Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visiting Hay Lakes

One of the things I haven't written about is my September visit to the Alberta villages I lived in as a young child. When we were visiting friends and relatives in Edmonton, I wanted to go back and wander around a bit...

Terry, my aunt Zilla and I drove to Hay Lakes, where my father had owned a garage called "Dick's Repair Shop"  on Main Street.

My family lived in a 3-room apartment above the garage until I was 5 or 6. We had a wood stove and electricity but no running water (There was a hand-powered water pump beside the garage and an outhouse out back...) Life must have been hard for my parents - especially for my mother. I remember climbing those stairs. Someone would have had to carry buckets of water up every day. I remember my mother heating water on the stove to do the laundry. I imagine she then carried the laundry down the stairs to hang it up on the line. I recall a clothes line criss-crossing the kitchen in winter! I never thought about it before, but someone would have had to carry the "slop" water - the dirty dish water, bath water and laundry water down the stairs again to pour it out! What a daily chore! ... And then there was the wood and coal to be brought upstairs, and the cinders to take down...

The only part of that building that remains is the garage floor: We could still see was the metal base of a hoist embedded in the cement. The building itself is long gone.

I wandered around, looking for the two other spots where we had lived in my memorable pre-school year, when days were spent just wandering around and talking to village folk. Everyone knew everyone. (My parents lived in a tiny house opposite the church when they were first married. They later moved above the garage. When I was about 4 or 5, they bought another old house with an upstairs bedroom - though again I only remember two main floor rooms and an upstairs. I'm not sure how long we lived there.)

The creamery I used to visit was still there - though it looks ready for demolition. It has long been vacant.

Vacant also was this office building where Alfred Arnson had an insurance office two doors down from my father's garage. I'm not sure why the building is still there - Alfred and his wife are long gone. The building seems to have been locked and left much the way I remember it.

Around the corner, the church where I was baptised has a new front entry. It is one of the few buildings from my childhood that has been kept up. I looked for my parents' first home across the street (the tiny house I had lived in as an infant). But a lot of renovations had been done to houses on this street and I couldn't recognize it.

A few buildings look much like the whole village had looked back in my childhood years. I was glad to see that I still knew my way around!

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