Tag Archives: Mary Hakala

Between the Blacksmith’s Shop and the Beer Parlour

Surprises and Challenges

It was early morning as I walked down the street from the hotel, accompanied by the clerk carrying our two suitcases.  As we approached our house I could hear the ring of the blacksmith’s anvil as it hit hot steel.  The shop was just a half-block beyond our house, and the smell of the hot coals in the blacksmith’s fire was pungent and unmistakeable.  I unlocked the front door.  The clerk stepped in, took a curious look around, and departed.  His departure marked the end of our nights sleeping above the hotel’s beer parlour.

Shutting the door behind him, I leaned against it and took a deep breath.  It was a mess!  Where should I begin?  I dithered a moment and then started with the obvious.  Grabbing up broom and dustpan (some of yesterday’s purchases), I started to sweep up anything that could be swept and tossed it out the back door into the alley.  The next tasks followed quickly: locating the gallon can of coal oil and filling the tank on the stove; pumping some water into a basin to wash up some dirty spots on the floor.  My spirits started to rise as I made some progress.  My thoughts flipped back to the Southern Ladies in the hotel in Saskatoon and I started to laugh.  My guess was that they might not even know how to get water from a pump!  Being a farm girl had some advantages.   Continue reading


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