Friday, February 22, 2008

Early Time Memories

Hi Marty;

I have attached a document that I think may be of interest to those who
read your blog. I'm sure there are others who have similar memories of
the Park.

John


Early Recollections of the Park

My son has just moved into a new house here in Ottawa with all the “bells and whistles”. It made me think back to the late 1940's when we moved into our new house in the Park. Wow! What a difference.

My Dad was an RCAF WWII vet and my Mom was a British War Bride. My Dad returned to Canada in the fall of 1945, but my Mom & I didn't arrive in Canada until May 1946 aboard the Queen Mary. I was 11 months old at the time, and we originally lived in Park Extension in Montreal with my grandparents. When my brother Keith was born in 1947, my parents decided it was time for their own place. They picked Greenfield Park in early 1948 and bought a lot at 96A Springfield (between the Taggart's and the Stone's). After having the cement pickets poured, my Dad, grandfather and a few family members built the one and one half story house bit by bit as the money became available. My Dad even dug the trench by hand from the house to the middle of the road to hook up the water and sewer. By early fall, the frame was finished and closed in except for the windows and doors. In order to make the place habitable, my Dad sold his 1929 Pontiac to get enough money to buy the windows and doors.

When we did move in, the rooms were defined by the studs (no drywall), the second story was not completed (no stairs or floor), the kitchen cupboards were made from wooden orange crates, my Mom cooked on a Coleman camp stove, the bathroom walls were made of tar paper, there was no front porch (a 5 foot drop to the ground) and the yard was a mess of mud, weeds and trees. As I mentioned, Mom cooked on a Coleman camp stove for a month or so until we could get an electric stove (they were still in short supply after the War). Mom did all of the washing on a scrub board in the kitchen sink because we had no washing machine, and the ice man delivered blocks of ice for the ice box because we had no refrigerator. The only heat was provided by a coal stove in the living room. We were unable to get a telephone at first so Mom walked to Kipp's Store every evening to use the public pay phone to call my grandmother. It was almost 4 years after we moved in before the inside of the house could be considered complete.

Despite the fact that we were living in a house that was still under construction and had none of the modern conveniences, I don't ever remember hearing my Mom complain about anything. I think that both my Mom & Dad were just happy and proud to have a place they could call their own.

Can you imagine any middle class family moving into such a house today? I'm almost certain it would not even reach the current standards for a habitable dwelling. We certainly did live in simpler times and I think that we are stronger because of it.

Thanks John P.

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