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1. Laura Miller

This piece of writing was completed in 2016 by Ellen Sagh, niece of Laura Miller who was a sister to Ellen’s mom, Nellie Harcourt (nee Casey). It is written using many of Laura Miller’s words as she answered questions that Ellen posed in several different types of interviews and writings. It also utilizes information Ellen was given and received with gratitude from others about Laura’s life.

BY THE DECADES:

1911-1919

Born Laura Theresa Casey April 4, 1911; in our family home, on the farm in the Caseyville District to Mother, Cecelia Mary Sinnett who was born August 24, 1883 in Thomasville, Ontario and to Father, Thomas William Casey who was born March 8,”

I had a Grammpa William Casey at Chatham Ontario; his wife, Honorah Curtis had 6 children and a newborn baby when she died. Moll (Nickname for Mary I think) Harder’s Sister, Honorah Fitzgibbons came from Ireland with a boy,about 1 -2 years old; named George Fitzbiggons, was asked by my Grampa Casey to come and cook for him. Sinnetts were mad that my mom’s husband’s dad had got married so soon after his first wife’s death. Together, William Casey and Honorah Fitzgibbons had 7 more children. George changed his name to Casey so that made 15 children.

All those who came frrom Ireland knew about dairying; because they made their living over there from cream, milk and butter. Generally the wife looked after the cattle’s health and feeding. Grampa’s first wife was good, so Honorah Fitzgibbons, she had a job of it. Grampa Casey would make breakfast. He was always giving food to his kids. He would have a steer, pig or cow and all got a roast.

Dad’s(Grampa Casey) half brother, Ed Casey went to the States; was in Hardway; became very, very rich. The second family had more of a chance or education. Father Edgar; became a priest and was principal at the Catholic College in Detroit. We went to visit a ˝ brother Michael. He had a daughter taught at college. There was a sister in Windsor. Mary, Nellie, Carl, Elaine and I went there all the time to meet her for dinner.

There was another ˝ brother; his whole family came to see me; his daughter, Evelyn McCaffery, wrote the red Casey book.

There was a ˝ sister; became a nun; Sr. Mary.

One of the ˝ relations’ daughter, Cecelia E. Thomas, wrote the book called Caseys of the Strand.

Mrs. Hannah Sinnett, my mother’s mother, helped with my birth. My mother never worked outside the home. Her parents were James Sinnett and Hannah Daily. My father was a farmer and his parents were William Casey and Honora Curtis. His dad farmed and his mother; born in Cork, Ireland looked after the dairy.

My parents and grandmother arrived in Saskatchewan in 1905 from Ontario. They were told there an adult could own a quarter of land for $ 10. called a homestead. In 1905, dad signed for a homestead. He knew they must live on it so many months out of a year; break as many acres of land each year and build a house.

To clear land, it had to be brushed by hand using an axe and a grub hoe. Using 4-6 horses on a breaking plow, you’d try and turn the sod over. Crops were wheat and oats. The land was worked with a disc and harrows. Land seeded with 4 horses and a drill. Dad never had a tractor.

Crops were cut with a binder and 4 horses. Sheaves were stacked; 6 to a stook by hand. Farmers would hire a man owning a threshing machine with 10 -12 men. Some had a team and rack for hauling bundles; some were spike loaders in the field. The big job was in the house to feed all those men. 3 meals and 2 lunches. Breakast around 5 am. Supper anytime from 6 pm on.

My mother’s uncle, Father Sinnett, encouraged them to come west from Ontario. He was a Jesuit Priest. They came by train to Muenster, where Mom’s brother met them with a team and wagon. They travelled 23 miles south to where Father Sinnett decided to locate his Colony, in 1906. Others joined them later. Since they were nearly all Irish, the colony was named “The Irish Colony.”

My family settled exactly 6 miles north of where Gramma Sinnett settled. There were no other settlers around. The closest town was finally named Sinnett after Father Sinnett. For transportation, the family used a team and wagon or team and sleigh. A neighbor, Billy Knaus drove to Lanigan to pick up all the mail so we picked it up at his place once a a week. The nearest town was Lanigan, 13 miles away.

The closest train station was in Lanigan. It carried everything plus people. It had a livery barn, cafe, grocery store and a drug store. Our Catholic Church was first a tent and then a log church. I was about 8 years old when I visited my first city to have my eyes tested in Saskatoon. We never went shopping when I was a child. Store hours were 8 am to 6 pm and Saturday 8 am until beer parlor closed at 1 am. People left groceries in the store. My dad would be asked to oversee a box car of stock to be sold in Winnepeg; then he’d go to Eaton’s, a big department store and buy clothes for us. Only once a year and just articles that were necessary. One time dad bought me a black pair of felt shoes; cost $4.00; was so proud of them. I’d be about 7 years old.

