Florence Rammage
First name Florence
Last name Rammage
Age 92
Date of birth September 18, 1887
Community Oakland

Mr. and Mrs. Rammage with one of Mrs. Rammage's paintings in 1973


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 and Duane Brandow interviewing Mrs. Florence Rammage, at her home near Oakland, June 24, 1980.

Joanne: Could you tell us where and when you were born Mrs. Rammage?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yeah! September 18, 1987.

Joanne: And were you born in Oakland township?

Mrs. Rammage: 18...1887!! What did I say?

Joanne: You said 1987. Were you born in Oakland Township.

Mrs. Rammage: Well, I was on the border line. That road back there is the border line you know. That's the line between Brant County and Norfolk County. That road right there. And that's the road we lived on.

Joanne: Where your parents lived? Could you tell us who your parents were? Maybe describe them to us.

Mrs. Rammage: Sylvester and Harriette Stratford.

Joanne: Where exactly did you grow up. Over there.

Mrs. Rammage: Yeah, Well, till I was sixteen. Down there. Went to East Oakland School. You know where East Oakland school is? Stone school.

Joanne: We know where the site of it is, I think. It's not there any more, it?

Mrs. Rammage: Know where the East Oakland Mill is? Go that way a little farther and tum left. It's right down that road.

Joanne: What is or was the school like?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, it was a one room school with a big box stove. And that's all there was, with a long pipe. Burned wood in it. Never any coal, always wood.

Joanne: Do you remember what you teacher's name was?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, I had a Mrs. No, Miss Tumball. And then I had a Miss Messecar that was right here, Earl Messecar's sister. Edmund's Aunt. I had her and I had another one. When I tried my entrance I had a Miss Glenn. I had another one too, that's Harry Loots. He was from Wilsonville.

Joanne: Did you have brothers and sisters?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yeah!

Joanne: Could you tell us a bit about them?

Mrs. Rammage: (laughs) Well I have one brother still living. He's in the John Noble Home and he's over ninety.

Joanne: Were you the youngest?

Mrs. Rammage: I was a half way down the line. (laughs)

Duane: So what are your brothers and sisters names?

Mrs. Rammage: You'd be surprised how many there was: Pearly. Effic. Roxy. Percy. Mabel. Eva. Florence—that's me. Ruby. Clarence. Harold. Harley. Then they weren't satisfied they adopted one after that. (laughter)

Joanne: Did they all grow up with you and settle down in Oakland?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, there are some of them around here. Some of them are gone now. But still, Harold and Clarence live right down here on the highway—24 highway.

Joanne: We were talking to Mr. Persall-Herman?

Mrs. Rammage: Yeah, he's my cousin.

Joanne: He told us we should come talk to you (she laughs)

Mrs. Rammage: Well I don't know how much information I can give you. But I'll do my best.

Joanne: How far did you have to walk to school?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, we were fortunate. We only had, uhf I guess it would be around a mile and a quarter to go to school. A lot of them were walking farther than that, you know. A lot of thorn, came to our school walked over two miles. They walked two and a half miles, some of them.

Joanne: It'd be cold in the winter time.

Mrs. Rammage: And we had to go—my sister and I a lot of the time in the winter time—we had to go tramping through the snow down there to put the wood in that stove and start the fire. Cause I guess we were caretakers. My dad was caretaker for a while. That's how come we had to start the fire for a few years. And that was quite a task. You carried the wood out of the wood shed over a little ways away and brought it in and started the fire, before the teacher got there, you know. (laughs)

Joanne: What was it like growing up on the farm? With a big family and everything like that?

Mrs. Rammage: Pretty crowded. (laughs) Pretty crowded! With some hired men to.

Joanne: Did you have lots of chores to do?

Mrs. Rammage: Yeah! We had to feed the cattle, we had to feed was mostly cattle that we fed. But uh, we had to milk cows, winter and summer.

Mr. Rammage: She's got a picture in there...

Mrs. Rammage: Of the farm house...

Mr. Rammage: Grew up I added four rooms.

Mrs. Rammage: Yes. But I painted that picture.

Joanne: Yes, I understand that. There's a picture of you, that you painted in the library.

Mrs. Rammage: In the library, yeah. I could show you some more of them.

Joanne: You've painted lots of pictures in the...

Mrs. Rammage: Oh, yeah! I've been doing a lot. I'm not quite so ambitious painting. But I've done some farm scenes this past winter.

Duane: So, when did you start taking up painting?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh, my goodness. I didn't take up painting until about uh, well, around 20 years ago.

