Ponoka couple dedicated to work, play, and the family way – Reflections of Ponoka

Jim and Noreen Trahan were long-time residents of Ponoka

Jim and Noreen Trahan were long-time residents of Ponoka

Isn’t it amazing as we sift and reminisce through the memories and mementos of our younger years that certain people and events come flashing back and really stick out in our minds.

Every time I walk past the magnificent former Bird Drug Company building (now Jolly Farmer) at 5006 Chipman Avenue I fondly remember a jovial gentleman by the name of Jim Trahan, who sold me my very first pair of fancy shoes. I don’t have my ‘white bucks’ anymore but I still like to drop in to browse and visit with owners Kevin and Derek in that delightful pub that was once a drugstore, a shoe store, and always a colourful milestone of our great community.

Jim’s Place Boys’ and Men’s Wear opened in that historical fancy brick structure in 1959, and it was a neat Ponoka shop where you could admire the latest styles of clothes and shoes, while Mr. Trahan would patiently find the right ones that would fit the needs and sizes of everyone. He always had a smile and a good joke, and whether you were a tough sell or a tight fit it didn’t take Jim long to solve the problem and send you out of there looking very spiffy for any occasion.

Jimmy’s wife, Noreen, was quite often in the store to lend a hand, but many of us will also recall that this friendly and free-spirited lady would serve as one of our community’s best waitresses over the years. She worked at the Valley Inn Café and the Oasis and Crossroads restaurants, and no matter what the hour of the day might be, Noreen usually knew our favourite culinary desires, and how we liked it done. If we treated her with polite respect we would always get the best and fastest service in town, but if a customer was rude and demanding they may have had to wait just a little while before their meal arrived. When she wasn’t waiting tables or ironing pants, Noreen was also a pretty good bus driver.

Both Jim and Noreen were in the Canadian Armed Forces, Noreen (Lourance) in the army and Jim in the air force. After meeting in Ponoka, they were married in the 1950s and enjoyed several decades of a busy lifestyle that included work, social, community and church activities, and raising a big and rambunctious yours, mine and ours style family of five boys and four girls.

With the keen support of the family and the community, the Jim’s Men’s Wear business operated until 1975, after which Jim continued to work at the Jack Kanngiesser Ltd. store in Lacombe and as the manager of the clothing section at the Ponoka Co-operative centre. Noreen continued to work around the community in several capacities, as well as being very active in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 66 Ladies Auxiliary and the Catholic Women’s League, and she was asked on countless occasions to sing at local weddings and funerals. The Trahans attended many legion and community social functions over the years, and were always very prominent figures on the dance floor!

As the young family grew, they strived to follow a structured home and social lifestyle that vowed to face all the challenges through the good times and the bad, for better or for worse. As well as school and weekly community activities, they enjoyed many weekends at their Gull Lake cabin, but also spent many precious hours at the St. Augustine Catholic Church for Sunday services or weekly events.

Daughter Shauna, who has now returned to her home town to train as a licensed practical nurse, very fondly recalls that the busy family home was always open to guests, and that there was never any hesitation when it came to lending a helping hand to others in need.

In later years, as the Trahan children entered into adulthood, they slowly left the nest and went in many directions, seeking new careers, and starting family adventures of their own. Along the way Ernie (Pat) became a mechanic and a truck driver; Derek enjoyed cooking and leather clothes; Colin (Trinity) took on the big drilling jobs in the United States and overseas; Kevin, who after a very serious oil rig accident changed occupations and took on sub-contracting and furnace cleaning in the Calgary area; and Kevin Paul, 65, now resides in British Columbia. Peggy (who was the Ponoka Stampede Queen in 1974) became involved in the promotion and sales of health equipment in Rocky Mountain House with her husband Mike; Sheila (Mike) is a health care aide; Shauna (Bob) was a partner in a restaurant business in Red Deer before returning home; and Cherie (Greg) enjoyed being a stay at home mom for her two children. Ernie passed away in 2008 at the age of 65, and Derek died at the age of 49 in 2005.

It was and always will be a written rule for the Trahan family circle to gather for traditional holidays and special events, maintain an ongoing prayer line, and stay in touch and support each other when and wherever needed. Noreen Trahan passed away in 2000 at the age of 76 years, and Jim Trahan in 2002 at the age of 82 after very active lives involving community and family. Along the way they have been blessed with 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren who continue to share the cherished family memories and traditions at every opportunity.

We would love to share your early family and community stories and pictures right here in the weekly Ponoka News Reflections page.