The DeWitt-Storms Story
Excerpt from Cherished Memories.
A compilation by Ardrossan Unifarm.
DEWITT-STORMS STORY by Ruth DeWitt
I was born at Ardrossan one September day. My sister named me Helen
Ruth after her favorite doll. I was always rather small for my age, this
annoyed me very much. I was the youngest of the family.
Mine was a very happy childhood, what we lacked in material things were
compensated by loving parents, who gave of themselves. They set a marvelous
example of Christian living.
I dearly loved school and when I was still quite a small girl I decided
I would become a school teacher.
I loved dogs and our home usually had one or two. They were helpful in
bringing home the cattle in the evening.
Very early in life I was taught to be kind and helpful to those less fortunate.
Many times I carried meals (which Mother had prepared) to a sick cousin
who was convalescing at home.
I used to do odd jobs for Aunt Lottie Lackey, who was partially crippled.
Very often, after school I went to see what she needed. Sometimes the wood
box needed replenishing. The water pail was usually empty. In those days
we obtained our water from a well with a pulley-type mechanism on top.
As we turned the crank the pail of water was brought to the surface.
Aunt Lottie loved flowers, so in the spring I would gather violets or roses
I was deeply touched when Dear Aunt Lottie passed away. It was my first
encounter with death and it terrified me For the next few months I experienced
Later, when Uncle Hammie was living by himself, my sister and I would take
him the mail. There was no mail delivery in those days, so when we went
to Ardrossan we brought his mail, too. Then we would stay and read his
letters for him.
Our home was always shared with others. Mother usually boarded the school
teacher. Then at the week-end the student minister would stay at our place.
In those days we provided our own entertainment. In the winter we skated
on Bready's lake and sometimes on Fred Reynold's lake, There was no rink
house, so we used logs for seats. Logs or trees were also used to keep
the fire going, Sometimes the snow had to be shoveled off the ice before
we could skate.
We had a very lively Young People's Group that was a challenge to us. We
put on plays, had debates, Religious meetings and sometimes spelling bees.
I remember one comical chap who just couldn't spell), he would bribe the
girls to spell for him. He always had a good supply of candy, gum, etc.,
to barter with. We often walked to Ardrossan when horses were not available.
I went to Baker School from Grades I to 9, then finished my High School
at Eastwood, in Edmonton, then on to Normal School.
On graduating from Normal School I taught at Agricola for three years,
then went to Cooking Lake where I stayed for six years. Tire first two
years I taught Grades 1 to 11, then they constructed a two-roomed school
and I taught the juniors, Grades I to 5, with an average attendance of
about 35 students.
The highlights of the year were the Christmas Concert and the Annual Picnic.
The picnic was usually held the last day of school. The whole community
turned out and we all had a very gay time. We enjoyed races of all kinds,
baseball games, horseshoe tournaments and refreshments.
I boarded with Mrs. McMenomy, who at that time was proprietor of the store
at North Cooking Lake. She was also the postmistress,
I had quite a walk to school, by road it was about 1.9 miles, so I usually
hiked down the railroad track. It was a very cold walk in winter (especially
if you were facing the wind) but it was about one-half mile shorter.
I shall never forget some of the families who were always ready to lend
a helping hand - The Dunns, The Morrows, Mrs. McMenomy, and Florence (now
Mrs. Olson), and Clarks and Vices.
In those days before rural electrification, putting on a concert meant
getting Coleman lamps, putting up a stage, getting an evergreen tree and
getting curtains and costumes. Mr. John Morrow was usually on hand to supply
a tree, Mrs. Alex Morrow was always ready to supply the candy, nuts, oranges
and apples at cost. Allan Dunn was always on hand with batteries if I wanted
a spotlight or if we decided to show films.
One year, during the hungry thirties, we decided to put on a special concert
to raise money so we could buy gifts for all the children. One of my pupils,
a little dark-eyed Doris, had never owned a doll. Some of my good friends
from Ardrossan, mostly members of the United Workers, got together and
did some practicing, which result in a very enjoyable entertainment at
the school one Friday evening. It was a success financially, too, so my
brother Lorne and I went shopping. At Christmas time when we stripped the
tree there was a surprise package for each child, Little Doris got her
By Friday, I was usually fatigued both physically and mentally, so I would
come home to Ardrossan. Cooking Lake wasn't: a regular stop so we would
have to flag the train. I would spend Saturday and Sunday it home and return
to my school early Monday morning.
In August 1940 Bert DeWitt and I were united in Holy Matrimony. It was
war time so we did things very modestly. We were married at my parents'
home with Mr. Alex Stewart officiating. Only our closest friends and relatives
Our first home was where Mr. Lubbers now lives. The quarter is subdivided
now. The roads were very bad when it rained. We. owned a Model A Ford in
those days. Sometimes when the roads were really muddy Bert would jump
up and down on the bumper, while I attempted to steer. We sort of hopped
up the hills.
In January 1942 our home was blessed by tire arrival of a baby girl, Carol
Ruth. She was a ray of sunshine from the first.
In August 1943, the stork called on us again. This time a big, blue-eyed
baby boy was our prize, We named him Lowell Ruskin. My neighbors who had
only girls in her family, said, "How lucky can you get?"
In 1945, we moved to our present location. In 1947 another dear little
girl, Lila Grace, came to share our home, She was blessed with a beautiful
voice, which has brought happiness to many audiences.
Needless to say, Bert and I were very busy during those years when the
children were growing up. There was always an Explorer, C.C.I,T. or Scout
Meeting that one of the children had to attend.
Grandma Storms was very poorly at this time, so we help her as much as
possible. Dear Grandma went to her Heavenly Home May 30, 1950. Grandpa
missed her so very much. They had spent almost 52 years together,
Little Grace seemed to help her Grandpa so much during these dark days.
Grandpa Storms shared our home until his death in September 1959. How the
children loved him. There was no "generation gap" in our home. Dad would
sit with the children for hours, telling them exciting stories which he
composed on the spur of the moment.
In 1954 1 went back to the teaching profession. I taught at the Good Hope
School for two years until it was closed in 1956 and the pupils sent to
the Ardrossan School. I, too, came to Ardrossan and have been on the staff
of Ardrossan Primary School ever since.
Well, time marches on.
Carol has graduated from the University of Alberta, in Education, and is
still teaching. In June 1964 she married Howard Gustafson. They are now
the proud parents of twins, a boy Colin Leigh and a girl, Cheryl Lynn.
Lowell (Bud) graduated from N.A.I.T. He is a Heavy Duty Mechanic. In 1967
he married Peggy Sands. Their home has been blessed with two children.
Garth Allan is four years old and Lisa Michelle two years old.
Our younger daughter Grace (the first nurse in the family) graduated from
the University Hospital.
In 1967 she married Michael Bowditch, Their home has been brightened by
a dear wee girl, Lara Ann, who is also two years old.
We are fortunate for all our family have made their homes in the Ardrossan
area, so we have many happy times together.