“It was like being transported back in time”

From our March 2012 issue

By Kay Parley – Regina, Sask.

It was 1938 when we moved to Regina and I entered Grade 10 at Balfour Technical School.

My mother advised me not to try to befriend the popular girls at first. As a newcomer, I should look for someone who seemed to be alone and talk to them. I saw a girl standing alone so I introduced myself.

After 73 years, Pearl McDougal and I are still friends, although we’ve lived far apart and seen each other only two or three times since the ‘40s.

Pearl lived on 4th Avenue in what was then ‘The North Annex’ – not yet part of Regina – with her parents, brothers, and one sister in a tiny four-room bungalow.

The boys slept in the attic. The house lacked indoor plumbing but the family wasn’t destitute. Pearl’s father had a job working nights at the nearby oil refinery.

We could walk across Regina easily in those days, but I remember taking the streetcar on Broad Street the first time I visited Pearl.

Most beautiful blue eyes

I was so impressed with her family. They were so friendly, so unassuming, and they all had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen. All my life I’ve had fond memories of that humble little corner house on 4th Avenue.

Last summer, I attended a funeral in Regina and was looking for a church on 4th Avenue. I didn’t know the city now has duplicate avenues on the north side.

I should have been on the northern one but instead I was driving up and down the southern one hunting unsuccessfully for a church.

Suddenly I found myself looking at a decrepit little bungalow on a corner lot. Its yard was full of junk. Its painted parts were green. It couldn’t be!

It was like being transported back in time to realize I was at the McDougal home again. How I wished I had my camera with me. It brought back happy memories.

Just this January, I was surprised to open my door and find three women standing there. One was obviously as old as I am and it took me a moment to recognize her. Then I said, “It can’t be Pearl!” But it was, and we had a happy reunion.

I told her about chancing upon her old home last summer and her niece spoke up and said, “It’s gone.” Only one year and it has been replaced by a tall building. That’s the speed of change these days.

I can’t believe my luck that I stumbled upon the old house just in time because I will never see it again. It was also an amazing coincidence that one of my rare visits with Pearl should have occurred such a short time afterward.

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