In January of 1930, David was just 2 years old, and having mobility problems due to rickets. The family consisted of Stella, Charlie, older sister Joy, and himself. Joan would arrive in 1931, and Lawrence in 1936
In the picture, which I estimate to be in the late Spring of 1930, the wee boy in the front is David, with sister Joy behind him. From left to right are Charles James Adams, possibly Miss Hayes, Annie Florence Adams, possibly Elsie Adams, Stella Adams, Nell Adams (Cyril’s wife) perhaps, and Cyril. Joy is accompanied by two of her friends.
The 1930s were difficult times in terms of the Depression era. On a tape that I made with David in 1994, he reflected on those years:
“Nobody had any money to speak of, and some people didn’t have very much to eat, yet somehow or other, there was this sort of calmness about everyday life. But also, you see, the family was much more important, and social life was very selective, but it was very important. You were very fussy about who you socialized with, and yet it was important in your life to have those people who would come to your home and you would talk to or even just sit around together and listen to the radio together. And, of course, we listened to 78 gramophone records.
“Games – we made our own entertainment. In our home, Charlie played the fiddle. He played when we were young. He played at 190 Kitson, but particularly at 606 MacMillan. We had a piano too at 606, and we used to have sing songs.
“But also, we’d have friends over and at Christmas time, Mother would sit down and play the piano, and Charlie would play the fiddle and we’d sing. Stella could have been a concert singer.”
Times were lean, and on another tape I have, Charlie would describe life as “always being in the hole”. As the news paper clipping here from the mid 1930s shows, he was very fortunate to have steady employment at the Winnipeg Bus Garage. Hired in 1926 as a Motor Mechanic, he was promoted in the very early 1930s to General Foreman. He remained with The Winnipeg Bus Garage until the early 1950s when the family moved to Vancouver, B.C.
The Adams family periodically benefited from the generosity of some of Charlie’s fellow workers who shared with him wild meat, mostly venison, and fish. David remembered how grateful they were to have this fresh meat given to them. Family friend, Alex Baikov, also gave to them fish oil and fish sausages, all made in his manufacturing business. Where possible, the family maintained a vegetable garden, so was able to harvest fresh vegetables in season, and can as much as possible to get them through the winter. There were times, however, when there was not enough to eat, and prior to the 1930s, David remembered being told that at the beginning of Stella and Charlie’s marriage, there were difficult times before the Depression. Stella suffered from malnutrition, and being pregnant with David in 1928, one of the impacts was David’s rickets when he was very young. There were a number of health issues, some from malnutrition, some most likely hereditary:
- heart conditions, anemia, rickets, for example.
Over the course of the 1930s, after 4 births, 2 miscarriages, and 1 stillbirth, Stella became very run down, and my sense is that after the birth of Lawrence, she was not only physically run right down but also suffering from a state of depression. I can only guess that this may well have had a negative impact on the relationship between her and Charlie, given she was unwell and perhaps very irritable as a result. David, while they lived at 616 MacMillan, was very aware of something being terribly wrong, but being only 8 he couldn’t really explain or understand what was happening. His parents were no longer sharing affection as they used to do, especially at 190 Kitson Street, and Charlie had stopped playing the fiddle. David felt like a certain kind of joy in his father’s life had died.
The 1930s was the decade about which my father most reminisced, and so the one about which I have the most information. These years, of course, were the main years of his childhood, shared with his siblings, rich with memories of times spent together as a family, socializing with friends, going for picnics, vacationing at rented cottages. Charlie always had a car, and David remembered that the family was always going places. These were things that got the family out into the sun and fresh air together, and were good for morale. Those times of play and fun helped to offset the realities of every day life with its hardships and challenges and conflicts.
1939, of course, brought the outbreak of World War 2, and set the stage for more difficulties in the 1940s with rationing. But yet, somehow, at this particular time, David’s parents were able to accumulate some funds which by 1941 would enable them to purchase 197 Birchdale.
1935 would bring David’s first exposure to dance thanks to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ movies, and in 1938, his first ballet classes at the Junior Winnipeg Ballet Club would begin as the only boy in a room full of young girls. Under the guidance of Gweneth Lloyd, Betty Hey and Betty Farrally, David quickly learned, and thus began the very start of David’s career which escalated to a voyage to learn and work in London, England, not long after World War 2 was over.
All addresses listed below are in Winnipeg, Manitoba
623 ST. MARYS ROAD
Upon being forced to move out of 12 Havelock, The Adams family made an emergency move to 623 St. Marys Road. Here, Charlie related, they froze for one winter from 1929 to 1930, because with substandard insulation, the wind blew right through the walls of the house. This forced the move to the apartment at 174 Eugenie in the Spring of 1930.
At 623 St. Marys, David had just turned a year old, but he was able to remember going to Charlie’s parents for a big Christmas dinner, and he vividly remembered the wonderful toy tractor he was given on that occasion.
The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, Canadian Edition)
A disease characterized by a softening and sometimes bending of bone structure in the pelvis and leg bones of infants and children. It is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin D or a lack of sunlight.
This is a condition from which David suffered as a very young child. While he did walk fairly early, so Joy reported, the condition impeded his continued ability to be mobile as he reached the toddler stage of his growth. Joy recalled that when David was born, he had almost white hair, like an albino but not quite. Apparently, so she understood, kids born like that were prone to rickets, having suffered prenatal malnutrition.
Dr. Joseph Hollinger, now the family’s regular General Practitioner, saw the need to have Stella take David to “Dr. Dorothy”, more of an expert in the area of rickets. Dr. Dorothy immediately prescribed cod liver oil, and various supplements, orange juice, spinach, a sun lamp, and anything that would boost David’s vitamin intake. In time, over a few years, the condition was controlled, and ultimately was corrected, and David was fortunate not to suffer any deformities.
After a winter of being forever cold at 623 St Marys Road, they then went to the opposite extreme in 1930, roasting to death all summer long on the second floor of the Eugenie Apartments.
David, only a year and a half when they moved there, remembered that there was green furniture, and that Uncle Boy (Stella’s brother, Walter Alan Mozley) lived with them. Being afflicted with rickets, David was a very weak toddler, and although, as Joy said, he did walk early, he was now struggling to walk. He recalled Uncle Boy commenting on that fact, wondering what was wrong.
