|Date of birth||October 10, 1911|
- 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. Beckham at her home in Scotland, Ontario, June 26, 1980.
Joanne: Could you tell us where and when you were born?
Mrs. Beckham: At Springford in October 10th, 1911.
Joanne: Where abouts is Springford?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, its west of Otterville.
Joanne: Would you be able to tell us anything about the event of your birth?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, I don't know much about that. I know I was the eldest of six children.
Joanne: You weren't born in Oakland Township so what year did you come to Oakland Township?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, I guess 1954. Burtch isn't in Oakland is it? It's in Brant Township isn't it.
Mrs. Beckham: Yes. Well, then it'd be in 1954.
Joanne: Why did you come to this area?
Mrs. Beckham: Well... we were renting and the place we were renting was sold and we had to find a place. We thought we'd like to buy a place, and so we just...
Joanne: So, did you come here with your husband then?
Mrs. Beckham: Yes.
Joanne: Did you have any children?
Mrs. Beckham: Three.
Joanne: Could you tell us a bit about your children?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, what do you want to know about them? They went up here to the school....Sharon I think went in 7 and 8 and—the boys must have—I don't know—they were ten when they came up here so they probably went four years. Three or four years.
Joanne: Are they still around here?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, Bill-Jim's in Burford, but Bill is in Alberta. And Sharon of course is down across from Dr. (Jack) Shavers. (Talbot street, Scotland)
Joanne: Could you tell us about how you spent holidays? Christmas for instance? Maybe you could remember what it was like when you first came to this area?
Mrs. Beckham: You mean weather-wise?
Joanne: Oh, weather-wise—what customs you've been used to.
Mrs. Beckham: Oh, I don't—I don't know. You know. Gee, the kids have been gone so long I forget. I've had grandchildren around for so long and you know. We always got together, like, when my parents were alive or when my mother was alive we always had Christmas. Even when it was between Christmas and New Years we always had it with her-all of our family, our sisters and brothers. And after she went, well just our own family had Christmas together., Now the last couple of years we haven't got together at all (laughs)
Joanne: So, what you'll probably be doing here is answering more Questions about your children-things that they used to do when they were young, because they would have grown up here (in Scotland) mostly.
Mrs. Beckham: Well, the twins were ten and. Sharon was 12.
Joanne: What kind of groups were there around here for them to belong to? Like organizations, clubs? Was there anything?
Mrs. Beckham: I don't remember that my kids belonged to any thing. Yes they belonged to the clubs when they were in Burtch—but not here. The boys did but ah, I don't remember that they belonged to any group after we came here. There was a certain group of boys and they used to go camping and things like that but I don't think was any special organization. My granddaughter used to belong to the-I think whe belonged a year anyway-to the CGIT down here at the Church.
Joanne: Do you belong to any one of the churches?
Mrs. Beckham: No, not here. I go to Brantford.
Joanne: Was there any special kind of programs that was put on at the school your children went to? Like concerts or anything that might stand out in your mind at all?
Mrs. Beckham: I don't think we've had concerts for quite a long while. You kind of forget, you know. I'm getting old. I forget-it was a long time ago...,They probably did have some kind of entertainment. Actually, I think they did have entertainment at the school.
Joanne: Does your husband-did he work in Scotland?
Mrs. Beckham: No. He worked in Massey's. (Massey Ferguson plant, Brantford)
Joanne: I see. I have a question down here about the Depression. Did the Depression affect you? In any way financially?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, we always were thankful we had enough to eat and a roof over our heads. I guess that's about all you can say. We lived on a farm, you know and so, we were fortunate enough that we had food but it really was pretty rough for everybody. I just-I don't know what the young people would do today if they ever had to face anything like that. I really-I hope you don't too. I just don't know whether a lot of the young people would be able to handle it.
Joanne: I know what you mean, from what we've been hearing.
Mrs. Beckham: Well, I mean most young people are used to having pretty much what they want just then. Or whatever, you know, when you want something you go and get it. If you can't get it with cash you charge and we didn't have that kind of thing when we were... If you couldn't pay for it you. Couldn't get it.
Joanne: Did the wars affect you at all? I don't know if the First World War would have, but the Second World War?
Mrs. Beckham: Not my family, no. Because my husband was too old to go and he worked and my children were too young. So it really didn't.
Joanne: Did you belong to any organizations in Scotland or Oakland?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh, I've belonged to the Institute over since I've been here-when we moved here.
Joanne: How are you involved in the Institute? What kind of thing do they do?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, right now, not any more than I can help but (laughs) I had Presidency 2-four year terms and I had two Secretary, 2-six year terms. So, I've pretty well been involved pretty well over since I've been here in the Woman's Institute.
Joanne: I know most of the women are involved in that. That takes up a lot of their time.
