Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

The lake at the back of the house had frozen over but we were not to go on it yet.  Meanwhile, Uncle George and one of his men went down to look at the ice.  I remember standing on the lakeside as they ventured out into the centre.  It was quite cold but my English clothes had been laid aside for others more suitable for the time of the year.  I had thick trousers with lace-up boots and a stout jacket and a fur hat with pull down ear flaps.  I watched in awe as the two men casually walked out into the centre of the ice carrying a logger’s axe and a shovel.  As I recall, it was a long lake and not very wide.  Certainly not as big as Pentz’s lake.  A spot was chosen and the man started to hack away with the axe.  He chopped a hole about ten by twelve inches wide until it was, from my point of view, about one foot deep.  Uncle George stuck a measuring stick down and checked the depth of the ice.  As it came to his requirements  - one foot thick of ice – he confirmed all was safe here.  This scene was repeated further up the lake and confirmed that the ice was still at least one foot thick and as it would build up as the days and nights grew colder it would be adequate to hold the skaters.   The holes were now filled in and smoothed over.  Skating could now commence.  How nice, but I did not have any skates so Bessie and I had to be content to run and slide.  Carol did have skates and soon was gliding around like an expert.  Later that day, as it turned dark, Aunt Allie and Uncle George were seen whispering together and it looked very mysterious and even more so when they went up to the attic and appeared later with an old pair of skates which were tucked away up there.  They were much too big for me and I was a little disappointed until Aunt Allie came to the rescue, with the resourcefulness of a woman, with some kapoc and pushed it right down to the toes and laid some along from the heels and Voila! – they fit me like new gloves!  Anxious to try them out I had to wait until next day.  Skating day!  Sitting on the lakeside fitting the skates on.  Gingerly I stood up.   With Uncle George holding me I struck out.  This was easy as I could rollerskate.  This was thrilling!  Then I went solo and landed on my bottom.  Ah well, if you fall off your bike you get up and start again.  Soon I was progressing quite well.  Next day we had more snow so after I had swept the drive with my little snowplow I took it down to the lake and swept a path on the ice which enabled skating to take place.  When the snow had some frost on it out came my bobsleigh and as I acquired some steering skill Bessie and Carol became my first passengers.  We shot down the slope and down onto the lake and assisted by the momentum we careered up the lake at least thirty yards or so.  This was the life, I thought.  Middlesborough, where was that? 

Nearer Christmas, a party and concert was to be held in the hall which was adjacent to our house.   

The ladies of the village were the architects of the function in conjunction with the YPS (Young People’s Society).  Cakes and pies were made of all descriptions and appeared as if by magic .  Pumpkin, squash, chocolate, butterscotch (my favourite), apple, blueberry and, of course, biscuits, or cookies to you, of numerous flavours.  Coming from food rationing in England, Bessie and I were astounded by all the food available.  The decorations, Christmas tree and general gaiety were breathless, but the big surprise was on us.  We were asked if we would sing a song together.  Mesmerized by all the festivities we agreed.  As our debut approached, back stage our hair was combed and brushed.  Behind the curtain we stood as the announcement was made – Bessie and Ronald Mizon will sing a duet unaccompanied.  It will be, “There’ll Always Be An England”.  Curtains went back and we were on.  There wasn’t a sound in the hall and we struck up.  When we had finished, the audience just sat there, then all of a sudden they gave us a terrific applause.  We bowed and the curtains closed.  Authenticity for this performance can be found in a little book written by Sadie Siroy, entitled “A’way Back Then and Now”.  It can be found on page 25.  A picture of Uncle George can be found on page 134 in the booklet entitled “Recollections of Our Little Corner”, both probably available in your local library. 

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