The owner of 174 Eugenie was building houses, one of which was 190 Kitson. The family moved to this Spanish bungalow in 1931, and being quite small, there was one bedroom for David and Joy, and later Joan when she arrived.
It was at 190 Kitson that David remembered the fire in the chimney related to the lumber that the builders had actually dumped down the chimney!! The following is what Charlie related about that event (unedited):
“There was lumber in the chimney and the way I handled the situation was this. In the wintertime, one night when Mother was out, I set fire to that bloody wood in the chimney and I burnt the goddamn stuff. That’s what I did. I took one helluva chance, but it was wintertime and snow on top of the roof – a flat roof, you know. I didn’t figure there was much danger, so I put a bunch of paper in there and I set fire to it, and burned it up!! That’s how I got rid of THAT!”
One night, when Charlie had been working nights and came home late, David, supposed to be asleep but wide awake, overheard his coming home and saying to Stella “I hit him”. David couldn’t ask questions as he was supposed to be sleeping, but another session of overhearing revealed that his father had accidentally hit someone riding a bicycle. He would never know what happened to the person on the bicycle, and never ever brought the subject up in the presence of his father. He was the only one of the children who had been privy to this conversation between his parents.
While they lived at 190 Kitson, David came down with a case of the measles, and he remembered he had to stay in a darkened room because his eyes were very sensitive to the light.
Another ailment that plagued him for a while at this house was biliousness, something related to the liver or the bile, causing his digestive system distress. Naturally, he was not interested at all in eating.
As the situation began to improve, he was able to go visiting again. Being a very sociable little boy, so Joy said, he liked to visit. A week’s stay with the Stillmans at Whitemouth helped his appetite. A visit with the Edmonds also helped. The Edmonds, who had two boys about David’s age, lived on a chicken farm, and Mrs Edmonds, he remembered, made absolutely delicious and enormous meals, as well as serving this marvelous green cake for breakfast. These visits definitely helped in the recovery process.
Stella also had her health problems. Throughout Stella’s life, she was susceptible to angina attacks. One of her earliest attacks took place at 190 Kitson Street in the early 1930s.
Sadly, some of David’s siblings died at birth. Somewhere between David’s birth and Joan’s, Joan remembered Joy telling her that there had been a miscarriage. David also told me there had been another miscarriage between Joan’s birth and Lawrence’s. A few years later in 1936, she would also lose Lawrence’s twin at birth.
It was 190 Kitson to which Joan was brought home in July of 1931.
Stella and Charlie with new born Joan July 1931
In this picture, Stella holds baby Joan. Sitting with her on the running board of the 1926 Essex, are 2 ½ year old David and 12 ½ year old Joy
Joan Maud Adams was born a “blue baby”, suffering a congenital heart defect which caused her cyanosis, a lack of oxygen, causing the bluish tinge of the skin and lips. As my father described it, her heart tubes were in the wrong way round.
Back in the 1930s, however, they didn’t know how to fix such things, so it was controlled by limiting the child’s activities and keeping her as calm as possible. Joan, however, was an active, boisterous, and mischievous youngster, and such restrictions were extremely frustrating for her. She did remember, mind you, that overextending herself often meant tiredness and going blue, but she wanted to live a normal childhood like everyone else. Stella and Charlie, and older sister, Joy, were very protective of her, and sheltered her. A lifetime of this sort of treatment left her socially underdeveloped.
It was not until the 1990s after a heart attack, that some of her heart problems were finally corrected with bypass surgery.
VARIOUS MEMORIES AT 190 KITSON:
- Joy recalled that “190 Kitson had the best bathroom! You could pull out one of the drawers and put your feet up and read in comfort!”
- One memory that stuck vividly in David’s mind was that in the back yard, there was a large tree with a robin’s nest, and the babies fell out of the nest.
At 190 Kitson, Joan recalled there being a double back yard with stairs, and that it was a good place to slide in the snow and make snow forts. Near the house was a wooden bridge, which they would jump off into the snow during the winter. She also remembered that Joy had a huge toboggan, and they all went for rides on it down a nearby hill.
Charlie acquired the first radio on the block. David said the first thing Charlie did when he brought home his brand new Diktator radio was to put it on full volume and open the door, so that the whole neighbourhood knew that he had the very first radio on the block!!
So far as fixing up the 190 Kitson house, Charlie started to finish the basement, but didn’t quite get it completed, but he did manage to get the garage all finished. In the back yard, he created a terrace made from several truckloads of shale and stone gathered at Pineridge, a favourite park area.
It was 1934 when there was a need to move to a larger home, and they moved to 606 MacMillan Avenue.
Helpful in identifying the years on the family car pictures is a list of the licence plate numbers with their respective years:
1929 : 5- 902
1932 : 7- 980
1933 : 6- 159
1937 : 8- 638
1938 : 12-879
THE 1926 ESSEX
This car, purchased sometime in 1929, not long after David was born in November of 1928, was driven into the 1930s. Charlie indicated that in 1933, while the car did need a new clutch and an overhaul, he decided that rather than make the needed repairs, he would invest in a newer model, the 1928 Essex. In the pictures, the way the two cars can be told apart is the shape. The 1926 Essex was squared whereas the 1928 was more rounded.
THE 1928 ESSEX
Here is a picture of the 1928 Essex and if you look closely, you can see Joan, David, Stella and Joy all looking out the back window.
Charlie Adams was a very ingenious man, and throughout his life, his motto was always :
“NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION”
Charlie purchased the 1928 Essex in 1933 for the grand sum of $250.00.
“It needed an engine overhaul” Charlie reported “and the drive shaft was bent on it, and it needed painting. So, anyway, I overhauled the engine, got the drive shaft straightened at the machine shop, and then I got it painted. Remember, I painted it that pretty dark green? Then I got all the radiator shell, the bumpers and everything all chrome painted and that car looked pretty goddamn smart!!! Then I drove that son-of-a-bitch 100,000 miles!
“(It went) 25 miles to the gallon! It was a 6 cylinder, but I re engineered that car. That was the car with all the gizmos! To give you an idea what I did to that son-of-a-bitch, I re engineered it. You see, those cars had a splash system, not a pressure oiling one – a splash system! If you drove the car over 40 miles per hour (mph), you’d burn it out. Well, I wanted to travel 50mph!
