Love Letters and Old Diaries – Part 3

Accounting and Autograph Books

   Going through my father Almon Reimer's papers after he passed away on December 24, 2017, I came upon many diaries, accounting books, and old papers of interest.

   The diaries in which my father wrote were small books with a section in the back for keeping track of accounting. The 1939 diary states, “Overtime – Received $1.61. Paid to father $1.00.”  Dad was not allowed to keep all the money he earned, right until he got married. In August 1944, Almon was paying $19.75 a month for room and board, $1.55 for income tax, $12.41 to the Red Cross (because of the war), and $1.09 for unemployment insurance. His wages were $75.00, so he had a balance of $40.20. At one point in his youth, Almon's father (John C. Reimer) paid him for going on time to work, for going to church and for not smoking. Oh, the challenges of youth!

   Going ahead to Almon's accounting book for December 1956, his wages were $219.70. He managed to house, feed and clothe our family of four children, give to missions, pay for Blue Cross, and even buy some gifts. Family Allowance at that time was $22.00 a month for four children. There was no car in our household at that time yet. Entertainment stretched to The Country Guide magazine – a four-year subscription for $1.00.

   I also found a brown, tattered envelope labeled “Receipts from building Almon Reimer's house on Town Line Road.”  That road is presently called Loewen Boulevard. The house still stands there next to Birch Auto. A bill from C.T. Loewen & Sons says that Dad bought 175 bags of cement at 95 cents a bag on January 30, 1951. This cement was used to build the basement of the one-and-a-half-story house. Fast Brothers of Giroux charged $25.00 for digging the basement on May 20, 1951. On May 21, Almon paid A.D. Kroeker $45.00 for gravel. The house became Dad's ongoing project for years, as he paid for everything in cash. Mom and Dad moved the family into the warm, coal-heated house before Christmas in 1951.

   My mother Annie's family (Sawatzkys) had not kept as many records as my father's family had, but I did come upon one fascinating bit of history. My mother's uncle, F.W. Sawatzky, went to Poland in the 1970’s to find out about our family’s background. He found that the Sawatzkys are descended from West Prussian Polish nobility. The line was traced back to Johannes Zauacky, a Polish nobleman who lived in 1620. This name had changed to Sawatzky by 1776.

   My maternal great-grandmother was Anna Sawatzky, fondly called “Gousie” by the grandchildren. I found her auction sale advertisement for her move from Altona. It showed what kind of items were necessary to run a poor old woman's household at that time. The sale was scheduled for Friday, October 6, in the 1940's. She was selling items such as three barrels, one dishpan, one bench, stovepipes and two axes.

   For Christmas in 1937 my mother got an autograph book. As was popular at the time, Annie passed this little red, velvety booklet among her friends and relatives to give them opportunity to write little verses and wishes for her. Annie herself wrote a verse in the beginning of her book: “Go little autograph far and near, To all the friends I love so dear, And fit each one to write a page, That I may read in my old age.” Her school chum Anna Regehr wrote: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest, Till the good becomes the better, And the better becomes the best.” Another friend wrote: “If you see a cat climb up a tree, Pull her tail and think of me.”

   I feel blessed to have found these historical facts and memories from my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Calendar of Events

September 3, Fall on the Farm – 9:00AM-5:00PM

September 6, Preserving Food Workshop – 7:00-9:00PM

September 16, Open Farm Day – 9:00AM-5:00PM

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About the Author

Barry is the Executive Director of the Mennonite Heritage Village. While he does not consider himself to be a historian, he places a high value on the preservation and interpretation of the Mennonite and pioneer stories that help people of all ages understand and appreciate their heritage. Learn more about the MHV.

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