14 - Aunt Clara and Uncle Bill

Phyllis Fricker and Friend

This Podcast is taken from my mother's memoirs and deals with life in Port Dover, Ontario in the 1920's. In the podcast and here the voice is mine but the words are hers. More detail can be seen at http://www.soniabrock.ca/Phyllis/

Aunt Clara and Uncle Bill

Aunt Clara was my grandfather's sister. Clara was a kind loving and giving person. She lived in St. Thomas. She took in my father and mother when they were destitute because of the great market crash in 1929. Her daughter and my cousin, Edna, and I were like sisters. We got along famously. If we got a cold Aunt Clara would doctor us up with mustard plasters or onion plasters.

She was an excellent cook and I well remember her famous casserole, macaroni and cheese. Aunt Clara was an active church worker, although Uncle Bill never went to church at all.

I remember Edna and I, one time, were removing all the wallpaper from the font and back parlours. We had to soak it with hot water, then scrape it off with paint scrapers. What a monumental chore!

While we were staying there my father put in new hardwood floors. I suppose this was to help pay for our keep.

Aunt Clara was an active woman, quick-moving, always busy. She was very close to her sister, Hilda. One of the happiest times of my life was living with Aunt Clara and Uncle Bill. We were never made to feel like poor relatives.

We really enjoyed her front veranda where we would sit and visit and watch all the funny people go by. We often visited Grandma Faulkner in Port Dover.

After Uncle Bill died Aunt Clara had the house divided into apartments. It was a large house.

Uncle Bill Miller was an engineer on the Wabash Railroad in St. Thomas, Ontario. He was a awful tease and a coarse sort of man. He would say, "Well, I had to marry Clara. She got me out on the end of a pier in Port Dover and told me that, if I didn't marry her, she'd push into Lake Erie. Well, I can't swim a stroke, so I had no alternative but to marry her!"

Aunt Clara would bite every time and say, Oh, Bill, you know that's not so!"

Bill was an aggravator. He would put sugar in his tea and then take his spoon and stir, and stir, and stir noisily - nearly driving everyone crazy. He loved his beer and drank a lot of it. His hobby was growing roses. He had some beautiful rosebushes in the back yard and would spend hours tending to them.

They would go out and gather English walnuts every year. Bill would spend hours down in the basement, hulling them and cracking them and painstakingly picking out the nutmeats. Then, Aunt Clara would bake date and nut bread. Mmmmm, good!

Being an engineer and shoveling coal all day long he would be black all over when he came home. He had a shower installed in the basement which he would always use when he came home from work.

Although Bill never went to church he was dead set against the Catholics. I had a Catholic boyfriend who would call me on the phone every night about 6:00 o'clock. Bill would wait for the call, bust his ass to get to the phone first and yell, in a voice you could hear down to the next block, "Phyllis, here's that damned Dogan* on the phone again! What could I do. I was so embarrassed.

* Note: A Dogan is a Canadian Catholic. It may derive from a common Irish surname or may have been created to sound like a typical Irish last name.

Wavy Line

© Sonia Brock 2005

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