Overbeck’s Medical Marvel

Or, If It’s Too Good To Be True . . .

In 1998, when Mom decided to sell the farm, we had a grand clean-out of the house and shop. The shop had quite the history of its own. It had started life in 1910 as the two-room script house on S 25-8-7-W3 in which my grandparents wintered. In 1917, it was moved across the section and attached to the new house to serve as parlour and bedroom. When the house was enlarged in 1925-26, it was removed and transformed into Grandpa Hanna’s shop. He did his blacksmithing and general repair work in what had been the “front room.”

I don’t know what Grandpa Hanna used the back room for. In my time, Dad used it as a general catch-all room, containing whatever didn’t end up in the junk pile out back of the shop. I never ventured that far into the shop; it was too scary.

The 1998 clean-out turned into a treasure hunt. Yes, that room contained a lot of junk, but we found scythes and sickles, an ancient foot-pedaled wood lathe complete with tools, and the weirdest looking device called an Overbeck’s Rejuventor contained in a wooden box. I was curious. What was this device used for? Continue reading “Overbeck’s Medical Marvel”


Excerpts from Grandpa Hanna’s diary:

Wednesday, November 14, 1917: dug rhubarb
Monday, November 19, 1917: dug up plants & fruit bushes in old garden. Planted same in new garden in pm.
Thursday, November 22, 1917: planted raspberries

When Abe built the new house clear across the section in 1917, he moved more than the buildings from the old homestead site. All the garden plants came, too. Perhaps the conversation about the move went something like this:

Addie: When are you planning to move the garden plants over?

Abe: Can’t right now. We’re busy working on the barn and the new house. The garden will have to wait till next spring.

Addie: You’re not too busy to scrape out that slough or work on church business.

Abe: That’s different. We need the pond to collect water for the livestock. I’ll move the garden come spring.

Addie: And next spring you’ll be too busy with seeding and harrowing. Then come summer, you’ll be too busy with summerfallowing and breaking new land. Next thing you know, it will be fall and you’ll be too busy with harvesting. You want raspberry jam and gooseberry jam and rhubarb pie, don’t you, so move those plants over now before the snow flies. Otherwise they won’t be grown enough to produce fruit for that jam you like so much.

And so, the garden was moved.

Of course, maybe it didn’t happen that way at all. But given my grandmother’s opinionated and outspoken personality, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had something to do with the timing of the move.


#HannaFamilyHistory #Garden #Humour #HistoricalFiction #MargaretGHanna #OurBullsLooseIntown

Beets (Ick!)

Oh, rosy, ruby, rotund root,
for you I do not give a hoot.
I do not like you if you are
roasted, boiled, in a jar,
or served in sauce some think divine –
you’ll not pollute this plate of mine.

Howe’er, your greens are quite delish.
I’ll let them grace my dinner dish.
Stir-fried with onion, not too much,
A little garlic, just a touch.
Served with butter, salt and pepper,
there’s no dish that I like better.

Stay off my plate, you bleedin’ beet.
I want your greens beside my meat.

But if you’re served as borscht or cake
I’ll have you then upon my plate.


#Poem #Humour #Food #MargaretGHanna

What a Difference a Day Makes

Authors who write historical fiction know they have to ensure that things such as attitudes, clothing and language are appropriate to the time. Sometimes, even the day of the week matters.

For example:

My current venture into historical fiction (or, as I call it, semi-fictionalized family history) is the story of my maternal grandparents who (independently) came to Canada from different parts of England a hundred years ago. Rather than writing the chapters sequentially, I am hop-scotching around, picking a year or event at random. This year, being the 50th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon and Neil Armstrong’s famous quote, I decided to work on 1969. What would my then 80-year-old grandfather and his buddies have thought of this event?

Grandpa Higham drank and smoked so I decided to situate him and his friends in the beer parlour watching the event unfold late that evening on the beer parlour’s little black-and-white TV.

Bear in mind: In Saskatchewan in 1969, there were no pubs or sports bars, only beer parlours. If you wanted to drink “up-scale,” you went to cocktail lounges and licenced dining rooms. All were strictly regulated. No one under 21 allowed. Ever!

Beer parlours were dark, dingy and smoke-filled, almost entirely frequented by men; no self-respecting “lady” would be caught dead in a beer parlour! Beer choices were limited – no craft beer in those days. Draft beer cost 21 cents a glass. If you wanted to move to another table, you had to ask the waiter to move your beer for you. Beer parlours closed for “supper hour.”

But back to the Apollo 11 landing.

Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. I was curious as to what day of the week that was, so I called up a 1969 calendar on the internet. July 20 was a Sunday.


In 1969, in Saskatchewan, any place that sold any kind of alcohol in any form was closed up tighter than a drum on Sunday. All day Sunday. Every Sunday. No exceptions. There went the story I had just crafted. Time to hit the Delete button and start over.

Grandpa Higham and his buddies are now discussing the event over breakfast in the café Monday morning.

* * *

My first venture into semi-fictionalized family history was “Our Bull’s Loose in Town!” Tales from the Homestead, the story of my paternal grandparents, Abe and Addie Hanna. I didn’t have to worry about what day of the week it was with their story – they were affirmed teetotalers and staunch believers in prohibition.


#HistoricalFiction #Research #AmWriting #Rewriting #SaskatchewanHistory