Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy 80th Orma

Just after Christmas, I challenged the missus to write a list of ten people in her life who have influenced her positively and helped create happy memories.  Of course, I had already made my list (and I was secretly wanting to see if I made her list).

Well one of the people on my list just celebrated an 80th birthday this past week, and I want to share with you why Orma made my top ten list.

photo courtesy Tom North
Actually she and her husband, Don, shared this spot, because you really can't name one without the other.  They are just one of those teams you can't separate.

From what I can see on Facebook, and hear from relatives, quite an occasion was celebrated in the local community for Orma.  This is one of the times I wished I lived a little closer.

You see, this is a couple that everyone knows and loves.  Orma is probably best known for her cooking skills and Don for his unfailing sense of humour.

Orma Margaret Audrey Francis Crisp was born Jan 17th, 1931 to Frank and Margaret Crisp, the youngest of five children.

I went to my family tree maker file to get information on Don and Orma (Don is my second cousin) and found I had very little data.  I'll have to rectify that situation.  I was able to locate Don and Orma's wedding picture, but have no idea of the date.  I know they celebrated their 50th anniversary some time in the last ten years, so I would put the wedding picture circa 1950-1955.

photo courtesy Macil Moore
And here is the 50th anniversary photo, scanned from
another relative's photo album.  Again unfortunately no date was included.

I love this next photo of Don.  Too many of his photos, he is on his best behaviour, not so in this case.  The jolly grin you see here is the real Don.  The dog which is no longer with us, was one of Don's projects.  Through a lot of patience and treats, he was able to have her say "Or-ma".  And it was a very believable sound. The 'Or' kind of from the back of  her throat and 'ma', just as she closed her lips.

 This next photo is just one of those candid shots that captures the couple's character so well.  Don has obviously just made some foolish remark, judging by the silly grin on his face, and Orma is doing her silent, shaking laughter over her spouse's silliness.

But I've got the horse way ahead of the cart.  I wanted to tell you why they were such a positive influence in my life.

After they were married, Don and Orma farmed on the Quinn farm located on the east shore of Whitestone lake for several years.  Then the old Marshall Dobbs farm came up for sale, south of the village on the Farley Sideroad.  This was about the era I start to recall.  Actually I can remember going with Dad to visit Marshall Dobbs just prior to his death (a farming accident, involving a runaway team of horses, I believe).  What my early recollection recalls is a roll of Maple Leaf, wax-covered bologna sitting on his kitchen table.  It is funny the way our early memories are so distinct and selective.

I think I do recall visiting Don and Orma at their old farm, but it was this new residence that imprints itself on my mind.

We did not have a television in our house, but Don and Orma did.  I'm not sure why we were allowed to watch TV at their house, when the devil's box was not allowed in ours, but anyway, we did.  On occasion our family would drop in for a visit on Saturday or Sunday night.  I'd politely listen to the adult conversation for a few minutes and then quietly ask Orma if I could watch TV.  Then I would slip into their living room, turn on the old black and white and watch what was left of Bugs Bunny or Walt Disney.

I also loved to visit their place in the winter, when their calves started to arrive.  Don always maintained a sturdy herd of Hereford cross beef cows.  Their barn was always clean, and the new calves healthy, lively and everyone of them pets.  Don and Orma loved their animals, and spent the time with them to make them quiet and docile.

As soon as I was strong enough to lift a bale of hay, Don started to hire me to help each summer in haying season. It was hard work, but Don paid well, he was always pleasant, humourous and understanding, and meals were part of the deal.

Did I mention that meals were part of the deal?  Orma was just as busy as the rest of us in the field and hay-mow.  She drove the trucks and loaded bales on to the elevator.  She would leave the last of the load and head to the house, while the rest of us finished up.  I'm not sure how she did it, but in fifteen minutes, a feast would appear on the table.  She obviously spent a lot of time the night before, and early in the morning, prior to the dew's departure, cooking and baking.  If we were working at another farm, then the picnic basket would arrive heaped with all manner of goodies, enough to see us through a long hot day in the hay field.

When our family got invited for a weekend evening meal, things got even better.  It was always a meat, potatoes and two or three vegetable meal.  There was always pickles, usually refrigerator coleslaw, cheese ......... and desert.  Oh the deserts!  Orma, undisputably, made the best pies in the district, probably the whole county and possibly even the province.

After an evening of pleasant conversation (and some TV in my case), Orma would always ask if anyone wanted coffee.  I do not recall an incident where that was ever refused. A second meal would magically appear. Orma's cookies were unparalleled and her butter tarts, sheer ambrosia. And that would suffice for a week or two.

It wouldn't be long though, until I would casually suggest to Mom and Dad that we should go visit Don and Orma again.  And you know, it was never a hard job convincing them either.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

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