.
I am not quite sure whether or not we went to school every day, but I know that some winters because of the amount of snow we had, it made it hard for the younger kids. One year we didn’t have a teacher after Christmas. We didn’t do anything for the rest of the winter.
That summer I remember I went to visit my Godmother, I was seven years old. It was ten miles from home; I got a ride with a pulp truck that was going by where my sister was living. I had to walk two miles from where they let me off the truck. I stayed there for two weeks. She had two babies, one of them was only three months old and his name was Joseph and his sister was about two years old and her name was Janine, I helped her with the kids. I would hold him for the two weeks I was there. I didn’t waste my time because I was doing something to help my sister. That was quite a vacation.
Her father in-law had a workhorse, and I enjoyed it very much when he used to take me with him. They were cutting hay so they would have enough for the winter to feed the horses and the cows. That was my vacation for that summer. Then in September it was pretty much the same thing, I had to start school. I was in a different class because I was one year older, and at that time the snow started to fall a lot earlier than it had in the last few years. It wasn’t too bad until Christmas. We had a week off for the Christmas holiday.
When we got to school we had to build a fire in the stove because we didn’t have a fire throughout the night. The stove was 2 feet by 2 feet square and it was four feet long, it would take wood three feet long the first person to get to school in the morning had to start the fire. It would take about one hour to warm up the school; this was one of the things that we had to put up with before we could start studying. It was very difficult and this is why I don’t have a lot of education today. I guess this is why we call them” The good old days”. The teacher didn’t have a lot of education; they only had a grade seven or eight education.
It was a struggle for us kids in the months of January and February; we had a big storm one day getting over a foot of snow. That day we didn’t have school. The next morning Mom got me to start before the others because I was only 7 years old that time. I never forgot that because I had to break the trail, I had snow up to my knees and after a while the older ones caught up to me. I was quite happy about that because I didn’t have to break the trail anymore. More next week!