Posts Tagged With: New Lowell

June 25, 1944

Preamble:  I found a journal that Dad used to write in.  I guess it’s okay if I read and repeat now… I’m not sure where he began his stories.  I’ll just repeat from the first page.  These entries are now “history”.  Fascinating to read about his experiences and feelings.  Hope you enjoy.  I shall publish excerpts from his diary from time to time.


June 25, 1944

“Left Brantford at 12:00 arrived Toronto 1:30.  Picked up airman going to Christie Street who had been washed out as a pilot – had been in navy prior to this and survived one torpedoing.  Left for New Lowell 3:30 and got home via Barrie 5:30. Went to YPS  and played crocinole. Rather boring evening.  Sure wish I was back with Paula. ”


June 26, 1944

“Slept till noon.  Went to Creemore but saw very few people I knew.  Dropped in at Mumberson’s on the way back and got all the news of Bob who is away overseas.  Federation of Agriculture meeting here tonight – Dad is President.  Would have liked to go out but stayed and met everyone.  Very pleasant surprise today – letter from Paula.  Mailed an answer tonight.”

The Ultimate Board Game

Haven’t seen this game for years!


Categories: Dad's WWII Diary, Duff History | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Really – reel to reel

Bill and Paula Duff with Bill and June Malloff in Nassau.

The box was larger than a bread basket, but smaller than a television (the old ones!),  and it was very well bound with packing tape.

The label screamed at me. “Bill and Paula Duff”.  Egad.  This was a real treasure trove!  Here, in this box, were Mom and Dad’s memories.

When Jamie and I were investigating the things Mom stored in the pantry of their condo, we discovered two boxes of reel-to-reel film.  Of course, Mom had also preserved the projector, splicer, and old camera and these sat well organized right beside the movies.  We took the old movies out to examine what was there.  “New Lowell, Duffs, and Malloff Clan”, read the labels from one box of movies.  This was the series that was to be developed first.

Costco prints old reel-to-reel to DVD at a very good price and so… off they went.. and yesterday …. here they were.

Finally, the box was freed from tape and I carefully open the flap.  There it was – ONE DVD.  On the outside were images (59 in total) of every “scene” that was contained on the DVD.  There was also a label warning that some of the film had been over-exposed, some under-exposed, and some with dust, hair… and whatnot.  How would the movies look afterall?  I didn’t really care – I just knew I was holding fast to history.  And it was to be a history that revealed a world through the eyes of Mom and Dad.  What had they seen?   What had they deemed to be important enough to film?  Who were their friends?  How had they lived?  All these questions would be answered – presently.

I slid the DVD into the player, with the help of my 9 year old I might add, and suddenly there they were – Mom and Dad in 59 scenes.  “Which scene would you like to choose?”,  opted the play menu.  I chose “Play from the beginning”.

Fantastic. Costco had added music – their music – the music of the 40s and 50s.

Fantastic.  Mom and Dad were dancing.  It was a party.  Mom and Dad were serving turkey dinner to guests.  Mom was showing off her beautiful new gown to the camera.  Dad was shoveling snow.  Don Duff was mowing his lawn.  Lou Duff was pushing her daughter Nancy on the swing.  The animals in the zoo were racing around.  The flamingos in Nassau were nibbling at their lunch.  The lighthouses in PEI appeared far below from the plane where Dad had obviously flown over.  The Hepplestons and Duffs were together – eating – laughing.  There was a lot of laughter.  It seemed everyone was laughing.  I think I saw Grandma and Grandpa Malloff – but I couldn’t be sure as I had never met them.  And there was the house that Dad built for Mom and Dad in New Lowell.


It was rich.

I was watching history that no one else at that moment had access to.

I must figure out how to copy this history to embed it into this blog.

I must figure out how to copy the DVD to offer these special images to my cousins.

It is funny how video can transcend time.  I am so blessed to have known my parents as adults.  I am so curious now to know about my parents as a young couple.  I am so blessed to have just a little insight into the young Bill and Paula through reel-to-reel.

Categories: Duff History, Family and Friends, Life After Dad, New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Mrs. Reynolds’ Class

The New Lowell Public School was a classic.  It was made from red-brick, had two wood-burning stoves which needed were used to heat the building in the fall and winter and, most importantly, it was where “Mrs. Reynolds” taught.

Mrs. Reynolds looked just like a Hollywood star and it was my intention when I was young, to marry her.  I think it may have been every boy’s intention in that school.   She was gorgeous.  So, we didn’t skip school.

The school itself had two rooms; in one room were the children attending grades 1 – 8 and in the other were the seniors who were in grades 8 – 12.  There were about 25 – 30 students in each class, which made our school quite large at a grand total of 60 students.  One teacher was assigned to each room and she taught all subjects to all grades.  I guess that must have been a challenge when I think back on it now.  My favorite subject was geography – this bode well for me when I traveled overseas during WWII.  A lot of guys had no idea where they were headed – so I became the “expert” of sorts.  Mrs. Reynolds, in addition to being gorgeous you see, was also a good geography teacher.

