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Clarence Stratford
First name Clarence
Last name Stratford
Age 77
Date of birth January 1, 1903
Community Oakland


Story

This interview is a part of the Chronicles of Oakland Township, which was compiled in the summer of 1980. Click here to read more interviews in this collection!

This is Joanne Vamos interviewing Mr. Clarence Stratford in his home in Oakland, Ontario, July 8th, 1980.

Joanne: Could you tell me where an when you were born?

Mr. Stratford: I was born at East Oakland. You know where Harry Townsend lives? 1903.

Joanne: I'm not sure but would you be able to tell me anything at all about your birth, that maybe your parents have told you?

Mr. Stratford: No. No. No. (fades away)

Joanne: Not everyone knows anything about that.

Mr. Stratford: No.

Joanne: Where exactly did you grow up, like the location I guess?

Mr. Stratford: I moved here, this place. I was nine years old.

Joanne: Oh! So, in this house?

Mr. Stratford: Yes. My folks moved here. We all moved here.

Joanne: Could you tell me who your grandparents are and your mother and father, their names?

Mr. Stratford: Well now, my father's was—he was blind. That's all I remember.

Mrs. Stratford: Your grandfather. Your grandfather.

Mr. Stratford: My father's father yeah. And my mother's father lived right down here on the South east corner. Right down here.

Joanne: What was his name?

Mr. Stratford: Dunnett. Uh, Charles, Charles Dunnett.

Joanne: What was your mother and father's names?

Mr. Stratford: That's Stratford.

Joanne: And what was your mother's maiden name?

Mr. Stratford: Harriett, Harriett Dunnett.

Joanne: Would they—they're all originally from here then, because you said they were (laughs) You had brother's and sisters. A whole bunch of them.

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, I had seven sisters, four brothers...(taps chair 5 times)

Joanne: Okay. Where did you attend school?

Mr. Stratford: Right up here. You know where the gas station is up here. You know where that is. The next house where Marg Bull lives? Well, that's where the old school house burnt down...burnt down.

Joanne: S.S.#2? Is that what that was called? They just called it Oakland?

Mr. Stratford: Well, the Oakland school. Yeah! There's a number but I forget now. What does it say on the school down here?

Joanne: It's just called Oakland School now. It used to be the S.S.#2. See, when in the county system they changed that.

Mr. Stratford: Oh, I know. I thought Maple Grove was number 2. That old school.

Joanne: No. Just the one that was /called/ Oakland, called S.S.#2. I'm pretty sure.

Mr. Stratford: All right. I won't argue but (laughter) I thought it was, I thought it was four but then it don't mean anything.

Joanne: No. Could you describe the school to me?

Mr. Stratford: Well it was, uh, just a one room school about 55 to 60 pupils. One teacher.

Joanne: So you remember the name of that teacher?

Mr. Stratford: Miss Gignac. Yes sir, you bet I do. (laughs) That's the only one, after we moved here and started there to school. The only teacher I had.

Joanne: Oh, yes. What was it like going to school then?

Mr. Stratford: Oh, what do you mean like? We just walked up the road an come back for dinner and went after dinner and come back, that's all.

Joanne: Was it strict?

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah! Ain't no fooling with her. Oh yeah. Bet your life.

Joanne: How far did you go in school?

Mr. Stratford: I went past my entrance, I wasn't 13 all but a mar.

Joanne: So, did you go to the continuation school?

Mr. Stratford: No. Nope. I quit.

Joanne: Wore there any special events or holidays that you celebrated at school?

Mr. Stratford: Nothing. Not at school, no. Just arbour day. That's all there was.

Joanne: Did you like that day?

Mr. Stratford: Oh, I don't know. It was different I guess. The 24th of May was always...We played ball down, well this side of the L.E.&.N. on that park. That's all I can...We never had the kinds of holidays that you folks have. No way. (laughter)

Joanne: Okay. So you didn't actually grow. Is this a farm here?

Mr. Stratford: Yes.

Joanne: So okay, well, what was it like growing up on a farm then?

Mr. Stratford: Well (laughter) I don't know.

Joanne: What kind of things did you have to do?

Mr. Stratford: You had to work. That's all. What kind there is.

Joanne: What kind of work?

Mr. Stratford: Well, my dad kept everything. He worked—at one time he worked eight farms. here was us three boys and a married man and sometimes through the summer two or three other men. And my sisters: one, two, three, four—they helped outside.

Joanne: How large is this farm?

Mr. Stratford: Well, its a hundred acres, with the village. Now its ninety-two point something.

Joanne: Do you know who owned it before your father?

