July 21, 1997
This week, we have a story written by Patricia Johnson, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Patricia is 32 years old, and she is the mother of two children. She has recently been involved in the Stevenson-Britannia Adult Literacy Program in Winnipeg.
The old house we lived in was built in the 18 hundreds, before World War One. The house is about 100 years old. They had to put their milk and cream tied to a rope and put it down the wall to keep them cold. Hydro was put in late 40's or early 50's. To heat the house they had a wood burning stove and a wood burning stove to cook on. When my father and mother moved into the house it was about 1957 or 1958. My father and mother raised five girls and two boys in a small two bedroom house because they didn't have the money to buy a bigger house. We did not have running water, we had to get our water from a well in the middle of the barn yard. We would be about 5 to 6 years old when we would have to carry water. My dad would get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to put more wood in the fire. We would have to get up early in the morning to milk the cow so we would have milk for our breakfast.
We didn't have a washroom in the house, it was outside, so in the winter we had to get out of bed and get dressed up warm to go to the washroom because it was cold outside. We were always scared of getting stuck to the seat. When I was 4 years old, I got my first horse so we would have to feed our own animals in the winter. When we had a bath, we had to warm up the water on the stove so all of us could have a bath one time. We bathed in an old metal tub in the living room with a curtain around the tub so nobody could see us bathing.
We had a good childhood in the house until we all moved out. My older sister was 16 or 17 years old when she left, then we left one at a time after that. My dad still had a wood burning stove to heat the house when I got married. After five years of being married, he decided to tear down the old house and he bought a house trailer about eight years ago and still does not have running water and we still have to run to the outhouse. My dad is worried about digging a well because it might run dry and he would have to dig another well and he does not have the money to do that. My dad has an old van in the barn yard that he has had since the 1940's or 1950's and he has that van in the yard still.
[This story was taken with permission from The Manitoba Literacy Star, Spring 1996.]