Tag Archives: Belmont ON

Murel Anger, Mail Carrier

In 1972 my mother wrote this Dorchester Signpost article about her mother-in-law’s retirement from rural mail delivery. Mom was the weekly’s Belmont reporter. She put it in her scrapbook with a photo of Grandma and two siblings. From left is sister Bernice with husband Ray Alward, Murel Anger (in curtain camo), brother George Mabee and wife Nancy (Rice).

1972 Dorchester Signpost on mail carrier retirementHappy retirement to Mrs. Anger

Dorchester Signpost, Belmont News – Ruby Anger, Jan. 1972

We’re sure the residents of R R 2 Belmont have missed a familiar face these past three weeks. The woman who has become almost a tradition in that area has decided to call it quits. In a word, Mrs. Anger has retired from the mail route.

She and her late husband, Austin, started to carry mail in May 1946, before many of her present patrons were born. Mr. Anger did the route alone for a number of years with his wife helping him whenever she was needed. In later years it was a combined effort until Mr. Anger suffered a stroke and was hospitalized from May 1969 to the time of his death in August 1970. Mrs. Anger with her assistant, Mrs. Verna Legg have continued their daily route until Mrs. Anger decided to retire Jan. 10th. Mrs. Legg and her father Mr. J. D. Meikle are wished well as they continue to serve the R. R. 2 residents. But Mrs. Anger will certainly be missed after twenty-six years. She is wished a healthy, happy retirement by all.

First time on mail route

And now for a personal note. As much as we try to be impersonal in this column there are times we just can’t refrain. When I think of this mail route I think of my first time around it or should I say, partial trip. My husband had taken on a milk route in this area which made it necessary for us to move here from Tillsonburg. He had moved our furniture into the Frank Moore farm house on the 5th Conc. of North Dorchester. When I arrived later with small son and daughter, we went to my husband’s parents’ home. Mr. Anger drew the mail then in June 1947, assisted by his wife, my mother-in-law.

The next day my children and I rode around the route, up one road and down the other, before we eventually were told our new home was in sight. I thought we’d never get there! Not knowing what was done I was worried about getting settled as my husband worked away until late. My mother-in-law coaxed Mr. Anger to help me set up beds, etc. and he pretended to be too busy, but went in under protest. Everything was placed and ready to live in – what a surprise! He thought that was a big joke.

Frank Moore and family

That was the first time I met the Frank Moore family who turned out to be the best neighbours and landlord anyone could find. Especially for a town girl who had never lived in the country before. It was nice to know the mail car was coming through every day, too, with my dear parents-in-law aboard if I needed them.

Although I never lived on their farm, Frank and Evelyn Moore made a big impression on me as they also did on my mother. In Barn Cats I wrote a bit about them.

The Boxer, Copper

When I was 13, our next door neighbour got a dog. In itself, that’s not extraordinary. However, this dog acquisition caused quite a stir. She was an elderly Boxer facewidow and lived alone. The dog was a young Boxer. His name was Copper. He was the colour of a new penny, she or someone said. I can’t remember where she got him, if she sought him out or if he just happened along. I thought it was wonderful that Mrs. Layfield got a dog, but even I was a bit surprised, especially the dog being a big energetic Boxer.

My parents, and probably everybody else in town, were amazed, maybe even horrified. The Layfields had never had a dog in our memory. And Mrs. Layfield was a tiny lady. My mother feared the dog would knock her down the stairs, knock her over in the hallway, knock her down outside. You’d go to her house, ring the doorbell and hear Copper  tearing along the hall at full speed. Mrs. Layfield would come along behind, open the door and welcome you into the front parlour.

She was a lady of the Victorian era. Her house was lovely, with beautifully polished old furniture, lace antimacassars on chair arms and backs. Delicate porcelain figurines and glass ornaments displayed on table tops. And in the middle of it, a huge slobbering Boxer galumphing around.

