Events and phrases we may never see or hear again – Reflections of Ponoka

A lot of men

A lot of men

No matter what grand old tales and habits we may now relate to our beloved grandchildren, or how old we are, there are those countless events and parental advice and beliefs from our childhood that we will never experience or enjoy again.

Just for our precious younger generation, I want to bring back some of those cherished vignettes, which I hope you will all get a chuckle out of! They are meant to be a walk down memory lane for us older ones, as well as an eye-opener for younger ones, because it likely occurred long before the television and computer age.

Our loving mothers and fathers always meant well, but there were many times when they really put us in our places with these strict verbal statements from their book of everyday household rules and directions.

• Don’t go outside with your school clothes on, don’t slam the screen door, and don’t leave the radio on because you will wear the battery down.

• Go comb your hair; it looks like the rats have nested in it all night!

• Be sure and pour the cream off the top of the milk when you open the new bottle.

• Take that empty bottle to the store with you so that you won’t have to pay a deposit on the new one, and no I don’t have 10 cents for you to go to the show, do you think money grows on trees?

• Put a dishtowel over the cake so that the flies won’t get it, and if you don’t quit jumping on the floor when the cake is in the oven it will fall.

• You boys stay close by as the car might not start and I will need you to give it a push. There’s a dollar in my purse, so get five gallons of gas when you go down town.

• Please watch for the Fuller Brush Man, and here, take this old magazine to the toilet with you when you go because we are almost out of paper out there.

• Eat those turnips, they’ll make you big and strong like your daddy, and don’t you dare make a face or there will be no dessert.

• Sit still, I’m trying to get your hair cut straight. Hush your mouth; if I hear words like that again I will wash your mouth out with soap. If you keep crossing your eyes they will stay like that someday. Go soak your foot in kerosene so that bad cut won’t get infected. It is time for your system to be cleaned out, so tonight I am going to give you a dose of castor oil. If you get a spanking at school and I find out about it, you will get another one at home!

• The cardinal rules: wash your hands before you come to the table, your feet before you go to bed, and the dirt ring from around your neck, then go to the well and draw a pail of water so that you can help with the dishes.

Memories of Alma Park (Lentz) for The Ponoka Panorama history book

• Hundreds of fireflies always lit up the grass at night in June.

• Scores of prairie chickens packed the snow hard on their dancing hill, one block from Alma Park’s home in the 1920s.

• Travellers stopped in to get water to fill the radiators of their new and noisy cars. My father, Fred Lentz pulled many cars out of the mud along the Calgary-Edmonton Trail.

• A man from Calgary asked everyone not to drive with horses on the highway one Sunday so that he could travel 60 miles per hour all the way to Edmonton. On arrival at the capital city he was arrested for speeding.

• The highway roadbed was elevated to its present level by horse-drawn scrapers. When the job was finished, the horses were sold at Hobbema, and my father brought one, called Nick, for us kids to drive back and forth to our Manito school.

The trouble was, his mouth was very hard from constantly being turned, and he always wanted to go automatically into the ditch where his previous job had been. One day he even went into the slough near William McDougall’s house and laid down to cool off without even breaking the shafts. Douglas Park took his early education at Arbor Park School, and then rode his horse into Ponoka to attend high school.

• The men working on that new highway always went for a refreshing swim in the Battle River, and during one year 10 would drown along the popular stretch between Menaik and Ponoka.

• It was Dave Grant’s job in those early days to go around and check to see if everyone had their radio license, which cost about $2.50 a year.

• Our turkeys survived the dry times by living off the thousands of grasshoppers in the area.

• Water well pumps always had to be primed, and it was urgent to leave a pail full of water next to each well, or hope that the rain filled it.

• In the days of settling homesteads and putting up fences, thousands of sharpened willow posts could be seen piled up next to J. Kramer’s Hobbema store. Long stacks of hay were also found there, and were later baled with wire for sale to district farmers.

Of course nowadays, mother and father still know what is best for their young ones, and while the rules and the chores have changed drastically, hopefully the life-long respect, traditions, challenges, and successes of parenthood will always remain the same. We must never forget, no matter what, that there is nothing better than the green, green grass of home.