Florence was sixteen years old when she was asked to help out as a babysitter. The German storekeeper and his wife in Inglis had a nine year old daughter with Downs Syndrome.
When Florence first arrived, the little girl hung back, shyly. “In two days, she was in my arms,” said Florence, proudly. “She slept with me. She was a nice little girl. She was just a little slow to learn.”
“If I went downtown the little girl went with me. She loved ice dream and her father gave her money in the afternoon so we went for her ice cream.”
Florence was paid a dollar a day, but the days were long and included evenings. There were always supper dishes to do and there was no time off from Monday to Sunday. Tuesdays and Thursdays were called “Train Night” because the train came in from Russell bringing supplies and mail. Shelves had to be stocked and the mail had to be sorted. “The town was lit up and stores stayed open until midnight for the farmers who had come into town.”
“I was supposed to be the babysitter, but I did everything; cleaned the house and cooked meals. I was a housemaid, but they were nice and I learned a lot. On Mondays, we got up before six o’clock because we were doing laundry.” Florence laughed. “We were in town so I don’t know why we had to get up so early, but we did.”
“I was like one of the family. I ate with them. I still remember how things tasted different. German dill pickles are sort of sweet and sour. Their sauerkraut has a different taste and they mashed the potatoes for the potato soup.”
“I went to a dance sometimes on a Saturday, but not much because the next day you had to get up early.”
The job was supposed to be only for a month but it stretched out until fall. Then Florence’s father came to fetch Florence home because she was needed to help with harvesting. It was wartime and no men were available for hire so she had to help with everything on the field including stooking.
The German family “mashed the potatoes for the potato soup”.
With this wonderful Welsh puréed potato soup, I served a blue cheese toast and . . .
Bohdan Zahny’s yummy Potaptsi z Tomatomi (Tomato Toasts).
1. Fry 4 slices of bread in butter on each side until well browned .
2. Cover bread with slices of cherry tomatoes (or large tomatoes).
3. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
4. Broil until melted and serve hot.