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Golden Anniversary of
Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Mathies
by Annie Krause
On this great occasion, we'd like to look back and reminisce just a bit. When we were young, we were told, that children could be seen and shouldn't be heard, but to-day we'll both be seen and heard. Mom and Dad, as did most of their relatives and friends, came through some trying times together, but to-day, we'd like to look back to some of their happier days.
I don't know, if all of you know this, but when our mother was young, she was a rooter-tooter good horse-back rider, and often, she'd go out riding with her father, and when some of the young boys would tease her; well you know those big "Schalldocks" they used to wear? Well, she'd throw that big apron around their heads, and have them hog-tied in no time.
When we were young and relatives came to visit, we were sent upstairs, where we used to lie down, next to the chimney hole, and hear the most interesting stories. I tell you, it was better than television.
We found out, that our Dad was quite a card in his younger days at school, and even later, when the revolution came, we heard him tell of one incident, when bandits came to search the house. He'd say,
'Sure, go ahead and look! - but what's your hurry?"
Then he'd start to play the piano and tell them to enjoy themselves and,
"Let's see you dance," he'd say.
[Lynda plays music]
Well, after that, they left in such a good mood, and forgot all about searching the house. Of course, things didn't always turn out that way. Mother often tells us of a time, when she feels, that only a miracle from God, kept her and her sisters safe, from the rowdy young men, who had come looking for them, but failed to find where they had hidden.
Our Mother had grown up in a home where there was much singing, and we think that this could have been one of the things what attracted Dad to her. They were married at a double ceremony, together with Uncle John Dick and Aunt Mary. We understand that both brides wore black, which does not happen to be one of Dad's favourite colours, and so, for this occasion, after a few tries and errors, Dad was finally consulted, and the result, as you can see, is very pretty.
Laughter was often mixed with tears, during their first years in Russia, and when the time came for them to leave their homeland, they also left behind the grave of their first-born, a daughter Helen, who had been lain to rest beneath a tree, where Dad had carved her name.
Then, along with their next two daughters, Margaret and Annie, as well as Tante Marichen Janzen and Helen and Uncle Herman - all on the same passport, they crossed the ocean to Canada, where they were met by some wonderful people. The "Leis's" gave them a place to live and work, so they could begin to pay off the "Reiseschuld."
Their first son William was born in Bamburg, and then for a while they worked at Fretz's in Vineland. Relatives urged them to come to the Leamington area, and here they worked for a while at Broadwell's and then at Wigles. But Dad was looking for a place where he could be his own boss, and we ventured forth to Inman, where we lived together with Uncle John Dicks for a while. The land here was very hard. At any rate it was not the place to put down roots, and so, with another child on the way ..."How did we know?" Well, now, that we too old, to be sent upstairs, Dad and mom began to talk in Russian, and then, when we moved to that large house at Foxes, "Fräulein Friesen" came, our brother Harry was born.
Let's just see what they might have looked like at that time in their lives.
[Open curtain with stage set]
There's the piano where Dad used to play, first thing in the morning, and that's the good strong table he got for a bargain, and Mothers sewing machine from which came all the latest styles. Here comes Dad now, as always, looking his best, with his shoes freshly polished. And Mother's bringing the curtains she hopes will fit again.
As soon as that's done, she wants to do a little sewing. There were some "schwavel" bags outside that she has bleached and then dyed pink and they'll make up into some lovely dresses for her girls.
That's Gredel with the thumb in her mouth, Annie twirling that straw, and Villy is pushing the buggy with his new baby brother Harry in it.
We were the only ones living here, besides having some boarders, also room for uncle Herman and uncle George. That sounds like him playing his mandolin now. And here they come. Don't they look unusually well dressed to-night?
It smells like there's some perfume around. It must be from that letter that came from Uncle George tonight. We noticed that it was signed Louise. They're just in time for some of mom's home-made chicken noodle soup, so I guess they'd better take off their jackets to eat. A second thought, maybe they'd better put them back on again, because it looks as though they weren't as well off as we thought. But then, so neither were we. The reason we're having soup tonight is because the hens weren't laying anymore, but, if cooked slowly, they were delicious, right down to the last toe.
