Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grandpa Lidbury

Remembrance Day has always been inextricably tied to memories of my Grandpa Lidbury for me.  He served in the British Army in World War I, was taken prisoner and spent much of the war in a prison of war camp.  Remembrance Day was the day before his birthday; and it was also Grandma's birthday.  Grandpa never spoke much about the war when we were children; he felt, very strongly, that children shouldn't know much about war.  He told us his prisoner number was 22, and a few small things like that.   He would tell of his friends who helped save his life.  There was a fellow prisoner from Belgium that he especially felt thankful for. When he felt that we were misbehaving he'd tell us one of the songs they sang in the army, "We know our manners, we spend our tanners, we are the Somerset boys."  He'd always explain that a tanner was a sixpence. However, as he aged and developed dementia, grandpa spent most of his last years reliving his time in prison camp.  (Grandpa is on the far right)

However, Grandpa was so much more than just an elderly man reliving his time in prison camp.  He grew up in England and didn't emigrate to Canada until 1922, well after the war was over.  He said that he'd been bossed around enough during the war and wanted to work where he could be his own boss.  He came to the  Bengough area (he had a sister who lived near there) and worked as a hired man for several years.  He became a Christian because the family where he worked read the Bible every morning at the breakfast table and were careful to read passages that awakened in him the need to know more.  He was baptized by my Grandfather Orr, in the winter, in a dugout.  They had cut a hole through the ice, and Granddad Orr had gone down with him and started to preach and apparently Grandpa Lidbury had turned to him and said, "Wilfred, just do it."

My two grandfathers were friends, and worked on threshing crews together.  They memorized scripture while working on the crews; driving the racks of sheaves to the threshing machine, waiting in line, etc.  Grandpa Lidbury was always very proud of the scripture that he had memorized.  He said that when he became a Christian all he knew was the names of the books "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", but there really weren't many passages in the New Testament that if you quoted a verse or two he couldn't complete the quotation.  Grandpa was a faithful Christian his entire life.

He didn't marry until he was in his 30's - and Grandma had grown up in Tennessee and had been living in Texas when they married.  It could have been a real recipe for disaster - two very, very different cultures, and they were married just in time for the start of the great depression.  For much of their early married life, Grandpa's mother lived with them, and, to put it kindly, she was a difficult woman to live with.  However, they loved each other dearly.  Grandpa would stay home from farming on Mondays because it was wash day and he felt that it was too much work for his wife to do on her own.  It involved hauling the water and heating it, as well as using the wash board, etc.  When Grandma died, it was like Grandpa had lost the light in his life, and he was truly inconsolable until he had a vision of her comforting him.  He told of that vision repeatedly after that.

Grandpa and Grandma farmed at Harptree and later at Stony Beach.  When they retired, they moved first to Moose Jaw and then later to Saskatoon.  I don't remember them living at Stony Beach but I do recall riding on the back of the grain truck with my siblings and cousins when Grandpa took one of the last loads to the elevator.  He told the elevator agent, "Just weigh it now, and then we'll lift the kids down."  I didn't know at the time why everyone thought that was so funny.

My grandpa lived his last years with my parents until his death.  I stayed with him for part of the last year that he lived alone before he moved in with them.  He loved the grandchildren in his later years and always seemed a little more coherent when they were around. He died nearly 19 years ago now, but writing these memories bring him back so clearly to my mind.


John Orr said...

Thanks so much for the memories May.

such good memories of Grandma and Grandpa. Visiting them in Moosejaw, the bowl of candies Grandma always had. playing in the park next to the house. the slide with the bump in the middle.
When they moved in next door trying to help Grandpa with his garden and yard work doing chinups together in the basement. cooking pumkin pies with grandma.

thanks again


May's Musings said...

Yes I remember all that. Because I'm working in Moose Jaw now, I've made a point of driving past their house there a few times. The playground is still there but the equipment is all different.

I plan to write about both Grandmas in the future.

Dale Lidbury said...
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