Eighty-four years ago today

It was 1927 — over eight decades ago. That was the year Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic non-stop direct from New York City to Paris. His was the first solo trans-Atlantic flight.

It was 1927 — over eight decades ago.

That was the year Charles Lindbergh flew The Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic non-stop direct from New York City to Paris. His was the first solo trans-Atlantic flight.

In Canada, 78 children were killed in a fire at the Laurier Palace in Montreal from asphyxiation or from the stampede of frantic patrons fleeing their way to safety.

In the United States, 1927 was the year of the Great Mississippi Flood which affected 700,000 people and was then coined as the greatest national disaster in U.S. history.

Canada’s Prime Minister was William Lyon Mackenzie King.

The cost of living was fairly inexpensive, but when many were without work, even a nickel could seem like a king’s ransom.

A hand-cranked washing machine cost $15.95. Electric washing machines sold for a hefty $79. There were few who could afford them. The Kodak Brownie camera was a mere $2.29 and the pop up toaster was just invented.

This was a time when families gathered around the radio to listen to the Grand Ole Opry or Rambling with Gambling.

That radio was $74.95, or about $1,000 in today’s economy.

The first trans-Atlantic telephone call was made from New York City to London and Ford began selling his Ford Model A starting at $460.

Pope Benedict XVI was born on April 16. Gina Lollobrigida was born July 4.

Although it wasn’t a major event which shook the world, my mother, Rose Marie Stewart was born April 21, 1927.

Mom was born to a poor Swedish family in a tuberculosis sanatorium near Fort Frances, Ont. Her mother had contracted the then-deadly disease and was admitted to the sanatorium to finish out her pregnancy and eventually her life.

It never happened quite that way. Mom was born in the sanatorium, but grandma Amanda, to everyone’s surprise did the impossible and survived the tuberculosis.

Mom, however, was a sickly, premature newborn who needed a lot of attention. As often happens in some ethnic communities, Signe, a Swedish friend of the family offered to care for mom while grandma recuperated. Mom was kept warm in a blanketed shoe box by the wood stove and fed warm milk dripped from Signe’s fingers. They bonded. Mom grew stronger by the day.

When it was time for grandma to come home from the sanatorium, it was decided mom would stay with the childless Signe and her husband John. In the blink of an eye mom went from being Rose Marie Stewart to Rose Marie Englund.

Eventually, the Englunds moved from Fort Frances to Trail and then to Castlegar seeking better employment opportunities, and I suspect a fresh start away from her birth family.

By all accounts mom was adored by her adoptive family, which eventually, and to the great surprise of my adoptive grandparents, included fraternal twin boys. I think my mother was 10 when they were born.

Toward the end of her days mom frequently and fondly reminisced about growing up in Castlegar. She loved it here, which is why I moved here in 1977. She had faith in the city, its leaders and residents. She worked at West’s and Eremenko’s and is well-remembered by many of Castlegar’s elders.

She grew into a strong, beautiful and capable woman and often credited her neighbours and the community for her accomplishments.

Yes, mom was a product of all good things that happened in 1927. I would like to think that one day someone will say the same thing about me and 1952.

Happy birthday mom. You are missed.

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