Seeing home was like being transported back in time

From our March 2012 issue

By Kay Parley – Regina, Sask.

We moved to Regina in 1938 and I entered Grade 10. As a newcomer, my mother advised me to look for someone who seemed to be alone and talk to them as way to make friends. She thought it would be easier than trying to fit in with the popular kids right off the bat.

I saw a girl standing alone one day and introduced myself. After 73 years, Pearl McDougal and I are still friends, though we’ve lived far apart and have only seen each other a few times since the ‘40s.

Pearl lived on 4th Avenue, in what was then called ‘The North Annex’ as it was not yet part of Regina, with her parents, brothers, and one sister, in a tiny four-room bungalow. The house lacked indoor plumbing, and the boys slept in the attic.

We could walk across Regina easily in those days, but I remember taking the streetcar on Broad Street the first time I visited Pearl. I was so impressed with her family. They were so friendly, unassuming, and they all had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen.

More than one 4th

All my life, I’ve had fond memories of that humble little corner house on 4th Avenue.

In the summer of 2011, 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 – 4th Ave and 4th Ave North. I should have been on the northern one. 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 when I realized I was at the McDougal home again. Oh, how I wished I had my camera with me. It brought back so many happy memories.

In Janauar 2012, I was surprised to open my door and find three women standing there. One was obviously as old as I am and it took 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 the previous summer. Her niece spoke up and said, “It’s gone.” In less than a year, it has been replaced by a tall building, after decades of standing.

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

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