‘All kinds of creatures could be seen in the shadows’

From our April 2012 issue

By Don Sizer – Landis, Sask.

I’ve been involved in farming most of my life and often think of how little it took to brighten our often boring existence, especially in the cold winter days. Even just a visit from the Watkins man was a cause for excitement.

Our family lived across the road from the school, called Standard, which is five miles west of the village of Landis. It was a big one-room school. Since I lived so close, I had a job at six years of age starting the fires in the basement furnace.

I’d be up very early and get over to the school by 6 a.m. By then, the furnace I had ‘banked’ the night before would be stone cold.

I carried a gas lantern for light and it made big shadows on the walls of the furnace room. All kinds of creatures could be seen in the shadows on the walls.

Once I was sure the fire was going good, I’d go home and mom would have breakfast ready.

There’d be good oatmeal porridge made in the double-boiler to start, homemade bread for toast, strawberry jam, and unpasteurized, unhomogenized cow’s milk, still warm. Then I’d quickly go back to school to see how the fire was doing. Some of my schoolmates had four miles or more to travel and they’d want to get warm.

Did we complain? Sometimes. But, we were just happy to be here and not have a war going on like there was in other parts of the world.

Standard School #2144 in 1939 – not far from the village of Landis, Sask.