Mrs. Beckham: Yes, it's a good organization.
Joanne: What was it like when you first moved here? Your attitude when you first saw Scotland?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, we've travelled through a lot of times, eh? Because we used to live at Nor Norwich. We lived in Brantford; my husband was raised in Brantford. And we lived in Norwich and we used to go back and forth. We used to doctor at Norwich when we lived at Burtch-we used to go to Norwich. So we were back and forth through here many times, you know. And if I had a nickel for every time I traveled that Cockshutt Road I wouldn't even be talking to anybody (laughter) Oh dear, but anyway, we tend to say that we liked this area anyway when we had to find a place. Of course, we found it a little difficult. We were kind of woosted out of our place without too much notice. Maybe about a month's notice and in December we had to move, you know. And it was pretty difficult to find a place. When we came here it was just three rooms and the basement. And we lived, in a ten room house in Burtch. (laughter) So we had to get rid of a lot of things, you know, and just have room, for the essentials. Then my husband built the rest on.
Joanne: Do you think the town's changed very much?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh definately it's-like there's quite a few buildings down here that aren't anymore that were, you know, like the big store on the corner and the other big store-
Duane: Do you remember the store very...?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh yes. Yes!
Duane: Could you describe it to us?
Mrs. Beckham: What? The one on the corner?
Joanne: The one that burnt down.
Mrs. Beckham: Oh, well, it was a big two storey-it was like, you know...originally it was a hotel I guess. It used to be a hitching post, as near as I can understand it. What they used-when they were driving horses and that they used it-so they tell me-they used it to hitch their horses there. But when it was a store, yes I used to go in there often. I think the owners lived upstairs and the store downstairs.
Joanne: Do you remember anything about the fire? I'm not sure, I think that was 1963 or 1961? I'm not sure.
Mrs. Beckham: I know it's a long time ago. Lot me think. Yes, it'd be about 1961 or 1962 something like that I think. Because my daughter just lived across the road in Paul Urban1s apartment. I really don't know anything about how it started or where or what time it smarted or anything but I do know we did go down. I had a couple of fire kids here, you know. My boys, everytime there was a fire they headed out no matter where (laughter) or what time of the night either.
Joanne: Was there paved roads when you moved here?
Mrs. Beckham: Here there was, yes. (Simcoe Street, Scotland)
Joanne: But were most of the other streets paved? We don't know what year the roads were paved and we're trying to figure that out.
Mrs. Beckham: Well, I don't know, but they did do the...curb thing along the side here. They did that after we moved here, but I can't just tell—not all that long ago really but I can't just tell you when. But as far as being always paved it has since we've been here. But how long before that, I don't know. And the one, lets see... I'm not sure if the one from Norwich was or not. Travelled that road so many times and I know part of the time it was gravel but I can't remember what... (laughter)
Joanne: What kind of parks and stuff were there around here for your children to go to or swim at or anything? Was there anywhere around here for them to go swim or play?
Mrs. Beckham: Only place I know of they ever had to play is that school up here (Scotland Public) or... well, Willow Lake Park wasn't open as—I forget now-I don't think we ever paid when we went in there first because I don't think anyone owned it when we first moved here. And if the children went swimming well somebody had to go with them that knew how to swim, to be with them, you know. My husband pulled a kid out of Waterford one summer. I think the first or second summer we were here. One boy drowned, and then the other boy they worked on him- the one he brought in was okay. But he went back after the other one but he was too late, you know. And our kids were in the car and they decided then and there that they wanted to learn to swim. My brother-in-law just had an irrigation pond, so we took them up to the irrigation pond every night till they learned to swim.
Joanne: Where was that?
Mrs. Beckham: Up at Kelvin, But, you know, I never did trust them to go down here alone until, oh well, they were in their teens.
Joanne: Well, they have lifeguards there now.
Mrs. Beckham: Now they have, yes. But that was different then, you know. I think Evans took it over shortly after we first came here, if I remember right. But I know when we were living at Burtch we used to bring them up here sometimes and there wasn't any (life-guards).
Duane: About the VanDusen Block-the building they just tore down beside the Post Office? Do you remember what was in there when you first came?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh, yes. It was a Department Store. There was groceries and dry goods and all kinds of novelties and stuff.
Duane: Do you remember who was running the store?
Mrs. Beckham: Mr. Hillier.
Duane: Do you remember any names after Mr. Hillier?
Mrs. Beckham: I don't think so. Oh yes. I guess there was somebody-after him but I can't remember who now. He had it quite a while after we were here, because I don't know, we used to send the kids down there for groceries once in a while. I can't tell-No one had it for any length of time after, I don't think. Not anyone person. There may have been, you know, but I don't think anybody... I think. Not anyone person. There might-I think there was somebody in there afterwards but I don't think they had anything, maybe groceries. I don't think they had anything else.
