It’s raining, it’s pouring
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed
And he bumped his head
And couldn’t get up in the morning.
We awake to wind and rain. Rain pouring down, gusting down, sheeting down. Hammering against the walls and windows.
Dad comes in from the barn on a gust of wetness, hangs his coat on the hook, declares, “It’s socked in for the day.” Mom yells, “Take off your muddy boots!”
After breakfast, Richard and I put on our coats and rubber boots and walk the quarter-mile to town and school, bracing ourselves against the gusting west wind and the driving rain.
Dampness seeps through the school. It smells of damp coats, damp hats, damp text books, damp hair, damps socks, damp notebooks. At recess, we head down to the basement, play pump-pump-pull-away, or stand around in knots and talk and giggle.
At noon, we tromp home for dinner. Richard pulls off his rubber boots and examines a wet sock. “My boot has a leak.” Dad examines it. “There’s a crack above the sole. I’ll take it into town and get it vulcanized. Wear your overshoes this afternoon.”
After school, the rain takes a breather – it’s only drizzling. The dog bounds toward us, drops a stick at our feet. Richard tosses it and she streaks off after it, mindless of mud and water. A cat delicately picks its way around puddles, flicks a contaminating bit of mud from a paw and scurries into the barn.
That night, we go to sleep with the sound of rain thrumming against the roof, splattering against the window.
Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day.
The yard is a morass of mud and slop. Dad comes in, hangs his sopping wet slicker on the hook, declares, “Raining too hard. We might as well go Moose Jaw.” Mom yells, “Take off your muddy boots! I don’t want to have to wash the floor again.”
We snarf down breakfast and head out in the ‘53 Ford. We fishtail out of the yard and down the road to the highway which, itself, is only gravel, so we fishtail some more. Mom gasps, “Careful!” and grabs the door handle. She white-knuckles all the way to Assiniboia and Highway 2 which is paved. An easy drive then, with the requisite stops at Mitchelton for gas and Conn’s Corner for a bite to eat.
First stop in Moose Jaw: Joyner’s Department Store. New shoes for Richard and me. Fabric for Mom. A new tie for Dad. The clerk puts the bill and our money into the carriage and onto the track that whisks it away to the central cashier who empties the carriage, puts the bill and change back into it and onto the track to be returned to our clerk. How does it know where to go? we wonder.
Next stop, the Exchange Café on the corner of Manitoba and Main, across from the CPR station. We always eat there, we always order the same thing – fish and chips, because it’s exotic (yes, really!). The Chinese brothers who run the place always give Richard and me lollipops when we leave.
Off to Eaton’s, the upper class shopping establishment. Next to Kresge’s, not so upper class but they have little sugar-coated doughnuts to satisfy our sweet tooth.
Back to the car. Parcels in the trunk, we head for home, yawning all the way. Richard and I are soon asleep. So is Mom. It’s still raining when we get home. We go up to bed with the sound of rain thrumming against the roof, splattering against the window.
Sunshine and Shower
Won’t last an hour.
We awake to sunshine and glimpses of blue sky. A stiff breeze chases away the ragged remnants of rain clouds. We jump out of bed. So much to do – puddles to jump in, rivulets to divert and dam, mud pies to make.
Dad comes in from the barn, hangs his jacket on the hook, declares, “That was a million dollar rain! And kids, don’t forget, chickens need to be fed and eggs picked up right after you eat.”
Note #1: Until the Joyner’s building burned down in 2004, it had the only remaining operating Lamson Cash Carrying System in North America. Read more about it here, and see it in operation here.
Note #2: There were no “million dollar rains” during the Dirty Thirties. Addie tells how farmers and others survived those terrible drought years in “Our Bull’s Loose in Town!” Tales from the Homestead.
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