“So what did I do? At the bus garage we had all kinds of old parts lying around, so I went to the foreman in the engine rebuilding shop.
I says: ‘I want an old oil pump’
He says: ‘What are you going to do with that?’
I says: ‘I’m going to put a double oiling system on my car. I’m going to rig it up with an extra belt, and I’m going to get the babbit replaced with turbine silver instead of babbit.’
So I did that, and in addition to that, I installed an oil cooler under the running board. The oil cooler was a copper coil from an old gas fired hot water heater that I got from the gas department. And that system really worked!!!
“And then to start the car when it was 35 below zero, I took the starter off, and put ball bearings in the starter instead of bronze bushings. NOW! That makes all the difference between night and day for a starter when it’s 35 below! So! I used to start that car when it was 35 below!!
I just had a 6-volt battery. And that was how I operated that car, and all day long, I’d drive that car at 50mph, right on the dot! All the way down to Minneapolis – 12 hours – 25 miles to the gallon – 1938! That was only part of the story… In addition to that, I got the Manitoba Springworks to make me up long front shocks so I’d get a better ride – all the front springs. And then I put on shock absorbers.
A car never came with shock absorbers in those days. Cars bounced in those days. They didn’t have any shock absorbers. So I got a set of old shock absorbers off a 1934 Chev, and I put them on the 28 Essex. So I got shock absorbers then!! And that bloody car, it really went, I’ll tell you!!! It sure did!!”
David recalls that during the above mentioned trip to Minneapolis, his father suddenly exclaimed at one point: “That son-of-a-bitch did 25 miles to the gallon!!” and Stella looked at him with disgust at the language being used in the presence of their children, and in a reprimanding tone simply uttered:
Bad language was now second nature to Charlie, having learned it at his place of work, the Winnipeg Bus Garage.
A weekly treat that David remembered well was the Sunday outing with his father to visit the Winnipeg Bus Garage, where he too learned a few choice words which Stella disapproved of. These new words he shared discreetly with a few of his chums, so that no adults would become privy to this newly acquired language the boys were trying out.
Alex Baikov was a Russian friend of Uncle Boy’s who came to take in a lecture on Science of Being in Winnipeg and ended up taking a whole course on Mental Telepathy. He felt it would help him with his work up in the Arctic area of Canada, where he found and set up sites for radar stations.
- Baikov helped the Adams family out during the depression years, bringing fish, fish oil, and fish sausages from his manufacturing plant.
- He and his own family were friends with the Adams family for many years and even when they moved down to the USA, the two families kept in touch, I believe until the mid 1950s when Baikov was in his 60s.
Pete Bakenkamp was one of the men who worked with Charlie at the Winnipeg Bus Garage. He was described to me by David as a very strong man, who had run a market garden when he lived in his homeland, Holland. The Adams family and the Bakenkamps developed a friendship and socialized together. I’m told they had a farm just up the road from “Havencroft”, where the Adams family moved in the late 1940s.
The Adams family association with the Gaffries began in November of 1928 when both Stella and Mrs Gaffrie were in hospital giving birth. When Mrs Gaffrie came out of the hospital, she came and stayed with the Adams family for a while. The reason for that is not clear.
In the late 1920s, the Gaffries, a Catholic French family, lived in a French settlement at Sainte Agathe, not far from the Manitoba/USA border. The Adams family used to go and visit the Gaffries there as well as a sister who also lived in the settlement.
Later, they moved to a log home in Prince George, 5 miles past Great Falls along the Winnipeg River. Getting there required 19 miles along a washboard road, then taking a rope-pulled ferry across the river. In wintertime, they simply drove across the frozen Winnipeg River. One time during the winter, 3 miles into the bush, a large truck put the Adams car into a ditch, and left the scene. Fortunately, with the 18 below temperature, someone soon came along and helped tow the car out.
It was following a visit to the Gaffries in the fall when the car got totally stuck in gumbo mud. Jones, the storekeeper of Great Falls, lent them a wheelbarrow to get the mud out from around the wheels and the fenders. When the car was finally unstuck, and the wheelbarrow was returned, Mr. Jones invited the family in to have Thanksgiving dinner. Said Charlie of this surprise invite: “It was the BEST Thanksgiving dinner we ever had!!” Later when Charlie took the car down to the garage to clean the remaining mud out from underneath, there was still another wheelbarrow full of mud left to remove!
The Gaffries, David told me, were simple folk, happy and carefree people. David remembered very enjoyable visits at their homes with he and his siblings playing together with the Gaffrie children.
One very vivid memory David had of the Gaffries was that there was a well right in the middle of the house, and when water was needed, a bucket was simply dropped through a hole in the floor. The downside of this was that now and then a chicken would fall in and drown, something taken in stride in that household. One day, while they were all sitting inside having tea, Mr. Gaffrie mentioned this particular detail in conversation, and David remembered, with certain amusement, that Stella immediately put down her cup of tea, and declined all future offers of more tea.
Another recollection David had was the day the Adams family brought over a roast of beef to cook up for supper, and they put the meat into the ice house. While they were in the house visiting, the Gaffrie’s dog managed to get into the ice house, and that, much to everyone’s chagrin, was the end of that nice roast, which of course they discovered when they went to get it to start preparing it for supper. Needless to say, the dog was most definitely “in the dog house”, and a dinner alternative had to be quickly improvised!
One of the last times that the Adams family saw the Gaffrie family was while they lived at 616 MacMillan in the late 1930s. I was never told why the visits stopped, except that it may have been related to the diminishing socialization in the late 30s, when Stella was going through such a difficult time.
David and Joy remember David visiting with this family at a location called Whitemouth around 1934. These people were, so I understand, friends of the family, but I know nothing about them.
This was the family who lived on the chicken farm. They had two boys about David’s age. What David seemed to most remember about these people was that Mrs. Edmonds made wonderful and enormous meals (“There was practically a whole cow on the table!!!” he exclaimed!), and she also served a kind of green cake for breakfast. There is an incident which Charlie recalled regarding a borrowed bus being taken out to the Edmonds place. The following is the story as told by Charlie (unedited):
A VISIT TO THE EDMONDS
WITH A BORROWED 21 PASSENGER BUS
ONE SUNDAY IN 1934
‘What I remember most about the Edmonds, it was the one and only time I pulled a boner at the Winnipeg Electric and I borrowed a goddamn bus, and I took a bus out there, and we took the Winchesters along, and we and our friends all went out there to Edmonds in the wintertime, and it was damn cold weather. It was a little 21 passenger white bus, and I headed up into a haystack there, and covered it all over, and I took one son-of-a-bitch chance. I didn’t have any permission to use any goddamn bus. I just went down to that garage on Sunday morning, and got into it and drove it out.
