My maternal grandparents were imigrants from Europe. Grandma immigrated from Austria in 1904 at the age of 16; and Grandpa, as an infant with his family from Poland. Grandma boarded a ship in Germany with a family she barely knew, travelled across the ocean in stearage on the ship to a strange country. Unable to speak english, she landed in Halifax then boarded a train and travelled across Canada, taking days until she arrived in Winnipeg where she was met by distant realitives which she'd never met before.
Can you imagine any of our children/grandchildren managing something like this now- a-days? I cannot!
My only memories of Grandma are from the very last year of her life, when she came to live with us so my mother could care for her. She occupied the second largest bedroom in the house, and pretty much never left the hospital bed she was in. To tell the truth, I remember the buzzer my Dad installed in the room, better than Grandma herself. I was 5 yrs old, and the buzzer seemed like a pretty fun thing, especailly when others than Grandma rang it, and Mom went running!
After Grandma was gone, and I was older, I started to listen to the stories my mother and her siblings told about my grandparents life. Sadly, it wasn't until my own mother was gone, that I truely became interested in my heritage. I kept thinking about the things that a young woman coming to Canada at that age would have experienced, and pretty soon a story was floating around my brain - not about Grandma per se, but about a young woman like her. I even gave her a name - Emilie!
My parents were children during the Great Depression. My Grandmother on Dad's side, died shorthly after delivering her tenth child, leaving my grandfather and his eldest daughter (around 12 0r 13 yrs of age) to raise 9 children, one of them a newborn, and the others a little over a year apart in age.
Growing up, I heard many stories of the depression years, and again I did not appreciate what I was hearing until I was much older... then I wished I would have listened more closely!
Soon I placed Emilie in the depression era, and I found a family of motherless children who needed her love and compassion... even if she could barely speak english... and my novel "Winter Wheat" was born.
Over the next few months, I'd like to share my story with you. I have no idea how long it will take to complete the story this way, but once a week, I'll post a few pages for you to read. I hope you enjoy the story, and I really would welcome your comments along the way, if you care to do that.
So check back next week for the first pages of "Winter Wheat."
About the pictures at the top of this post:
The first picture is of my materal Grandparents, taken on what I believe was their only trip back to the "Old Country". I'm not sure of the date, sometime in the late 40's I think. I look at this picture and realize that I am roughly the same age my Grandmother would have been in this picture.... scary!
The second picture is of my father and some of his siblings, taken during the depressionin 1933. My father is the cheeky lad holding the dog front and center. This picture is one of my favorite pictures of all.