Seniors Situation Room by Dawn Ford – Snowtime Memories from Cornwall 012118


Cornwall Ontario – School Bus Cancellations? We didn’t have to worry about that when I was growing up. There weren’t any school buses. We walked everywhere despite snowy or rainy weather.

Schools were open, so away we went. You would see two streams of kids on either side of some of the streets on their way to school, home for lunch at noon and then back to school for 1pm and home again at 4.

We probably played along the way in the snow sometimes. I remember being bundled up in a Red River coat with a hood and leggings. The coats were navy and I think had a red lining or red scarf. My school mate, Myrna Plumley-Watt, remembers the huge snow banks and snow balls flying through the air in fun. Another classmate, Frances Glass-Irwin remembers walking along the tops of snow banks which had been ploughed up between the sidewalks and the road. We got snow in our boots and our shoes inside sometimes were wet.

Fran reminded me that we wore knitted woollen mittens which we often got wet before we even got to school if we were fooling around in the snow. In high school we had to carry our musical instruments home. We didn’t have any cases and if it was cold, we wore slacks under our skirts and we took the slacks off at school and put them in our lockers. She has a better memory than I do.

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I do remember in high school wearing a grey Duffle coat and Fran had one also. Nice and warm with wooden toggles as fasteners and a hood.

If it was a big major snow storm and we couldn’t go to school, then it was fun time at home outside making a snowman or snow fort. Or going tobogganing behind St. Columbian’s Church; anything to get outside and play, I guess. I wonder how we knew that there wasn’t any school that day?? Maybe common sense told our parents and maybe it was announced on the local radio station.

There is history to the Duffel coats. Fran and I looked it up on the internet. Apparently the name derives from a province in Antwerp in Belgium in the town of Duffel, where the material, a coarse thick woollen, was made. They were worn mostly by seafaring folks. Duffel bags were made there also.

The coat is thought to originate from the Polish military Frock Coat, manufactured in the 1820′.Its popularity spread and by the 1890’s it was used by the British Royal Navy. After World War ll the surplus stock of the government were sold to the public and became popular. The Duffel/Duffle coat appealed as a new uniform to a new generation-free thinking, academic and unconventional – at a time of upending social change. Then it became highly fashionable, endorsed by the Royal Family and school-going children alike. Paddington Bear appeared in 1958 in a blue duffle coat.

I love that scene in the movie, “The Christmas Story” when the younger brother is in his snowsuit and walked like a penguin because he was so bundled up. My younger brother, Brian, looked just like that in his snowsuit when Mom would bundle him up in the winter. Cute memory.

It has been quite a winter so far. Here is Fran’s husband, Don, out in the bitter bone- chilling cold weather with his snow blower. Look at the snow!!

Thanks Fran and Don for sharing this great photo with us.

January is Alzheimer Awareness Month. There are several events planned for this month and also in February and March.

There will be a “Soup’s ON” luncheon on Tuesday, January 23rd. in the Salon B of the Cornwall Civic Complex from 11:30 to 2pm. 12 Chefs and 12 soups. Come and meet the Celebrity Judges and support the Alzheimer Society. Two Soupons for $5 and five Soupons for $10.There will be a silent auction, music, door prizes and a 50/50 draw. Lots of fun and good food.

On March 20th Beth Spencer, co-author of ” Understanding Difficult Behaviours, Practical Suggestions for Coping with Alzheimer Disease and Related illnesses” , will give a workshop at the Ramada Inn on Tuesday, March 20th from 10am to 4pm. Early Bird costs before January 26th. is $75 per ticket. After January 26th the cost per ticket is $100. Call 613-032-4914 for more information and to register.

An eight week course ,” Minds in Motion”, is being offered from 1pm to 3pm each week starting on Monday January 22nd , Monday January 29, Monday February 5, Monday Feb. 12, Tuesday Feb. 20, Monday Feb. 26th and Fridays Feb. 2 and March 9th. It is a communitybased program incorporating physical activity and mental stimulation for persons with early to mid-stage dementia and their care givers. It will be held at 1500 Cumberland Street (the T.R. Leger building attached to St. Joseph’s High School).

Forget-Me-Not ties are available also at a cost of $25.00.

Visit the Alzheimer Society at 106B Second Street W., or call 613-932-4914 (1-888-222-1445) or go online at or email at: for more information.

The old year rang out and the new has arrived. I had hoped to hear some news of some added benefits for seniors. Many seniors are going without glasses and dental work they need because they can’t afford it. A lot of seniors just say that they do without.