As far back as we can remember, Dad has always had stomach trouble and the peaches here at Foxes certainly didn't agree with him.
Dukes had a small house at the corner of Olinda where we could live and grow tobacco, but we didn't know about the "Vonstche" - bed bugs that is! And even the sulphur treatment didn't clear them up entirely.
Our Uncle David Mathies had bought a farm at Beamsville, and so it was arranged for us, to go and take care of their place, until such time as they could come, and we could also take along their daughter Erica, who was to start her first year in High School. By now, Mother had become quite adept at packing, and there she is, taking down the curtains once more.
When Erica's family came, we just moved next door to live with Mr. Katinar, who, we remember, used to make a lot of wine, and there were many nights when our sleep was disturbed by some of his customers, knocking on the wrong door.
The year the grapes froze, we were all ready to leave, and then Dad and mother began to talk Russian again. Our sister Louise was born at Rittenhouses, during one of the worst spring storms in our recollection.
Here we see Mother now, late one evening, rocking Louise to sleep. And that's Dad with "Canûsh" (Neil Enns that is); they are going to have a nice quiet game of chess.
It was while we were here, living at Jordan Harbour, that we were told that our house would have to be moved over, to make way for the Queen Elizabeth Highway. Dad had been very hospitable to the movers, and given them some cider for their effort. Then, after he left work, they had helped themselves to more cider, and didn't quite get our house back where it belonged. We had more fun trying to keep rolling out of bed that night.
It was also about this time, that Dad found another real good bargain. It was a "Whippet", we were told, when Dad drove up in the latest car. "Yo, dot es obah ehne Gode Koh," he used to say, that is, until one night as we were coming home late, from a wedding in Dunnville, the "Whippet' stopped running. As luck would have it, we were on the way down, and so were able to coast back most of the way - and even saved on gas.
One day a man with very bushy eyebrows came to our house. It was Mr. John Tiessen we heard, and he was asking Dad to come and work for him in the apple orchard at Point Pelee. There was also work for all of us! This could be the beginning of an easier life for our parents.
A large truck was found, so that the move could be made in one trip. Then we heard Dad say, that they would sell the baby buggy, because after all, they wouldn't be needing it anymore.
We did very well at the Point and soon the opportunity for Dad to buy his own farm came along, and so did our brother Arthur. He was by far the smallest child that Mother ever had, but, with lots of pablum, he soon began to thrive, and he's been thriving ever since. [Art takes a bow]
It was while they were on the 7th Concession that Grandmother Enns [Susanna (nee Wiens), d. September 13, 1949, widow of Johann Matthies, who married D. P. Enns who later died] came to live with them, and she went along as they moved to the 10th and then to Pratt's farm.
Now Mother has been through a lot with all of us, but I hope we weren't the cause of her gallstones. if you'd like to see them, just ask to look inside her purse.
We thought that perhaps they'd found their Ideal Home when they bought the apple orchard at Olinda, but here Dad's ulcers finally broke, followed by an operation, that has left him with such a good appetite that if you were to be passing 44 Fox Street, and see a light on in the kitchen, that's dad frying some "Varenicki" because he just can't wait for breakfast.
And he's got himself a hobby too. There's a brand new freezer in the basement that he intends to fill with all the fish he's going to catch this summer at the Leamington Dock.
Mom and Dad have both had their share of grief, and just last Sunday, they put some fresh flowers on the grave of their son Harry who passed away thirteen years ago.
The rest of their children are all married now, and so far, have given them nineteen grandchildren, and now as far as we know, there is one great grandchild on the way.
Mother now has lots of time to talk on the phone, and many times, has arranged for us all to get together.
Today, as a small token of appreciation, we would like to sing a few songs, just for them.
The grandchildren sing first: "Praise Him"
The children sing: "Nim oh Herr die Yungen Herzen" - the song mom rocked the cradle with