I was a good student and, in those days, good students were “honoured” by being able to sit in the seats next to the stove.  Maybe that was the best motivator of all?

During recess we’d play, “Crack the Whip”.  We’d all line up and hold hands at the top of a hill and then run down the hill.  One person would plant his/her feet and the rest would, well, crack like a whip.  We’d of course fall down and roll and laugh… and sometimes cry.

The boys were in charge of loading the stove at the school.  Cliff Martin, who lived across the road from the school, would supply the wood to us.  I suppose it was the School Board that had to purchase the wood – seems a bit odd today that a School Board would purchase wood from a farmer, but that’s what you did in those days.  The wood was cut and delivered and the boys would stack the wood and keep the fire going.

The girls, well, the provided us with a good supply of pigtails.  You see there was a purpose for pigtails in those days – they were meant to be dipped in ink-wells.  I did my share of dipping – oh boy they’d get mad.  But it was all in good fun – and you’d really only dip the pigtail of the girl you liked the most.

I did end up graduating from grade 12 and had to eventually say good-bye to Mrs. Reynolds.  I guess that was a good thing since it afforded me the opportunity to say “hello” to the future Mrs. Duff – my beloved Paula.

Categories: Duff History, New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peas Sir – I Want Some More!

I have become a fan of technology – somewhat.

I was sitting in my livingroom yesterday watching pictures that had been uploaded to my digital picture frame when I realized that a whole new series of old photos had been added.  My daughter bought me a photo frame that can receive new images through email and so I often get new photos – but not so often do I get the old ones.  These images, as it turned out, had been scanned by Mary Anne and Megan.  They were images I hadn’t seen for years.

The one that I was most surprised with was the photo I’ve inserted into this post.  I must have been 9 or 10 at the time.  The older gentleman standing with me was my Grandfather William Taylor (my Mom’s Dad).

Grandpa Taylor lived with Grandma (Jacobina Roy) in Scone, Scotland.  He’d come and visit my Mom, Dad, sister Peg, and I every once in a while.  This particular photo was taken when he came during the pea harvest.

My daughter, Stacey, was surprised that we grew peas and the resulting conversation is the material for this post.

During the depression, you see, you’d grow anything you could sell.  My father grew 25 acres of peas.  They were harvested in the fall.  You had to catch them at the right time. Farming peas was hard work as you had to walk along side the horses who pulled the mower that cut the pea plants.  Once they were cut, you would pick up the plants and put them in piles or heaps (called coils) with a hay fork. The neighbours would then come and up pick up the coils.  The peas would dry and then we’d thrash the plants to separate the peas.  Stacey asked me how much we’d pay the neighbours.  I chuckled and said, “nothing”.  We were part of a community and farmers would help each other – their pay was taken in the form of an IOU – when they needed help you were there.

We sold the peas to McCausland in Stayner who then sold them to a canning company.

I don’t remember much more about that “peas”ful experience (couldn’t resist that pun), but I do know that we worked hard and felt a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  

Categories: New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Half-Way House

The Duff family has always taken care of its own.  Some families will give each other the shirt of their back… my family gave away half of our family home.

Aunt Lizzie was my Dad’s sister.  We all lived in New Lowell growing up.  The Duff’s farmed much of the land there and as you know, my Dad owned the general store and operated the post office.  Paula, when she moved there, became the nurse that did home visits.  (She even delivered a set of twins once!)

In any case, Aunt Lizzie needed a home – I don’t remember why or the circumstances surrounding the house, but I remember she needed a house.  We had a house, we being my Mom, Dad, sister Peg, and myself.

The best thing to do, it seemed was to chop the house in half and give it to her.

And that’s exactly what happened.

My Dad literally sawed the house in half.  Build a foundation for Aunt Lizzie’s new half and moved the house down the road.  It took 10 horses to draw the house to its new location down the street- but it ended up getting there.  We patched up the open ends of both houses and that was that.

I guess you could say that was the first half-way house that ever was in New Lowell.

Categories: New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

George Duff’s Great Adventure

George Duff was my father.  He lived in New Lowell for the best part of his life and became quite a cornerstone of that community.  The George Duff Memorial Legion was named to honour his memory and recognize his contributions to both his country (he fought in World War I ) and his community.

We were quite close, my Dad and I, but Dad never really understood that I flew planes.  For some reason it had never really made a connection.  I think my flying remained something of “theory” to him…. until the time I picked him up at the Edmonton Airport – by plane.

I had been posted to Cold Lake, Alberta to work in air traffic control.  Since it was a posting with the Air Force, we lived in PMQs.  Dad had never been to Cold Lake before and so when I invited him to visit Paula, Jamie, the twins, and I, he agreed. He was flying in from Toronto via Air Canada and we were t o meet him at the airport in Edmonton.