A Boxer and bric a brac

Copper, to my knowledge, never knocked a single table over. He seemed able to jump and play in the middle of a room full of lovely and fragile bric a brac without touching a thing. In deference to her upholstered furniture, she put old towels on chair arms and parts of the sofa where he was likely to be, and likely to drool. She kept towels in the kitchen by his bowls and in the hallway to mop up the water that dribbled out of his mouth after he drank. But other than that, Mrs. Layfield made no adjustments to her living arrangements to accommodate his boisterousness, and she didn’t need to. He seemed to know where it was ok to be boisterous and how to play around the furniture.

Her backyard was already fenced, and we’d watch Copper playing with stuffed toys and balls in his yard. Mrs. Layfield took him for walks down front view of Copper's house in Belmont ONMain Street. He walked sedately beside her, never pulling or getting tangled in her feet.

The two of them aged together. Copper’s hips got bad and she made him a bed on the main floor when he couldn’t climb the stairs. Not long later, she did the same for herself. She and Copper lived together until he died of old age. She didn’t get another dog. A few years later, she sold her house and moved to a nursing home. A new young family moved in, with a young black Lab. It was nice to see a dog in the yard next door again. But we still called it “Copper’s yard”.  Many owners later, we still call the house “Mrs. Layfield’s house”.

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Stories, Feb. 13, 2011

Austin Anger, a story

My cousin Lynda Sykes wrote this story about our grandfather Austin Anger. She and Austin Anger - grandpa giving whisker rubher mother had dug out some old family pictures. Among them was the one here of Grandpa giving her a “whisker rub” that she describes in her story. The photo was taken July 13, 1963 on Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th wedding anniversary.

All of us grandkids remember Grandpa as Lynda describes him here. His unique use of language, his sense of humour and his affection for us.  Fortunately, we also have Lynda and her ability to capture our memories in words.  So thanks, Lynda, for allowing me to reprint this here. Tap on her story to enlarge it, or see the text of it below.

Austin Anger story by Lynda Sykes
Click/tap to see larger view

Austin Anger

“Hearty man eat a toad! “I saw ya’ mugging’ that thar feller!” “Gamma, birdie go up!” Phrases that whirl in my memory, like warm, hearty alphabet soup that sticks to your ribs.

I sneak up behind the old, over-stuffed armchair and smack his shiny, bald cranium so hard it sounds like a beaver tail hitting the water, then retreat like a chipmunk at a safe distance. He pretends not to notice and busily rustles his paper. I creep up again, every muscle, tingling and tense, prepared to run. My little hand, quick as a garter snake’s tongue, darts out toward the cranium. A bolt of lightning streaks over his shoulder and latches onto my arm, pulling me over the back of the chair with the ease of a ripple. “Comere, ya’ long-eared Indian!” Laughing and screeching, I struggle, all arms and legs like writhing worms, against a grip like a vice; strong, tensile, tender pressure. He presses my cheek against his and rubs sandpaper against soft flesh until I am nearly raw. I try to bury my face in his neck, away from the sandy cheek, and my breathless laughter finds he even tastes like a Grandpa, all grit and salt. This; our little ritual.

He sits at the kitchen table playing solitaire. I slip my arms around his neck and nestle my head next to his. He always seems to be in need of a shave. What little bit of a ring of fuzz he has left for hair tickles my ears. He smells of tobacco and good, honest sweat. A big, rough, gruff, handsome man. There are no hugs or side-glance kisses; just me, draped loosely around his neck, like a favourite tie after church on Sunday. Not a word is spoken between us. He simply continues to play solitaire, and cheats like a bandit.

When the rest of the world looked at me, it saw a piece of gravel. When my grandfather looked at me, he saw a DIAMOND. And I never looked in that man’s eyes, but what I saw it there.

Lynda Sykes © 1990

Amazon link for Because We Are Canadians book
Lynda Sykes is the editor of a WWII battlefield memoir entitled Because We Are Canadians by the late Charles Kipp of Delmer, Ontario. It’s a really good read, and so is the forward which is written by Pierre Berton. (Click the image or highlighted title for a link to it on Amazon.)