(403) 358-9848 4912 – 50th Street · Alix · Alberta

Eve Keates

Eve Keates Q. When did you live in Alix or surrounding Area?

A. I was born at Tanglefoot Lake farm, September 1929, and the doctor didn't even get there in time, I was in such a hurry. He had to hitch up his horsees to come all the way from Alix to Tanglefoot Lake which is three and a half miles away. I was in a rush; I wanted to know what was going on in the outside world.

(And you found out, and cried?) [Laughs] Probably.

Q. Alright, do you have any information on any businesses that were memorable, or that helped to shape the community, particularly ones that are no longer present?

A. Well one particular one would be the community store. It was run by I believe Charlie Wong, he was really a dear man - he alwasy gave us a candy when we went in there. And I believe they lived upstairs, they were here for many years, and my dad explained that he was an oriental person, and that they were very nice people, so we were never afraid because they were a different color, and so he had quite an accent too. But we always looked forward to coming because we knew he, or his brother, or whoever would give us a nice delicious jelly bean or something. (And I hear that his son Eddy Wong also ran a grcery store later on?) I think that Charlie was the father and that eddy was here later on, and we were really brought up to appreciate people from another country and my dad had traveled a lot in the world and we were never prejudiced at all. I just loved when the native people would come to our farm; it was a very happy association. And I think with Edward and Walter Parlby, when they came, they were friendly with the native people too because I don't think they or any of the British people would have survived without the knowledge of the local native people. It wasn't the cowboy and Indian thing that you saw or heard about on the radio later on!

Q. Any other businesses?

A. The other one would of course be the post office, of course when I was growing up we used to have pen pals, I had thirteen at one time, from people all over Canada. It was so neat to get letters, so the post office was a very important part of my social life, we didn't get to town. Maybe if we were lucky we'd get here maybe on a Saturday afternoon if the weather was nice. Mother would hitch up our horses and we would come in a vehicle called a democrat, it had great big iron wheels. But you didn't do that in the winter time; some of our neighbors had cars later on and they would bring us groceries or mail, but you prepared for the winter by having things I your basement like having cabbages stored, and potatoes and carrots and meat would be frozen it was out in another building. So we never starved, we always had food on the table, whether the weather was bad or not.

Q. Can you think of any interesting events that were formative for the community, a noteworthy part of people's lives, or just odd and amusing?

A. I think probably the most interesting thing, and we looked forward to it all year round, was the annual fair. Because at that point, they had not only a big building for handicraft work, but they had sheds and cattle and they had sheep, and they had a racetrack and that was great fun because people would enter the horseraces and I know I fell in love with a horse, he happened to win, and I said'oh dad I love that horse!' and he said 'oh no, no, we can't have that horse he's too expensive' but anyway he ended up buying it and I rode it for years-Tony- Irode Tony for years. He was a cattle horse and I rode him to school and it was so exciting just to think I had a horse that could go that fast, because up until then Ihad a fat little pony whose legs stuck out like so. So that horse was a way to get around nice, but my brother got a bicycle. My grandmother thought that boys should have bicycles, so she bought my brother a bicycle, and I was very hurt that I didn't get one too, but later on when he grew out of it then I rode this boy's bicycle which was nice. But as far as liking my transportation, it was the horse that I loved. My mother was a saint; she used to ride a lot. When it came to high school in Alix, it was a little difficult, because it was hard on the horse, it had to be tied up outside. They had a horse barn once but I don't remember having a horse barn. At Hickling School, we always had a horse barn and we had hay in it and our horses were properly cared for. I think in the end I ended up hitching a ride with neighbors to come to high school. But it wasn't easy at all, because it was a very dusty, dirty road and very rutty and not what we've got now. Now you could coast from that high hill all the way into Alix. We were somewhat grubby by the time we got to Alix. I had to sit down with all the city kids and do our studies. So there wasn't much time in life but to do your studies and farm chores and sleep and eat and come back to school. I went here for my high school and Hickling School for my junior years. When I look at all these interesting pictures on the wall it makes me think of that brick school-it was a four room brick school - it was like going into a city. I was scared out of my life when I went into that school. And now it's much bigger. I think under this new school is part of the old school. ·But Hickling School was just a one room, looked very much like [points to picture of the lion's Den.] We had grade nine through twelve in one room, so the poor teacher had to teach whoever and whatever turned up. And at Hickling School, there was only one teacher, whether she had nineteen kids or two. It's just that the teachers had a lot more responsibility than any other old field now; it was so different. But I learned to read and write and I can thank my parents for being educated so they helped me a lot. It would be a lot harder for somebody who didn't have educated parents, unless they had a lot of kids in the family and they helped each other. We are lucky, lucky now.