Mr. Stratford: Cheeves, cheeves. (Keys. Keys.)

Joanne: Have there been any major improvements like, was there a barn built or another house built? Or anything like that?

Mr. Stratford: Here? On this farm? Well there's four different houses built. These two right here (next to farm) and the two over the town hall hill.

Mrs. Stratford: Don't forget Gordon down there.

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, That'd be five. Five, yeah.

Joanne: Oh I see. Okay. I'm going to ask you questions about your childhood now. What kind of toys did you play with?

Mr. Stratford: (laughs) Mechano set. Do you know what that is? Yeah, well things like that.

Joanne: Yeah? Did you play with that? Ah! Where did you used to go swimming?

Mr. Stratford: Right down here at Oakland Pond. The swimming hole. Do you know where Vivian's Mill is?

Joanne: Yes.

Mr. Stratford: Well, right on up in there, in the pond.

Joanne: Were there any kind of clubs or organizations that you belonged to when you wore younger?

Mr. Stratford: No.

Joanne: Did you ever used to go for rides on the bobsleigh or whatever?

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, yeah. Boy! We used to bobsleigh.

Mrs. Stratford: Supposed to tell her about up and down the hill there. What you and Harold used to do.

Joanne: Yeah!

Mr. Stratford: Well, Harold, my brother and I bought a big plank and had the blacksmith, Charlie Pleshed, build it and everybody come out.

Joanne: What was it exactly?

Mr. Stratford: Well, we went down this hill, half way up the other.

Joanne: Yeah? All in one sort of just...Did you start at the top and just go?

Mr. Stratford: Yes, that's right.

Joanne: Oh! Ever neat.

Mrs. Stratford: No cars or anything in those days.

Mr. Stratford: No sir.

Mrs. Stratford: That's years and years ago. I've heard him tell it so many times.

Joanne: Did your family or did you belong to one of the Churches here?

Mr. Stratford: Oh, Oakland Church, over here.

Joanne: How were you involved in the Church. If you were involved in the Church at all?

Mr. Stratford: Just went to Sunday School and Church.

Joanne: Do you ever recall any special events that were at the Church when you were younger?

Mr. Stratford: Oh, no. What do you mean? Christmas trees. Garden parties. Like that.

Joanne: I'm going to ask you about holidays now. What were Christmases like around here?

Mr. Stratford: Then? Well, its like it is nowadays, only a lot bigger. Of course, see, we had a big family and my mother did. Lot of people.

Joanne: Did you exchange presents?

Mr. Stratford: Oh, no. We'd hang our stocking's up on the sticks out in the back kitchen and Ma, well Santy Claus, filled them.

Joanne: (laughs) So you had a Santa Claus?

Mr. Stratford: Yeah. Uyp. I did for a little while.

Joanne: Did you used to celebrate Halloween at all?

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Joanne: Can you tell me what things you used to do on Halloween?

Mr. Stratford: Well now, look!

Mrs. Stratford: Maybe he don't want to tell, you (laughs)

Mr. Stratford: We done different things.

Joanne: When you were really snail, did you go around for candy.

Mr. Stratford: Oh, no, no. Not. No. No. Mother wouldn't lot us.

Mrs. Stratford: Well, they didn't do them things them days. It was more getting into mischief.

Mr. Stratford: I suppose sixteen to eighteen, well, yeah. yeah.

Joanne: Could you toll me any story about anything you might have done?

Mr. Stratford: No. Yeah, I can tell you one. But then you won't believe it!

Joanne: Yes I will! (laughter)

Mr. Stratford: Well anyway, have you ever heard of the Buttons? Alright. Cy Button. John and Cec Carpenter—they was the older ones. Stan Mramer. Uh, do you know where John Jonkman lives? Down here—chicken man—down from the Post Office over there? Well, right up that street Dave Butler was the barber. And, these buggers decided they'd harness his cow up, hooked it on the Democrat and come up that back street. We was with them but we was younger. But run in Lou Baldwin—what used to be the township hall here. Lou Baldwin's store, there was a tie post, tied their horses. It run in them and smashed, oh,—it smashed the thing all to pieces.

Joanne: With the cow in it? (laughs)

Mr. Stratford: Yeah, broke the harness and smashed the... Yeah, yeah. Just things like that.

Joanne: Did you ever celebrate Thanksgiving at all?

Mr. Stratford: Well...

Joanne: Did you have a big dinner?

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, yeah. My mother—anything like that. First of July. Always I She always had a dinner. She always. Sure. Everything like that. My mother never let anything like Christmas, New years, Thanksgiving any... First of July—any holiday.

