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Memories from Mary’s Childhood by Mary Wolf Depew

Apr 26th, 2008 by admin | 3

photo of Mary by the rapidsThese stories are a collection of memories from Mary’s childhood. They include stories about the tractor she drove into the pond, her memories of the bread man, a story about her art set, and a memory of playing with paper dolls. These stories include childhood memories of going to Niagara Falls, being lost in a Sears Department Store, her 12th birthday, her pet goat, and about playing the game of monopoly.

The emotion that I remember the most was when I was 12 years old. I took our Ford Tractor for a fast ride to the end of our farm. At the end of the lane was a large farm pond near our woods. I drove quite fast, made the turn toward the pond and then applied the brakes. I did not come to a stop like I thought I would. Instead, the tractor kept skidding and I was getting closer and closer to the edge of the pond. There was about a six-foot bank leading into the pond. I was afraid that as I drove down the bank at a fast rate, the tractor might tip over on me. So, I had to make a quick decision before I got to the bank. I would jump off of the tractor and let it go into the pond on its own. That way, I would be assured of saving my life. After I jumped off, I felt like I had experienced a nightmare or a really bad dream. I ran home and I was embarrassed to tell anyone. My older brother, Dick, was mowing my grandmother’s lawn, so he seemed the safest one to tell. When I told him, I don’t think he believed me. He had to go our next door neighbor’s place to borrow his large Oliver tractor to pull the tractor out of the pond. My dad didn’t think it was my fault for the accident with the tractor. He said he thought it was caused by faulty brakes.

When I was a child living on the farm in Hamlin, I remember the bread man coming to our home. The special thing I remembered about his truck was that he had about 8 large drawers in the back of his truck. Not only did he sell plain white bread but he also had drawers of kuchen, sweet rolls, and doughnuts. And there was even a special drawer of candy bars too. I just remember the neat thing of his opening these large drawers and seeing all of those good pastries in them.

decorated Christmas tree with giftsPrang Art Set was given to me for Christmas when I was 8 or 9. My older brother Dick had helped my mom select it because he knew I had an interest for artistic supplies. When I opened the art set, there were things in it that were special to me because I had never seen them before. They were oil-based crayons you could dip in water and color with. There were real paints just like we used in school: watercolors. It was special because it wasn’t a dress for the Christmas program at church; it wasn’t a rubber doll set with baby bottles. It was a real surprise and one that led me to other artistic endeavors with paper, crayons, and scissors.

When I was a child, my sister Betty, who is 4 years older than me, would play paper dolls with me. We would use construction paper to make clothes for our paper dolls. I enjoyed going to the Ben Franklin store in Brockport to get the package of multi colored construction paper. I think it cost 39 cents a package. I also remember that my mom was always willing to buy the package of paper for me whenever I wanted it. I also remember in the days when we didn’t have paste or glue at home. Mom had a recipe of flour and water that she would cook on the stove to make paste for us to use for our project. Today, I still love colored paper and I still buy it to use to make cards or I use it for setting off pictures.

family

Pictured are: Sister Betty, Mary, Dad, and family friends Joe and Linda

I remember as a young child going with friends of my mother and father on an all day outing to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls at anytime is exciting and scary. At that time in the late 40’s, there were no elevators going up and down by the American side of the Falls. You had stairs going down to the bottom.

photo of Mary by the rapidsPictured: Mary by the rapids

The one memory I had was how easy it was by the shoreline to fall into the Niagara River and be caught up by the rapids. There were no fences surrounding the banks of the river.

also remember the Indian women selling their beaded little moccasin pins and dolls on tables near the Falls and the bridge going over to Goat Island. The Indian women were from the Tonawanda Reservation. I also remember the gift shops filled with all the souvenirs, pennants, thermometers, wooden boxes stamped with Niagara Falls on it. It was a fun filled day.
Mom helping sister Betty view the Falls
Pictured: Mom helping sister Betty view the Falls

One of the exciting things you could do at the Falls was use the special machine that would give you a closeup view of the Falls. For 25 cents, you would get a 60 second view of the American Falls. It was a thrill!

Lost in Sears Department Store

When I was a small child, we (my mom and I) were shopping at the large Sears store in Rochester, New York. Because we were from a small town, it was rare for us to go into the city and shop in large stores. Somehow, while at the s tore I got separated from my mom and realized I was lost. We had never developed a plan for what we were to do when we got separated from mom. I guess we got back together, but that feeling of aloneness or being separated from someone still leaves me with that panic feeling to day.

My 12th Birthday Party

my twelfth birthday partyWhen I was age 12, my mom and my older sister Betty had my first birthday party at our home. My 12 classmates were invited. The one thing I can remember is we had free time after the games we planned to go down to the bridge over the creek. Two of the girls decided to climb on the inside of the bridge from one side to the other. They had never done it before and half way across the bridge they got scared about finishing it to the end. They made it to the end without injury.

