Memories of Freeman – Pam Wilkinson
(From a gal born in Freeman who spent every Sunday lunch after church, Christmas and Easter in the village of Freeman as a child.)
“My grandfather Tracy was a master gardener and the long backyard, that is now Staples, Michaels and Mandarin Restaurant was row upon row of vegetables, trellisses bursting with black grapes and towering candy-coloured hollyhocks. I have vivid memories of this very tall man stooped and tending to his patch. He once even made the paper for trying to grow cotton from seeds he’d brought back from the south.
“My father, Doug, and his brothers Norton, Stuart and Bob all grew up in that house at 906 Brant. When I was in Michaelslast December I almost felt the spirits of those Freeman kids underfoot. A funny story involving that back yard featured two of my uncles making “cigarettes” out of corn silk from Grandpa’s garden. My father tattled on them and instead of his intended result of getting to go to the CNE alone with his parents, he learned that his father found tattling to be the graver offense and he was left home.
“My cousin Janet and I were great childhood pals and I remember strapping on roller skates and gliding around the empty parking lot of the Fina Station just beside my grandparents’ house on the south side. We’d buy treats at Tinnings store on the other side of the house between a car lot (Virtue Motors?) and the train station.
“My tiny, barely 5′ grandmother, Clare Freeman, was a wonderful cook and put on memorable dinners every year at Christmas and Easter. With four sons, their wives and over a dozen grandchildren, this was no mean feat. My mother told me that Granny’s cooking was so good that during the Depression there was a large white hankie tied within view of the trains coming in to Freeman Station and hungry souls were welcome to pop in for stew or soup.
“Both my grandparents had their funerals in the parlour of that grand old house, caskets in front of the old fireplace that still stands but is now in the pharmacy of the clinic located there.
“The young boy in the old wedding photo to the right of the picture is my grandfather Tracy circa 1905.
The little girls are Pam and Janet Freeman in front of 906 Brant Street on the same lawn as the old wedding picture.
“The car picture has my grandpa Tracy behind the wheel, Uncle Stu in the back seat, Uncle Nort on the front and Uncle Bob and my Dad on the running board. One of Grandpa’s old cars (possibly this one) lay in disrepair behind the garage (where those cornsilk smokes were puffed on) and we used to play in it. I remember a bunch of us rocking it back and with great glee.