School is starting soon and it sure was different 80 years ago

On Saturday evening last, John Keefe and I went across the lake to take in the open mike evening at the Grassy Plains Family Entertainment Centre.

On Saturday evening last, John Keefe and I went across the lake to take in the open mike evening at the Grassy Plains Family Entertainment Centre.

It’s just great, so much musical talent comes out with an evening such as this. It’s amazing and really so much fun. It’s not very often the local musicians can get a chance to show their talent. Bob and Stacy have done a great job making this all possible.

The sound system is wonderful, it’s set up so all the players just have to plug in and it’s ready to go.

Charges are by donation only so the price is right. Hats off to Bob and Stacy for all their work and planning to make it so special.

Special friends

What a pleasant surprise on Sunday to bump into another old friend, Dennis Hickey and his wife were having lunch at the Wagon Wheel.

The Hickey family are really old-timers to the Francois Lake district. Dennis was born here and spent his young life here at the lake. It’s unfortunate that there are no more of the family left here as they were a great family and good friends. They all make their homes in the lower mainland.

A family reunion is always special. You get to meet families that you would not meet otherwise. Its very often they are just too many years apart so some of the older members are either passed on or unable to come.

Jerry and Lois Koop, our close neighbours, hosted a family gathering on Aug. 12-14.

This was Lois’s family, her brothers Gerald and Eleanor Epp from Brandon MB, Dennis and Sheila Epp from Drummheller AB and several nieces and their families from Saskatchewan. There were 20 in all including Jerry and Lois’s daughter Lori and husband Russell Collier and their two boys. Also Jeff Koop. This reunion is a yearly event, of which the family always look forward to and enjoy.

Jack Layton

What a shock to Canada and a great loss to the NDP party with the passing of Jack Layton. He was respected by all the parties. He was a great man and he will be remembered as a man who had the interests of the working people at heart. Cancer plays no favourites, regardless of face, race, color or creed, it keeps raising its ugly head, when least expected.

My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that the NDP party will have a hard time to take over where Jack Layton left off. He will be well remembered for what he stood for. My remarks are my own and have no reflection on this paper or any member of my family.

More friends

What a pleasant surprise last week to have our special friends Paul and Esme Challen drop in for coffee and a short visit. They came over from England in 1968 and made their first home in Canada at Francois Lake.

They were both like family to us and they still are a part of the Neave clan. In 1972 they built a small log home just east of the present store at  the Landing.

They taught school at Burns Lake Elementary School for a time and then between 1969 and 1971 they taught at the Grassy Plains School. They moved to Smithers and taught there for 40 years.

They still make their home in Smithers.

Esme said her first introduction to Francois Lake was coming into our  kitchen and meeting me as I was cutting up a moose on the kitchen table with a bottle of wine in front of me and the first thing I said was ‘howdy, come in and have  drink’, Esme remembered it but I don’t. We all got quite a laugh out of this.

School days coming

It’s getting a bit closer everyday to school days and the old grind. This was the time of year when I was growing up I hated.

We would be threshing and hauling in feed and rounding up for shipping. School was so far from my mind, I am going back now over 80 years as I had my 89 birthday last week.

My first week at school and I was just six years old. Dad set me up on a little saddle horse, Dolly, with my school bag with horse feed and my lunch and asked the high school boys to take me off and put me on again to go home.

No lights in the school so we sat on the floor close to the board so we could see. I took off a kids boots and tied them together.

Teacher, Miss Schoer strapped my really good. About 30 years later, I met Miss Schoer at a reunion in Evesham and I asked her if she remembered my strapping, she said no but it must have been a good one for you to remember, back over now 30 years.

There was no guff with her, you went to school to learn and learn you did. I well remember as one of the best teachers I ever had. I got another strapping from her some years later for fooling around. This one I deserved but I don’t think I did my first one.

Dolly was a pretty good saddle horse and brother Peter rode her to school when he started.

She saw both of us start school and took us safe back and forth. I have to go back and think how hard it was for the teachers. One room, seven grades and try and keep all the grades working but in those days this was normal.

Few schools and teachers but lots of smart students came out of those little country schools. By today’s standards, they were so different, but we went to school to learn and learn we did.

As I look back there were seven of us started school and  we all stayed together all my school years, the same seven. When I had an accident with a bad horse, I dropped out in Grade 10 and broke up the class. I was so sorry. I missed them. I never went back to school.

It’s Friday and the sun is shining, such a lovely day, makes a person glad to be alive after so much rain, so slow down and enjoy.

Take care and have a nice weekend and always remember, God loves you and so do I.