“And I know bloody well Bill Jones saw me, but he never said a word. Holmes never heard about it. But if he had of heard about it, he’d have laughed his bloody head off. He would never have let me down. But I never heard a word about that. I never said a word to anybody. Of course, the boys all knew I’d took it out, and they knew when I took it back, but nobody said a word. Nobody would let Charlie Adams down. No fear. Everybody kept their trap shut, and I never heard a word about it. But I just got a yen to do that, and I did it. Jesus! I sure took a chance, I tell you!!
“Hell! It was 20 below zero weather. The bus only had water in it. We didn’t use anti freeze (laughter) but we had fun, by God! That’s for sure…
We skated out there on that little pond, that they made with pails of water. I remember another thing too. I hadn’t been on skates since I was about 14 years old, and I put on skates and skated for a solid hour before I fell down. That wasn’t bad, but I guess I got a sense of balance”
MISS HAYES TEA ROOM
In the 1930s, David remembered fondly the many trips to Miss Hayes Tea Room, a stone house with no electricity, built before the turn of the Century, over looking the Red River. This was a place, he recalled, where people got dressed up and went to meet socially with friends and family to share news, tell stories, and relax over a cup of tea. David remembered there were lots of really good stories to listen to, and this was all part of social life.
Miss Hayes had lived in that house all of her life, and she shared with the Adams family that there were times when the nearby Indian people would come to the house and ask for food. At this time, so David recalls seeing, there were still villages along the River where the people lived in tee pees. One incident that stood out in David’s mind was one day when there was a knock on the door, and when Miss Hayes opened the door, there was a large Indian man in traditional garb. Both Miss Hayes and the man were so startled by one another that the man turned and ran off.
Later on in the late 1940s when Miss Hayes was quite aged, she stayed with the Adams family at Havencroft for a winter. David recalled with amusement that Miss Hayes was forever losing her false teeth! I was told, I believe by my father, that the view in this picture was from Miss Hayes Tea Room.
Svetozar, described in more detail in the 1920s section and also in a separate section on Science of Being, remained a very special friend to the Adams family throughout the 30s, and on until his death in the mid 1950s. He was a constant in their lives for some 30 years.
WINNIPEG WEATHER – EXTREMES
I recall a story my father told me of a day in the wintertime somewhere in the mid to late 1930s when he set off for school on a very, very cold morning. Walking all the way to school, he noted his friends to be conspicuous by their absence. The custodian was surprised to see him and asked why he was there. It was then David learned that school had been canceled because of the frigid conditions. Back home he walked, to find Stella startled by his return. Upon telling her the custodian’s news, they went to check the thermometer. It read 60 below zero!!!
The following summer he recalled that it was about one of the hottest summers he had ever experienced. From one extreme to the next!
FAMILY RECREATION TOGETHER
The Adams family seemed to set a lot of time aside for play, and such was the substance of the treasured memories of David’s childhood. During the difficult Depression era, these times spent together were tremendous morale boosters, David reflected.
His father, Charlie, always had a car, and they were always going places together as a family. There were picnics, summers at rented cottages, visits with friends.
Many of the cottages they rented were at power plants along the Winnipeg River, and in those days, they were dirt cheap, so always affordable. The family would rent the cottage for a month or two, and stay there during the week while Charlie worked, and then he would join them on the weekends.
This went on for much of the 1930s, but it isn’t clear if these activities continued into the 1940s.
DAY TRIPS AND PICNICS:
In the summers, every Sunday was spent, if not visiting friends, going on a special trip that always included a picnic.
At a guess, the family picnic in this picture would have been around 1932. Stella is turned towards the car, while David is wearing the “chef hat”. Joy is holding Joan on her lap.
Two things in particular that came to David while reminiscing about these times together were the billy cans and the radio.
Water was always boiled in a billy can, which was really an empty honey pail. (Billy cans, I remember, were still used in my childhood for making steamed puddings!) The radio was portable, something Charlie had had someone make for him. Encased in a big two foot green wooden box, the radio was run by the car’s battery and pulled in all the Winnipeg stations.
While there may have been several other locations for family picnics, the two spots that made the greatest impression on David and his siblings were Pineridge and Tyndal.
This picture shows the entrance to the park known as Pineridge. Of interest, upon close examination of the sign on the tree, the name is actually Pinehaven but the Adams family always referred to the place as Pineridge.
Pineridge included a treed area and a grassy field like area. There must also have been an area with a lot of rock, because Charlie said that truckloads of rock and shale had been taken out to terrace the back yard at 190 Kitson.
Pineridge is the setting for David’s very favourite golf pictures:
Tyndal was a quarry north of Winnipeg, where in amongst the gravel pits and open prairie were limestone deposits from which came the limestone used for buildings in Winnipeg. It was a wonderful source of fossils. In fact, so David recalled, some of the limestone buildings in Winnipeg even had fossils embedded in them.
David said he loved going there for family picnics and searching for fossils, and frequently set out alone, even at the tender age of 4 or 5. Stella, he said was comfortable with his wanderings alone, but Charlie would have a fit, anxious for the safety of his young son. In the end, David won out, and Charlie reluctantly let go and began to relax. David said he never wandered that far away, always being within hearing range. He said he always responded to the call to come for lunch!
This was the first cottage mentioned, used during September of 1930. Charlie worked during the week and joined the family on the weekends, as was the case with most of the subsequent summer cottages. Charlie’s parents also shared this particular vacation with Stella, Charlie, Joy and David.
They stayed at Clear Lake in 1933. Apparently, according to Charlie, the water was ice cold, and the only one with the nerve to go swimming was Joy!
ALONG THE WINNIPEG RIVER:
Many of the rented cottages the family used were along the Winnipeg River with the landlord being the Winnipeg Electric Company, who allowed people to use the cottages at their various power plants, such as Pinoit, all along the river. Charlie was fortunate to get special inexpensive rates because of his association with the Winnipeg Bus Garage.