Joanne: Did you have to learn how to do a lot of crafts or lace work or anything like that like a lot of farm girls had to learn how to do?

Mrs. Rammage: We didn't really have to but we wanted to. We learned to crochet, and knit, those kind of things. And sew, everybody learned to sew.

Joanne: Did you make all your own clothes then?

Mrs. Rammage: Not really, cause we had a dress-maker. Mother had a dross-maker come every winter and maybe spring to make up clothes for the girls. I don't think she made clothes for the boys though. If I remember, just the girls.

Joanne: What wore the fashions like when you were a teenager?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, long dresses. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Joanne: Did you always wear...well, like in the twenties they wore shorter dresses then. Did you ever wear stuff like that?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yeah! We had—some of them were too short too (laughs) The women go around in those short dresses and they were too short and mostly—always would be about, I guess oh, a quarter of the women, their slip would be showing. Cause the dress was so short. (laughs) That wasn't good, That was too short.

Joanne: What special events do you recall as a young person that happened around here when you were a little girl?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh, I don't know. There wasn't that much, I don't think. There was just entertainment that you made yourself, mostly. Cut we used to—I guess you been taking this down about the garden parties Oakland used to have. You probably got that down. That was one of the main events around Oakland.

Joanne: Where did they used to be held?

Mrs. Rammage: Right here...right out in this yard here.

Duane: So at a garden party, what did you really do?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh, they always hired entertainers, to come in, you see. They could get good entertainers for a lot less money than they could now.

Joanne: Was it like a dance?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, they put up a platform that was right here. When it was here they always had a platform right at the front door. So, you could walk out this door and get on a platform and the entertainers could come in here and change their garments if they wanted to. But then we did locally some of the entertaining too. I remember being in a drill. You know what a drill is? Used to have them in schools. All the girls would be together and you'd have the flags and you'd go marching around that platform. We used to have those at the Christmas concerts, too.

Joanne: The next question I was going to ask you. What were Christmases like here? What kinds of events or what did you do as a family?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh well, over the...back when we were small there was always a Christmas concert at Oakland. But you had to come up there with horses and sleighs, you know. And we were two or three or four miles away. But those were the main events at Christmas. We always had a Christmas dinner with some of the relatives. Either at the relatives or at our home—we'd have Christmas dinner. But there wasn't many gifts. Very few gifts (laugh). And they weren't expensive. They were pretty cheap gifts. Why, people would think now they weren't getting anything if they got something that small. Maybe a small string of beads or something like that.

Duane: Were most of the gifts homemade?

Mrs. Rammage: No, not really. We'd go up to Woolworths and buy a fifteen cent gift and that was your gift. Hide it under the bed until Christmas Day and then bring it out (laughs)

Joanne: You mentioned the sleighs and horses. Is that how you went around?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, in the winter time we always seemed to have snow then, cause you uh, we had more snow in those days. We had cutters too, but then, when more than two, three went, why, you had the bob sleighs. You'd put straw in the bobsleighs, and blankets in and drive a team. We did that without even1the boys with us. The girls would drive to church in the sled.

Joanne: I have all the holidays down here. Do you remember any Halloweens? What they were like? Did you go around for the candy when you were younger?

Mrs. Rammage: Not really. No. We weren't doing that because we were to far to walk to somebody's home. Now, we did that after our family was growing up. I used to go around with our youngest daughter. We'd walk way down around Oakland, around there. But, not when we were small we didn't. We...

Joanne: What were Thanksgivings like?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, there wasn't as much made of it. We had Thanksgiving Dinner but not always. There wasn't as much made of it as there is now, I don't think.

Joanne: Was there anything special you did on May 24th. Was there anything in the community that they put on?

Mrs. Rammage: That was when the garden parties were. That was when, always on the 24th. And sometimes it would be cold. Somebody was telling me about it. One day, at a garden party—it was on down, the next farm below Oakland there, where Reg McIntyre lives now. And there was a fellow by the name of Misner who lived over across the field and he went home and got his fur coat and put in on and went back to the garden party. (laughs) So I guess it would be cold but most of the time it was warm; usually warm.

Joanne: What kind of clubs wore there to belong to in the area, when you were younger, or sports, teams—anything like that. Do you remember anything?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, didn't have too many ball games at that time. But it was started up later, though, uh, I guess after we got kinda grown-up. My youngest brother belonged to a ball-team down hero at Oakland. And I think you'll find a picture around somewhere with all....some of these people are living around here yet. When that ball team was started that was the first...

Joanne: Was Mr. Lloyd Vivian on that team?

