My earliest memory involves a dark cold evening in a small
barn, dimly light by a hanging bulb, and my father milking a cow while I watched a calf being born. My dad was a very hands on father and actively involved in all aspects of our lives. That could perhaps be partly because he was a farmer and so was in and out of the house and around the yard. We could, and often did, tag along when we were younger. Then when we reached the middle years he would find tasks for us to do that helped teach us life skills and perhaps helped him a little bit although we probably hindered him more on occasion. But I was always his “button”.
I can’t remember him with dark curly hair but I’ve seen the pictures of him as a young man and he had locks! He married a bit older than your “average bear” and as the youngest of four he was 44 when I was born. He did have a short fuse in the temper department but he also had a lot of love to give. There were times when it was tough love like when he refused to give me the strap at home but sent me to school in the morning to receive my punishment from the principle. I think the principle, who was friend’s with my parents, was trying to save face for me but my dad reckoned that I deserved what I had coming. He also thought that if you stayed out late when you were a teenager that you had better be getting up in the morning as there was always work to do.
He had a strong work ethic which is required to be a farmer as you go long and hard. He turned a small mixed farm into a dairy farm when it became evident that my brother was going to become a farmer. He was never to busy to help a friend in need. His volunteer work in our community was multifold; church, 4-H and Legion to name just a few. One of my favourite family memories is Sunday lunch as it included a milk shake that dad made. We consumed this while we all counted out money from church and Sunday school. He was also a fine hand with a garden and really enjoyed that in his retirement years when he had more time to devote to it.
He was also devoted to his grandchildren and loved to visit them or better yet have them come home to the farm and visit him. He was quite the tease. We all spent a lot of time playing cards with him and my dad was a gracious loser which was a good thing as he usually lost! I can remember my parents having several friends over and they would play cards, drink and smoke late into the night. Yet he would rise and shine the next morning.
He was a fine hand at making ice cream and our whole extended family, young and old, will have memories of him turning the crank and adding ice and salt. Oh how he loved to lick the paddles just like us. He had a sweet tooth for sure and loved my chocolate pudding but only if it followed a meat and potato meal. My dad didn’t hold with rice or noodles and vegetables were cooked unless you ate them raw from the garden. He loved raw potatoes with a shake of salt on them. Actually he loved everything with a good shake of salt on it and yet never ended up with hypertension like I kept telling him he would.
In his later years, after he retired and his vision decreased, my dad became very focused on his sight. It seemed to me that he was pretty darn lucky to keep his hearing, taste and his marbles but sometimes he forgot that. He would have been 99 today; the three Dunn boys all sharing this week in December for birthdays. I still miss him.
Ah — all the pictures are lost as the main computer froze and the only way out was to shut it down. I’m a bit ticked and choked about that as the pictures help tell the story.