Amongst the locations mentioned by the family throughout the years were Sandy Hook, San Souci, Seven Sisters, Great Falls and Pettawa. Some of these places required a boat trip up the river to get there. David recalled that during the early 1930s, he saw the tee pees of a First Nations village still in use along the Winnipeg River.
- At one summer place, when David was about 5 or 6, both he and Joy remembered that one day he was sitting on the edge of the dock doing nothing in particular, when he fell in the water which was over his head, and fortunately Joy was right there to immediately rescue him. David recalled that it was like the water pulled him in, and it frightened him. After this incident, he wouldn’t go near the water for quite some time, because it seemed that every time he went near the water, this involuntary pulling in sensation would happen. Later in life, he would discover he had the ability to divine water (as well as metallic objects) thus apparently explaining the involuntary pull in younger years, according to both Joy and David.
This is another view of the cottage at Sandy Hook. David is at the door way, with Joy standing near the window. Stella is on the far right.
MISCELLANEOUS TID BITS MOSTLY ABOUT SANDY HOOK:
- The one with no fear of water when she was very young was Joan. She was the “water baby” of the family, loving the water from just about the time she could walk. She would give the family some awful scares, because she would jump off the pier before she even knew how to swim. When she did learn to swim, she learned to hold her breath under water, also a scary matter when she disappeared under the water for increasingly long periods of time. Indeed, all of her life, Joan always loved swimming, except later in life when dementia began to take away her ability to remember how to swim anymore. In the above picture, Joan is the one squatting down and laughing. Her grandmother Adams is standing in the back with Joy and a young friend.
Sometimes they went for a ride in a row boat, and when they wanted Joan to keep still, all they had to do is give her a bucket of water to play with, and she’d be happy.
This is the pier at Sandy Hook which Joan used to jump off before she was able to swim.
Joan remembers that at Sandy Hook, she always ignored her elders’ admonitions to put her shoes on, preferring to go barefoot. The problem was, however, that she was forever getting slivers in her feet and poor Joy was the one who was forever pulling those slivers OUT of her feet!
One summer, when she was about 3 or 4, she remembered that she stepped on a nail and it drove right through her foot. It bled a whole lot, she said, but her mother dunked the foot in disinfectant and then bandaged it up, and it eventually healed and didn’t get infected.
Joy was a “bleeder”, so Joan recalled, meaning that she was missing a certain anti-coagulant in her body which caused her to bleed profusely if she got a cut of any kind, which sometimes happened when they were at the cottages. Sometime, after she had bled heavily from a cut, she would pass out. Joy had to take medication throughout her life to keep this problem in check.
THE TRIP TO MINNEAPOLIS:
Charlie said this trip was in 1938 and David said it was in 1936, so I’m not just sure what year they took this trip. This is a postcard of the place where they stayed, the Curtis Hotel.
The reason for this 12-hour trip is not clear, whether it was for business, or simply a family vacation. Given that the 1930s were hard times financially, the staying at an upscale hotel makes me wonder if this may well have been a business trip, at least partially paid for by the Winnipeg Bus Garage.
Of interest, some 20 or 25 years later, David, his wife, Lois, and Lawrence would stay at the Curtis while on tour with the National Ballet of Canada.
One thing is very certain, and that is that Charlie got to put his beloved 1928 Essex to the test – 12 hours straight, 50 mph, and 25 miles to the gallon. This was the trip where, much to the disgust of Stella (“Charlie!!!!”
she admonished), he announce with great enthusiasm in front of the whole family: “That son-of-a-bitch did 25 miles to the gallon!!!” Charlie was very pleased with the performance of his 1928 Essex!!
What the family actually did while staying in Minneapolis, I have no details of at all, but I do have some postcards they bought while there.
One summer, David recalled, they rented a trailer for their holiday, and slept right by the side of the lake where they were staying. When the sun came up and the birds started singing at 5a.m. or earlier, David would get up and want to go to the nearby town but when he did so, was always disappointed to find out that the stores in town were not open yet, not until 6a.m.
606 AND 616
Amongst all the pictures I have, I was not able to locate any pictures of these two addresses taken during the 1930s. These two pictures here, with 606 on the left and 616 on the right, were taken much later on, perhaps the 1970s (?) when David went back to Winnipeg to revisit his past. He went to see most of the places that he lived and familiar locations while on that trip, and took several photographs.
It was in 1934 that the family moved to 606 MacMillan, a rental home where they stayed until sometime during 1936. At that time they moved up the street to a larger rental house at 616 MacMillan Avenue. There they stayed until they bought 197 Birchdale in 1941.
One very clear memory to David at 606 was that the landlord fixed a garage roof with coke signs, and then used stolen railway paint to finish the job.
Another vivid memory shared by both David and Joy was that there were some neighbourhood kids who played with explosives. These boys, they said, would go up on their roof with gun powder in milk bottles and a magnifying glass, and there would be tremendous BANGS! Fortunately, so far as David and Joy could recall, there were no injuries as a result of this foolishness.
I can remember being told by all the family members at one time or another about the time that Joan got her arm caught in the wringer of the wringer washer when she was 3 years old, and they had just moved to 606. Her arm appeared to be broken , so Stella took her to see Dr. Joe, who confirmed that the arm was indeed broken. Stella asked if she might be left alone with Joan for a little while. Dr. Joe knew about Stella’s great faith in Science of Being, so allowed her to use one of his rooms. Stella treated the arm using the vibrational force she knew how to channel, and when Dr. Joe returned, and examined Joan, the arm was no longer broken.
A DISTRESSING STAY WITH GRANDPARENTS ADAMS:
It was sometime during 1936 that Joy, David, and Joan were sent for a while to stay with Charles James and Annie Florence Adams. Whether it was while the family was between houses, or while Stella was in hospital with Lawrence’s birth, is not really clear. What is very clear is the fact that the three Adams children experienced a side of their grandparents they had not ever seen before in their young lives. These were not the people they knew when they visited them on numerous occasions for short visits. To them, their grandparents felt now like unkind people who had no patience for them, and chances are, Charles and Annie did have very little patience for the imposition of two children under 10 along with their teen aged sister. In 1936, they were at the very least in their 50s, used to living alone just the two of them, with a visit now and then from their families. But as anyone 50 or 60 something will tell you, it’s nice to see the grandkids come to visit, but also nice to see them go. Imagine suddenly having 3 youngsters thrust upon them for a week or two, and one of them a 5 year old with a mind of her own!