Mrs. Rammage: Yes. That's the first one that I remember being around and my brother was in that.

Joanne: Were there any other clubs around here for younger people?

Mrs. Rammage: No, there was just the church group.

Joanne: When would the 4-H clubs start, they had...

Mrs. Rammage: Well, the 4-H clubs started, I'd say—do you know? They started about 50 years ago? I'd imagine you'd find that out from the agricultural representative. He'd probably know, Don Graham.

Joanne: What kind of music did you listen to when you were younger?

Mrs. Rammage: We had nothing to listen to except the organ. (laughs) Old organ. The family had an organ that you had to pump, you know, with your own feet. You pumped it with your own feet. Course I guess there was—we liked the mouth organ. Some of my cousins used to play the mouth organ along with the other organ, you know. That was the main thing though.

Joanne: Did you have radio Or anything like that?

Mrs. Rammage: We didn't have a radio until about, I guess forty years ago, maybe, we got a radio for the first—about that time.

Joanne: What was there to do around here when you ware at the dating age?

Mrs. Rammage: Drive to Brantford. He had a nice horse and buggy. He was supposed to have about one of the fanciest horses and buggy around. He was noted for having (laughs). His dad had a nice steppy—you know, lively horses that step high, really go. But you drive to Brantford with the horse and buggy or Port Dover. That's about as far as you went. (laughs) At that time.

Joanne: There wasn't movies when you were a teenager, was there?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, there was, I guess, but we didn't get to them very often. There was—and there were circuses. My dad used to always—he never liked to miss a circus when it was in Brantford. So, he had a three-seated democrat, and he'd take a whole load down, (laughs) to the circus. My mother didn't go though. She didn't care for the circus. So, we got to the circus when it came around. And then about once a year he would drive with a whole... democrat, load of us to Port Dover. That was one thing in the summer time we did. We'd drive to the beach at Port Dover. That was quite a drive too, you know. If it rained on the way up you'd drive in under a tree and get wet. (phone rings) excuse me! (tape is shut off)

Joanne: What do you think about the term the "Roaring Twenties" Were they as "roaring" around here?

Mrs. Rammage: I think that was more of a—people that wore kind of what you'd call up in the world...Society people...The Roaring Twenties. I don't think we noticed too much about the roaring twenties here.

Joanne: What year were you married in?

Mrs. Rammage: 1920.

Joanne: 1920. Were you married here in Oakland.

Mrs. Rammage: Yes. Down at the Parsonage.

Joanne: What was your wedding like?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, we just had a very informal wedding. My brother and sister stood with us—my younger brother. It wasn't anything fancy. Then we got on a railway up here at the station—Scotland Station, and got on the train and went to Oxbridge.

Joanne: Where did you settle down after you were married?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, we lived over there for, uh...

Mr. Rammage: Next door neighbour.

Mrs. Rammage: Two years we lived there.

Joanne: When did you settle in this place, right here?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, we lived over the highway for three or four years and then we went to Oakland. Down here...

Mr. Rammage: No. Over there.

Mrs. Rammage: I know, that's what I said. Three or four years over there. Then we went to Oakland and lived there seventeen years. Where Bill Yarek has uh-grows tobacco down here, a couple farms. Then we came up here, around uh...

Mr. Rammage: Forty-seven years ago...

Mrs. Rammage: Forty-seven, I don't know. Let's see—47 from 80 (figures it out on pad)...We've been here, um...take away 6 from 43, What's that?

Joanne: Six from 43? (pause) That's 37.

Mrs. Rammage: That's how long we've been here. I'm going by our youngest daughter. She was about six years old.

Joanne: What kind of a farm is this? A general farm?

Mrs. Rammage: Yes!! It has some high sandy land and then there's some lower on this farm.

Duane: So, how big is this farm?

Mr. Rammage: A hundred acres. It was...I sold all 25 acres back behind them—back the road. Seventy-five now.

Joanne: You had some children?

Mrs. Rammage: Yes. We had throe sons and two daughters.

Joanne: Could you tell us about them?

Mrs. Rammage: Wall, the oldest one now has a trucking business in Guelph, that's Omer. He has a trucking business. His two sons working with him and he has two, three more hired men, so, there he's got a pretty busy time. The second one is a veterinarian in Fredericton. He's been there for quite a while now. Now he's got up to be a director for the province of New Brunswick, for the Veterinary Board. And the next one, she's a daughter. She's married to a Presbyterian minister and they live in Ancaster right now. The next one is retired from the Mounted Police. He was in there 35 years and he got up to be Superintendant. That's a little higher than most of them go. So, right now he's working for the British Columbia government, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. So, he wasn't long getting work after he retired from the Mounted Police. And the youngest one lives in Brantford. She lives closest to any of thorn. Her husband is one of the directors at Buy State Abrasives.

