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Mr. & Mrs. Jack Learmouth
First name Jack
Last name Learmouth
Age 75
Date of birth December 11, 1904
Community Oakland
2010OL001.057

A painting by Mrs. Jack Learmouth

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 Duane Brandow and Joanne Vamos interviewing Mr. and Mrs. Jack Learmouth at their home in Oakland, Ontario on June 25th, 1980.

Duane: Mr. Learmouth, could you tell me where you were born and when you were born?

Mr. Learmouth: Well, that's December 11th, 1904 and it was in Norfolk County. Does that make any difference really?

Duane: No.

Mr. Learmouth: As I say, I'm not a native of Brant.

Duane: Mrs. Learmouth, could you answer the same question?

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. I was born November 9, 1910 and in Brant County just down by the next mill.

Duane: Mr. Learnbuth would you be able um, tell me any thing about the event of your birth. that your mother or someone has said?

Mr. Learmouth: I was there, but that's all I know about it. (laughs) What for instance do you want to know? I think I was born at home in those days. That's 75 years ago, I guess. That's about all I can tell you.

Duane: Could you tell us anything?

Mrs. Learmouth: I haven't a clue whether I was born morning, noon or night. I don't know why I don't know. But I was born at home. And I had a midwife. I know that much. But other than that(chuckles) I don't remember.

Duane: Mr. Learmouth, could you tell me about your brothers and sisters? Your family?

Mr. Learmouth: Oh, I have one brother two years younger than I am.

Duane: What's his name?

Mr. Learmouth: Jim.

Duane: And could you tell me about your mom and dad and your grandparents?

Mr. Learmouth: Oh, my mother's maiden name was McGregor and she came from Kent County and my father was Peter and he was born on the same farm where I was born in Townsend Township. And I guess our claim to fame is about that much. I don't think it's anything better. If the history books want to record it.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, I have one brother two years younger and my mother was born in Rochester, Now York. My father was born in Grimsby but they bought the farm down there by the GORE mill.. He was quite young but I can't tell you—in his teens or earlier.

Duane: What was your mom and dad's names?

Mrs. Learmouth: My mother's name was Densy and my father's name was Smith. A good name.

Duane: Would you like to say anything about your brother?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, I don't know. He's like me. He doesn't have too much claim to fame. He's retired and he lives at Hagersville. I'm going on a trip with him this weekend. I guess that's about it.

Duane: Mr. Learmouth, what school did you go to?

Mr. Learmouth: Well, East Oakland is what they called it. It's a stone building down here on the town line on the Cockshutt-Port Dover Road. Do you know where that school is?

Duane: Yes.

Mr. Learmouth: I went to Waterford High School for awhile. I didn't graduate from Waterford High School but I went there for a spell and I went to business college in Waterford. That's all the education I had.

Duane: So how far did you have to walk to East Oakland?

Mr. Learmouth: Oh, two miles and a half, more or less, but very close to it.

Duane: When you were going to Waterford how...

Mr. Learmouth: Well, Waterford was considered to be eight miles from the...I had to board at a boarding place in Waterford.

Duane: Mrs. Learmouth, could you...?

Mrs. Learmouth: I went to the same school on the other end of the trail. (laughter) And, I don't know, maybe a mile and a quarter. Would you judge that about right?

Mr. Learmouth: Yeah, a little over a mile. It was a long mile.

Mrs. Learmouth: But they had a longer walk. They're about as far as they could get.

Mr. Learmouth: A long mile. We were right at the end.

Joanne: So you've known Mr. Learmouth for...

Mrs. Learmouth: I don't remember when I haven't known him. My dad and mother and his dad and mother took Mount Pleasant to go to church and both drove buggies over there if you can beat that. So I've known him ever since I can remember knowing anyone.

Duane: So did you go to...

Mrs. Learmouth: No. That was the end of my career was grade eight.

Duane: Grand eight? So, did you guys ever live on a farm?

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. Both of us.

Duane: So what kind of farms did you live on?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, dairy.

Mr. Learmouth: Just general farms.

Mrs. Learmouth: General dairy.

Mr. Learmouth: Pigs, chickens and cats and dogs and cows and horses.

Mrs. Learmouth: Chasin' cows. That was my job and I hated it.

Duane: So, could you tell me something about your life on the farm?

Joanne: What was it like growing up on the farm when you were younger?

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh, when I was young I had a lot of fun. I don't know, my brother and I used to play out in the fields and I never was bored. Golly we had a lot of fun. I remember we used to have hay ropes and things tied up in trees and I don't know. I wonder why kids are so bored now, because we didn't have television and we didn't have anything but just make our own fun. L:ved by the pond down there and I was down there every day swimming, or fishing or something. Mother let us go pretty young for some reason. Well, we just lived right down there by the old mill. And I enjoyed life then.

Duane: So, do you remember any special events that happened at school when you were younger?

Mrs. Learmouth: School fairs was a big deal. School fair and Christmas entertainment. I guess that was it. But we had a lot of fun then.

Duane: Do you remember where any of the school fairs were held?

