We hitched up the mare on Thursday last, in order to drive into Liverpool. The oldest girl was not in a good humour. I had placed beside her breakfast plate an advertisement from the school trustees, wanting a teacher for the Hibernia School.
Tom Sheppard, circa 1913
Editor's note: Each year for Christmas our columnist Tom Sheppard writes his columns in the style of someone living a century ago
I said to her to write to George Meagher, the secretary, and tell him that as they only want a "D" teacher, she would qualify for the position. Then, I said, giving her a fatherly pat on her cheek, all of her problems would be solved. She could live here, add some income to the family, and perhaps even find a husband, once she is old enough.
I went on to tell her that should she not want the Hibernia school, there were other vacancies for next fall. The Devonshire, Whiteburne, Grafton and Northfield schools will be without their teachers, I said, and she would quite easily gain one of those positions, given that she is finishing school this spring with high standing as a scholar. There might even be an opening in one of the schools in Caledonia. I said I would help her compose a letter to the trustees.
The girl went into a strange mood and would say nothing. It was only when I told her she would either speak or she would not accompany us to Liverpool that she said she would be going to university, or she would move out west. Mary and Cassie McGuire have gone west, she said, and she could go and stay with them. She also said that she was going to Liverpool with us no matter what, else there would be no Christmas present for me.
An hour later we were on the road, the wife sitting behind with the boy and the youngest girl, and the oldest girl riding up with me. I demonstrated flexibility by allowing her to come; I knew she would be agitated if she had not gotten a gift for me, so I relented.
We all had our plans for the big excursion to Liverpool. Mine was that I would look around to see the automobiles on sale there; I was hopeful that I could see one of those made in Kentville, the MacKay Motor Car. It is made by the Nova Scotia Carriage Works, operating in Kentville since the eighteen sixties. Of course, Nelson Douglas would bring in a Model T for me in Caledonia, but I wanted to see the MacKay out of curiosity. There was not one in town. In any case, I understood that with the wife's obstinacy, we would be driving a rig for some time to come.
The drive went well, the roads passable. On the way through Milton, we stopped by David Whynot's place. He has a five-year-old mare for sale, which he says is the best mare ever shipped east from Ottawa. It is his belief that it is the finest mare in Nova Scotia today. I thought it would be company for my mare, and would be able to take its place should anything happen to our horse, but when he told me the price, we climbed back into our rig and drove on.
The youngest girl is such a lovely child. She cared little about where we were going, so long as, she said, she is with the family. To make her happy, we called in at the M. O. Thomas store in Milton, on our way through the village. She had seen in the Liverpool Advance and Western Counties Advocate that old Santa would be at the store this very day, and that they have a large toy department all fitted up; in fact, the store is billed as Santa Claus's headquarters. The girl enjoyed the store but would not sit long on Santa's knee, as his breath apparently smelled of pickles.
The oldest girl has taken an interest in clothing and wanted to go to Guy Dexter's, which has a line of fine undergarments in wool and silk. I had told her I wouldn't listen to such talk, yet she persisted, so I left her and the wife there. How a self-respecting businessman like Dexter can deal in such wares is beyond me. I had been astonished when the wife had chimed in from behind that she too would be going there. Why on earth, I asked her, would she want anything from there? Dexter's, according to the Advance, is for ladies who are particular about their underwear; who like dainty - no, I had told the wife, the normal mind reels.
The youngest girl and the boy came with me. They were intolerant of much time spent looking at automobiles, so we went to Arthur S. Hutchins' Pharmacy, where there were gifts for the wife, including tableware and perfumes, and I allowed the children to pick out a couple of things. The girl was excited about the books. There is also, the wife had reminded me, a large selection of chocolates, including the Royal Windsor Assortment, for $1.50 a box. I passed on that, as I have the gift for the wife all planned, about which I will tell you next week. She is bound to be thrilled.
The boy had expressed an interest in stopping by Jollymore's Liverpool Cooperage, as he wanted to see fish and apple barrels being made. I reminded him that we didn't have all day, though we could make a quick visit, but it was not long enough to satisfy him. He has, of late, been curious about the way things are put together. I have noticed the care with which he builds contraptions around the farm, and the wife and I both think it would be well to encourage this.
We picked up the others and went to D.C. Mulhall's, where, as the wife and girls had noted, they reputedly had one ton of confectionary spread on their Christmas counter. Clearly, much had been sold. More to the point, they had oranges, raisins, grapes, mixed nuts and one hundred nice turkeys, geese and chickens. I will be chopping the head off the youngest girl's turkey come Christmas, but it was still interesting to see what was being offered for the season in the big town stores.
The wife wanted to take lunch at the Misses Balcom and Arthur Restaurant, where it says that the joy of attending good eating is never clouded by embarrassment when paying your bill. And truly, the meal was economical. I had the venison stew, nearly as good as what the wife makes.
At four, we pointed the mare north to make the journey home. That, however, is a story for another day.