SISTERS NELLIE AND MARGARET
When I Joined the Air Force at the age of 19 in the fall of 1941, Nellie was 11 years of age while Margaret was almost 5. High school graduation took place in June 1940 and I remained with the family to earn some money for them planning to join when the family problems (alcoholic father) were minimized. After joining the Air Force, almost four years passed before I returned to the family. I missed then the very formative growing up years of my sisters and Andy as well while Rudy was having problems of his own. One regrets this but such were the circumstances.
Amongst the many letters written to the family while I was in England are a few written to my sisters. References are made to "write often" directed to Nellie mostly. Mentioned in one is that the pictures had arrived and so I wrote,"By the looks of your picture, Nell, you have grown to be very pretty". Another sentence states that Nell's handwriting is excellent. Written always was to continue taking care of our mother who was deserving a far better life than had been the case when father was home. Of interest was in writing to Nellie "You still call Margaret 'baby' don't you?" All of this brings to mind again the wish that letters received overseas were kept.
BRIEF HISTORY TO THE PRESENT TIME
Brief because I feel it best to utilize "open pages" meaning that Nellie and Margaret may wish to write their own I history and add to this family history album. Also, since memory is now often questionable, there will be no doubt some corrections in my writing.
Kath's meeting the family when she arrived in Winnipeg in the spring of 1946 went off, I thought, very well indeed. One cam imagine members of the family wondering what kind of person Mike had married. What will she think of north Point Douglas, a rather poor area, and quite a difference from the environment from which she came? Would she get along with them and many other questions?
I realize now that Kath was quite adaptable with a positive attitude even though Winnipeg was a long way from Nantwich, Cheshire, England. Added to this was that she was an only child. I had indicated to her by letter from Winnipeg (I came home in August 1945) and even previous to that time, what our circumstances were. As long as we were together we I could face the many problems that are bound to occur.
Indeed so it was and come to think of it why not knowing the kind of lovely person Kath was and is? I do not remember the details of our first family gathering probably at 106 and a half Disraeli Street where the family resided (half because the house was situated behind 106 which faced Disraeli). Next door was mother's sister Lena and the family family tree) so that was handy for Mom.
NELLIE AND CINDY
No doubt Nellie's valuable assistance to mother meant that early marriage for her was not sought. However, after some years this happened in August, 1957 being wed to Walter Balyewich. They resided on Washington St. in East Kildonan. Daughter Cindy was born In 1960 and probably not too long after the family moved to Vancouver perhaps the same time as mother went there.
Those years up to the time they left were busy ones indeed for me. University, working in the summer, sports, took up so much time. Kath and I were trying to settle in as best we
could with Suzanne our first child arriving 1947 followed by Jamie in January 1950. I am certain there were many family gatherings but memory falls me as to events at that time, a sort of blur of events.
Basketball and officiating in the professional football league took me to Vancouver a number of times for which I was thankful. At the time I could not afford to make trips that distance on my own. Seeing my mother, Nellie and family, was just wonderful and getting to know the little girl Cindy was an added loving bonus. Walter was a custodian in a school and apparently enjoyed his responsibilities. Indeed my feeling was that he loved children and they would return that love to him. Many do not realize how important a custodian is to a school, not just in regular duties but also in relationships with staff, principal, and students.
I have no date when Walter passed away but obviously this meant a great change for Nellie. Meanwhile Cindy was growing up and even though she found high school difficult academically, her personality more than made up for this. I suspect also that she had her nursing goal ever in front of her so that her constant efforts to pass examinations for the next grade were successful. Eventually she was accepted into nursing and even though it was in many ways uphill for her, she persevered.
Her special leanings in nursing were with special needs and she has been so very successful in this as Indicated in the (pages that follow. One picture should be noted which is Cindy and her award as one of a very few nurses in British Columbia chosen to receive this Award of Excellence. She spent also one or two years nursing in Ausralia and as usual friends took to her so easily.
She has her own condominium in Vancouver and a celebration is to take place soon. This is that Cindy had her baby Emily (Emma?) Jo Anne on Sunday, December 8, 1996 just after midnight. Naturally new grandmother Nellie is so happy and is assisting Cindy so much in many ways. Sister Margaret and family will be visiting at Christmas as will Kath, Catherine, and I with son Jamie and family.
Eventually Nellie moved to Burnaby and lives there still; a place where Kath and I (also canine Amos) stayed and enjoyed greatly in our visits to Vancouver. What a wonderful cook Nellie was and is and family dinners are remembered with affection. She has a relationship with John and they travel occasionally to various places. I remember too the discussions I had with him about politics. Much enjoyed.