Q. Are there any other particular events that ...

A. Well that was the main thing because we grew beautiful flower gardens and beautiful vegetables and I rarely got to come to church because we had no transportation, unless I came with [Adam Parlby's] great grandparents, or Cormack's lived up the road from us, so I did get to the Anglican Church sometimes, but not every week. I really enjoyed, of course, any contact with people and our relatives. We were lucky to have so many relatives around so we had social times like lunches or tea time. We never had supper time because we'd be going home in the dark. Our social life sort of circulated around tea and then when it was summer time we had a really nice swimming beach on Tanglefoot Lake so everybody would come over and we'd have wiener roasts and things. So we did have a social life - mainly with the same people, but that was fine. And so many of them had connections either blood connections, of people north of Alix here, with the Marryat's and Parlby's, and there's the Cormack's, who weren't blood relatives but they were very good friends. I was sick a lot with asthma; she used to tutor me so I wouldn't get behind in school. And I liked that because I would go over. .. Actually! It was Barbara Cormack's dad that tutored me and they lived on the farm with Cormack's in a separate house and I always got to have tea time with them. They made special cookies for me. Learning was a great experience, and later on after high school I went to Olds College for two years and took Home Economics. In those days you were supposed to grow up, get some education, and then you'd have to ... At Olds they taught Home Economics to the girls and Agriculture to the boys, with the exception of one girl who refused and took Agriculture - that wasn't usual - and so we were supposed to grow up and get married and have children and be good mommies and good wives. I decided instead of doing that, I'd go travel. I remember somebody saying 'what in the earth do you want to do that for?!' and I said 'Well, my dad traveled a lot and he told me a lot of stories about the world, and I want to go and see it.' So that's why my kids were born when I was much older than most of my friends.

Q. Do you have any uncommon knowledge about the lives of important community members that you would like to share -things that might not have been recorded, or things not in the history books, something that you just don't want to see lost?

A. Well I was always impressed with how we would go down to Maniden where Irene and Walter lived for many years and Aunty Irene would take us out - Mom was a great gardener too because she lived with Irene for many years - she'd go out and we'd go out exploring in her beautiful, beautiful flower beds and she would explain one thing that stuck in my mind which was in drought years, because they were beside the creek, she would get cans, like tomato cans, the bigger the better, and make holes in the bottom and set them beside a plant, particularly beside a tomato plant or something you w~nt to grow, and fill it full of water from the creek. I thought 'well that is the neatest thing.' You know? They didn't have a pump or anything but she could keep all of her special plants watered, just with tin cans and reuse them every year, so I did that when I moved back to the farm years and years later, and my mother did too. I thought that was a very cheap irrigation project. So that's one thing, and she used to show us ... we made our own butter too because most everybody had their own cows and milked them ... There were some really nice saddle horses in the country but the people I knew who had horses that were horses you could ride to school or hitch up and rake in the hay, or multipurpose horses. There was one family that came to Hickling School - they had four kids and very little money- and they had four kids on the horse! There was one slipping off the rear end because they went into a trot and some kid bounced off the back! But there were all sorts of modes of transport, you know? You could use your feet, but when you're small, the three and a half miles to Alix ... that was hard. That was hard even on a bike because there were very big hills on that road. It was okay coming to school, when I drive it now I think 'oh they're so lucky you could get to the town on that hill past Parlby turnoff there and you could coast all the way into town.' It wasn't that way before. But then it was great progress when you think about when Walter and Edward came where there no trails even to Lacombe. One of our history books has a copy of the road to Lacombe, and I know there was a huge hill... I was riding in the back of [Adam Parlby's] grandparents' car, and the ruts on the roads were just fantastic. I'd always get carsick [and say] "mommy I have to get out." But it was surprising we never felt lonely because we had our pet animals and we had lots of chores - we always had chores - and I don't remember complaining about it at all. In fact, I made a deal with my mother: I would do her chores if she'd do my work in the house so I could be outside. And we always had dogs; we had multipurpose dogs that were good at chasing cattle and were also pets too. Everything was multipurpose, you know? You didn't waste money. My grandmother lived on Tanglefoot Lake, it was the house where [Zach BrooksPoloway] lives now, it was hauled into town, and when she was around my uncle lived with her and they had a car so we got out more. But she wasn't out there very long, but if you don't go anywhere, actually, you don't know that you're missing much because we had a good social life with our British friends and relatives, and local friends that were around. I don't remember feeling under privileged. In fact, we had one family come from Edmonton and their little girl cried and cried, "I want to come and live with you, we'd have so much fun!" My parents were so embarrassed. She had a very good life in Edmonton, but not all the puppies to play with and things that we had.

Q. Are there any important members of the community whose actions you feel went unrecognized or under recognized?

A. I think that Alix actually has been very good about recognizing people that have done extra work in the community. At the moment I can't think of anybody that has gone unrecognized over the years. I haven't lived here all my life, I was away for a number of years but I remember coming back to the 1967 centennial. That was a splendid affair, I lived in olds and I brought the children back. One thing I do remember that you remember, (which you always remember the different things) ,but they had built a stage at centennial park, it was opened for that special event I believe and they had the stage and wooden benches, the men had slaved over, in the middle of the festivities., the bench fell apart. [laughs] All the ladies sitting in the front row, their feet went up in the air. Crash! Went the bench. The guys were so embarrassed. I wonder if anybody else remembers that, but it's stuck in my head. And I brought my two small children to this event and they thought it was hilarious.