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. Right at our school. They always came every year to the school down there and we had our own...

Mr. Learmouth: Well not the same school every year. They went to Mount Pleasant, or they'd be at Burford or Scotland or somewhere.

Mrs. Learmouth: None of the one I ever attended were down there. And I used to like to put things in the fair. It was always at Oakland, Maybe they wouldn't take me any place else. I don't remember that.

Mr. Learmouth: It was sort of a district thing, schools in a certain area would hold a school fair. The kids were given assignments to uh, oh, either make things or to exhibit or take things. You know, selected apples or um...my mother always had chickens and one thing I know, my brother and I used to win prizes on. We'd sort the eggs out for maybe a week, you know get all the real, good, big eggs and there'd be a prize for exhibit of a dozen eggs or have—

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, they took the chickens too, sometimes.

Mr. Learmouth: Oh, yeah. The kids were assigned and you got uh, seeds. The government provided you with seeds if you asked for them. You had to have your parents consent to get this stuff. Then you planted that, you see and then you could exhibit your crop. L:ke potatoes or—potatoes was the one I can remember more than anything else—that kids raised these potatoes. And then you could get eggs and set them under a hen in those days, mind you, if you know anything about that (laughter) and hatch chickens and then you could take a couple of your best chickens and exhibit them at the fair. It was an interest for kids and kids really liked it. But when it got be passe and wasn't done anymore so...

Mrs. Learmouth: I got the highest points one year, boy I thought I was big. (laughter)

Duane: So, did you win a ribbon?

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. It was red.

Mr. Learmouth: There was no cash—I don't think there was any cash. Might have been. Might have been a few cents!

Mrs. Learmouth: I think we got thirty cents for first prize or something.

Mr. Learmouth: Thirty or forty cents for first prize and twenty cents for second prize and you know. But in those day, you're going back sixty-five years or more, why uh, that was a lot of money for a kid. Kid that had a quarter thought he was 'King of the walk'. (laughter)

Duane: Could you tell me how you spent Christmas?

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh boy, I don't know. We used to have a big Santa Claus then I know. We used to—I remember getting a great big doll. I thought that was something. That was REALLY something!! (laughter) And uh, my brother, he wanted a "buggy whip. Why he wanted that for I don't know. My mother was mad cause my doll cost so much more than the buggy whip. But dad thought, well we got what we wanted. It didn't matter what the cost was. So that was the way it was. But we enjoyed Christmas. We never had a tree till I got big enough to get it by myself. But we hung up our stockings and things and had a big dinner. Neither one of us had too much family on either side of the house. It was more or less our own people because my mother was an American and dad's people were away and so, you know, we were alone. But I always enjoyed it.

Mr. Learmouth: It wasn't a terribly big due except the kids looked forward to it, of course. One thing I can remember was the Santy Claus gimmick that you lived out after a while. It always seemed that about a few weeks before Christmas, why your folks had an excuse to go to the city and uh, they didn't want you along. They made some excuse. So they went uh, when it wasn't convenient. You were either at school or something or other. And then of course we got to a point of where after—we got a little older and there was a lot of doubt thrown into this Santy Claus bit. We'd hunt the house from top to bottom to try to find what they'd got for us.

Mrs. Learmouth: (chuckles) I never did that. Never.

Mr. Learmouth: And uh, I managed going through all the clothes closets and so on and trying to see. I don't think we were very successful. I think they always had it hid somewhere where we couldn't find it. Oh, you'd get some treats that at this stage in life are nor con...

Mrs. Learmouth: Oranges, believe it or not.

Mr. Learmouth: ...sidered, oranges and candies. I remember getting hockey skates. That is I don't ever remember the first skates I had, were the kind you clamped on your shoes, used your own shoe. They, they were everlasting coming off. They weren't very good. Then I remember hen they went out on a limb and bought us skates attached to the shoes, you know. Things quite ordinary today but it was a big deal at that time. And we were pretty much "the kids" at that state because we had little better skates than some of the rest of the kids had.

Mrs. Learmouth: Another thing, we believed in Santy Claus. When we were about two we didn't hear it on the radio every single second and we had a lot more fun out of the deal than the kids do now because we were a little older and had a lot more fun with it. Now, I can't see where they—they hear it just as soon as they can hear anything. But when I found out I was told not to tell my brother. I remember that very distinctly and I didn't. I never let in on it. Mother and Dad said, "Now let him have his fun." And I did!

Mr. Learmouth: Made you an awful bunch of prevaricators out of kids you know. (laughter) Parents all Lying to each other.

Mrs. Learmouth: Yeah, but it was fun.

Mr. Learmouth: Hoping we didn't find out about it. But, it was innocent make-believe, I guess. It didn't do us any harm. I don't think, anyway. I suppose now your psychiatrists would say, "That's no way to treat a kid, you see," (laughter) "Tell him all those fibs. What's he going to think ? He's never going to believe anything you tell him."

Mrs. Learmouth: I think it's fun! (chuckles) I think kids consider it fun.

Duane: So, could you tell me how you celebrated Hallowe'en? Did you ever get dressed up?

