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February 2, 2009

LIFE ON SNOB HILL 

Living in a house on locally nick-named “Snob Hill” in Creighton Mine in the sixties was everything a family with two small children could hope for. The neighbours were extremely friendly and warm and made us feel at home immediately when we moved into a duplex in 1965. Our next door neighbours, Enci and Helen DiFilippo, lived in the other side of our duplex. Across the street lived Bill and Delores Mulligan and family, Ernie and Jackie Chenier, the Ingraham family, the Lynn family, the McAuliffe’s, the Leblanc family, the Connors family, the Zadows, the Trembley’s, Larsson’s, Jamieson’s, Luck’s, Hurd’s, Murphy’s, etc. We soon became acquainted with everyone. In no time our neighbours were our friends as well. The teenage girls on the street became our trusted babysitters allowing Alex and I to go out without worry as the girls’ parents were close by if a problem occurred with our precious little ones.

       Our address was 43A Wavell St. We had two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a living room with a large picture window, a dining room and small kitchen on the main floor and also a basement where the children could play and where we had our laundry facilities as well as our huge octopus oil furnace. Having moved here from a small two bedroom apartment, we felt most fortunate to have so much more space! The lovely hardwood floors throughout the house added comfort and grace.

 We had a small front yard where I could indulge in my burgeoning passion for gardening. Tulip bulbs were the first flowers I planted along the front sidewalk. They were beautiful when they bloomed the following spring! In our backyard we were fortunate enough to have a small hill – perfect for our little daughters and their friends to roll down in the leaves in the fall and slide down with glee in the winter snow.  I loved hearing the squeals of delight! The gorgeous colours of the maple trees in the backyard in autumn were incredible! There was also a wonderful tall stone fireplace where we toasted marshmallows occasionally for whoever was around. It was also a safe place to burn the colourful leaves and enjoy that delightful scent. Our little girls, Jacquie and Michelle, were fascinated by the blue jays which dared to come close to the kitchen window where the children could watch them while eating their breakfast. It was excellent entertainment for all of us. In spring, seeing who spied the first robin was always an animated contest in our family. Alex’s brother Norman built a playhouse for his little nieces who spent hours in there with mom being invited for tea. The red swing set also provided much amusement for Jacquie and Michelle. Such innocent free pleasures!

When our girls were a little older and were playing with their friends on the street, we all looked out for all the children. That was just the way it was then. If someone misbehaved, they would be scolded by whatever mom or dad happened to see the unacceptable actions. There was always someone around and the children respected all the parents on the street.  When a child fell, he/she was taken inside the nearest house to be washed, comforted and given a band aid and sent back out to play.  If something more serious occurred, the parents were called or the child was brought home to be cared for. Our children were carefree and we parents had peace of mind knowing that someone was always around to keep an eye on the youngsters. Hallowe’en was a festive time on the “Hill” as we knew every child who came trick – or- treating to our doors. I had taught many of them at Creighton Mine Public School before we had children of our own. They loved coming to their teacher’s house as much as I enjoyed seeing them. Alex and I admired their creative home-made costumes and sometimes had them sing or dance for us. Such fun!

Everyone went down the farm road to pick the ubiquitous blueberries in the summer for delicious pies or to sell for some extra money for the family. For older children the near-by bush was a wondrous place to play all sorts of games during the long summer holidays. In winter if someone became stuck in the snow, immediately several men and older boys would come to assist the driver. Sliding down any hills to be found was a source of merriment all winter long. Skating on big and small ponds was great fun as well. 

The adults enjoyed meeting occasionally for a cup of coffee or tea, sharing a meal together, and at Christmas time – perhaps a neighbourhood cocktail party to celebrate the season. Just meeting each other on the street and chatting was easy and comfortable as we all had so much in common. Our husbands all worked at the mine in varying capacities, which is why we lived in these company houses. We were all raising our children the best way we knew how. 

We appreciated the deep sense of community which was Creighton Mine. Creightonites were most supportive of each other in good times and bad. We knew that we could always count on each other whether we lived on “Snob Hill” or anywhere else in the small close-knit town.

 

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