Joanne: Did the Depression affect you in any way financially?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, I think we took it as it came along, (laughs) More or less you just used what you had. I did mostly all the sewing. I made their clothes out of old things that were given to us. And I used to go to the mills and get the goods to make them underwear even. For the boys, make underwear, and so we didn't spend a lot of money because we didn't have it. So I don't think—I think we always had enough to eat. So, I don't think the Depression really bothered us because we didn't have anything more so we didn't bother. We were working away— we were farming. It was not that bad.

Joanne: You remember both of the wars then? The First World War and the Second World War.

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yes. Ho went overseas—he was drafted in the First World War.

Duane: So, how was it at the war?

Mr. Rammage: Well, I was drafted, and uh, my boss didn't want me to go. So he went down to try and get me off and he couldn't. But, uh, my neighbour, across the road, went down with me...he got "B" and I got "A".

Joanne: What does that mean?

Mrs. Rammage: Yeah, what's A and B mean? What's that!

Mr. Rammage: "A" is for when we go overseas and "B" you didn't go...

Mrs. Rammage: He didn't qualify for the physical.

Mr. Rammage: No.

Joanne: Did you know Mr. Rammage when he went?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yeah. Yes we'd been going together fore that.

Joanne: So, you got married when he came back then?!

Mrs. Rammage: When he came back. Yes. There was a lot of them around here. A lot of weddings at that soon as the boys came home.

Mr. Rammage: A lot of them got married. so they wouldn't have to go.

Mrs. Rammage: Yes. Some of them got married so. You see, they didn't take the married ones. Some of them got married to get out of going in the army, then the Second World War, of course, our family really wasn't that old. So, they didn't really have to go. There was no drafting in the Second World War, was there?

Joanne: Not till later.

Mr. Rammage: Just like a pleasure trip over there, (laughs) But it was in the army.

Mrs. Rammage: Well, you see, they had all their training though. They had all...

Mr. Rammage: Had all the training...Ready to go to France. But we was armed at the firing ranges. And then we came back. And armistice was signed while we was down there.

Mrs. Rammage: He was at the firing range when he heard that the war was over. The first ones that went over though were the first ones to come back. So, he had to wait for a quite a while...

Mr. Rammage: A half a year! even get home.

Mrs. Rammage: To get a boat and bring them back.

Joanne: So, did the Second World War affect you at all here, in any kind of way?

Mrs. Rammage: No. There seemed to be lots of men that you could get on the farms. And we had quite a big farm at that time, a lot of cattle. So there seemed to be lots of men that you could hire then to help on the farm. So, we weren't too bad off when the Second World War was on.

Joanne: What congregation do you belong to here?

Mrs. Rammage: We belong to Oakland, United.

Joanne: So, in what ways are you involved in the church?

Mrs. Rammage: Me!! Oh, I help with the UCW and uh, any bazaars and things we have coming up. Oh, I don't go in the choir-I used to teach Sunday School quite a lot but I've given that up now.

Joanne: Do you remember any of the names of the various ministers who have preached at the church?

Mrs. Rammage: You know, I found a minister right here a hundred years ago (from various news clippings) when I was reading these over before you got here. But uh, "Reverend William Hey"—hey, this is the pastor of the Congregational Church in Scotland. "A hundred years ago in 1969 announced he had received and accepted a call to Bellville Congregational Church. He was popular in Scotland and Claremont." Where was Claremont? That's uh, one of those villages around here that they changed the name. You'll have to ask somebody around Scotland. They'll likely know. That's who he was and that was Scotland Church. Well, I can't look that up right now but I just read it here. You want me to go back.

Joanne: Later, yes.

Mrs. Rammage: The last one we got is Mr. Lansley and the one before that is Gene Donaldson, Reverend Gene Donaldson...and uh, Mr. Hurley. Who else was it? Rev. Wilson...and let's see, Rev. Sheppard, Rev. Rogers—he was the one that married us. Oh, there was Reverend Perkins— that was around fifty years ago though. I don't know if I can remember them all, but, there was one /article/ if you want to look these over. Here's something again about the Congregational Church in Scotland: "Looks like New". Mr. Martin made repairs by moving the organ and putting it in the choir loft. New pews—painting the steeple and so forth for the cost of $500.00. What would you get now! That was a hundred years in 1871. That was the Scotland Congregational Church.