Mrs. Learmouth: No, I never did.

Mr. Learmouth: We were pretty well isolated. We didn't have too many neighbours and not too many kids our own age to get in— there wasn't too many gangs. Oh, maybe when you got into your teens and up toward twenty you might a went out and try and take a few gates off hinges of one thing or another but um, as far as, I don't think—

Mrs. Learmouth: I remember you say you helped upset somebody's outhouse and I couldn't believe it. (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: Well, I was with them. I don't think I did anything about it. I was 1?66hyellowf and afraid I'd get caught. But uh, that wasn't when were really young, that was later on. Don't think there's that much change in what's going on now except that there is more destructive.... Well, I remember one little incidence in where there was a boy across, down the road from us and he was an English boy was came over here to work on the farm. I guess that somebody told him that he should get our on Hallowe'en and do some damage. So, we had a front gate to drive in ... I know everybody had gates in those days. There isn't such a thing anymore. But anyways, our hired man caught him trying to #et the gate off the hinges and I guess he cuffed him up a little bit and sent him home. I know we were a little bit nervous about getting out and doing any damage.

Mrs. Learmouth: The only time I remember going out was when we went over to Boston and I was quite excited then. And this wife got mad because her husband was making a fuss over some boy. She told him off right in front of us. I think that kind of spoiled me and my Hallowe'en.

Mr. Learmouth: Why, it wasn't a big item in our association. You see, a village now, you get people who have spent their life all in the village like Scotland or Oakland—they always had people around them other kids. But when you get a centre that's not populated too much. You see, you had no transportation... I was pretty well grown up before I even had a bicycle and you didn't get anywhere very much. By the time you walked to school in the morning and walked home in the afternoon, you was in no shape to do very much (laughter) else in the course of the day. It's an entirely different sat-up from what people think about now. If they have to walk to catch a bus a couple hundred yards the parents start raising the cane and we didn't know any better so we just put up with this other sort of thing.

Mrs. Learmouth: Dad usually come and get us with a horse and buggy if it rained really hard but I'm telling you it had to be a big storm. Or the horse and cutter and that was kind of fun. We'd have to pile it as full as we could with kids. (laughter)

Duane: How about May 24th?

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh, that was a big day in Oakland. I suppose you've heard all about that all through.

Duane: Well we've heard some but can we hear your

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes, it was the Garden Party. As Jake used to say, "We looked forward to Christmas and the 24th of May." and that was about our big—and the Sunday school picnic, that was another. Three big deals in a year.

Duane: Do you remember anything specific about one of the garden parties?

Mrs. Learmouth: I remember when I was president very well. And I'm telling you I was very glad when it was over. Because it was a big deal for those days. We had it up here at the church and the barn—it was a big horse barn. We cleaned that out and had the garden party. And we had paid entertainment from Hamilton or Guelph or someplace. We thought it was just out of this world. They did used to have some outside. It did used to be warmer or something. And at the big homes around here. They have had them outside and had a supper and then entertainment. It was really nice, but, I don't know. Seems kind of...

Mr. Learmouth: Well, some people you've interviewed probably if you brought up the garden party bit— that is Oakland people. Mrs. Rammage would probably know...

Duane: Mrs. Rammage says that she remembers the one that was held at her place.

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes I do too. I was pretty young.

Mr. Learmouth: Yes. Then it used to be like a strawberry social more than anything else. They'd set tables. And you paid, you see. Then they had this big program and usually it was outside talent they brought in. It wasn't just the home-grown thing. It was a big event as far as Oakland was concerned. I don't think we have got any of it. There might be. Because I think people kept those programs and the advertising that...

Mrs. Learmouth: I have one of them.

Mr. Learmouth: And people came from long distances around. Ours was a fair sized one but there was other ones in the country that were bigger. There was one up above Norwich at Zelbya that uh...oh, we would have probably three or four hundred people at ours.

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh, we had a thousand. We had a thousand.

Mr. Learmouth: Did you have as much as a thousand? But up there it would be three or four times that. It was a terrific thing.

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh, we thought it was terrific. Wasn't a rock and roll bash, but anyway.

Mr. Learmouth: Wasn't like a rock concert quite.

Joanne: Like they have here in the summer?

Mrs. Learmouth: (laughter) Yeah! That one I'm not very happy about!

Mr. Learmouth: I don't know whether you're going to report on this or not or whether you're just going back in "Ancient History" but uh...you can get our opinion on that if you like. It's not very well managed. They let it get out of hand pretty badly. Last year especially.

Duane: What was there to do in the community when you were younger?

Mr. Learmouth: I think Softball was probably about the only thing that uh, they're getting back a little to. There's sort of a lull in between. They've got a ball team now that plays at Waterford they call Oakland but it isn't supported by the Oakland community. In those days the Oakland community supplied the support and there would be big crowds. Well, we considered them big. There'd be probably a hundred to a hundred and fifty people turn out to a ball game. And then they would have ball tournaments where they'd come in from Scotland and Burtch and Mount Pleasant and [illegible]. And these, I think, as far as the activities were concerned, was about all that was going on.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, skating down at the East Oakland pond. I lived beside it and skated. I used to skate from one end out to the other end. Swim, down there. I lived at the pond. That was my life really. I didn't have a swimming pool.

