Minnie Rose Lovegreen nee Enefer

England, 1880s

“My father was a medium-sized man with white hair and a little mustache….my stepmother was a big robust woman, pretty near 6 feet, really broad and husky….my own mother died when I was 4….They was a musical family on that side. My brothers all played….I played the piano and I also sang….But we didn’t have a piano in our home so I picked it up as I went along….Singing was one of my things because if I couldn’t remember a piece of poetry I’d put a tune to it and then I could remember it. Then I got so I’d translate it into a story you know. That was all because I wasn’t going to school. I had to use my head for something….

My father farmed over 200 acres….We were wheat farmers….about 14 cows….my job to churn the butter….and 9 big workhorses….Our house was brick with a thatched roof….upstairs we had beds where 2 or 3 girls got into 1 bed….

I had to stay out there and wash the diapers in that barrel….when it was icy they froze over you know….but it didn’t matter how cold it was….That was my job…..

(She was 8th of 19 children.) I had to try and help take care of all of them….and keep the babies entertained ….so that was one thing I wanted to leave home for….I couldn’t handle them all….

Things always come into my head for doin’ things at the right time….One day my brother Fred said how was I getting along and I said not very good….I didn’t want to be at home any longer….I wondered if he would write to Mrs. Shelton (in a nearby town) and ask if she would write home to my stepmother and ask for me….Then….well, maybe Stepmother and Father would let me go. I was 11 then. (She never lived at home again.)

I got a little lonely that first week (as lady’s maid)….But something happened. I had to eat my meals in a little tiny pantry….every morning the little birds would come and set on my windowsill. So I’d hoist the window up and put a few crumbs out there….They come every morning when I was eating, those little birds did, and ate breakfast with me….those little birds kept me company….

Canada, 1912

When we came to Montreal….we saw a big iceberg sticking up….like a three-cornered sheet, point down, and then sticking two points out into the air. So huge you can’t imagine. And every time the water splashed up against the iceberg, seems like it would freeze more and more and more. We thought sure the boat would hit the iceberg, but it didn’t. They managed to steer the boat away….

Coming across the country I was all looking ahead, my mind was all looking ahead….

Vancouver, British Columbia

It wasn’t hard to get a job. You told them you was just fresh out from England, you’d be willing to do anything they wanted….And I wasn’t particular about what I did….I’d have their baby out there in the buggy and while I was watching the baby I’d stack the wood….

Bainbridge Island, Washington, 1920

I’d always wanted to be either a dairyman’s wife or a breadman’s wife or something that meant something, that they had to produce, so I thought I’d go and see this dairy man who was working with the farm there. And he liked me right away, and I kind of liked him but I wasn’t quite sure….He could dance quite well….We danced the Swedish polka and the Schottische and some waltzes….He wasn’t much taller than me and people wondered where that little couple came from all of a sudden….In a year or so we got married….And then, I had a baby route (every day)….about 6 babies….I would go out in the evening and wait table wherever they was having a dinner party. If I didn’t wait table I cooked the dinner. Sometimes the work lasted till 1 o’clock in the morning….And they had no electricity….We both took hard jobs when we thought we could make a go of it….My husband had been working at that dairy for 11 years….He left Denmark when he was 13 years old….He got on one of the ships as a stoker you know, building the fires….His father had left when he was a little boy and the mother raised the 7 children by herself.

We lived in a house…with six steps up and on each step he had a little tub of flowers….geraniums and sweet alyssum and they lit that whole little place up….it was really a wonderful life being right by the water (Puget Sound)….Then we always had chickens. And then we sold eggs and people would like our eggs very much….Then we decided to have our own dairy farm….we went on with 6 cows until we didn’t have enough milk….because we kept getting new customers. They told each other all along what wonderful milk we had. So we had to buy more cows and more cows….And then the next trouble we had, the well went dry….then someone came and offered us a 96-acre farm where there was plenty of water….we built a new barn and a milk room and fixed the water situation so that we could put down into the crick….Our sons, John and Junior, helped feed the calves and whatever we had….they were proud to be in the dairy….we sold a quart of milk with a half a pint of cream on it for 10 cents….

Bainbridge Island, Washington, 1955

One day in September in 1955 I was finishing my lunch and the phone rang and it was Art Linkletter….He said, ‘The old woman who lived in a shoe, what did she feed her children on?’ I said, ‘She gave them some broth without any bread.’ He said, ‘Good. You have earned $55. That was a start, as my husband and sons said I should go to England and see my sisters whom I had not seen in 55 years….So they….put me on a plane….It was wonderful to go bashin’ around in a strange country all alone, ‘specially through London….(My sisters) didn’t see how I could have come all that way and found the place and everything, and grown up like that, all this time, see, 55 years….we visited the old farm where we used to live….and they had homemade bread coming out of the big brick oven….So it was much the same.

I got back home (to Bainbridge Island) about 9 o’clock in the morning….But there was one little bag I had in the taxi when I got out to go and run for the ferry. Then someone came running up to the ferry with a little bag for me. And I just thought, well, what a wonderful country this was….”

Extract from "Far as I can remember; Minnie Rose Lovgreen's life story", courtesy of Nancy Rekow.

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