Add to all that the generational differences. No doubt their ideas of child raising and that of Charlie and Stella were quite different. Charlie and Annie Adams were very likely of the opinion that children were to be seen and not heard. It is not surprising that Joan would feel so utterly misunderstood. She wasn’t used to someone yelling at her or smacking her. She was just Joan being an inquisitive, spirited young child but someone whom Granny regarded as being ill behaved. Granny felt it necessary to administer frequent scoldings and smacks. Joy and David attested to the fact that Joan spent an awful lot of time crying at the Adams senior household. Even Grandfather Adams, who was, so Joan told me, a bit more tolerant, would get impatient with her interest in his garden, and would smack her and chase her out. No doubt the poor man had reached the end of his tether, and the garden may have been his retreat to “peace and quiet.”
The thing that shocked David and Joy was the total lack of affection they were given by their grandparents during the stay with them, especially finding Granny Adams to be very negative. (If Granny was in her 50s, she may well have been going through the throes of menopause!!) They both said there was a sense of something being very wrong. Even during a thunderstorm when both Joan and David were frightened and crying, there was no understanding comfort provided, they said. Joy was the one who calmed her young brother and sister.
All three of them – Joy, Joan, and David – said that after that experience, none of them regarded their grandparents the same again as they did before the stay with them.
Joan harboured a resentment towards them all her life, which likely was additionally fueled by the dislike held by her own mother towards them. This memory was one of the contributing factors in her final purging of the anger and bitterness towards her grandparents and her father when she destroyed most of her father’s lifetime collection of photographs in the 80s
This picture is of Charles James and Annie Florence Adams. So far as I know, this picture is from the 1930s, and they look to be in their late 50s, perhaps early 60s
THE ARRIVAL OF LAWRENCE
Lawrence Vaughan Adams was born on November 2, 1936.
One day at 606 MacMillan Avenue, mid 1936, when David was 8 years old, he found his mother distraught and crying. Asking what was wrong, Stella informed him “I’m having another baby.” These were hard times, and another baby must have meant the worry of more financial difficulties, I am guessing, but the real reason for the distress is not clear. Perhaps at this point, she simply did not want any more children, but here Lawrence was on the way. She was 38, and at a guess not in the best of health. She may have been experiencing depression.
From her own admission, this particular birth was the most difficult of all of her child bearing experiences, as was the pregnancy. As it turns out, she was carrying twins, but when the delivery time arrived, only Lawrence was born. His twin was dead, stillborn. My grandmother herself told me that it was a very difficult time for her both physically and emotionally.
I can only guess that the unhappy time that Joy, David and Joan spent with their grandparents may well have coincided with Stella’s time in the hospital with Lawrence.
Joan remembers when she first saw her baby brother. “He was a little doll that wiggled around in a blanket, a wee bundle.” The awful part of her mother arriving back home, however, was that while in the hospital, Stella had had her teeth out, not something anyone had thought to prepare young Joan for. When Stella arrived back home, when Joan first saw her, the sight of her mother without teeth frightened her, and she cried. When I look at the pictures of Stella with baby Lawrence, the story puzzles me because she seems to have teeth in the pictures. Perhaps some false teeth were made for Stella very shortly after the extraction.
Charlie and Stella with baby Lawrence
Joan said she used to watch everyone looking after Lawrence, and noted that other than the females in the family, and a woman who came in to help Stella for a while, he absolute did not like other women. He also hated sirens of any kind and screamed when he heard them. Except for that, she observed that Lawrence seemed to be easy to look after. While her mother was sick and convalescing after her return home, Joy spent a lot of time caring for him. I can imagine that Lawrence must have developed quite a close bond with Joy, she being a main source of care while he was tiny.
Lawrence under one year old
Lawrence, about 2, with Charlie and an unknown man.
After giving birth to Lawrence, as well as experiencing the loss of Lawrence’s twin, not to mention the loss of her teeth at the same time, Stella went through some very difficult times, both physically and emotionally.
Physically, she was very weak and run down, and was diagnosed by Dr. Joe as being anemic. The New Lexicon Websters Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language, Canadian Edition describes anemia as “a reduction in the amount of hemoglobin or number of red blood cells in the blood.” The Canadian Family Health Encyclopedia describes hemoglobin as the chemical that carries oxygen in the red blood cells of the blood. It also say that it is often caused by certain nutritional deficiencies, often iron, and during pregnancy, folic acid, and “causes tiredness, pallor, weakness and a feeling of general malaise.”
Joan recalled Joy telling her that after the birth of Lawrence, Stella suffered from anemia for quite some time.
Emotionally, I can only guess that Stella must have gone into a severe depression for an extended period of time, given all that she had just gone through. David remembered that some things changed, and he knew something was very wrong but he was too young to really understand. There was no more of the affection that he had observed frequently between his parents previously, most especially at 190 Kitson. His father no longer played the fiddle, and seemed to lack a certain enjoyment of life that David had once been so aware of. Social life drastically diminished near the end of the 1930s.
Here are a couple of pictures of David and Joan probably taken around 1936 or 1937 David would have been 7 or 8 while Joan would have been 5 or 6
Joanne had some very happy memories of a friend she had while living on MacMillan Avenue. Barbara Ames, she said was just as mischievous as she was. Together, they played house, did gardening, rode bicycles, played in water, had tea parties, dressed up, played ball, and between the two of them had lots of dolls. Something they both really liked doing was bugging Barbara’s older sister! One day, she said, they were playing with the water hose outside, and purposely doused said older sister!!!
ZAPPED WITH ELECTRICITY!
Both David and Lawrence, in their younger years, had a daring fascination with electricity.
When he was very little, David would bite the Christmas lights just to see what it felt like.
Both David and Lawrence would put a screwdriver into the plug outlet just to see what would happen, and would take the light bulbs out of the sockets and insert their fingers into the socket, again, just to see what would happen.
While this story was being told, Charlie piped up to relate that he often stuck a finger into a socket to see if there was a current flowing, as part of the process of fixing an electrical problem.
