I went to Weston Elementary School when I was little and living on Gallagher Avenue in Winnipeg. One of my strongest memories from grade three was the start of creative writing. Our teacher would cut out pictures from magazines and paste them on construction paper. The picture would be passed around from one desk to the next through the classroom and our assignment was to write a story about it. The pupil with the best story was awarded the picture as a prize. How great is that?
Over the years I have developed a rather keen interest in old photographs. So it is that I find that I have spent countless hours poking through old picture collections. One of my favourite places to search is the Manitoba Archives. The staff are excellent and very helpful.
Here are a few of the pictures I found. This one is part of the Sisler Collection and was taken in around 1915. The note on the file says “Clearing Land South of Elma.” I am using pictures in my video montage that will be presented at Tarbut tomorrow night at the Rady Jewish Community Centre. The others are early pictures of Downtown Winnipeg.
I am delighted that Jewish Book Month will bring me back to Winnipeg for a special evening of stories, music and nostalgia. Join me and the fabulously talented singer, Jane Enkin, on Nov. 22nd at the Rady Centre for the 3rd annual Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture.
For me it will be a chance to celebrate the early history of the immigrants in Winnipeg who first settled in what was to become Winnipeg’s famous North End with music, stories, pictures of the early days, and of course, a reading from Ravenscraig.
with Sandi Krawchenko Altner, author of Ravenscraig
Join as at Tarbut on Nov. 22nd for a lively evening of musical entertainment and nostalgic memories of the early days in Winnipeg’s North End.
Sandi Krawchenko Altner will present a reading from Ravenscraig, her award-winning historical novel about Winnipeg, and lead a discussion about the dreamers and strivers who first settled the North End.
Sandi will share stories she learned from her many years of research on Winnipeg’s boomtown years a century ago, when it was among the fastest growing cities on the continent. The research inspired the fictional Zigman family of Ravenscraig, Russian Jewish immigrants who struggled to put down roots in Canada. Sandi will also describe the living conditions suffered by the North End’s mix of Jews, Ukrainians and other “foreign born” residents, and the passion that developed in “the foreign quarter” that ultimately led to Winnipeg’s North End becoming known as one of Canada’s greatest neighbourhoods for “rags to riches” success stories.
It is Tarbut’s pleasure to invite all who have a connection to, or affection for Winnipeg’s North End to join us for this special evening of nostalgia and celebration.
Ravenscraig, by Sandi Krawchenko Altner, Winner of the 2012 Carol Shields Book Award
Romance, scandal, and tragedy grip the lives of two families and threaten to destroy them both in Ravenscraig, by Sandi Krawchenko Altner. Winner of the 2012 Carol Shields Book Award, Ravenscraig, pitches rich against poor in the height of the immigration boom a century ago.
Rupert Willows buries his cruel past and schemes his way to wealth and power when he buys his opulent home, Ravenscraig Hall. Zev Zigman, a devout Jew, mounts a desperate struggle to bring his family out of czarist Russia. At the center is the feisty Maisie, who hides her Jewish roots to enter the world of “The English” as a well paid maid at Ravenscraig. Love, anger and determination fuel the treacherous journey ahead.
Armstrong’s Point is among my favourite neighbourhoods in Winnipeg and was the ideal choice for the location of the fictional home Ravenscraig Hall in my novel Ravenscraig.
Tucked into a bend in the Assiniboine River, the lush landscape and expansive lawns of “The Gates” as it is often called, have continued to inspire new generations of homeowners for more than a century. There is no other place quite like this, and it fascinates me.
You will get a sense of the luxurious homes that were built in Armstrong’s Point at the turn of the 20th century if you read the opening chapter of Ravenscraig, which you will find here on line.
To this day, Armstrong’s Point remains a distinctly beautiful and peaceful residential area, hidden away from the busy streets of downtown, yet a short walk to the city centre, public transportation, fine restaurants, bakeries, walking paths, as well as churches and a synagogue.
No, you will not find a real Ravenscraig Hall, there, but I can tell you exactly where it would have been located had it existed.
I wanted to share this short video to show what Armstrong’s Point looks like today. It was produced by Compass Digital Media of Winnipeg and is narrated by Bill Richardson. I hope it will help you understand why the residents association of Armstrong’s Point remains so fiercely protective of their historic neighbourhood.
The following notes were posted by Compass Digital Media to accompany the youtube video.
