Clarke recalls Christmas and a ’38 Chevrolet

Dave Clarke remembers his mother making dozens and dozens of chocolates for Christmas when he grew up in southwestern Manitoba.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Dave Clarke has many long-lasting memories of Christmas as a child in a family of two children.
His mother’s cooking and baking remains his most memorable part of Christmas as a young boy who grew up on a dairy farm in Hartney, Man.
“She always started baking in November and she made Christmas cake and dozens and dozens of homemade chocolates,” say Clarke, 82, a resident of Pleasantview Lodge in High Prairie.
More favourite food was on the menu for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day at his grandparents’ place in Brandon, about 60-70 miles away, he recalls.
“We usually went to visit grandparents if the weather was good,” says Clarke, the eldest of two sons in the family.
“We owned a 1938 Chevy.
“Dad’s top speed was 57 miles per hour.”
Grandma’s cooking was more than delicious. Clarke loved his grandma’s steam pudding and Christmas cake.
“We also had Japanese oranges you could help yourself to,” Clarke says.
But the young family couldn’t stay very long.
“We had be back home to milk cows,” Clarke says.
Christmas Day was also when the two brothers opened gifts.
“Sometimes they were handmade like a sleigh,” Clarke says.
“We usually opened gifts after breakfast.
“Dad had to feed the cattle and when he came back in, we’d open gifts.”
They also had a stocking filled with an orange, candy and a candy cane.
After opening gifts, the family went to the Christmas Day church service that started at 10:30 or 11 a.m.
Sunday school classes presented a Christmas program with about 20-25 children, he recalls.
“The children sang Christmas carols and we had a nativity scene,” Clarke says.
“We cut the sermon out for that day.”
A special seasonal flower was another memory he has.
“My mother had a Christmas cactus for many years,” Clarke says.
“Sometimes it would bloom before Christmas and sometimes after Christmas.”
He went to school in a little red brick schoolhouse in his early years.
“There was always a Christmas concert and Santa Claus was always there,” Clarke says.
Just before everyone returned home the students and other children received a bag of delicious goodies.
“It probably had chocolate or two in it and a Japanese orange,” Clarke says.
The orange was a special treat.
“They were popular at Christmas and probably the only time of the year you saw them.”

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