The piano sailed up and into the loft

From our March 2013 issue

By Elva Paton – Moose Jaw, Sask.

The 1910s and early ‘20s had good crop conditions and dad thought he was in good enough financial shape to erect some new buildings.

He always maintained that a good barn should come first. He said he noticed that if a good big house came first they never got around to having a good barn.

He studied the building books carefully and chose one that he liked and that he thought would last a long time. It had concrete walls for the first story and an attached chicken house.

Dad got in touch with a contractor in 1926 who had built several of the big barns and houses in the surrounding Cardross and Mitchellton area. As a result, that summer our yard was a construction scene. I was eight at the time.

One of the first steps was bringing in some boulders and having the crew split them up into smaller rougher pieces to go into the concrete floor.

Kids watched with interest

I wondered why they had to do that rather than just using smaller rocks picked up from the field.

We kids watched, with interest, everything that went on. We were anxious about the men working on the roof. We thought it easy to fall from there, but no one ever did.

One day my younger brother, Wilbert, and I saw a carpenter working on something about halfway between the house and the barn.

We went over and asked him what he was making that was taking so many nails. He said it was a door to fit into that small opening just above the main doors on ground level.

He turned it over and we could see all the nails that had come through to the back. He said he was going to knock them all down flat and ‘clinch’ them, as it’s called.

Just then he was called for dinner and he said he would do them afterwards. When he was gone my brother and I decided it would be a good idea to knock them all down for him and save him a lot of time.

“Oh, you brats!”

We found a couple of hammers and started knocking them down but not caring which direction they went. We thought he would be pleased but when he came back he was furious.

He said, “Oh, you brats! You’re supposed to pound them all in the same direction. Now I’ve got to straighten them and do it over. Go get your dinners and when you come back I’ll show you how they should look.”

We did and when we got back, there they were, all laid down in one direction. It was a pretty sight.

I often wondered why that opening was there because I saw it used only once. That was when our piano was raised by ropes and pulleys into the loft to provide the music for the barn dance which was to follow the next night after the barn was finished.

That was a very tense moment. One of the ropes began to stretch and everybody was afraid the piano would be lost. But someone hollered, “Whoa!” the rope stopped stretching, and then the piano sailed up and went into the loft.

Danced a Russian Polka

You can bet that it stayed there until the earthen driveway ramp to the big loft doors on the east side was in place and the piano left the loft in a wagon.

The only memory I have of the dance is of Chrissy Mitchell and me dancing the Russian Polka being played fast and crazy by Mrs. Mergel, her hands flying over the keyboard.

This barn, built by William (Bill) Suehwold, stands on the S.W. quarter of Section 29, Township 10, Range 27, W. of the 2nd Meridian. (Google Maps location)

Sturdy barn, built by Bill Suehwold, still stands after 86 years.

It has endured for 86 years and has become a landmark which can be seen from the grid road that runs east and west on the south side of this property.

It is now owned, operated, and resided on by his youngest grandson, Tony Suehwold and his family.

The barn has been kept up and looks as good as it did in the beginning.