Mr. Learmouth: But it wasn't organized. Wasn't organized.

Mrs. Learmouth: It wasn't organized. No. But we had a lot of kids come down there. We had to clean the ice too and that's another thing. And then we would build a bonfire down on the pond. We had a lot of fun.

Duane: When you were younger what kind of music was there to listen to?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well. We hadn't any radio or any television. Just what we heard at the church mostly. 'here wouldn't be anything else. But people would sing in their homes and things like and if somebody had an organ and could play it. Well, that was a big deal although we didn't get in on it too much. But I know other families that were musical and I think they had a lot of fun doing that.

Mr. Learmouth: Well. It was pretty much home crew stuff.

Mrs. Learmouth: Sure. Church music or old-fashioned music but there wasn't anything else.

Mr. Learmouth: Occasionally maybe a church or organization would get in some travelling group...

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. They did have concerts...

Mr. Learmouth: ...and have a concert once or twice...

Mrs. Learmouth: ...or maybe Christmas. A Christmas concert.

Mr. Learmouth: ...maybe once a year. But it wasn't the left—you looked forward—it wasn't something like every week, you know, that you had to be entertained. We didn't know any better so we wasn't expecting that sort of thing. So anything unusual going on was something that you looked forward to with great anticipation and everybody turned out. Now if you try to organize something most of the people have their time allotted to something else already. It gets pretty discouraging to try and promote anything because you know, if you want card parties or concerts or whatever you're scared to try and promote anything because people don't uh...

Mrs. Learmouth: Everybody does their own thing where as those days when something came up you looked forward to it, everybody together. And I like it better, really.

Mr. Learmouth: Likely I'm repeating what other people have told you the same thing. The big difference that was have noticed is the community here was fairly closely knit. You knew pretty near everybody and everybody knew you. Anything that was going on you could pretty nearly imagine that there would be a representation of 75 or 80 percent of the people involved in it. Now everybody goes every which way, you see. So that this community spirit is at a pretty low ebb.

Mrs. Learmouth: No. It was nice although I'd hate to go back to some of the things we had. (laughs) But I'd like to know the people better if you understand what I mean.

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

Mrs. Learmouth: (laughter) Oh, my gosh. Called it the Flapper Age" then. (chuckles) I don't know. Gee Whiz! Great big hats sitting on the side of our heads and short dresses. Not as short as some of them got—this mini skirt business but, ah—I guess we thought. We used a lot of rouge I know—that was something dreadful (laughter) Other than that, why, I can't remember that they—-I couldn't have too many clothes I'll tell you. I don't have so many now, but uh, I had a lot less then. I don't know, I remember having big scarves tied around our necks too, with a great big bow on the side. I suppose that'd look kind of funny now. I know it would! (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: Well, people had to dress different because ah,, you didn't have... We were brought up as far as automobiles were concerned was the old open cars with—the best protection you had was some side curtains. You've seen those in museums I guess. And, I'm telling you it was darn cold in the winter time in that. So you had heavy coats and heavy clothes whereas now there's no need for that sort of thing. Your car's warm.

Joanne: What was you first car?

Mr. Learmouth: A Model-T Ford, yeah!

Duane: Do you remember what year you had it?

Mr. Learmouth: I think it was either a 1917 or a 1918. I'm not sure just which one it was. We didn't keep it too awful long because everybody was getting their arm broke cranking the darn thing and my dad got a little worried about that. Then they got so you could get a car... The first one had no way of even attaching a starter to it. So I think we kept it for about two years and then he traded it on one that uh, had a starter and a battery. This was great as long as the battery was charged and we'd turn the starter over and the car would run.

Mrs. Learmouth: Jack, tell them about the pants you used to wear—the young men wore. Those kind of balloon pants till they were fifteen or sixteen then they came out with a long suit.

Mr. Learmouth: Oh well, I don't know whether you've got any pictures of that sort of thing or not. Uh, a boy, up to say age twelve, thirteen or fourteen. You know what golf knickers look like, you know, where you tie them around just above the calf of your leg. Well that was the type of trousers kids wore. Likely I got a snapshot somewhere or another of these crazy looking pants.

Mrs. Learmouth: I know. And they come out with their long pants. Boy was that something, boy!!!

Mr. Learmouth: Yeah. You sort of matured at about fifteen years old. You threw away those and you got your pair of long-long pants. And you grew up. (laughter) Grew up over night. And then maybe the next year you had to have a razor. So it was a case of graduating and as far as men styles were concerned that was about all the difference for there. And um...spats. You know what spats are, do you? I remember the first pair of spats I had.

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh, they were fancy.

