b Papa Dog's Blog: My Grandparents' Many Daughters and What Have You

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Sunday, August 08, 2004

My Grandparents' Many Daughters and What Have You

So, yeah, yesterday was Saturday and that's the day when I make like ET and phone home. I've learned in recent weeks that one of the unanticipated consequences of having a child is that I'm suddenly hearing all this family lore that I'd missed out on until now either because people got tired of repeating it by the time I was born or because I wasn't yet interested in listening to it. In this instance, me mum (I'll resist the impulse to call her "Grandma Dog," but you can fill that in mentally if you like) was inspired by my mentioning that we've been letting Baby Dog sleep between us after the four a.m. feeding to recall that she and all six of her sisters slept with their parents as babies because they never had a crib. She went on to recall that she never had a room of her own until my Aunt Barbara moved out to get married, and in fact spent most of her childhood three to a room. The largest house my grandparents ever lived in had five bedrooms, but this being the Depression era, it was always necessary to take in a boarder to make ends meet. As one of my great-uncles was also living there, that meant my grandparents got one bedroom and their seven daughters had to split the other two.

Mama Dog and I have wondered about such things many the time, living in our hundred-year-old two bedroom house. How did big families get raised in these places? Answer: they crammed them in wherever. Also, one must remember that it wasn't generally considered necessary to have as much crap back then as we have now. Nobody had to make room for TV, stereo, computer, etc. Still, it's enough to make us feel like silly pampered types for thinking we'll need a bigger house if we ever have another child.

Bonus anecdote: I also learned for the first time that me mum's family at one time lived in the Gatineaus (if you're American or otherwise nonCanadian, see here to learn what a "Gatineau" is). I don't know how many of the daughters were born yet, but it must have been at least six of them since me mum, the second youngest, was among them. Anyway, this family of at least eight was all wedged into a two-room - get that, not "two bedroom," but "two-room" house in rural Quebec. As the story goes, a local lady came to help out, and when she arrived, my grandfather greeted her with customary jocularity. He showed her the tiny house overflowing with offspring, and said, "Well now, don't you think Mrs. Feunoir's pretty well fixed?" The no-nonsense lady replied, without batted eye, "I think Mrs. Feunoir's in a hell of a fix."

(If you're like me or Mama Dog, the punch line you anticipated was probably "I think Mrs. Feunoir needs to be fixed." I guess people in rural depression era Quebec just had a little more class than such as we.)

Addendum from last blog: yes, I know that a Senate match-up between Martin Luther King and Idi Amin would be pretty unlikely, given that both are dead (but not impossible; cf. Carnahan v. Ashcroft). Also, I know that Idi Amin was not an African American, or any other kind of American. I just though he made it funnier than O.J. Simpson, my second choice.

And from two posts ago: I forgot to mention that Mama Dog thought, when reading it, that Life of Pi should be made into a movie by Miyazaki. I can see that.

Reading update: haven't touched Fifth Business since last mentioned. Reading yesterday was restricted to trying to catch up on two weeks of piled up newspapers, a Sisyphean endeavour that I keep cheerfully believing will one day have an end.


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