Sunday, July 28, 2013

Picking currants for my grandmother in 1955

Photo by Linda Wallace
Like many other things in the garden this summer, our red currants are beautiful and bountiful. Yesterday, Linda picked two quarts and this morning Linda and I picked another three quarts each.   At breakfast this morning, I greeted the day with yoghurt and red currants.   Delicious!   It reminded me of the year, when I was 13, and my siblings and I were living on my maternal grandparent's farm, at Churchill, Ontario, south of Barrie, while our new house was being built in King City.   I was kept pretty busy that summer helping my grandfather with the chores about his 50-acre farm.   The farm and the farmhouse had no electricity, no running water, no plumbing and no furnace.   We had oil lamps, a wood stove, a well, an outhouse, and a battery-operated radio from which my grandfather faithfully got the BBC evening news while he was having his lunch.   One day, I hitched up grampa's team of horses (Maude and Lark) to the manure spreader, loaded it up and headed out to the fields.   When I returned for a second load, my grandfather offered some harsh advice on the job I was doing.   This surprised me as I thought the entire job was being done by the experienced horses with their amazing piece of farm machinery.   I'd had enough of his constant criticism and told him if he didn't like I way I was spreading his cow poop, he could do it himself.   I jumped off the spreader and sought refuge at my grandmother's knee.   Like my grandfather, she also thought idle hands were the devil's playthings and sent me out to her garden to pick red currants.   When I had finished picking and returned to the farmhouse, my grandma gave me a bowl of red currants, with fresh cow's milk and a spoonful of sugar.   I was hooked and have been ever since.   That event was a watershed moment.   For the rest of that year on the farm, my grandfather didn't call on me to do as much as he had previously told me to do, but then I was doing many more chores for my grandmother, which included not only the picking of red currants, but white and black currants as well.  We all seemed happy with the new arrangement.   I've always thought of my grandmother as a saint.   Everyone else said so also.   As for my grandfather, well...I have fond memories of Sid also.  1955 was a wonderful year of discovery.
Please comment if you wish.
Barry Wallace    


  1. That is a lovely story and brings back memories of working on my great uncles farm in 1948.milked cows collected eggs and cleaned out the pig sty, I still am overwhelmed by the beauty of that summer!


  2. I read this story to your grandchildren. They debated the merits of spending the summer working on a farm. The sticking point seemed to be the cow poop. Emmy didn't feel small children would be subjected to cow poop whereas Brawley didn't see anyway around it. They had quite the fight about it, but, sadly, there was no resolution.