Telling Our Stories:
Story telling is the Shuswap
way of passing our history
to the next generations
3. ORDERING FROM THE CATALOGUE (1955)
I started school at the
I was eight years old when I started grade three at Sugar Cane. It was late starting, almost like it was after Christmas when the new school finally opened. I went to Sugar Cane day school for three years (grades three, four, and five). I then enrolled back at the
For three years, I was able to stay at home and be with family(a welcome change from the residential school). I have many stories from that time period. One I like to tell is about ordering from the catalogue. We had three catalogues to order from in those days. There was Simpsons-Sears (which later became just Sears), Eaton’s, and Army and Navy.
Once every month or two, the family would put together an order from the catalogue. I think it may have coincided with the seasons. Anyway, since I was considered the more literate one in the family at the time (at least I think that was the reason), I was delegated to filling out the order form based on what mom decided was to be ordered and what our finances at the time allowed. She would look through the catalogue; check the sizes and colours and price for the clothes we were to get. I would then fill all this info as required on the order form. Once everything we wanted was on the list I would add up all the prices on the right hand column and mark in the total at the bottom. However, on this one particular occasion, I would surreptitiously add something to the very bottom line of the order form. I should have known that I would be caught. Of course, mom[W1] * always checked everything, even though I was made to feel that I had done it right.
Well, what I had done was, after all the ordering was finished, I folded the order form so that the last line along with the total box was not visible. So when granny started double checking she saw that everything seemed to be in order. That was, until she turned the form over to check the total. She let out a loud exclamation in Shuswap and said something like, “What’s this?”. I was caught. I must have looked like a deer in the headlights. Anyway, on the very last line I had added something that I had wanted so much and had spent many an hour looking at and wishing for. So this time, and not for a minute thinking I would ever get away with it, did it anyway. I inserted a Viewmaster, price and all. I think at the time it cost about two dollars. Needless to say, I never did get the Viewmaster.
When I relayed this story to my wife Anna, she was so moved and amused by it. Some time later, she came home with a wrapped gift for me. After almost fifty years, I finally got my Viewmaster. She had stopped in at an antique shop and spotted one there. It is in mint condition from around the 1955 era.
[W1]My grandmother ‘Clotilde’ raised me, so I use ‘Mom’ and ‘Granny’ interchangeably.