At a job in the early 40s, David remembered an accident where he was zapped with 550 volts DC:
“I was working in the streetcar barns up sweeping ceilings. A streetcar came in out of the rain. I jumped across the wet streetcar. I thought I’d fall and there was only one thing to grab, and it was whatever was going through that wire, and I grabbed it, and I was standing on a wet streetcar. The overhead trolley wire. That’s 550 volts. I know. I felt it, and I was standing on a wet streetcar, and I’m still here to tell the tale!”
“NOW! That’s 550 volts DC! And DC is murder! 500 volts AC will throw you, but 500 volts DC can fry you!”
After it was over, well, obviously I didn’t get a good ground, otherwise I couldn’t have let go. I’d just have been frozen. You just stand there and fry!”
Joy was reminded of a vacuum cleaner with an electrical problem which released a large flow of electricity through her, rendering her incapable of moving until someone came to rescue her. She came out of this shaken but relatively unscathed. This is what she recalled:
“At Kitson Street, with the vacuum, I just froze. I couldn’t move. Of course, it was a metal crib and a metal thing on the vacuum cleaner. No one could understand. I don’t even know if I was yelling. No one would come and pull out the plug. I was just sort of whimpering.”
Obviously, someone did eventually come to her rescue before it was too late. What a frightening experience that must have been!
Part way through Grade III, she changed schools (name of school not given), and then she had Miss Jones, then in Grade IV, Miss Reid, and in Grade V, she had Miss Brown. At that time, she remembered, there were no boys in her class and that the girls in her class were “little hellions”! Joy described Miss Brown as a shapeless woman in her late 50s who wore woolen dresses and a wig – tempting prey for a room full of mischievous Grade V girls. The suspender incident was a prime example, related here by Joy
“One day, due to some unknown physical law, that is, the law of Physics, the suspenders of her girdle (that of Miss Brown) were hanging out the back of the top of her skirt. She’s up and down the aisles and finally that little French girl that lived near the school – Albertine? – as she went by, Albertine took hold of one of them (suspenders) and about two desks gone, she let go of it! I’ll never forget that. I thought we were going to die. All the time, Mr. Harriot (the school principal who had been in the Boer War) knew exactly what was going on. Poor Miss Brown, and she was such a dear hearted woman, and we were a bunch of brats!!”
Joy is in the front row, 4th from the left, looks about 10 or 11, maybe 1931?
Joy, remember, was born in 1920, so actually probably the first 4 years of her school life were still in the 1920s. My guess is that her Grade V year went from 1929 to 1930.
Grade V she said there were no boys in the class, so the above picture with boys in it may have been Grade VI, 1930 to 1931.
In Grade VI, she said, she attended a new school called “Tashay” (I do not know the correct spelling of this school). On the tape, David mentioned that “Tashay” had once been called Queen Elizabeth School. In Grade VI, her teacher was Miss Morrison, someone David also remembered having as a teacher at some point. One vivid memory Joy had of that year was that there was a class clown by name of Jimmy Turner.
- This is as far as Joy related her own school history. I would say she went all the way through high school, as the following picture looks very much like a school graduation picture.
Joan remembered that when she was 6, when it was time to go to school for the first time, both parents were away on a trip to Omaha, Nebraska to pick up buses for the Winnipeg Bus Garage. Joy was the one to walk her to school on that very first day. It was a Catholic school, and she was expected to wear a uniform that was supposed to include white linen cuffs. At that time, the family could not afford the cuffs, so she didn’t wear them, causing her to be teased by the other children.
- In this school, she remembered learning printing, numbers, and sewing on pieces of cardboard. With her heart condition, gym was often over exerting and she tired easily. She was also taught to knit, but this was a total disaster. The nuns, however, were very patient with her lock of coordination, but for Joan, knitting was totally frustrating, and she said she would get mad at the knitting projects. What she really liked to do was painting and choir singing. She loved to sing, and the Christmas concert was great fun for her.
- Obedience was a definite problem for her at this Catholic school. “Bobby went her own way”, she said of herself. Bobby was her nickname, and that is what she liked to be called, and did not think much at all of being addressed as “Joan” by the nuns. She was a mischievous child, she said of herself, despite coaxing and encouragement from Joy at home and the nuns at school to “settle down and pay attention.” One thing Joan recalled doing which made the nuns feel very uncomfortable was to spend a lot of time studying their faces.
- Her favourite story of that year was that of Mother Superior trying to teach her how to go up and down stairs like “a lady”. Mother Superior, she said, was a very large woman, and looked like a giant to a little girl like Joan. She made Joan go up and down those stairs about 20 times, and when she managed to go up and down without running, Mother Superior dismissed her. Once the lesson was over, Joan immediately considered the fastest possible way to get outside so she could go and play. With Mother Superior still watching her, all lessons on decorum went right out the window. Up hopped Joan on to the banister and slid all the way down and ran outside. One can imagine Mother Superior standing there rolling her eyes and shaking her head. Joan and I had a good laugh as she told me this story.
- Only staying one year at the Catholic school, the following year, she went to Gladstone School with David.
- For Grade III and IV, she went to “Tashay” school, but she developed allergies to chalk dust that rendered her unable to attend. For this time she went to a Excelling at math, and her spelling being “alright”, she said, grammar was her weak subject. She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just write the way she talked.
- Back at school again, she remembered having a temper when people crossed her.
- I don’t know what grade she was in, but she recalled an incident with a Mr. Frith that stood out in her mind. She was sitting near two boys who had aspirations of being architects some day, and they were doing some interesting pictures in conjunction with their maths. Joan said she was all caught up with her work, so she began trying to imitate what the boys were doing. When Mr. Frith questioned what she was doing, Joan expressed to him her great interest in the kind of maths that the boys were doing, and that is when Mr Frith said to her “That’s not for women.” Joan could not understand why, and said she felt crushed and angry. Such were the attitudes of the 1930s and 1940s towards women..
- This is all the Joan was able to tell me that day about her education. I believe she only went as far as Grade IX.
David, 9 ½, and
Joan, 6 or 7,1938
- There doesn’t seem to be as much school history for David as for Joy and Joan, unfortunately.