I was president of the Cold Lake Flying Club at the time and so I was able to arrange to pilot a 152 myself to fly to Edmonton.  I took my son, Jamie, with me.  He must have been no more than 8 or 9.  In those days, one used headsets to talk to the air traffic control tower.  As we approached Ed airport I put on the headsets so I could negotiate our landing.   Jamie, on the other hand, couldn’t hear what I was saying.  I asked the tower for landing instructions.  I was #2 behind my Dad’s Air Canada flight which was landing in 10 minutes.  I told the tower I was over the run-way and I could take a “straight in” and land  in 5 minutes.  The tower cleared me provided I could clear the active run-way in 5 minutes. As soon as I got clearance, I pulled full flap down and power off.  Naturally, the airplane nose-dived and Jamie, not knowing what the heck was happening,  hung on for dear life as the plane rapidly descended.   I think the marks of his fingerprints must still be in the plane!

We were clear in 5 minutes and told the tower – they were relieved.

We parked the plane and went into the terminal to meet Dad.  We saw the passengers get off the Air Canada flight and spotted Dad quickly in the crowd.  We picked up his suitcase off the carousal and he turned and headed to leave for the  car park – assuming that we had driven to get him.

I said, “No, Dad, we’re parked the other way.”

Dad look confused.   He said, “There are only airplanes out there.”

I said, “That’s how we are getting back to Cold Lake.”

Dad again, looking confused, said, “Okay.  I see the planes, but where is the pilot?”

“I’m the pilot, Dad.”

“Can you fly one of these things?”

Of course, by this time I had logged over 2, 000 flying hours.  I replied to my Dad, “I think I can.”  This didn’t appear to reassure him.

So we boarded the plane and he said, “Its raining a bit – can you fly in the rain?

“Yes”, I replied.  “It’s raining here, Dad, but the sun is shing in Cold Lake”.

He inquired,  “How do you know?”

“Dad, when I filed the flight plan back in Cold Lake, I had to find out the weather.”

He seemed to be getting that maybe I knew what I was doing and the “theory” of me flying was quickly turning to “reality”.

We put Dad in the back seat.  Jamie was in the right seat.  I had never flown from the right seat before and I didn’t want to start then. About 1/2 way there he remarked that I only had one engine.  He was also quite concerned that it has been raining and there were puddles all over.   ” What if the engine stops?”, Dad inquired again with concern.

“You look for a dry spot and try to land there.” I assured him.

The rest of the flight seemed to settle him and he almost appeared to enjoy the flight.  I think he may have actually been impressed.  Imagine, a farm-boy from New Lowell flying to Cold Lake!  I guess he wasn’t too impressed, though,  when I let Jamie take over and fly the plane for a while.

When we approached Cold Lake, I put on the headsets and called the tower  to let them know we were arriving. It was rather late in the day – there were no airplanes flying.  There was no answer from the tower.  I called them again.  There was no answer.  I thought, what the heck is going on?  I knew the emergency procedure for no radio was to circle over the oil tank.  This maneuver must have scared the pants off my Dad  since he was looking out the back seat at the wing as it rose when the plane tilted as we circled the oil tank.   Finally, the controller finally looked out the window and saw us, gave us quick permission to land, which we prepared to do.

Later, we discovered later that the controller and his assistant had been playing chess and had the radio turned down low so they could concentrate.

Dad had some great tales to tell when he got home to New Lowell about his great adventure in the sky.

Categories: Duff History, New Lowell | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freezing Cold in New Lowell … Life at the General Store

Now, Life's A Slice

This is the former General Store where I worked with my Dad, George Duff. It was also the Post Office.

After I came home from Yorkton and my bride to be, I helped my Dad who ran the New Lowell General Store.  Dad and I became partners in the business.  My share of the partnership was paid by building the cold storage locker-room and cold-storage boxes  used to keep frozen goods.  At that time, you see, very few people,  well, no one, had freezers.  They just weren’t available.  So they had to do something different.  They rented my locker boxes from the Duff store.  (Jack Lockhart and I built them).    We had to keep a list of these locker boxes because we only built so many and the boxes were quite popular.

The cold storage room itself was a large room that housed two conventional freezers.   I had gone down to Oakville with one of Don Duff’s trucks to pick up the freezing units.

The boxes were made out of wood and lined with  insulation came from Portugal in sheets.  We had to cut the sheets to fit the box.  The cork came from cork trees.

Everyone had their own lock and key for their box and the cold storage too.  The lock was needed  to cut down on the vandalism.  People stole each others’ food on occassion.

We also butchered and wrapped quarters of beef.   Not only did we well the meat, we also sold the hides.   We made $10.00 per hide – there must have been worth about a dollar per pound.  The hides, we took to Barrie to Hayden’s.

My Dad, George Duff was also the Post Master for New Lowell and operated the post office out of the General Store.  His job was to sell stamps and send parcels.  He quite a stamp collection as he had been saving the stamps from the letter I sent him from overseas.

Business at that time was good.   I was still patiently, well sort of patiently, waiting for Paula to graduate.

Categories: New Lowell | Tags: | 7 Comments

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