Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Time Rolls By . . .

Rockton General Store and Deli

...will close its doors Saturday evening bringing to an end seven decades of tradition in the historic stone structure. The building has housed a store and postal outlet since 1939. Its history as a hotel and tavern dates back to the 1790's. The owners state, “ It's a reality! Everyone is going to the big stores, so what can you do? The little guy can't compete.”
(Rockton is a sleepy little farm village near Highway 8, northwest of Reg. Rd. 5.)

This article in the July 30th issue of The Spectator stirred memories of several times I deliciously breakfasted there on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

My daughter occasionally rode “Sundash” or “Roadrunner's Sugar” in equestrian shows held at Rockton World's Fair Grounds...across the quiet village street from the General Store. Parents of riders from the stables in Oakville gathered like “family” to enjoy the camaraderie and the friendly atmosphere of this quaint  diner.

Rockton is best known as “The Biggest Little World Fair in the World” ~
held every Thanksgiving weekend. Truly a magnificent farm display...thousands attend yearly ...lured by numerous events: the food venues, the many farm animals, the judging, the fall attractions of spectacular autumn colour and impressive horse shows with many competitors in both hunter and jumper classes. Rodeo events are often featured.

The Diner/General Store in Palermo

I reflect on another significant change. When parents drove riders to Bertin Stables (Oakville) in early mornings to prepare their horses for loading into trailers for out-of-town shows, several parents met at the nearby diner in Palermo along what is now Regional Road 5. Here we coffee'd and chatted while enjoying the Breakfast Special prior to attending the horse show. Now, it is History! Today, Tim Horton's on this site, offers its fare of pastries, sandwiches and TH coffee...and Palermo's little diner is almost forgotten.

The Hamilton-Wentworth Board of Education Building

Of interest to me is this prominent  building located at the corner of Bay and Main Streets. It is a beautiful piece of white civic architecture.  As a teacher, I entered its doors frequently, always admiring this edifice built in 1966. Today, the education business plans to relocate to larger premises on Hamilton Mountain. McMaster University has a vital interest in this location ~ with a plan to demolish the building and construct a new Medical training center. There is a mighty outcry by Heritage people for its preservation... a structure that has become an icon- entry to downtown Hamilton.

The Refrigerator

Years ago, living on a farm until I was 18, we lacked many amenities common to cities and towns e.g. indoor plumbing, central heating, cooling systems and nearby recreation centers. We did have electricity, the privilege of growing vegetables and fruit, the wide open spaces of acreage farmland separated only by fences; we also had several farm animals.

One day my father asked, “Edna, if I buy you a refrigerator, would you make ice-cream for me?” She was delighted and most heartily agreed! Imagine ~ a modern Kitchen Appliance!!!

Cook Books

My Dad loved to eat and greatly appreciated the solid three meals a day my mother prepared... breakfast, dinner and supper. (Because of the daily farm labour, the main course of the day was at noontime.) She was a gifted and talented cook, often creating recipes. She had no Cook Books...all ingredients,  measurements and "know-how" were in her memory bank!

Woodchucks, who constantly burrowed holes for their homes in the ground, were often destructive to crops and low-riding-machinery. So it was, with rifle in hand, Dad accosted these creatures...shortening their life spans. However, one speciality he loved...numerous times he shot a rabbit and joyfully brought it home for my Mom to prepare “Rabbit Stew”! To him, this was a wonderfully delicious delicacy!

I comment here, that whenever we helped Mom in the kitchen, we were directed what to measure and how to prepare the meal. When I was anticipating marriage, she lovingly wrote her recipes and gave them to me in a bound booklet...My Lifesaver!

The Big Depression

After several years of raising cattle, which required twice daily milking, Dad replaced them with a hundred or more Shropshire sheep. My sister and I loved the lambs born each spring, naming each one and identifying them as they grew. He bought a Border Collie puppy, whom we named Billie; he trained her to herd the rams, ewes and lambs. He also bought a duck which my sister and I claimed as “our pet”. Joey was such a joy, humorous in his actions as he quacked, quacked, quacked his territory; he loved the sheep, often resting on their backs while they were asleep.

My parents were married during the depression years when “plentiful” was not often possible. At Christmas we cut a tree from our farm to decorate and had a wonderful dinner. We raved about the preserved vegetables my mother served, potatoes from the cellar which she scalloped, pie of elderberries which she had picked...(with purply-stained- fingers) from nearby wild bushes and kept frozen in the refrigerator's freezer (and of course served with ice-cream which she had perfected). We wondered about the roasted meat...was it turkey? It wasn't beef...and wasn't lamb. Next day we looked for Joey (our pet duck) who could not be found. Dad calmly told us that he had traveled to “duck heaven”! My sister and I cried!

Time Does Roll By...in the Name of Progress

Consider the changes in Communication Systems.
Consider the air planes that long ago broke the Sound Barrier.
Consider the Fashion Industry...even “retro clothing” is again fashionable.
Consider Planetary Exploration...who'd believe Man would land on the Moon?
Consider the great evolution of cars from the Model T Ford.
Consider the Transportation Systems in cities and towns.
Consider the revolution of Housing projects.

The following quote is so significant and so pertinent at this time...we now wonder what "tomorrow holds" and  "what our future will unfold".

"Our days are a Kaleidoscope.
Every instant, a change takes place in its contents:
new harmonies, new contrasts, new combinations
of every sort."  (Henry Ward Beecher) 

Merle Baird-Kerr
(written July 31, 2011)


  1. What a beautiful Love Story.....Well told and easily perceived to be very heartfelt in your memory. Thank you.

  2. Today, our Future is unknown! and when it reveals itself to us, we may wonder at its existence...and be in a state of amazement that this could possibly be! Today's success
    and achievements will then become "Memories". Thank you Sol for your insight.

  3. Oh how I love your writings and your musings about the little things in life...they are what really count! And one thing I have learned from a good writer such as yourself... one can truly glean happiness and hope from one who has truly lived a well rounded and a rich abundant life such as yours !

  4. Sherrie...well written with your sentiments expressed. It IS the "little things in life" that count which are character building. Life is not always "rich and abundant"...yet if one perseveres, these "good times" are the payoff...and Life is Enriched! Thanks, dear Friend.