The Twins - Born 1908
It was a cold November day.There was no doctor at the birth, but only a good competent neighbour woman.They wrapped each baby in a warmed blanket and laid them on a pillow. Each baby was bathed and rubbed with olive oil for one month before they could be dressed with more than a diaper. (My Mother, Nellie, told me they would be put together in a wooden box, made by Grandpa, to sleep with bricks warmed and wrapped in towels in the wood stove oven to keep them warm. There were no such devices as incubators in those days).
Mother nursed each baby and tried to save her milk for the evening feedings. In the morning she would boil water in a large kettle and when it began to boil she would put in a dipper full of flour. When the flour hit the boiling water it formed a large ball. After one hour of full boil she would crack the ball with the hammer and try to catch enough of the liquid to feed the babies. As the twins grew older she would give them solid food.
Mother told me, long after I was married , she would not wish twins on anyone. She said " One night when the twins were small babies, Lillie cried and cried, no matter what Dad and I did. She cried so much she woke up Nellie and the two of them cried. It was a cold winter night, and Dad and I walked the kitchen floor with them. We heated towels thinking that maybe they had ear-ache, but they still cried. Dad said to "open the door and I'll throw her out in the snow" He had Lillie and I had Nellie. Of course your Dad never meant what he said, he loved the twins, he called them "his wee gaffers".
When the twins were one year old I was born daughter number four. So there were three babies not walking. Mother tried to get full time help, but that was impossible. It was winter and that was to her advantage, in a way, as she had Dad to help. There were diapers to wash, babies to feed, food to prepare. No washing machine, no clothes dryer. Mother and Dad never neglected their family. They had good health and good neighbours.
I can recall as a small child, Dad with his back to the lamp, me sitting on the edge of the table playing a pretend piano on the top of his bald head. There was never a dull moment in our house. We didn't have many toys but we would use the table legs as a horse stall and act like horses, backing in and out of the stalls.
In the winter evenings Mother would be busy darning or knitting stockings or sewing. Dad would be putting half soles on our shoes and mending harnesses. He also took an active part in the United Farmers of Ontario (the UFO which later became the CCF and NDP) which operated a co-operative grocery store in Hanover.
The twins and I would watch our chance when Mother was baking bread. The oven door was low on the cook stove and she would get down on one knee to open it but as soon as she closed it the three of us would grab her and pull her down on the floor and sit on her. There was always a lot of giggling and fun going on.
Mother baked about 7 or 8 loaves of bread at one time in the wood stove. When the bread was baked she put it on the table in the pantry to cool before storing it away in the bread bin. When mother was busy, we kids would pinch off a bit of the crust. It was so good we would pinch off another piece until the whole inside of the loaf was eaten and only the crust remained. When Mother put the loaf of bread on the table for supper we thought she didn't see that the loaf had been all eaten on the inside. We giggled when she wasn't looking.
We were taught to remain sitting until everyone was seated and the prayer was said. We each had learned to say one we liked. Dad usually called our name and we would bow out heads, sometimes he would ask mother to say the prayer. Mother would emphasize every word she said as if she was driving it through our heads to make it stick or she thought we were deaf.
Here is her prayer-
Our Father in Heaven, bless this food we are about to receive,
Make it of use to our bodies, and pardon us for all our sins,
Help us do thy will,
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