Historic Armstrong’s Point received its name in the mid-1800s, when the land was first granted by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Captain Joseph Hill.
When Captain Hill returned to England five years later, he left his boatman James Armstrong in charge and the area gradually came to be known as Armstrong’s Point. In the early 1880s when Hill heard that land values were escalating in the Canadian west, he returned to Winnipeg, reestablished his title to his property, and sold it to a syndicate headed by J. McDonald and E. Rothwell.
The Armstrong’s Point Association was formed 54 years ago to “preserve the residential nature” of one of Winnipeg’s most cherished neighbourhoods. Over the years, residents have come and gone, but still somehow, this peaceful, naturally beautiful setting remains, cherished by all who live here and visit here.
Of the 123 homes on the Point, 75 are on the city’s Inventory of Historically Noteworthy Buildings. The ornamental Tyndallstone gates were erected in 1902 and were designated by the City as historically significant in 1993.
The Cornish Library, a Carnegie library built in 1915, was named after Winnipeg*s first mayor, Francis Cornish. Ralph Connor House, home to the University Women*s Club at 54 West Gate, has been designated municipally and provincially and was recently named a National Historic Site. Beechmount at 134 West Gate is on the Canadian Registry of Historic Places.
I have a real fascination with old black and white pictures. I am especially interested in photos of people I know, but can spend days looking into any antique photo collection to learn about how people lived their lives generations ago.
I expect this is a familiar feeling for anyone who has looked through old family pictures and wished that there was someone still around to explain who was in the picture and what was happening on that day. Was it a birthday? A visit to a relative? Or just a walk in a park to share good news? The black and white photos tucked away in shoe boxes so quickly become anonymous faces staring out at us from another century with stories that are rooted in imagination instead of fact.
If I had to settle on a single reason why I wrote Ravenscraig, it would have to be this interest in old pictures.
Ravenscraigis a novel that tells the story of some of the major events in Winnipeg during the height of the immigration boom that began in the 1890s. Two families– one Jewish, poor and struggling to put down roots in the New World; the other rich and resistant to the foreigners among them–together provide a view of what life was like in a booming frontier city in Canada at the turn of the 20th century.
The research for the story was a most gratifying journey that included wide ranging resources from scholarly works and rare books to archived collections of rare documents, private letters and microfilmed court testimony. Online sources included such favourite websites as the Manitoba Historical Society, the City of Winnipeg Department of Planning, Canada Census Records and the online newspaper archives like the Manitoba Free Press.
The inspiration for my desire to learn about the early days of Winnipeg grew out of a fascination with my own family roots. My family came to Manitoba in 1896 from Zalischiky, Galicia, which is now part of the Ukraine. They were “Stalwart Peasants in Sheepskin Coats” as Clifford Sifton the minister responsible for immigration had called them. They came to Canada to farm, answering the invitation for free land in Canada’s determination to populate the prairies.
It is a most gratifying journey to learn about one’s past. What pictures are in your shoebox?
With four weeks on the bestseller list in Winnipeg, Ravenscraig, is finding an audience among both family history enthusiasts as well as people who have a fascination with the Titanic and Winnipeg’s connection to the great disaster. I am grateful and so pleased that there is such a strong interest in stories about how the early immigrants managed in a city that was the fastest growing in the Dominion of Canada.
This week, Bernie Bellan posted his review of Ravenscraig in the Winnipeg Jewish Post and News saying it provides “a fascinating insight into early Jewish migration into Winnipeg.”
Where “Ravenscraig” excels, however, and no doubt why it has become an immediate best-seller locally, is in its description of Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century and certain key events that are probably unknown to most readers.
For instance, a major typhoid outbreak in 1905 becomes a centerpiece of the novel. In her description of the horrible living conditions of the bulk of the immigrant population in Winnipeg, Krawchenko Altner does a fine job of evoking the misery that accompanied life for so many of our grandparents and great-grandparents.
At the same time the level of corruption in which Winnipeg’s Anglo Saxon leaders engaged is also quite astounding and is brought to life on the pages of this book. “Ravenscraig’ devotes a fair bit of space to the issue of red-light houses in the city and how it was that police and elected officials not only turned a blind eye to the prostitution that was conducted so openly, those same officials profited hugely from its practice.