Mrs. Stratford: We have a Stratford picnic.

Mr. Stratford: That's right.

Mrs. Stratford: She was the one that started. This year will be our fiftieth year.

Joanne: Oh! That's a long time. The whole family gets together? Where do you usually have that?

Mr. Stratford: Well it used to be each place, but now its held down here at the park. (Lions)

Mrs. Stratford: Well, the first one was held here.

Mr. Stratford: That's right, but it was held from sister here, and brother sisters—around—. Each of the family.

Mrs. Stratford: That's more fun than it is now.

Joanne: What kinds of things were there to do around here when you were at the dating ago, when you were dating? When you were a teenager or a young man?

Mr. Stratford: Oh, I don know. Lots of stupid things.

Joanne: (laughs) like what?

Mr. Stratford: Oh. I don't. Well, what do you want me to tell you?

Joanne: Well, like what—were there places to go like parties, dances?

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, dances. Not many parties, no.

Mrs. Stratford: Nothing like it is nowadays.

Joanne: Did you have a car to drive around in?

Mr. Stratford: No sir. I had a horse and buggy. There was no cars, then girl. Wasn't any cars. North Ander's. Northy's grandfather was the first one here in the village that had a car. Nobody else had one. No! And a good driver he was.

Joanne: Do you remember when you had your first car?

Mr. Stratford: Well, that when you had —you see, we used to live over....We had another place, up at the corner here. Nick Marinuk's got it now. Well after we was married, what four or five years, Charlie Phillips...

Mrs. Stratford: We had three or four children.

Mr. Stratford: Okay. Charles Phillips come in with it. He said, "I'm going to sell it to you" And I said, "I'm not sure," and he said"I am". So he kept dropping the price and I bought it. Just like that, a Model "A" Ford.

Joanne: What was that car like? How does it compare to a car today?

Mr. Stratford: Well, it was the best car. If they had them nowadays.

Joanne: What was it like to drive. Did you have to crank it up?

Mr. Stratford: No. No. No. No. Everything. Oh no, you're talking about Model T's; you had to crank them. I never...yeah, I had a couple, but I don't know. Fools they was.

Joanne: Maybe you could even answer this as far as you could sec what the women used to wear; because, I was going to ask you what the fashions were like?

Mr. Stratford: Oh ho ho ho! Listen, there wasn't no fashions then like there is nowadays. Ask her. (points to wife)

Joanne: Did you used to wear....In the twenties they had the short dresses and stuff. Did you used to wear it.

Mrs. Stratford: Oh yeah, but then in earlier days, you see, they all had long dresses, right down to the floor. That was a disgrace if a man saw you ankles or anything like that, them days.

Mr. Stratford: You can't believe all this, but that's...

Joanne: Oh I can believe it.

Mr. Stratford: Well didn't you ever hear your father? Well, your father should know some.

Joanne: My dad's not that old. He's only 40, forty something.

Mr. Stratford: What. You haven't got uncles older than that. Vamos boys?

Joanne: My dad's forty-nine.

Mr. Stratford: Yeah. Okay, well. But your grandfather—he isn't alive, though.

Joanne: No. But uh, (laughs) I wanted to see what your opinion was of the clothes.

Mr. Stratford: Well, you never worried about the clothes. No.

Joanne: Okay. When and where were you married?

Mr. Stratford: Right over here in this parsonage in Oakland.

Joanne: When was that?

Mr. Stratford: Well, when was it? Fifty-five, fifty-six...

Mrs. Stratford: Fifty-seven years this September.

Joanne: Really? Catching up to your sister, huh? She just had her sixtieth wedding anniversary.

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah. She's older. Yeah.

Joanne: Not much though. I mean as far as, it's only married four more years before you.

Mr. Stratford: Well, wait now. Hold it. Hold it.

Mrs. Stratford: Well, she's not too much now. Remember you children were close together.

Mr. Stratford: Oh I know. But she was gone about....We was home here along while. She lived up here—long while.

Mrs. Stratford: Florence is eighty-three and Clarence will be seventy-seven on the 15th. Of course, there was two or throe children in between them. More than that. I forget. I'd have to go and get the bible and reed that.

Joanne: Could you describe your wedding to us? What your wedding was like?

Mr. Stratford: We just went and got married and went away.

Joanne: Yeah? Did you go away on a honeymoon somewhere?

Mr. Stratford: No.

Mrs. Stratford: We went down and had—we had lunch down at our place.

Mr. Stratford: Oh yeah, we went—her folks lived at Boston. But there wasn't. I'm trying to tell you there wasn't nothing like. You can't believe it. That's why I say. You won't believe it.