Mr. Learmouth: I thought ah that was awful fancy... (End of tape. Shut off and started up again)

Mrs. Learmouth: Supposed to be a Bow Brumo or something like that (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: And then of course, I guess you got plenty of it. You got killed going to school with the kind of outfits now; that my mother sent me and my brother to school with, (laughter) Was um, beaton collars, you know, with a big fancy tie, (makes imaginary bow tie under his chin) tied in front here. It was a big bow tie. We were all dressed up. Now, if you sent us—they'd undress him and throw his clothes in the river if you ever...

Duane: What kinds of things were there to do when you were at the dating age?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, went to the shows. That was a big deal. And I remember the first talkie I was to. And that was a double big deal.

Joanne: What was it? Do you remember what it was called?

Mrs. Learmouth: No, But Janet Gaynor was in it. That wasn't with him (Jack) But I can't remember what it was called. Oh my gosh. I'm telling you. That was just about something that you couldn't believe! Well, we entertained ourselves...

Mr. Learmouth: The church had some organizations. The Young Peoples groups at the church and sometimes they would meet in other—community churches would invite the kids from some other place.

Mrs. Learmouth: And we had parties.

Mr. Learmouth: And then there was dances. There were either.... I used to go to some house dances.

Mrs. Learmouth: I didn't. Then he wouldn't go after he got me. And I wanted to go along. (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: You had two left feet. You couldn't dance. (laughter)

Mrs. Learmouth: I never had much chance to learn whether I had two left or two right or... (chuckles)

Duane: Do you remember your first date? Could you tell us, maybe what you did?

Mrs. Learmouth: My god, I don't remember.

Mr. Learmouth: I—I...

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes I do!! I went down to Bealton. I was going to play the piano down there. I told somebody I was coming home with—I remember that now, coming home with you—and I did tool!!! (laughs)

Mr. Learmouth: So she worked it. You see, I didn't know about that.

Duane: Oh, she had it all schemed up.

Mr. Learmouth: She had it all figured out. So now it comes out, you see.

Mrs. Learmouth: Yeah! I had forgotten so if you hadn't of asked me.

Mr. Learmouth: But again, most of your entertainment you had to provide for yourself. Because even though movies weren't expensive and you could get the car after you got a certain age on occasion. It wasn't a two car family you know. And you had to make arrangements to have the car...

Mrs. Learmouth: We didn't have much money.

Mr. Learmouth: There was certain restrictions on the money and on the car. If you were going out for a night I heard my dad say plenty of times, "Well, you better have a little money with ya," and I'd say, "Well, I've get two dollars. That's enough uh, we'll get along all right." So uh, there was that sort of thing going on. There was dances at Port Dover at the Summer Garden that they used to have down there. We used to go to those occasionally. But most of...

Mrs. Learmouth: Not me. That was before me.

Mr. Learmouth: ...most of it was local entertainment. You didn't get too far from home. Money was pretty scarce. It wasn't free. And uh, you had to control your ambition of things.

Mrs. Learmouth: I know ay brother and I got 5 cents of candy every Saturday. That was for two of us, not each. And say, I'm telling you that went a long ways. And that was really good. (laughs)

Mr. Learmouth: We went out to pick some berries today—this pick your own deal. That reminds her that a lot of the first spending money she ever had was picking berries—there was two or three berry farms close around here and uh-what was the lowest you got?

Mrs. Learmouth: I go ta half a cent a box. They were selling for five cents and I'm telling you times were right awful that year.

Mr. Learmouth: Half a cent and a cent and a cent and a half and I guess when they got up to two and three cents a box for picking why some of these people that could pick berries pretty fast thought they were making a cott'n fortune. (laughs) Course this isn't—I know what you're trying to get, historic stuff and it doesn't go over very well for us older people to keep rubbing it in. I imagine you've had it up to your neck about saying, "Well when I was young, you know, it was this and that..."

Joanne: Only when our parents say it. (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: Yeah! (laughter) Well they give it to you probably with both brows sometimes.

Mrs. Learmouth: But your parents would be a lot younger than we are. So they wouldn't gob back to what we have to say.

Mr. Learmouth: Get in with grandpa. Then you'll hear the stories.

Duane: No one's told us about picking berries or anything like that yet.

Mrs. Learmouth: Haven't they!

Duane: No.

Joanne: How the money differs.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, oh god, it was a long day too. You've picked tomatoes. That's all I did, from seven till six, And I'm telling you it was a long day. And I got a dollar. I'm telling you we didn't have any coffee breaks. Cause we didn't have any! (laughter)

Duane: So, could you tell me when you got married?

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. Forty-five years ago this Sunday. (June 27, 1940.)

Duane: This Sunday, eh. So where did you get married?

Mrs. Learmouth: Just in the Parsonage here.

Mr. Learmouth: At the parsonage here in Oakland. We didn't even have a wedding. But the knots stayed tied just as well as if we did. (laughs) Talking to her the other day about one last week that was supposed to have cost 8,000 dollars and I said I hope it lasts till they at least get the little bit out of it.

Duane: Could you physically describe your husband to us?

Mrs. Learmouth: Physically?

Joanne: When you were first married.

Mr. Learmouth: I didn't have any hair.