Bernie Bellan is the editor of the Winnipeg Jewish Post and News, and has a particular affection for Jewish history in Winnipeg. When we talked last week I was delighted to discuss not only Ravenscraig, but also the work of his grandfather, Ruben Bellan, an economics professor who wrote a very informative history book that is in my collection of Manitoba rare books. Winnipeg’s First Century: An Economic History provides a solid road map of sources for those who are interested in further study of Winnipeg’s development.
In his review, Bernie also mentions Allan Levine’s, Coming of Age: A History of the Jewish People of Manitoba. This is a fantastic work that is rich with detail and inspiring stories. Allan has also written a most enjoyable series of historical novels set in Winnipeg that I heartily recommend. These are the Sam Klein mysteries. Allan and I went to high school together at Garden City Collegiate and it was wonderful to see him at the Ravenscraig launch in Winnipeg. Allan’s latest book King, has also just been released.
“As a newcomer to Winnipeg, I had everything to learn from the gripping true stories – the phenomenally fast growth of Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century, political and business intrigue and the ways of life for the rich and poor
of the city. It was always a treat to see how Altner brought real people into the lives of the Willows and Zigman families.
The imagined characters, living in these exciting times, are connected to two families, one wealthy and part of Winnipeg’s high society, the other new Jewish immigrants. The homes and luxuries, and also the stresses and concerns, of the wealthy characters from British backgrounds were new to me, and fun to discover.
The stories of Jewish immigrant families, starting with their dangerous lives in Ukraine, to their poverty in Canada, through to their gradual success, are very familiar. It’s a story I never tire of hearing, because it’s the story of my own family – my grandmother crossed a river carrying her son to sneak across a border, thought she had started a secure new life in a different part of Europe, then had to start all over again in Canada.”
Click hereto see the entire article in the Winnipeg Jewish Review.
A dream week, with lots to celebrate, and a great deal to be thankful for. Thank you, Manitoba for your enthusiasm for stories about the rich history of Winnipeg!
A small pair of brown shoes that were hidden away in a police sergeant’s desk in 1912 have provided the deciding clue to the identity of Titanic’s “Unknown Child”.
Scientists and Titanic students have been searching for irrefutable DNA evidence to positively identify the Titanic victim remembered as the unknown child. But, when it comes to examining samples from 90 year old graves, science is not as precise as we wish it could be.
The aftermath of the Titanic disaster involved a grueling recovery operation to bring the bodies back to shore.
Halifax was chosen as a convenient location for the salvage operation as it was the closest port that had a railway connection. Some of the bodies were laid to rest at sea while 209 others, many of them unidentified passengers from third class, were brought to Halifax.
150 of the dead were buried in three cemeteries in Halifax. Over 40 of them remain unidentified.
Many of the recovered bodies showed evidence of being battered in the violent break up of the great ship, but the tiny lifeless body of a young boy’s otherwise perfect body had been found bobbing in the ocean among the wreckage. The crew of the recovery vessel, The MacKay-Bennett were so moved by the sight that they took up a collection to pay for the child’s funeral and tombstone at Fairview Cemetery. Officially, the child was known as body #4.
The marker at his grave has come to represent the lives of all 50 children who died in the sinking on April 15, 1912.
On it is written: Erected to the memory of an unknown child whose remains were recovered after the disaster of the Titanic April 15, 1912.
A decade ago, two Canadian men, Dr. Ryan Parr of Lakehead University in Ontario, and historian Alan Ruffman of Halifax, joined forces to solve the mystery. They were granted permission to exhume the grave of the Unknown Child in May, 2001. The samples Dr. Parr had to work with for DNA testing included a small piece of bone and a few teeth. While Dr. Parr worked in his laboratory, Alan Ruffman set out on a very ambitious journey to find descendants of five boys the two believed could be the Unknown Child. The five boys were:
Gilbert Danbom (age five months, born in Sweden)
Alfred Peacock (age seven months, from England)
Eino Viljam Panula (age thirteen months, from Finland)
Sidney Goodwin (age 19 months, from England)
Eugene Rice (age 2 years, from Ireland)
Ruffman worked doggedly in his quest to track down the descendants he needed to find. Dozens of people from historians and genealogists to family members joined him in his effort and he was able to make the contacts needed to gain the DNA samples to be tested.
Three of the five boys were immediately identified as non-matches. But, the remaining two both came up as possible matches. They were Eino Panula and Sidney Goodwin.