Joanne: Do you have any children?

Mr. Stratford: We had six. We lost one daughter.

Joanne: Could you tell me what their names are?

Mr. Stratford: Burnley, Mabel, Don, Norma, Gordon and Lawrence.

Joanne: Whore fled you settle down after you were married?

Mr. Stratford: Over on that other farm. We lived there. Well, my dad and sister and mother—they all lived here. Then after my dad and mother wont we got this place. We moved back here and kept that farm. Burnley, the oldest boy, moved over there.

Joanne: What were the twenties like? Just vaguely, you know how they say, the twenties were the "Roaring Twenties" or something like that. What were they really like around here?

Mr. Stratford: Look now, the thirties was when the Depression was. 1930, 1931, 1932—that was tough. But in the twenties, with us, no are responsibility, it was the best time of your life. That's right...You just go...No money. /with/ Five Dollars you'd go a long ways. You didn't have to buy gas or pay taxes or anything.

Joanne: Did World War I affect you at all, or your family?

Mr. Stratford: No.

Joanne: How about the Second World War?

Mr. Stratford: Well, I don't know, you could say that. None of our family was in it. Neighbour boy...

Mrs. Stratford: Russel (Rammage)

Mr. Stratford: Well, yeah. Florence, you know Mrs. Rammage? Well he was overseas two years(during WWI). That's all in our family, but boys that worked here for us wont overseas. They came back. One had a leg off, shell-shocked, and the other one was gassed. Well, like that, yeah. That's it.

Joanne: Were there any clubs or organizations that you belonged to when you were older?

Mr. Stratford: No. None.

Joanne: Do you have any special crafts or hobbies or skills?

Mr. Stratford: No. Just work.

Joanne: Just work. (laughs)

Mr. Stratford: Do you?

Joanne: Yeah!

Mr. Stratford: I like to paint.

Joanne: Oh well. Okay. You're likely good at it.

Mr. Stratford: I don't do it enough. I don't do it as much as Mrs. Rammage. (laughs)

Mrs. Stratford: No, that's right.

Joanne: That's really something.

Mrs. Stratford: Yeah, but she didn't start till she got a few years older. (60 Years old)

Joanne: I know. Isn't that something, too.

Mrs. Stratford: But when she did start, boy.

Mr. Stratford: Turn around and look right up there. She painted that and that's the house we was raised in. That's an old house. She painted this picture here.

Joanne: Yeah. She's really something with the paintings there.

Mrs. Stratford: Why, do you do paintings like that?

Joanne: Well I don't . But I could.

Mr. Stratford: Yeah. You go by numbers.

Joanne: (laughs) No, no, no. Do you remember anything-I don't know if it was there—about the Town Hall?

Mr. Stratford: Yes, Mame.

Joanne: Could you tell me anything about the town hall?

Mr. Stratford: Well, it set up on the hill there.

Joanne: Were you ever inside of it?

Mr. Stratford: Lots of times. We used to have to draw the wool there and put inside the...heat the building when they had the meetings. Yeah, lots of times.

Joanne: Could you describe what the building was like?

Mr. Stratford: Well, it was a brick building, like, almost square I'd say. One room building.

Joanne: Do you know what happened to it?

Mr. Stratford: Yes. It was sold for taxes. Cy Button bought it and tore it down.

Joanne: Do you remember anything about election time? What the elections were like around here?

Mr. Stratford: Well, we got pretty excited, yeah, but nothing.. .oh, I don't know—a lot of us chewing. Nothing different I guess, than it is now a days.

Mrs. Stratford: I think they were more interesting.

Mr. Stratford: Well, of course, they were more interesting.

Mrs. Stratford: The older men, they studied up on all that stuff, and the young folks nowadays...

Mr. Stratford: You didn't miss going because they'd come and pick you up. Anybody.

Joanne: Do you remember when the first time you voted?

Mr. Stratford: No.

Joanne: How did they...?

Mr. Stratford: Eighteen. You had to be eighteen. But I—no, I don't remember.

Joanne: Any special procedure—like was it different then from now?

Mr. Stratford: No. You just uh... (interruption)

Joanne: Do you remember when the hydro came in? (interruption; taping stopped and started again)

Joanne: I was going to ask you what was your overall impression of living in Oakland Township and Oakland.

Mr. Stratford: Oh, I don't know. (laughs)

Joanne: You must like it. You've been here a long time.

Mr. Stratford: That's right. Good as anywhere. My dad had farms all over on this—joined this farm. I had 300 acres at one time, when the children was all home. I hired help, yup.

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