Season 2 Episode 52: Martha’s Story

Welcome to Tea Toast & Trivia!

Thank you for listening in.

Photo Credit: Martha and her Sister

My sister asked a painter to paint this from the picture. Front view of threshing. The tractor with a large belt on the power takeof ran the thresher. The grain bin on left was where grain was augered into from thresher the straw was augered onto the big pile on the right. My dad ran the threshing machine. My brother is throwing the sheaves into the thresher that he and I had loaded on the field. (Stookes are made up of 4 or 5 sheaves). Everyone helped doing that as whole fields had to be done. This is how the grain dried ready for going in the bin.

Martha

I am your host Rebecca Budd, and I am looking forward to sharing this moment with you. 

Manitoba Canada. That was my home growing up. If you look at a map of Canada, Manitoba is the in the centre of the country with its provincial neighbours, Saskatchewan to the west, Ontario to the East, and to the north, the territory of Nunavut. To the South, we share the US/Canadian Border with North Dakota and Minnesota.

You may know of some others who came from Manitoba. Neil Young, Burton Cummings/The Guess Who, Randy Bachman/Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bif Naked and Fred Penner. In fact, Tom Cochrane lived for a time in my hometown of Lynn Lake. From literary authur, Carol Shields, to WWII spymaster Sir William Stephenson who was the inspiration for James Bond, to Bobby Hull of the Winnipeg Jets, to the character of Winnie-the Pooh who was named after Manitoba’s capital city Winnipeg – Manitoba is a place of many stories.

Today I want to go back to the past, and hear a story from the 1940’s. It all started when I left Lynn Lake to attend college. That was when I first met Martha. Students in residence at the college were given a task. Martha was a library helper, and I was given the task of vacuuming the library. Martha became a librarian, and I well, I still enjoy taking the vacuum out for a spin.

Diedrich & Sarah (Photo Credit: Martha)
Diedrich with Martha’s brother watching (Photo Credit: Martha

This is one of the earliest photos that I have of my Father and oldest brother. This is raw land broken by my Father in about 1943 or 1944.

Martha

This is Martha’s story to tell, but there are times when it is impossible to connect across the miles via technology. Thankfully, letter writing continues to thrive. While Martha cannot be present in the form of her actual voice, she has given me permission to share the story of her parents, Diedrich and Sarah, and of their life on the farm in the 1940’s. For those who have listened to my conversations with my mother, Frances, you will see the similarities of communities working together.

I invite you to put the kettle on and add to this vibrant discussion on Tea, Toast & Trivia.com.

Diedrich & Sarah (Photo Credit: Martha)

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17 Replies to “Season 2 Episode 52: Martha’s Story”

  1. What a beautiful tribute to farmers and to your dear friend, Martha. I loved listening to every single sentence about the most fundamental segment of our food supply. People who’ve never even grown a garden themselves are completely unfamiliar with the process, so I’m always excited whenever I hear of all the new urban ‘victory’ gardens or when my adult children also garden and preserve for themselves. The community aspect you warmly inform us about was so important and still remains for those who garden communally whether at schools or in neighborhoods. Children need to visit farms and gardens, even the ever popular pumpkin and apple farms with petting zoos. So much is there to stimulate a lifelong interest in the environment. I remember reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books as an adult and learned so much about how the ‘settlers’ lived. Quite awesome, really! And how wonderful to hear personal stories like Martha’s about the transitions to modern machinery but also of their amazing self-sufficiency. Living across the road from a dairy farm was also a marvelous education for me, e.g. watching the struggle to plant and harvest feed corn in wet weather, the dryers running days on end. My favorite memory this time of year is the tractor harvesters running late out there alone on October nights, sometimes under a full moon. Truly beautiful! Hugs & more hugs, Rebecca!

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    1. Thank you for adding brilliant insights, Mary Jo. My grandparents on both sides were farmers and my father, in his younger days, worked on a ranch. We seem to be our best when we are close to the land. A few months ago, I was speaking with a member of our local urban garden. There is always a waiting list to get on, he said. When inexperienced gardeners are given their garden allotment, they are amazed by the amount of work that goes into gardening. Planting the seeds is the easy part – what comes next is more complex. He said it was fun to see their progress as they learn how to weed and how to water, not overwater, harvest and finally prepare their allotment for next year’s planting. I remember harvest time! The smell of freshly cut grain filled the air. Delicious! Letter writing continues to thrive, Mary Jo. Thank you for your first introduction to this form of podcast. Looking forward to many more conversations. Many many hugs coming my dear friend.