However, in examining the evidence beyond the DNA, it was decided the Goodwin boy was too young to have the shape and condition of the teeth that were recovered from the grave.
In November of 2002, Alan Ruffman and Dr. Ryan Parr announced that the remains of the unknown child were most likely that of the boy from Finland named Eino Panula.
This week emerged news that Dr. Ryan Parr believes they had made a mistake and that the young victim is actually Sidney Goodwin of England. Dr. Parr is now Vice-President of Research and Development of Genesis Genomics in Ontario. He and his colleagues have written an article for the June issue of the journal, Forensic Science International: Genetics, in which they state: “the remains of the young boy are most likely those of an English child, Sidney Leslie Goodwin”.
The deciding factor was the existence of the shoes, which were donated to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax in 2002 and are now on public display.
Clarence Northover, a Halifax Police Department Sergeant in 1912, helped guard the bodies and belongings of the Titanic victims. “Clothing was burned to stop souvenir hunters but he was too emotional when he saw the little pair of brown, leather shoes about fourteen centimeters long, and didn’t have the heart to burn them. When no relatives came to claim the shoes, he placed them in his desk drawer at the police station and there they remained for the next six years, until he retired in 1918.” Excerpt from July 26, 2002 letter by Earle Northover, grandson of Clarence Northover.
Ultimately, the little shoes were to provide the final clue needed to determine the identity of the boy. On examining the shoes almost one hundred years after the disaster, it was determined that the shoes were too big for a child that was only 13 months old. Sidney Goodwin, 6 months older than Eino Paluna, had to be the boy who wore the shoes.
Ukrainian-speaking peasants from Eastern Europe were not anywhere near the preferred list of immigrants wanted by Canada in the early 1890s. English, French and American farmers were the top choice. But, the government had a huge problem. Not enough of these “acceptable” people were interested in breaking the land in the Canadian West, and the Americans were expressing a keen interest in annexing the vast open land.
The government decided it had no choice but to look to less attractive immigrants to solve the problem of populating the prairies.
When I speak of quality I have in mind something that is quite different from what is in the mind of the average writer or speaker upon the question of immigration. I think that a stalwart peasant in a sheepskin coat, born on the soil, whose forefathers have been farmers for ten generations, with a stout wife and a half-dozen children, is good quality.
~ Clifford Sifton
One man, Clifford Sifton, Canada’s Minister of the Interior and charged with the responsibility of immigration (1896-1905), drove the campaign to open Canada’s doors to Central and Eastern Europe. The country needed to establish farming on the prairies, and they needed people who could survive on their own to do it.
Among the first to respond to Canada’s invitation for free land were peasants from Galicia and Bukovinia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were poor farmers who were being crowded off of their meager farms. As their families expanded, the land they had available to share with their children was being divided down to nothing. Facing a bleak future and deep poverty, the idea of being given 160 acres of land they would own, with bush that would provide wood for fuel and animals for food, became a powerful force in motivating them to strike out for the new opportunity.
In the summer of 1896, the first Ukrainian-speaking settlers arrived in Manitoba. They were a group of 27 families from Galicia, who had sailed on the SS Sicilia from Hamburg to Quebec City. From there they took the train to Winnipeg, before making their way to their allotted lands, 75 miles southeast of Winnipeg at Stuartburn. Among this group of immigrants were Petr Strumbicky and his wife Irena Goyman, and their five children from Zalischiky, Galicia. They sold everything they had, and brought only what they could carry. Their worldly goods, upon arrival at Winnipeg, amounted to little more than some seeds in a handkerchief and the equivalent of seven dollars.
The eldest child, Nikola, would marry Aksana Shmigelsky, a girl he knew from the old country who arrived with her family some years later. Aksana’s family was from the village of Blyschanka. Aksana and Nykola were exactly the kind of people Sifton spoke about. They would raise six children and live out their lives on their land at Vita.
The following story is an excerpt from my novel,Ravenscraig. This chapter tells the story of Nykola and Aksana, and is inspired by family stories and other accounts that I have read about the experiences of the these early pioneers. I am humbled by their resilience and their success.
I am posting this chapter in honour of the 80th birthday of my mother, Mary Krawchenko. Aksana and Nykola were her grandparents, and my mother’s childhood was spent on their farm at Vita.
