A New Chapter

 

The day started even earlier than usual that Sunday. I got up early, hurried around with the milking and other chores, and turned the cows and horses into the pasture. It was the last time I was to see them for four days. Bill [Harold] Parmeter had offered to care for them while I was away. Alyce would care for the chickens and do the other chores. It was my wedding day. The farmer was taking a wife.

My sisters ironed a white shirt for me. I got out my old suit and slicked up as much as I could. I even took a bath. A special Occasion! [Normally I took a bath once every few weeks whether I needed it or not [an old joke]].

At age 25 I thought it was time to consider the long-term future and had started looking for wife material. My search stopped short after I received Alberta's reply to my initial letter to her. Six months later, in mid-September, we were married at her parents' camp on Oneida Lake. [Kawana Bay]

We had much to talk over before deciding. I had little to offer a wife only a relatively primitive life on the farm and next to nothing money-wise. On the plus side I owned a house and farm with no debts, no monthly payments, and no mortgage. I had paid off the farm mortgage in about 4 1/2 years after purchase. I had long ago vowed I would never buy anything on credit and become a slave to monthly payments. Alberta and I pretty much kept this vow throughout our lives.

My sisters and I had previously agreed that if any of us got married, my sisters would move out. We thought, wisely I think, that in-laws living with a newly married couple spelled trouble. So just before Alberta and I were married Dora and Alyce moved to the Goff farm south of the Olcott's.

Alberta and I discussed how we would live, the hard work involved, and just "who would do what", the question of children, and generally what both of us would expect out of the marriage. We planned that I would make as much income as I could from the farm itself and Alberta would do her best to keep most of it out of the stores' cash registers. Of course, for Alberta, moving from city living to the relatively primitive farm life would be quite a change, even without considering my questionable financial state. I wondered how she would adjust!

 

"Our Wedding Reception"

 

 

"Alberta in the Farm Kitchen"

"Culture Shock?"

 

I needn't have worried. She took to it with enthusiasm. For example, by the end of August before we were married she had prepared for the coming winter by preserving food I grew on the farm. We didn't live together before marriage as seems to be popular now, we called that "shacking up". Often in those last summer days I would pick her up in Oneida, and while I worked in the hay and grain fields she worked in the house canning and freezing stuff from the farm and garden to supply us during the winter months.

In my journal for August of that year I find this entry: Alberta has canned the following:

Long blackberries 27 pts. [froze 11pts.]

Black caps 16 pts. [ " 20 pts.]

Peas 27 pts [froze 6 pts.]

Red raspberry jam 9 jars

Applesauce 18 qts.

Chicken 4 qts.

Chicken soup stock 2 qts. 2pts.

String beans 54 pts.

Cucumber pickles 3 cans

Squash 5 pts.

Tomatoes 33 qts. 36 pts.

Tomato juice 12 qts. 3 pts.

Elder berries 4 qts.

Corn 20 pts,

Pears 11 qts.

Prunes 3 qts.

Peaches 6 qts.

Chili sauce 4 cans

A real start for the first winter!

I had filled the cow barn haymows with hay [loose hay loaded on the wagon with a pitch -fork], but I still had the big mow in the horse barn to fill, and the season was getting late. I put that off until we returned from our four-day wedding trip in September.

Our "steady money" to cover daily expenses would come from the small dairy. Our "get ahead money" would, hopefully come from the chickens. We both liked the chicken business, and Alberta through the years came to work diligently with me in that. We were to have several financial disasters in the coming years, but were able to survive because we had nobody waiting for payments. We had only a little cash income so we ate what we grew and tightened belts. We didn't have to do much belt-tightening. Alberta held up her end, even after three babies arrived in rapid succession [she made clothes for us and for the children]. We worked together, and we ate well. We grew most of the feed for the animals and had our own chicken and eggs, beef, pork, sometimes turkey and duck, sugar in the form of maple syrup, wild berries and garden vegetables. We even for a time ground our own wheat for flour. Of course we made our own butter and ice cream.

 

Charles E. Page 2003

 

 

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