Mrs. Learmouth: He didn't have any hair and that bugged me a bit but um... he still hasn't got any (laughter). I remember I used to rub his head and I put coal oil on it. (chuckles) Somebody told me that if I put coal oil on it that would make it grow but it didn't (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: Wonder she didn't kill me. (laughter)

Mrs. Learmouth: I don't know, he don't look too much different. Um, I suppose he does. He was thin. He never got fat like me cause I was skinny too but...

Duane: Could you physically describe your wife?

Mr. Learmouth: Well, she says she's not any different but she's different.

Mrs. Learmouth: I didn't say I wasn't any different. I said you weren't.

Mr. Learmouth: Why, add forty pounds different and I guess that's about all. Except, well hair isn't very grey because she sees that the beauty parlour takes care of it.

Mrs. Learmouth: (laughter) Only my hair dresser knows.

Mr. Learmouth: She had curly hair and at that time—well I do remember one thing and you can put it down here because it's a little funny as you think about it. These afro hairdos as popular now and she used to have one that was just about the same. I don't know how she did but she had curly hair and it was all up in a great big doings here.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, I don't remember that. Not an afro. Never was that curly.

Mr. Learmouth: Well, it was a lot of hair sticking out all around.

Mrs. Learmouth: It was longer though. I did wear curls until I was eighteen until I cut mine. I thought they were awful nice.

Joanne: Did you have any children?

Mr. Learmouth: No, no children.

Joanne: Mrs. Gatward was telling us...

Duane: I guess you were her guardian.

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. She lived here.

Mr. Learmouth: Yeah, she's the nearest to a daughter that we can claim. We certainly don't argue about that. She's all right.

Mrs. Learmouth: I guess they know that.

Mr. Learmouth: I don't know how far she wanted to go in with the circumstances of how she came to be here but...

Duane: She told us her dad went to war or something.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well they were divorced and in those days it was a big deal.

Mr. Learmouth: Her parents parted and uh, he was broken up pretty badly so some reason or another, I don't know, maybe he thought he did the right thing. Because he had two daughters and he should have probably stuck with them and looked after them but he joined the Air Force. So, she lived here and finished her school and then she got a job and worked And when she got married they built there—built their house down there.

Mrs. Learmouth: And that was our lot. And we give her that for a wedding present. Right then we didn't think it was so much because it was nothing but weeds but now it's just beautiful.

Mr. Learmouth: Yes. We always figured we could have been rich, you see. If we just got miserable and hung onto it.

Mrs. Learmouth: We gave one to her and gave one to my dad and mother and got 75 dollars for the other. Now didn't we do well! (laughter)

Mr. Learmouth: Uh, No regrets. No regrets.

Mrs. Learmouth: No. No. We've enjoyed it always.

Duane: Okay. Could you tell me how the depression affected you?

Mrs. Learmouth: Depression?

Joanne: Or did it affect you?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well not that much. We both had farms and we didn't have any money. But we were always well fed and we always had warm home. They had a big beautiful house and our house was big too. And outside of not having money for things we didn't need. I never was hungry. Never knew what it was to be hungry cause we had our own things on the farm. So did they. So actually I don't think we can complaint too much about it but we didn't have money to spend. But nobody else did so...

Mr. Learmouth: No. Farmers, if you've interviewed farmers it would be a considerable different situation than people that were not on a farm depending on the job. Because if they were all out of work for any great length of time it was a pretty serious business. I guess we didn't realize how it did affect certain people because we were pretty self-sufficient. Um, I was told this story many times. I might as well put I it on this tape, for you. I guess I was probably twenty years old or older, well, before I realized that you bought groceries, you understand that. The local store keeper used to come along and pick up the eggs and take the order for our groceries and uh, my mother made butter and he'd take that and usually when the hens were laying good why we had surplus money coming back over the grocery bill. Then when the hens didn't lay so well you might have to buy a few groceries. But as far as we kids growing up was concerned, why you bartered—traded produce...

Mrs. Learmouth: And you killed a pig.

Mr. Learmouth: ...for groceries. And you killed your own meat.

Mrs. Learmouth: Chickens and eggs and garden.

Mr. Learmouth: As far as the Depression was concerned it was something that—all it did was to establish a situation of where credit you didn't get into. You didn't borrow any money. Because, number one, nobody'd lend you any and that was the easiest way of getting around it. But as far as— my father died in 1930 and my brother and I were old enough to take over the farm. We had some ideas that were a little more progressive than his had been, so we thought, well, we'd improve our lot a little by going to the bank and seeing if we could get some money. And the banker said, "Well, no. I don't think you qualify for it." He wanted to look the farm over and all that sort of thing Finally we did get a little loan but it instilled...

I can put one thing on there if you like. My mother used to have a saying and of course she was brought up— I don't suppose she'd say it was the depression. It's just that her father died when her brothers were quite young and her mother had to run the farm with their help and as she grew up she knew what it was to be short of things. So she said, "If you can get along without it you don't need it." When we'd ask for things, you know, "Well somebody else has got so and so, why can't we have it?" [and she'd say] "Oh, we're getting along all right. We don't have to have a gasoline engine to pump our water. As long as you got a handle on the pump, you know, that's enough." So, it's ingrained, I think probably—carefulness. We haven't got much patience with people that out-finance themselves at the present time. But uh, our sympathies are very short, as far as they're concerned. Shouldn't be that way I guess.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, we had to live that way. And I don't know how to spend money I guess. I get everything I want and that's it. But I certainly got everything I want.

