It is meant as a trip down memory lane but reads like it could be about country kids in 2009.
Well-known St. Albert author Don Trembath launched his new book last week as a special project in conjunction with the Sturgeon Senior Citizens Advisory Board. He spent countless hours interviewing area seniors about their younger days. The result is a charming and heart-warming book just in time to make it a solid and enjoyable gift of light literature for any person of any age on your list.
“The research process was very enjoyable,” he indicated. “Meeting and talking with long time residents gave me new perspective on how different life was 50 years ago. Not only am I hoping to enlighten the younger generations, but I hope to rekindle some memories in the minds of other people who lived through these same times.”
Rather than going into the full and detailed depth of farm life on the Prairies, Trembath boiled the recollections down to slice-of-life snippets — some narrative paragraphs with other pages dedicated as poems or even lists. Well, one set of rules to be exact. Providing a straight-up contradiction of the notion that a childhood in the country is one of endurance rather than enjoyment, he provides the framework for unconstructed play. According to the book, riding cows or pigs counts but one unnamed interviewee indicated that, “Cows sure aren’t the easiest things to ride, or the funnest.”
The idea was that if you didn’t have a toy chest full of dolls or action figures, there was only one thing left to do: make stuff up.
One 82-year-old respondent claimed, “It’s the best play there is. We did it after chores and when our homework was finished. We had nothing else to do then and our imaginations would take over. I still do it, when I have the energy.”
Most of the pages are filled with these kinds of delightful anecdotes from anonymous area residents. In fact, there are no dates or places specified in the text either, giving it a great feeling of timelessness.
As foreign as some of these stories are to city folk, they are still great to read. I especially enjoyed learning what it was like to sleep seven boys in one bedroom, or trying to walk through a cow field with bare feet, or the crucial importance of the green paper used to wrap Christmas oranges. I wish that there were many more of the stories though, so hopefully this can be just the first in a series. The book also includes wonderful illustrations by Lorna Bennett for each anecdote. A second section of colour and black and white photographs by Jay Procktor adds some texture to what you see when you step out of the city.
The Way We Were is available for order from the photo desk at any London Drugs location but it must specified that the order will come from the Oliver Square location at 11704 104th Ave. in Edmonton. Prices vary on the version of the book a customer orders, starting at approximately $30.
The Way We Were
Written by Don Trembath