Joanne: I'm not sure if I asked you this before or not. Is there any other crafts or hobbies that you still work on now, besides the painting.

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yes. We've taken up the crewel work this year, that's embroidery work. We do quilting and uh, oh, I've taught some of these courses that they put out through the agriculture... Breadmaking...

Joanne: Oh, the 4-K Homemaking clubs?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, the Woman's Institute. I've had the vegetable course that I've helped with teaching and the Cheese course. Oh, several of those. But, I don't do that anymore.

Joanne: What kind of newspapers were there around here, to read, way back? Were there any different ones besides the Brantford Expositor?

Mrs. Rammage: All my people took was the Brantford Expositor, I think. I don't know if they took some farm papers or not; but, I don't remember farm papers. But there was a post-office at East Oakland at that time and we had to—at noon. Sometimes we had to spend our noon hour going to the post office which was a quarter mile up and back. Get the newspaper and take it home because it was delivered down there. I think that was about all the newspaper we took.

Joanne: What kind of stores are there to shop in around here, way back then?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh, just these village stores—about all. Unless you went to Brantford., you see. My people used to go to market. So, they did their shopping when they wont to market in Brantford.

Joanne: What were the roads like?

Mrs. Rammage: Muddy. And rough. In the summer time they dried up. They were good in the summer time.

Joanne: When were they paved around here?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, they were pretty narrow when they were first paved. They weren't this wide, you know. Kept widening them all the time, I don't suppose they've been paved more than fifty years. I can't tell you for sure. I don't k-now if that's right.

Mr. Rammage: This is one of the main roads.

Mrs. Rammage: Around here, yeah. /Highway/ 24 is the main road.

Mr. Rammage: We've got traffic through here all night. Now, because they opened up that new bridge down there at the Grand River.

Joanne: Oh yes. That's right.

(end of side one) (side two begins)

Joanne: When did you get your driver's license? Do you have a driver's license?

Mr. Rammage: Yes.

Mrs. Rammage: He doesn't anymore. He doesn't drive anymore.

Mr. Rammage: I used to drive till I had a stroke. But uh, she's been driving.

Mrs. Rammage: I've only had it about twenty years.

Joanne: Only about twenty years!

Mrs. Rammage: I was lucky I started driving, wasn't I? He lost his.

Joanne: What was it like getting your license. Twenty years ago—that's not to long ago.

Mrs. Rammage: Well, I went to Norwich and I got it up there fairly easy but you wouldn't get it that easy now. (laughs) So, I'd been driving the car around here a little bit. I drove it around the yard just to get to know how to handle the car.

Duane: So, that's how you started.

Joanne: When did you first drive? When you were about fifty. Or did you drive before that but never got -get your license. (laughs)

Mrs. Rammage: No. I never drove a car till I started getting my license. (laughs)

Joanne: Really. That must have been something.

Mrs. Rammage: Yeah, it was too. Well, I didn't go very far at first, you know. I got the feel of the car pretty good before I started out to anywhere. The storekeeper down there said...I said, "I think I can handle the car pretty well," but I said, "I don't know about the city." Oh, he says, "Drive to the edge of the city and take the bus on up." (laughs) I didn't do it though.

Joanne: Do you ever drive in the city now?

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yes. I go all over Brantford, Guelph, Simcoe, and any of these towns that are not too busy. But, the busy ones I don't bother.

Joanne: Was Mr. Rammage you instructor?

Mrs. Rammage: No! (laughs) You never want to get your husband to be your....My daughter helped me get—she went with me to get my licence. And then this guy up the road there, Herman Persall—he went around with me a time or two to show me a bit about driving.

Mr. Rammage: Now she goes to Simcoe.

Mrs. Rammage: Oh I go to Simcoe. I go farther than that.

Mr. Rammage: To get her license.

Mrs. Rammage: Oh yeah. I have to do that every year, you see.

Joanne: There's been quite a few changes around here. There's been some improvements and some setbacks, too. Could you tell us about any that you could think of? What your opinions of them are?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, I can't really think of any special ones, that I know of. Improvements. I guess there's lots of them if I'd been thinking. But, they don't change that much I guess.

Joanne: Not around here. That's the impression I've been getting.

Mrs. Rammage: I don't think they change that drastic.

Joanne: What's your overall impression of living in Oakland?

Mrs. Rammage: Well, I guess we never thought too much about living anywhere else. Though we had the farm and when he retired, in order to have something to do he keeps chickens. So we just stay here.

Mrs. Rammage: Still got the farm!!

Duane: Do you rent it out?

Mr. Rammage: Rent it out? Yes.


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