Mr. Learmouth: The Depression probably was a teacher you know. And our circumstance would be entirely different from, as I say if you're interviewing people that were not farm oriented. You'll get...this is probably something that is as interesting as anything you'll learn. That a different situation creates a different background to people's thinking.

Duane: Do you remember the Wars? The World Wars?

Mr. Learmouth: Well...

Duane: Did you ever have to go to war?

Mrs. Learmouth: He missed both of them.

Mr. Learmouth: I missed both of them by being too young for the first one and a little too old to uh, be considered in the draft for the second one. It never crossed my mind that I could make a good soldier so I didn't push it at all.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, I can remember when the first war closed. We were out in the—I can't see what we were doing out in the field cause it was in November but I'm sure we were out in the field. We were outside anyways. And all the bells started ringing. We could hear everything going in Brantford and I must have been pretty young. But dad says "Oh I bet the war is over." Well, we wouldn't know the war was over for a while because we had no radio, we had no television. We had to wait till the paper come. Whatever day it came and tell us if the war was over. But anyway he was right. It was that the war was over and I remember that really, really well. The Second World War, I don't know, I was scared.

Mr. Learmouth: I can't give you dates but I can vaguely remember when there was no mail delivery at all. You had to go to the Post Office for your mail in the country. And I can remember when the telephone was introduced. I can't give you dates. I don't know how old I was, I don't know what the years were. You'd have to find that probably from somebody that marked it down. Because I never kept a diary or anything to know those things. But, I can well remember when you used to go to the Post Office maybe once a week and that was all the mail you got..(end of tape-flipped over) [You found things out from] somebody that came along that was better informed than you were and stopped in to chat. You didn't know whether...you know, the top could have blown off that volcano and we wouldn't have know about it yet. So you didn't worry about those things half as much as you do now. (laughs)

Mrs. Learmouth: Sometimes, I think back and I think well maybe it was better cause now you're kind of scared to turn on the news. You don't know who's going to—been mopped around or something's exploded. In those days you didn't know.

Joanne: You didn't know so you didn't worry about it.

Mrs. Learmouth: You didn't worry about it. But uhf I sure can remember when the Second World War started and I was really frightened.

Mr. Learmouth: I think the difference in people's outlook probably is that how you have to step back from the news and say, well, that's the headlines. There's an awful lot of other things going on that are not "bad". Because if you concentrated on the television, radio and newspapers, you begin to think that everybody was getting mugged; everybody was getting killed; everybody was getting stabbed. You know, that everything had gone amuck. It's probably there's more people around to have things happen so there is more of it. There was trouble in those days too, but it wasn't pushed at you at fourteen different angles. I think we were probably a little more peaceful, a little less nervous tension in those days. Another thing, people got their rest a little more without uh... we've got the bad habit of waiting for news at 11 o'clock before we go to bed. I can remember my father for instance. It was a rare occasion that he wasn't in bed by nine o'clock and it was also a rare occasion that he wasn't up at five o'clock in the morning.

Mrs. Learmouth: Weren't you in bed by nine?

Mr. Learmouth: No, not necessarily. I can't remember being hauled off to bed, but things...there was nothing else to do. When you get your homework done you might as well go to bed anyways.

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, you were inclined to read, I used to read quite a bit too, in bed. I did then but I don't now.

Mr. Learmouth: Used to sit up and read, I guess that's it.

Duane: Could you tell us what congregation you belonged to?

Joanne: What church?

Mr. Learmouth: Oakland United?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, we both went to this Mt. Pleasant Church. As I say they drove a horse and buggy nine miles I guess and my dad four every Sunday morning. Went right by all the churches cause we had to go to that same one in Mt. Pleasant. Now why it happened, I don't know. But that's the way it was and that was a big deal going to church with a horse and buggy, that far, especially nine mile. We had a buggy and I remember my brother and I sat down in the front in a little seat, lines around our backs... Did you have a double buggy?

Mr. Learmouth: Yes, one with a little seat down in front. It had two horses instead of one. Had a—we had a surrey with a singe on top—a fringe on top.

Mrs. Learmouth: That was really something then if you had one. We didn't (chuckles). We were poor.

Duane: At your church, do you belong to any special group?

Joanne: How are you involved in the church?

Mr. Learmouth: Well, she plays the piano.

Mrs. Learmouth: I play it every Sunday. We never miss.

Mr. Learmouth: I keep track of it...they don't let me have the money but I keep track of it who pays what.

Mrs. Learmouth: We've always been in the church life.