A SPECIAL LOVING RELATIONSHIP
Mentioned earlier, I was in the Air Force, Rudy was a problem as was father although he left for British Columbia as did Rudy for a while. Andy was busy with sports and his job with City Signals. This left Nellie and she was mother's consistent helper supporting her in many many ways. She was
11 when I left and 15 upon return followed by an even more important helping role after the war. My guess is that she became a young adult much more quickly than most others at her age. She spent a great deal of time with Mom and even when married kept up a close relationship.
After the move to Vancouver this continued especially after Walter died. This is not to write that everything was perfect but deep down Nellie had this strong loving companionship with Mom. Admittedly, prior to leaving for Vancouver, as written previously, mother did meet Perry Ramey when both worked at the Winnipeg Civic Auditorium. This resulted In their marriage and mother had her happiest few years with him. How unfortunate It was when Perry passed away and it seemed as if sadness was too often on her heels.
Nellie was an excellent typist and very efficient in her responsibllltes. I visited her workplace a few times and this came through easily to me. She purchased a a very nice condominium in Burnaby and resides there to this day looking forward to the arrival of the baby. She and John enjoy their trips and Nellie seems to have inherited some luck in their trips to Reno. Since her retirement in 1995 I think, she has volunteered to work at the hosital every Sunday afternoon as a cashier. We look forward to seeing her soon and the many conversations on the phone keep us in touch with her.
MARGARET, YOUNGEST IN OUR FAMILY
Margaret was married to Dr. John Eagle in October, 1959 but I stand corrected on this the marriage and not the move. John accepted a position with the Department of History, University of Alberta in Edmonton and the family reside there to this day. Indeed, if remembered correctly, in the same house. John has not retired while Margaret with her Master's degree in Social Work was "downsized" and is now seeking another position.
Jennifer, the eldest, has her Bachelor of Arts degree and now is completing a Diploma in Adult Education program in Edmonton. Some health problems are obstacles but she carries on courageously with family support.
David came along in June 1974 and recently married Allson. Kath and I were so disappointed in not being able to attend the wedding due to health reasons. The video sent to us is beautiful and we know they are happy together living in their own residence and both attending university in Edmonton with a canine addition In the family. Kath and I have been to Edmonton on a couple of occasions and we did have a family reunion held at our cottage (now sold) in Clear Lake so some personal communication did take place. Nellie has visited in Edmonton more often but in the last year or two the telephone has been a wonderful option to keep in touch.
Margaret's days in high school around 1951 to 54 indicated that she was very bright indeed and in her Grade Twelve year might well have been successful in attaining the Governor General's Award. She chose instead to keep up with her extra-curricular activities but still maintaining a high standard in school work. Also. I think it was her best friend. Mary Wasko? who won it (Mary was Miss Grey Cup later on). She had then a very successful school and university number of years leading to her Master's degree in Social Work. Realized is that this account as well as Nellle's has many missing pages hopefully to be added to by Margaret.
Is spirit the correct word? I close with with regard to our family and Margaret's part in this. As the youngest child in our family which had the characteristics of a "broken" home. Margaret tried in certain ways to enhance our family spirit. Obstacles there were many for circumstances added to
the father/ brother difficulties. This was distance. Even in our own family, it has come to mind that here we are located in the middle distance-wise from our grandchildren. Grandchildren are 3000 miles from each other and we are 1500 miles from them. Nellie is a long way away and Margaret is not just around the corner in Edmonton. Forunately Catherine in Winnipeg is reasonably close (good news just revealed is that Sue, Doug, and family are moving to Regina only three and a half miles by car from us). Regardless of this Margaret mentioned often the hope that there would be more visits, perhaps a reunion which did take place. I remember the picture she had framed and sent to Nellie and to us. A wonderful picture of many of our relatives and many of the faces come alive for me especially our mother and father for this was their wedding picture. How very beautiful our mother looks in that picture. Also noted was my resemblance to my father although I think he was taller.
MORE ABOUT THE PICTURE
The Mandryks and their farm in Elm Creek come to mind. Mary Golovitch is there as a little girl as is little "Uncle" or sounding like "Wouikoh" in Ukrainian which meant uncle. He was always called by that name and I remember him best by his collecting cigarette butts from the street gutters and I then sitting on the porch and clearing the paper away, rolling his own cigarettes and placing the remaining tobacco in his pouch. These were depression days of the thirties. A "Waluk" was there and they may have been related. Perhaps in our visit to Brltlsh Columbia, the picture may be looked at again and other names will be recalled.