My sisters and I have hands like our great grandmother. I know this, not because I remember her so well, but because I can see her work-worn hands resting quietly in her lap in a photograph that was taken in 1936. It must have been a Sunday, according to my mother, because they never worked on Sundays, and because she was wearing shoes. Her name was Aksana Shmigelsky and she was married to Nykola Strumbicky, who loved her with all of his heart.
Aksana is sitting in a kitchen chair outside her house at their farm near Vita, Manitoba. Nykola, is standing next to her. They were Baba and Gedo to their many grandchildren and great grandchildren. But to my mother, Mary and her cousins, Aksana was affectionately known as “Fat Baba”, to distinguish her from the other babas: Aksana’s mother and mother-in-law, both of whom were thin.
Kind and hard working, Aksana was barefoot all summer long, unless she was in church. She was known for making bread, cranberry jam, and whiskey, which she only served on special occasions or to important company. The bread was made in an outdoor oven called a pich.
I look at the photos and I think of the work that passed through Aksana’s hands in the harsh winters and blistering hot summers of Manitoba. In the picture with Nykola, she is the same age as I am now.
Some of the work she would have done is familiar to my brothers and sisters and me. Our hands have comforted children, planted marigolds in May, and have even kneaded dough for bread. But her hands were talented in ways that ours are not. Baba’s hands could pluck a chicken, plait garlic pulled fresh from the earth, and make intricate cross stitch patterns in a white cloth for an Easter basket.
My mother was 5 years old in 1936.
She was raised on this farm with her older sister Elsie. Everyone spoke Ukrainian. Mom learned English only when she moved to Winnipeg. The first home she lived in had a thatched roof and a mud floor.
Her grandparents had lived in the traditional Ukrainian style of shelter for more than 30 years before they built their “modern” house when my mother was a little girl. She remembers the new wooden house being built.
She also remembers how wonderful summers were at Vita because her cousins, Bob and Lug Harcott, who were close to her age, would come from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, with their mother, Ann Harcott, to spend the summer at the farm with her.
Canada was deep into the depression in the 1930s, and there were no luxuries on the farm, but there were plenty of good times and they never went hungry.
Some years later, the little brothers would come along to join the gang, Bill Harcott and Bill Bachynsky.
Their mothers, Tillie Bachynsky and Ann Harcott, seen here in 1928, dressed for the camera, remained very close all of their lives.
Aksana and Nykola married in Vita. They had both come to Canada with their families. In the “old country” they were from villages a few miles apart, Zalischiky and Blyschanka in Galicia, Austria, now in the westernmost part of Ukraine.
Nikola came to Canada before Aksana did. He was the eldest of five children and a young adult when his father Petr Strumbicky, then 60, heeded the call of the Canadian Government, offering free land to immigrants with hopes of putting a large “producing population” on the prairie lands of Western Canada. The government was anxious to establish a grain industry, and more importantly, to populate the prairies to prevent the Americans from annexing the region. Free land was offered to the immigrants. For a ten dollar registration fee, each family was granted 160 acres of land.
Petr Strumbicky, together with his wife, Irena Goyman, and their children came to Manitoba with the first group of 27 Ukrainian pioneer families that settled at the Stuartburn Colony, an area more familiarly known as Vita, today. The group sailed on theSS Sicilia, which docked in Quebec City in late July. They traveled by train to Winnipeg and spent a week at the immigration shed on the east side of the CPR station. By the time the exhausted colonists trekked out to their homesteads they had been traveling for two months. It was August and too late to plant a crop. These resilient people put their faith in God and each other. They carved homes out of the earth, and hunkered down to get through the winter with little more than their fierce determination to make it in the new country.
The land they settled had to first be cleared of stones and bush before they could plant crops.
All of the children worked alongside their parents, pulling rocks from the soil.
They suffered many hardships, but they stuck it out. Success was measured by mere survival, and in the small joys of laughing children, hearty meals, and time to visit to sing and tell stories with family and friends.
To this day, Mary, Bob and Lug share stories of their shared childhood. They consider themselves to have been blessed with memories of kindness, generosity and the strength of their grandparents.
In 1993, my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. I interviewed my mom and her cousins about those summer days long ago, for a family history film, called Korinchikeh. In this segment we get a glimpse of their special times together at Vita.
My mother, Mary (Bachynsky) Krawchenko, turned 80 on April 2. In honour of her birthday, I posted an excerpt from my novel, Ravenscraig. It is a chapter called “Stalwart Peasants in Sheepskin Coats” and is inspired by the story of Aksana and Nykola and their start in Canada.