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  2. As Mary Jo also noted, I enjoyed every word of Martha’s eloquent and heartfelt tribute to her parents and the role of the family farm. (I got a little choked up, in fact.) You might be interested in Joy Neal Kidney’s family history blog, which chronicles growing up on an Iowa farm in the 1950s and her grandparents’ experience farming during the Depression and World War II, when all five of their sons joined the military. https://joynealkidney.com/category/growing-up-on-a-farm/.

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    1. Thank you for the introduction to Joy Neal Kidney’s family history blog. She has a wonderful collection of stories. I am delighted you enjoyed Martha’s story. She told me that her parents would have been surprised that anyone would be have interested in their life’s story. And yet, these are the stories that build resilience in today’s uncertain environment – that endurance has rewards. What came through in both Frances’s and Martha’s recollections was the community spirit, the ability to thrive even in the most difficult of circumstances.

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  3. Great pictures, marvellous souvenirs, and a fascinating Martha’s story! the likes of which was going on in my part of the country, and Don’s, in Huntington, Quebec, on my mother’s parent’s farm, five miles (not kilometres at that time) from Huntington village, a place called Clyde’s Corner. Also a few years earlier than your days, as in the early 1900’s, in a field stone house of the late1700’s, thus to accommodate nine people, grandparents and seven children. It was fireplace and wood stove heating, oil lamp lighting and pumped well water. With of course an earth cellar in the kitchen which i fell into at age five, running after the Collie dog, one summer as he ran in the kitchen and flew over the open trap door cellar, asd I followed but landed in said cellar, on my face, with a lasting lower lip scar, hand stitched while held by two ants, as I sat on the kitchen table, as the local doctor called on the (12 subscribers) shared line phone of the times.
    So many wonderful stories come to mind from those good old days, and enough to write more than a few books as a result of your inspiring and stirring beautiful memoir recount… Thank you so much again Rebecca, for another of your wonderful choice of stories!

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    1. Oh Jean-Jacques – I would love to discuss those years on a podcast. Looking back provides a way of seeing our world through a different lens. There are wonderful stories that are hidden in the folds of history that are waiting to be told. Let me know!!!

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  4. It would be my pleasure to discuss and reminisce on those years when people were given time to dwell and consider at a more humane pace. Anytime you choose, for absentee times, these pandemic days, are at near nil. Yours to choose my dear Rebecca ! Just let me know when…

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  5. A really wonderful podcast and I so enjoyed your reading of Martha’s family story. I loved seeing the family and farm photos too. What a tough life farmers had then, having such a responsibility to provide food for the people who relied upon them. I was fascinated to hear about the flour-bag dresses. ‘Make do and mend’ and “waste not want not” were familiar terms in our house when I was growing up, and it sounds as though Martha’s family were also very frugal and hardworking. It’s good to be reminded of those times and to be grateful for all that we have nowadays.

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    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this post. I remember Martha behind the librarian’s desk, while I vacuumed the library’s two stories. I rather enjoyed making a lot of noise when everyone was trying to study. Those were good days. Martha’s story is so much like my mother Frances’s, and to all who experienced the years between the 1920’s – 1940’s, which included the aftermath of WWI, the Great Depression and the harsh realities of WWII. I love your words: “make do and mend”and “waste not want not” – I heard those saying many times. And NOW!! I have now seen a trend to mending!!! It is making a comeback. Wouldn’t our parents and grandparents be surprised!!!?

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  6. This is great Rebecca. What a fab history. Manitoba really does produce some very hard working and creative people.
    As you know, I grew up in Winnie The Peg Poo!
    Listening to Martha’s story reminds me of Nellie McClung’s story.
    Her family moved to Manitoba as pioneer settlers in the late 1800’s.
    Theirs is a bit harsher of a story, but of the same salt of the earth.
    Our history is a wonderful thing at times.
    I only wish we had treated the First Nations a lot better along the way.
    Now I’m thinking of Pauline Johnson.
    One thought leads to another. My mind is like a tree, branching, branching, branching!

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    1. I laughed out loud when I read “Winnie The Peg Poo!” That means you know what it feels like to stand on the corner of Portage and Main and feel the cold winter winds howl around you. I miss that feeling! I love how your mind works, Resa. Your energy inspires and it does branch out to all of us. May we learn from history and embrace inclusivity. I carry this quote by Maya Angelou with me: “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Sending many hugs!

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      1. Glad to make you laugh!
        Ahh yes, Rebecca! I remember crawling across Portage and Main in a snow storm. I was about 13.
        Really like that Angelou quote. It reminds me of something I’ve always said.
        A lot of life is learning something I already know, but know I know it better.
        I think I made that up. I Googled it, and no other attributions are there. There’s close ones, but no cigars!
        HUGS!!!!

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      2. I’m keeping that quote, Resa! WOW!! Goosebumps reading it. “A lot of life is learning something I already know, but know I know it better.” It is a keeper!!!

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