We have been very fortunate in Cornwall to have generous and caring dentists who have periodically opened their offices and provided a free dental cleaning clinic day for those in need. Kudos for your help.

Watching hockey games I sometimes wonder who invented the first pair of skates. If it was trial and error, there must have been some falls. The website at has lots of info on how the ice skates evolved over the years. According to the site, the first pair of skates, dating back to about 3000BC , was found in the bottom of a lake in Switzerland. They were made from the leg bones of large animals, holes were gouged out at each end of the bone and leather straps were used to tie the skates to the skater’s shoes. The Archaeological evidence apparently suggests that the first Swiss skates made from animal bones aided travellers during the frozen winters in Finland. The scientists who made the discovery say that it means ice skating is the oldest form of human- powered transport.

Another site about a study by Federico Formenti, University of Oxford and Alberto Minetti, University of Milan confirms that the first to develop ice skates were the Finns about 5000 years ago. This was important to the population when hunting in harsh winter conditions.

A skate using a metal blade was found in Scandinavia and dated about 200 AD. It was fitted with a thin strip of copper metal which had been folded and attached to the underside of a leather shoe.

In the 14th century the Dutch invented wooden platform skates with iron runners on the bottom. The skaters then would use poles with spikes on the end to push their body weight over the ice.

Lots of interesting skate history on the internet to see how the skates have evolved over the years.

And today, we have figure skates, hockey skates, racing skates, etc. etc.

Go to http://www.iceskatehistory or for more information.

I found this old Trinity Church Brownie certificate in another souvenir box I forgot I had. 1949.

I was a Brownie in the Elf pack. An Elf!!

As a young kid I probably loved being an Elf. When I joined Girl Guides I was a Bluebird. Better than an Old Crow, eh? lol.

There are a lot of wonderful stories about animals but stories about a cat named Belle has to be some of the best. A friend, Linda, owns a cat named Belle. Linda says that the cat has kept her and her mother in stiches since they got her at six months old.

The picture below is taken six days after they got Belle. Linda went into her laundry room to see Belle in a big paper mess that day.. She had gotten somehow a roll of paper towels off the dryer and completely unrolled it and tore it to shreds, The entire laundry room floor was covered in torn paper towel.

One Monday Linda came home from work to find her Mother very upset. She had wanted to go out to do an errand but couldn’t find her jacket anywhere. She was sure that she had hung it on the back of a kitchen chair but she searched high and low for it. No jacket anywhere. She thought she was losing her mind.

That Thursday evening Linda was in the kitchen when she saw Belle run downstairs with a loaf of bread. Her Mom had taken it out of the cupboard and left it on the counter earlier that day to put in the garbage. She then went downstairs to ge the garbage bag. When she came back upstairs the bread was gone. She then assumed that she had accidentally taken it downstairs with her and put it in the bag there. She decided to follow the cat downstairs and caught Belle going behind a piece of drywall leaning against the wall in front of their oil tank. She moved the drywall and she could see stuff under the oil tank. She got a stick and pulled out an afghan that was from the family room sofa, a pair of her slacks, one of her sweaters, four loaves of bread, and of course, her jacket.

Another evening when a friend of Linda’s visited, the friend put her coat on the back of a kitchen chair. Linda heard a noise in the kitchen and when she went to look, Belle was disappearing down the stairs with the coat in tow. She got all the way downstairs with it before they got the coat back.

After Linda had Belle spayed, the cat stopped stealing clothes. but now as an 8 year old cat, Belle still steals bread and Linda cannot leave paper towels out anywhere. Linda used to keep bread in the cupboard on a stack of plates but now Belle can open the cupboard and take the bread out. Linda has to keep her bread in the fridge.

What an incredible little pussycat!!!!

Thanks Linda for sharing Belle’s adventures with us and the gret photo. Lots of fun!!

A friend sent in these Hospital Chart Bloopers:

1. The patient refused autopsy.

2. The patient has no previous history of suicides….

3. Patient left white blood cells at another hospital.

4. She has no rigors or shaking chills but husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

5. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6.On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

7. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

8. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

9. Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

10. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

11. Rectal exam revealed a normal sized Thyroid.

12. While in the ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

Have a good week, Dawn


  1. This was a great issue. You sure have the talent for writing an interesting column.

  2. That sure was a great article especially the one about us going to school no matter what the weather was like. The Brownie in an elf pack was truly enjoyable. You are the very best about remembering all the beautiful memories of days gone by.

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