- David remembered having a Mrs. Perkins for kindergarten, and then after a short stint at school, he ended up having to be tutored due to remaining rickets related problems. At first he was taught at home by a Mrs. Perton, and then went out to a place where a Mrs Shelford taught him. Shelford, he recalled had an acute sinus condition. She crammed so much information into him, he said, that by the time he went back to school into Grade III, he was so ahead of everyone that for a while he was bored. From what Joan said on her tape in 1994, I believe this was probably Gladstone School that he attended.
- One Friday out of every month, he remembered there was a school concert, and that he sang “My Bonnie lies over the Ocean.”
- He also recalled going to “Tashay” School, and in either the late 1930s or the early 1940s, going to King George V School, where he and the other boys were taught basic military skills in preparation for possible enlistment in the war. This is about all I have on David’s formal education.
MUSIC LESSONS AND BALLET CLASSES:
While at 606 MacMillan Avenue, David was sent for both piano and fiddle lessons, because his natural sense of rhythm had been noted by his mother, who felt it ought to be encouraged and developed. The result, so David recalled, was a total disaster. Playing musical instruments was not his forte, and his attempts to practice got on the nerves of the rest of the family, not to mention the conflicts between the violin teacher and Charlie. Apparently Charlie, who played by ear, had his own set ideas as to how his favourite instrument ought to be taught. Music lessons were soon abandoned.
The following section comes from David’s web site, his own words best describing his whole introduction to music and dance. I quote from:
“DANCE IN MY LIFE
David Adams Autobiographical Musings 1935 – 1947”
“My first exposure to dance began in 1935 with the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. My sister (Joy) was a film buff, collected the movie magazines, and in most cases took her young brother to the films.
I did not try to emulate the movement, but was fascinated by the music and rhythms.
The extent of my movement was to march around the front room carpet to the music being played on our wind up gramophone.
My mother noted my ability to follow rhythms, and thus arrived lessons on the violin and the piano. They were both a disaster, and soon left us.
1938 was a pivotal year. It was the year of Swing Time, the last of a group of six Astaire films.
Mother and I were traveling on a streetcar into downtown Winnipeg. Just as we passed the Osborne Movie House, I noticed that a film of the infamous book, Mein Kampf, was playing. That memory has stayed with me over all those years.
At that precise moment, my Mother turned to me and said “David, would you like to take dance lessons?” There was a small pause, then came the affirmative “Yup.”
It was there and then settled.
There had been an advertisement in the daily papers, looking for dancers, especially male dancers. A company was being formed, and they needed dancers.
The above event took place in the summer. It was not until winter that I heard any more about the dance.
I was to appear at the Time Building, 7th floor, on a certain day. I had all but forgotten about the initial question, which, by the way, did not specify what kind of dance, even in the audition notice.
I was not yet 10, but would be shortly.
Mother and I went by streetcar to the Time Building.
The journey to the seventh floor was to say the least, rough. The open cage elevator bounced off the walls as we climbed to the top floor.
We were met by a rather stout young woman who introduced herself as BETTY HEY.
I was to get changed into my dance things. There was not dance things, just the layers of clothes that one wore in a Manitoba winter.
In a small room, off the main corridor, I was confronted with a group of men, all much older than myself, in various stages of undress.
Being a shy lad, I refused to take off my clothes. Finally after much talk, I was persuaded to take off my sweater.
We were all escorted into a large room that faced on to Portage Avenue, windows on that side.
To our left, there were sticks fastened to the wall, which later I would learn to call barres.
In the corner sitting at a table was GWENETH LLOYD, the director of the company. She had a dog sitting under the table. I thought she must be okay if she had a dog.
MISS HEY lined us up at the stick. I was placed with an adult on either side so I could watch. We did a few things, holding on with our right hand then our left. I watched my adult neighbours very carefully and followed as best I could.
A few things without the sticks, facing the windows, then we were each asked some questions. When asked to give my name, I mumbled.
It was over and we left. Still nothing about what kind of dance it was.
Again a pause. Finally a phone call to ask if we had a son who wanted to take dance lessons. The answer was, of course, yes. They were overjoyed and announced that I had been chosen to be a member of the Winnipeg Ballet Club, and was to report for my first class in a week.
There were also instructions as to what I should wear to that class.
At the audition, I had seen those tight pants on the other dancers. These had to be acquired from Mallabars, plus some kind of shirt. The footwear would come later, because they had to be ordered from Europe.
Ballet dancer? What did they do? Was it like Fred Astaire? I had no idea.
A remark by my father that he hoped I would not become “one of them…” was not understood, but did not help matters.
The day arrived. I went on the streetcar by myself. After all, I was ten!
Up to the seventh floor. I was met at the elevator like a long lost friend. They seemed pleased to see me. “Put on your dance things and come into the studio to meet your fellow dancers.”
Same changing room, but I was alone. No other boys??? Putting on tights for the first time in your life is quite an experience, but I managed. They were black. I also, of course, wore a shirt, and socks on my feet.
I was confronted with a room full of young girls, all dressed in a kind of uniform, a light green top and skirt, tights, but pink, and tight fitting shoes that only covered part of their feet.
The truth hit me…I was the only boy, OH MY!!!
MISS LLOYD was there, but MISS HEY was to teach the class. We went to the barre.
Thus began a process that would be an important part of my life, as a dancer and as a teacher for over sixty years of my life.”
(The next part of this I will continue in the section on the 1940s)
THE 1930s WIND DOWN…
The 1930s were coming to a close. The Adams family was living at
616 MacMillan Avenue and now were a family of two parents and four children. In December of 1939, Joy, the oldest, had just turned 19 and had graduated from school; David had turned 11; Joan was 8, and the youngest, Lawrence, had just turned 3. Charlie was still driving his 1928 Essex, and would until the early 1940s. Financially, Charlie and Stella were beginning to be able to save some money, and would soon be able to purchase the house at 197 Birchdale.
At the very end of this decade, Charlie’s sister, Elsie married and there was a new member of the family. (See below)
World War 2, however had now broken out, something that would impact the family’s life during the 1940s, in terms of rationing, military training in schools, the potential of enlistment, as well as everyone’s losses of people they knew killed in the line of duty.
1939 Wedding Day
Murdoch (Murdie) Anderson and Elsie Adams
Through this marriage, David and his siblings gained a new relative, their