What is important at the present time is that communication as adults is better than ever before it seems to me. Twilight years for us means that this is so precious and must never be lost. Admittedly we have our own lives to lead and each family has its difficult circumstances with which to deal. Still, family spirit, the remembering of some traditions, memoirs in general, builds upon the love of family. Margaret feels this strongly and this has bolstered many of us in that direction.
BROTHER ANDYEARLY DAYS
He was born on September 15, 1927 and I had my birthday the previous March 5, my fifth one. In the light of what happened later, my joining the air force September 1941 when he was fourteen years of age, there really was no great opportunity to form a close relationship. Rudy was almost a
year younger so there was that small difference in age but circumstance played its part in that relationship as well. Mind you, the addiction to sports on my part and the difficulties with an alcoholic father did not help matters either.
No doubt the family difficulties which we had when I was at home prior to the war combined with the influence of Sutherland Mission, our Sunday School teachers, and church as a whole, did affect me in a positive way. As the eldest in the family I assumed a deep-felt responsibility to do my very best for them when in the air force first in Canada and then for almost three years in England. Letters then became so very important and to this day I regret not saving the ones I received from home. Mentioned previously was that my mother saved all my letters and they are wlth me now. Forever my gratitude and love goes out to her for this and for many other reasons also.
I refer now to letters I wrote personally to Andy and a few reactions to the ones he wrote to me. Certainly he was following pretty well the same path I did. He was seventeen when I wrote the letter dated June 1944 and he was working having finished high school, perhaps Grade Eleven, not bothering with the twelfth grade. Basketball was his main sport but he participated in track and field and football. Stan Smith and Walter Boscovitch were his close friends.
June 6, D Day, was a few days away but I did not know it would be D Day when the letter was written on June 3/44 although nearly everyone knew an invasion of some sort into France was to take place soon.
Noted is that he was joining a basketball team with Jack Carmlchael as coach, an excellent person who by the way, we saw Oct 14, 1996 at the Basketball Manitoba Hall of Fame. A minor stroke set him back a bit but he is on the mend now. Much later this same Jack was our coach when our university grad team played for the national championship in Tillsonburg. Ontario. Unfortunately we lost on this occasion.
Another letter dated March 15, 1943, a long one, details my nine weeks in England at the time. Homesickness may have set in according to the tone of the letter. Even Rex, family dog, is mentioned but I do not remember him.
The April 27th letter same year indicates Rudy had left home the place not mentioned. Perhaps he followed my father who had gone possibly at that time or earlier to British Columbia. At any rate, I felt certain in writing to Andy that Rudy would eventually find his way and become a solid citizen but such was not to be. Sports pages were sent to me according to the letter as well as the St. John Torch Yearbook which I do not have. Andy mentioned apparently in a previous letter from him, he went to the school dances and I wrote how shy I was when in Grade Ten and attending a dance. The usual request to send larger parcels of food closed the letter.
A PREDICTION COME TRUE
Of interest is my mentioning that when I returned, hopefully, from the war, Andy and I would team up with other "guys" and win the Senior "A" Dominion Championship in basketball. To think that in 1954 this did happen and we played together in the World Cup in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil! Also, the last sentence asks Andy to remember mother's birthday, November 21, and that I would send a cable. I had written: "This may scare her since dreaded cables were being
received by many mothers and wives but she should get used to getting a good news cable now and then ".
The letter of January 3, 1944, focuses upon Andy's wish to quit school at the end of Grade Ten. Naturally I wrote reams to indicate that this would be a foolish thing to do. A later letter may inform as to what did happen in this regard. The Oct. 29/44 was rather routine with my expectation to be sent soon on operations perhaps to Asia where best friend John Potter was at the time in Burma. In the letter written on Andy's birthday, September 15, 43, I added a number of lines to Marg and Nellie. Money had been sent to them as well as to Andy for his birthday. Otherwise the contents kept the family up to date about my activities.
"BABA" AND OUR MOTHER
December 12, 1943 letter and I had left home for overseas December 25. 1942, Christmas Day at 6 pm ( whata time to leave!) In this letter I reacted to our Baba's passing away - our Mother's Mother. Many scenes flashed through my mind about her and this has been written about earlier. God Bless her and our mother and so many others. Generations come and go for such it was meant to be.
The last letter I wrote to Andy from overseas, March 30, 44, states he had quit school and was working. It seems I had accepted this and even mentioned that when I arrived home we must think about the purchase of a home for Mother and family.A guilty conscience on my part is reflected in my writing that prior to the war I neglected many things about life due to sport. I believe that to this day as well as their statement made in that letter that "maybe life is like a combination of different worlds".
So end letters to Andy, a rather lengthy discourse, but; there is of course more to follow.
Bill and Sue-On Hillman Eclectic Studio