The other part was opening gifts. I rarely received gifts as a child so this was a new experience. Being a shy child, I really didn’t know what to say after I opened the gift. I received a zipper notebook from Robert Klafelen. It was really elaborate. I remember saying, “Robert, how much did this cost?” Actually, I don’t remember any of the other gifts I received at the party.

Pet Goat

pet goatWhen I was 7 years old, my Uncle Hank, who owned and operated a meat packing and butcher shop, always teased me that he was going to by me a lamb someday from the poem of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’. Well, he never was able to find me a lamb but one day he brought over to our house a black and white little goat. So the jingle became, “Mary Had a Little Goat.” I liked it, as I really never had my own pet before. We tied it up outside and it was named Cocoa. My most m emorable experience with the goat was that one morning, as I was getting ready to board the school bus, the school bus driver, Mr. Rockow, tempted me to bring my goat to school just like the jingle said. Mary had a little lamb whose fleece was white as sn ow and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go. It followed her to school one day, which was against the rules. It made the teacher laugh and cry.

My sister Betty was in the 8th grade and her teacher Mr. Klopp, who also was the principal of the school, had me tie the goat to a tree in the schoolyard. When later in the morning, he looked out, the goat had gotten loose from the tree and was in the principal’s flower garden next to the school. The principal said Betty had to call my parents and ask them to come and get the goat to take him home.

I was only able to keep the goat as my pet a couple of months because my brother Gary, who was born in October of that year, had many asthma and was alergic to animals. So, that was the end of my one and only pet.

Playing the Game of Monopoly

“the Monopoly guy”My family played many games in the evenings at our home while I was growing up. We had no television at that time and even if we did, we still enjoyed playing games. My favorite board game was Monopoly. I liked it as a game becaus e you had freedom in the game to make decisions, to try to negotiate properties with another person, and use real life strategies. My older brother Dick when he played with us would be sharp and always win. Today, whenever I ask people to play Monopoly, they say it takes too long to play the game. They prefer fast games, such as Trivia or Pictionary.

Tractor in the Pond

Pond near the farmThe emotion that I remember the most was when I was 12 years old. I took our Ford Tractor for a fast ride to the end of our farm. At the end of the lane was a large farm pond near our woods. I drove quite fast, made the turn t oward the pond and then applied the brakes. I did not come to a stop like I thought I would. Instead, the tractor kept skidding and I was getting closer and closer to the edge of the pond. There was about a six-foot bank leading into the pond. I was afrai d that as I drove down the bank at a fast rate, the tractor might tip over on me. So, I had to make a quick decision before I got to the bank. I would jump off of the tractor and let it go into the pond on its own. That way, I would be assured of saving m y life. After I jumped off, I felt like I had experienced a nightmare or a really bad dream. I ran home and I was embarrassed to tell anyone. My older brother, Dick, was mowing my grandmother’s lawn, so he seemed the safest one to tell. When I told him, I don’t think he believed me. He had to go our next door neighbor’s place to borrow his large Oliver tractor to pull the tractor out of the pond. My dad didn’t think it was my fault for the accident with the tractor. He said he thought it was caused by faulty brakes.

Bread Man

When I was a child living on the farm in Hamlin, I remember the bread man coming to our home. The special thing I remembered about his truck was that he had about 8 large drawers in the back of his truck. Not only did he sell plain white bread but he also had drawers of kuchen, sweet rolls, and doughnuts. And there was even a special drawer of candy bars too. I just remember the neat thing of his opening these large drawers and seeing all of those good pastries in them.

First Art Set

Prang Art Set was given to me for Christmas when I was 8 or 9. My older brother Dick had helped my mom select it because he knew I had an interest for artistic supplies. When I opened the art set, there were things in i t that were special to me because I had never seen them before. They were oil-based crayons you could dip in water and color with. There were real paints just like we used in school: watercolors. It was special because it wasn’t a dress for the Christmas program at church; it wasn’t a rubber doll set with baby bottles. It was a real surprise and one that led me to other artistic endeavors with paper, crayons, and scissors.

Paper Dolls

When I was a child, my sister Betty, who is 4 years older than me, would play paper dolls with me. We would use construction paper to make clothes for our paper dolls. I enjoyed going to the Ben Franklin store in Brockport to get the package of multi colored construction paper. I think it cost 39 cents a package. I also remember that my mom was always willing to buy the package of paper for me whenever I wanted it. I also remember in the days when we didn’t have paste or glue at home. Mom had a recipe of flour and water that she would cook on the stove to make paste for us to use for our project. Today, I still love colored paper and I still buy it to use to make cards or I use it for setting off pictures. [end]

3 Comments on “Memories from Mary’s Childhood by Mary Wolf Depew”


  1. Mary said:

    The photos as well as the memories feature a period in American history when things or activities were very precious and firsthand.


  2. Mary said:

    The memories we share are very special to all of us.
    We need to foster those shared memories.


  3. Miss mary wolf said:

    Writing now about your memories of different experiences you have had growing up in your hometown is really special for you, your family members, and also your international friends/ extended family.

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