Joanne: I was meaning to ask you before. What kinds of toys did you used to play with?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well I had this big doll. And I had a rag doll and somehow or other through Dad, there was always a little parcel to me (at Christmas) but somehow or other I got a doll buggy and it was a shicker one and oh, say that was really something. We played with our toys those days because we'd play house with the neighbours and we had these dolls and buggies and [we were] outside, building houses, you know. We had to make up our own games. And we did. And I played with that doll for a long time.

We'd get a game once in a while like uh Lotto or Tiddly Winks or...there was another one that I can't think of but we played that. We were never allowed to play cards till I was older. Mother, she had a bad eye towards cards but anyway we play cards not but not when we were really young. We used to go up to the neighbour kids and back down to the pond. We was always down them —that was in the summer time.

Mr. Learmouth: Catchin' fish.

Mrs. Learmouth: Yes. I used to go down there and catch fish. But in the winter...why weekends when we had some kids in or something, we played some games or we played with our dolls. We really played! I don't think kids maybe do play with their toys like we did. We only had a few toys. We didn't—we had a wagon and my brother had a bicycle but I didn't... But I rode the bicycle; he didn't seem to like it. I rode that thing like mad. I'd go around the corner skidding and end up in the gravel all skinned up. (laughs) I don't know why that was. He never seemed to care about it and I never did get a bicycle.

Duane: Do you belong to any clubs or organizations?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, I'm a Mason—that's the only outfit I belong to.

Joanne: But that's a secret so you won't tell us about it.

Mr. Learmouth: Well, I'll tell you. There's no secret belonging to it as far as that's concerned, I don't think—Have you got any follow-up questions on that?

Duane: What's your motto or your aim? Or what do you stand for?

Mr. Learmouth: I don't know how to say. I don't know how to really explain that. You'll have to get somebody that's got a little more history on that than I have.

Duane. Do you know who we could get in contact with?

Mrs. Learmouth: He's a past master. He aught to know something, (laughter) He's not supposed to tell us. That's it.

Mr. Learmouth: Oh; I think you'll find that it's like the Odd Fellows or the Foresters or any of those outfits. There's nothing much more that you can say about them. (pause) Oh hell! We're members of the Community Club. A new club they're trying to start up here in the old school and we joined that a month or so ago. So whatever that amounts to in the long run. They're trying to get a government grant to develop the recreational part of the old school up here. Anyway, the members they can get the more chance they've got of getting the government involved in it.

Mrs. Learmouth: I belong to the Institute and Church groups. I'm thinking of joining the garden group, next fall anyways.

Duane: Where's the garden group?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, it's in Brantford. But I think from what I hear they have some real interesting meetings. I want him to go cause he's the gardener but anyways, if he won't go I can come home and tell him how to garden (laughter) But it sounds really interesting. So I think I'll see what it's like.

Joanne: Did you have to have a drivers licence way back a long time ago?

Mr. Learmouth: Not originally. No, I can't tell you when that was introduced but it wasn't necessary to get a test. As I remember, somebody taught you to drive and you took off. It wasn't too many years after that, that you had to qualify for it. For the life of me now that you asked the question, I can't tell you exactly when that happened.

Mrs. Learmouth: I remember the first test I took. They told me to go home and learn to drive but they gave me my licence (laughter) I says, "Oh, I'm just gonna drive around Oakland." and I took the thing to Brantford the next day. (laughter)

Joanne: How have the roads changed around here?

Mrs. Learmouth: Oh gosh. I got a picture of the road by here. Well sir, I don't know, but they were not much roads.

Mr. Learmouth: Well, the hard topped roads were few and far between. This was a gravel road out here, all the way through. Well. I guess I can remember when there was nothing but gravel road. But [I was] quite young when they started doing some paving. They done some from Mt. Pleasant on into Brantford and...(leaves to answer door, tape shut off and on again)

Joanne: Could you tell us anything that you might know about the Town Hall?

Mrs. L. Which one? That one that used—that used to be up on the hill? I never was up there. I just remember seeing it and those awful steps. And boy, on earth! On earth! They put that up there, I don't know.

Joanne: That's what we wondered too. (laughs)

Mrs. Learmouth: I remember those steps and I think at least there was a hundred. I couldn't get up there now cause I got leg trouble. There must be a heck of a lot of people that couldn't get up. But I remember seeing it. Do you remember seeing that old Town Hall before they tore.

Mr. Learmouth: I can't swear to it. I've heard so much about it that I sometimes imagine that maybe I saw it and maybe I didn't, (laughter) I told you when you came in, I'm a foreigner here because I live five or six miles away. (laughter) And you had to be grown up before you knew what was going on outside of a very small radius.

Joanne: What's you're overall impression about living in this area?

Mrs. Learmouth: Well, I think it's great. I wouldn't be here if I didn't. But I don't like city life. I think it's pretty because I've seen the East coast and the West coast and one side of the mountains in British Columbia. I don't know, it's a pretty good place, I'm telling you. I've seen the desert and nothing growing and this just looks great. The farms in Minnesota, I think, has got us beat as far as any place I've been but other than that, I don't know. The farms and everything is beautiful.

Links

Mrs. Learmouth
Last name Learmouth
Age 69
Date of birth November 9, 1910
Community Oakland

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