Other People's Memories
One of my summer jobs during High School was a tour guide at the Eriksdale Museum. I enjoyed losing myself in other people's memories.
Maybe locals came in but I don't remember them. Tourists are the ones who stood out. They wanted to learn about us and the museum was their introduction. Most traveled from other parts of Manitoba or Canada or from the United States. A man came from England. I don't remember exactly where from, but I do remember that he used four place names in his address. And I remember a woman. I'll always remember her.
I said, "Hello, I'm Leanne Willetts."
And she said, "Willetts? Your grandfather was Mr. J.H. Willetts. He owned a Red and White store that sold groceries, dry goods, and cattle feed.
"The depression was hard on farmers like my dad. He needed feed for our cows, but he didn't have any money. Those cows were the only things keeping the wolf from our door. So, he swallowed his pride and asked your grandfather to loan him the feed.
"Mr. Willetts was a businessman. He needed to make money--his family needed to eat. But you know what your grandfather did?" Her eyes were wet when she told me, "He gave my dad the feed--gave it to him."
Yes, I'll always remember her.
*Footnote: When I worked as a tour guide, the museum was housed in the old Anglican church.
I visited L'Anse aux Meadows and Casa Loma in the 1980s when I was a Katimavik volunteer.
I volunteered at the Manitoba Museum in the 1990s--before moving to BC.
While visiting relatives in Iceland, I toured The Icelandic Emigration Centre--and lived close by, heaven.
Published on Sunday, April 1st at 5 PM PT
(this is not an April Fool's joke)