About Us Seniors
The Mad Chemist
And They're Off!
Love for the Average Joe
Christmas in the Trenches
Too Young To Die
Dish Night at the Tivoli
Think This Is Cold?
Stan's War Memories
Christmas Quite Unlike All Others
Christmas of 1932, the year my father died, was a snowless
Christmas and not as cold as one would expect at that time
mid-afternoon of Christmas Eve, my brother Joe, my sister
Olga and I were sitting on the front steps of our rundown
house, which was badly in need of a paint-job, doing nothing
in particular except talk about Christmas.
I mentioned I hoped Santa Claus would bring me a hockey stick
and a snakes & ladders game, Olga piped up: "Santa Claus
doesn't come to poor people's houses."
shook me to the core. "How come?"I exclaimed.
Olga answered, "He just doesn't come to poor people's houses."
but true. Strangely, for a lad as young as I was (9) I thought
about it for awhile, and then came to terms with it. "If that's
the way it is, then that's the way it has to be," was my outlook.
we sat there in cheerless conversation, a truck drove up and
stopped in front of our place; a man came up the sidewalk
and thrust out a clipboard with a sheaf of papers on it for
Olga to read.
pointed a finger at a name thereon and asked if this family
(ours) lived here at 1554 Parent Avenue, to which Olga nodded
assent. The man turned about and hollered to the two men standing
amidst a load of bushel baskets, "Okay, fellows, let's go!"
men carrying two bushel baskets full of groceries, candies,
and other Christmas goodies, along with a large basket of
meat and a plucked goose started up the sidewalk. With the
excitement only kids our age could display at being handed
something good and special, we followed Olga as she directed
the men around to the back entrance. The largess was deposited
on the kitchen floor, to the surprise and tearful enjoyment
of my mother.
Goodfellows of Windsor had come through at the last minute
and delivered Christmas to the Scislowski/Hedgewick household,
precisely when the prospects of a Merry Christmas appeared
kind soul in the neighbourhood had submitted our names to
the Goodfellows, and we were well on the way to having a Christmas
celebration that would be enhanced by events in the wee small
hours of the morning when we were tucked away in our feather-tick
covered beds sound asleep.
Olga had said Santa would not be stopping at our house, I
had no intention of waking up bright and early on Christmas
morning. We had no tree set up and no decorations anywhere
in the living or dining rooms. It would be just another day
for us except for the traditional Christmas goose dinner with
all the trimmings my mother could now prepare for us.
so, on Christmas morning while I was deep in some dream long
since forgotten, my brother Joe brusquely shook me awake,
"Stan, Stan, come and see what Santa brought you!"
took a few seconds to get my wits about me before I leaped
out of bed, almost ran into the Quebec heater (an upright
wood and coal stove) and entered the living-room or front
room, as we called it. Before my dancing eyes floated balloons
and multi-coloured garlands hanging from the ceiling. But
best of all, a three-foot decorated Christmas tree set up
on a table in the corner, with brightly wrapped boxes of gifts
from Santa around it!
literally jumped out of my skin when I spied the hockey stick
standing by the table with my name on the tag, "To Stanley,
from Santa". And, yes, there was also a Snakes & Ladders
game. To say our household was filled with excited shouts
and squeals of delight and merriment was to describe it in
the mildest of terms. It was joy beyond joy and it had arisen
out of adversity.
Christmas tree, the presents and decorations had come from
the hearts of my oldest sister Annie and my oldest brother
Peter, both of whom somehow put enough nickels, dimes and
pennies together from their meager earnings; Annie from her
house-cleaning jobs and Peter from his door-to-door selling
of Postian rugs and Kirby vacuum cleaners, and what he made
at his caddy jobs in the summer.
that is what they must mean when they talk about the magic
Stan's War Memories
year, the Goodfellows of Windsor deliver their magic to poor
children. The item that made Christmas joyful and bounteous
to us came in the shape of a red net stocking filled with
trinkets, nuts, fruits and candies.
in the toe nestled a small box about two inches square, spangled
with such brilliant colours that when you moved it, it made
your eyes jump. The red, green black, and gold foil pattern
caused an optical illusion when you shook it to hear the opulent
sound of ten gleaming new copper pennies inside.
person was suddenly rich as Croesus and the box became a toy
in itself - a treat for the eyes! The Goodfellows even managed
to include one of those jumbo peppermint canes you don't see
any more, and there were tiny gilt bells where the drawstring
tied at the top of the stocking, so you could hear real music
when you wiggled it and set the "fairy bells" a-ringing.
Border City Sketches:
A Walk Though The Thirties, Corky Deir Rawson
Deir Rawson was born on a farm near Chatham in 1926. Her family
moved to Windsor in 1929 where her father established a construction
business. They lost everything in the crash of '29 and several
years later, when Corky was suffering from malnutrition, the
family moved to a farm near Port Stanley so she could regain
her health. After a stint of modelling for department stores
such as J. L. Hudson in Detroit, Corky turned to writing.
In addition to Border City Sketches, a collection of her memories
of Windsor, Corky produced a series of children's books. She
also wrote, hosted and produced several radio and TV programs.
Stan's War Memories