Duane: Was the /store/ all on the first floor?
Mrs. Beckham: Yes.
Duane: Do you remember what was on the second or third floor?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, I think-I don't know if he lived on the second floor, or he lived in the building somewhere. Now whether he rented, that or whether he lived on the second floor. But I know it was rented any number of times, even after there was no store below it was rented upstairs.
Joanne: The garden parties in Oakland. They used to have them on the 24th of May. Did you ever go to any garden parties?
Mrs. Beckham: I went to—not here, no. I don't think I ever went to a garden party after I was married. Never got to very much of any place after I was married. (laughter) You could count on my one hand all the shows I ever went to, (laughter) Oh dear. No, I don't remember going to any garden parties.
Joanne: They must have stopped them by then.
Mrs. Beckham: They could have done.
Joanne: They had them a long long time ago.
Mrs. Beckham: Oh, I Know they used to have....Well it was just the thing to go to Zenda garden party. (I) used to go to Zenda Garden Party before I was married. Now, that was a real event and they had a good program too.
Joanne: It's too bad they don't have things like that now.
Mrs. Beckham: Yes.
Joanne: They can't get them arranged.
Mrs. Beckham: No. People just don't want to participate and it's too bad; because it would be a real outlet for children.- young people that don't know what to do with themselves and are getting into mischief.
Joanne: Something to look forward to, too. I think.
Mrs. Beckham: Oh yes. Every year everybody was—"0h I can't wait till Zenda garden party!" Model T Fords and horses and buggies and what-have-you.
Joanne: Did you used to ride around in your buggy when you were younger?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh yes. Yes.
Joanne: Would you remember your first car you were ever in?
Mrs. Beckham: Yes. It was a limousine. (laughter)
Mrs. Beckham: Yes, my uncle was a chauffer for millionaires in Detroit and he used to come over for holidays sometimes, you know and he would take us for a ride in this limousine, It was a real event.
Joanne: I guess!
Mrs. Beckham: I imagine it must have been a pretty old limousine because...must have been about 57 years ago or 58. Something like that.
Duane: Do you remember any of the small businesses that were around here when you first came here?
Joanne: That aren't around here now?
Mrs. Beckham: (pause) I don't think so. Not that I can recall, you know, other than the stores. I can't recall that I was anything else. There might have been but, you know...
Joanne: Were there a lot of tobacco farms around here when you cane here?
Mrs. Beckham: Quite a few.
Joanne: Because they must have just been starting up right around then. Maybe...
Mrs. Beckham: No.
Joanne: Did any of your children work in tobacco?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh yes, they all did. I did myself. Yes, well practically the whole bit. I always worked in harvest and stripping. But there was lots of tobacco around, fact I can remember when it first started down Delhi area and down around there because I used to live at Delhi.
Duane: Do you remember around how old you were maybe when it started?
Mrs. Beckham: Tobacco started in the first place?
Joanne: Or really started big. Or any of the names of farmers around here.
Mrs. Beckham: Well, not right around here. I don't know for sure when any of them started. But I (pause) must have been 48 years or 49 years ago anyway-oh, maybe 50 years ago, I can remember when they started down around Delhi and Otterville and like that. Some of the farms down around Delhi used to - tobacco farms bought them to start in tobacco for five or six hundred dollars and look what they are now.
Joanne: Yes. /you/ can't do that now.
Mrs. Beckham: Not that much an acre even. But I know a lot of those farmers bought the land they figured wasn't good for anything because it was sand, eh? They found that an ordinary farmer couldn't hardly make a living on. And they started in with tobacco.
Joanne: I can't recall. What year were you born?
Mrs. Beckham: 1911.
Joanne: 1911. So you'd remember the twenties. What were things like in the twenties. You know, how they say the Roaring Twenties and everybody had short dresses and stuff. Was it like that for you?
Mrs. Beckham: Well, I was about....The year that stands the most was I guess when I was 16, and I went over to Detroit to my aunt's for a couple of months and it was a real eye-opener for me. All the elevators and escalators and all those kind of stuff. /I was/ scared to death. (laughter) Used to horse and buggy and all that kind of stuff, you know.
Joanne: What kind of clothes? What kind of fashions were there then?
Mrs. Beckham: You want me to tell you the truth? Well, like I say, we went through the Depression and we never did I have very much money so I nearly always wore somebody else's clothes. So, it didn't make much difference to me.
Joanne: That's understandable.
Mrs. Beckham: But some of the songs and some of the music and that in the 1920s is very nice. I really still like them.
Joanne: Yes. I like them. Did you go to a lot of dances?
Mrs. Beckham: Oh no. I don't (phone rings) I used to before I was married not since. (tape shut off; end of interview)