I laughed out loud this morning when my teenage daughter called from university to tell me I now qualify as a “senior” and advised that my husband and I should rush out to an early bird restaurant to see what birthday goodie they might have for me as a special treat for my special day.
I chose to stay home and think instead, and my thoughts went to 2147 Gallagher Avenue in Winnipeg. This was my parents’ first home, and we lived there until 1968. By then there were six of us in the family: My parents, Carl and Mary, Margaret, me, Christopher and Joey. Kathy would make her appearance in the summer of 1969, a year after we moved to our new home on Stardust Avenue, in what was then Old Kildonan.
I don’t mean to make this overly sentimental, but now that I truly am a “senior” according to certain stores that offer deals on Tuesdays, I feel fully entitled to indulge in some pleasant thoughts of years past.
Plainly put, I had a terrific childhood. We were very fortunate. We didn’t have a lot when we were growing up but we didn’t know it. We had everything we needed. We were never hungry, always warm and I don’t ever remember being bored. Our childhood friends whispered that we must be rich. It wasn’t because our home was fancy, but by the fact that my mom always offered up a plate of freshly baked cookies and a pitcher of Koolaid (with lots of sugar) to our friends who came to call on us or play in our yard, and probably because word got around that my dad owned a business. In later years, I came to appreciate how my parents quietly watched for someone in need and found small ways to help. It might have been with a sandwich or a pair of mittens, or occasionally with a word about a job availability. Never extravagant, but always thoughtful, and always in the most discreet manner.
Our Weston neighbourhood was filled with many languages and large families spilling out of tiny houses set on 25 foot lots, each a little different from the next, some in need of paint, others splashed with hollyhocks or fronted with feathery bushes with those weird little seed pods that look like beans. All of these homes were filled with kids who loved to be outside, winter and summer.
We lived on Gallagher Avenue in Winnipeg, within window rattling distance of the railroad tracks and just a block away from Cantor’s grocery store. Mom didn’t drive then. In the winter, when she needed to go shopping, she used to stuff me and my older sister Margaret into a sled with wooden slats and metal runners and haul us down the block over the icy sidewalk. The groceries rode home on top of us if she had a small load, or if it was a couple of boxes worth, they arrived at the kitchen door on the side of the house, delivered by Cantors.
In winter, we built snow forts and ran along the tops of snow banks left when the plow came through our street. The sound of the winter of my childhood is the sound of snow crunching underfoot and the thunk of hockey pucks, three homes over, slapping against boards in a backyard rink.
My sister and I didn’t play hockey, but we did go skating. We’d tie our skates together and sling them around our necks and head to the public rink across Logan Avenue. There was a shack next to the rink and with numb fingers we’d lace up our skates and pretend we were actually good skaters. We’d stay out at the rink until either our feet were frozen with pain or our wrists were numb from the balls of ice that inevitably formed in the woolen cuffs. Ah, winter in Winnipeg.
The ice rink was always full of kids. Even if you had no skates, you could always curl. This was Jam Pail Curling. All you needed was boots. The “equipment” was supplied. Once in a while there may have been brooms, but we didn’t need them to have a game. Big and small we all had a chance to play. The “rocks” were not what you’d see at one of the “real” curling rinks, but none of us had ever seen a real one of those, so the ones we had served us fine. And there was always a plentiful supply. Our rocks were jam pails filled with water and left overnight with a hook to freeze in place. Sometimes it would take two kids to heave one can down the ice. That was okay. It was all okay. He who shouted loudest made the rules. This was how kids became leaders and lawyers in that day.
Summer was skipping ropes, hopscotch, and sandboxes; drinking from water hoses and sitting in washtubs in the backyard. We wandered around from one yard to the next playing games like Tippy Sticks, Hide-and-Seek, and Red Rover. We sang outrageous songs that we didn’t know were outrageous and no one caught a “Tiger” by the toe.
We’d play outside until our mothers called us in for supper. No one ever called it dinner. If they did, they were English and it meant lunch. After supper, as quickly as we could, we would run outside again and continue our games. The evening went all too fast. The light would start to fade and we’d rush to get just one more play in before we had to go home. Everyone had the same signal. As soon as the streetlights came on we had to call it quits. The second the lights appeared, the backdoors of those little houses would open and mothers would shout out the names of the stragglers. Sometimes they were even their own kids.