Dad hauled grain with a team and wagon 13 miles to Lanigan. We had livestock, pigs, cattle and horses which we gave bales of hay and some oat sheaves. We sold a 5 gallon can of cream for $2 – $3.00. Dad and Mom raised chicks by sitting 15 eggs under a setting hen for 3 weeks. We bought our chicks from Schenn in Humboldt – 600 of them some years. Sold eggs by 15-30 dozen crates to the Creamery in Humboldt. Prices Varied.

For entertainment, the community would stage dances, ball tournaments, hockey tournaments, debates, literary contests, etc. At Xmas time, dad would get up early and try and spring “Xmas Box” on each of us; and on New Years it would be a “New Year’s Gift.” He liked to be first to write the Neaw Year. One year he couldn’t find a piece of paper so he wrote it on the wall. We had the interior of our log home covered with brown paper, so he wrote it under the phone.

One of our teachers in 1916; Miss Jean Louis had dad cut a poplar tree and she and mum wrapped every branch with green and red tissue paper for the school Xmas concert. I’d be 5 years old. Xmas gifts were homemade; children dresses, aprons, knit mitts, sox, etc.

One Hallowe-en prank I thought was carried too far. Some men took a buggy apart and set it up on a roof of a granary and put it all together again.

I stood and watched them install the first telephone in 1917. The big box telephone. The General Ring was a good idea in case of sickness, or for any emergency. The Party Line gave all the latest news; saved buying the local news paper.

I was given the name, Laura Theresa Casey, because my mother’s youngest sister was named Laura. Father Sinnett, my great uncle baptized me, and he was a great believer in Saint Theresa so….”

My place of birth: “in our log house on the farm. The happiest home I lived in.”

Happening in the world when I was born: “ most farmers were using oxen for field work and for means of transportation. No telephones, no radios, no t.v.’s, no cars, no planes, no roads, no horses, no bikes, no buggies, no cutters. Stores were 30 miles away. Older ladies wore long skirts and blouses. Girls were expected to behave like ladies. Children were to be seen and not heard. Men usually wore hates. Dad always said, “Jump when you’re spoken to; Do as you’re told and he didn’t mean maybe.”

“In the early days my father had oxen and my Aunt Margaret; teacher at St. Francis school, came every weekend to our house. One Saturday she was with Dad and kids bringing water up from the slough. She asked Dad if she could drive the oxen. Dad handed her the lines and steped off the stoneboat. It was a hot, July day and oxen do as they wish, so they both lay down in the slough. You could hear Margaret; who was nicknamed Peg, screaming for miles. She was wet past the knees.”

My nickname was Kay, from my 2 aunts – Laura was called Lola and Marg called Peg and since there were 2 Laura’s in the house, they called me Kay. Jack Brunn (Granny Harcourt’s brother, called me Lola Violet.)

“My father told me a story about his growing up saying he and his brother, Pat were examining everyone’s watermelons and they were better than their own.”

My childhood home was a very happy one. When I was 7 years old, I jumped on my broncho and rounded up our cattle; off the prairie. Neighbourhood was very pleasant; Downeys were closest; as Dad bought Con and Ed Miller’s quarters and they very wisely moved to Humboldt as the war of 1914 -1917 broke out; and got good jobs and kids all received a good eduction. Now Dad had three quarters.

My parent’s relationship was a strong one. I never heard them argue once. They agreed on everything. We all loved them both. Mom suffered from headaches all the time, but with dad, we’d get busy when he’d sit down; crawl on his knee; put his hair up with rags to curl it. He had a very heavy head of hair.

None of us had a diagreement with our parents. We asked, they answered and no arguments.

“I remember walking the prairie grasses to school. I attended Caseyville School # 2041. Since it was built on the corner of dad’s quarter, it was named Caseyville. We lived about Ľ mile from the school so walked to school. Ratepayers built the school together out of lumber with a stove placed in centre of room. There was no basement. Later a porch was built on and a furnace installed. Pioneers were anxious that their children receive an education. They had annual meetings to hire teachers and janitors who swept floor daily; carried drinking water; lit the fires early.

There were grades 1 – X; some years 30 plus students. Teachers made out report cards.

My favorite book was Anne of Green Gables; given to me by the school. I also had all the ‘Emily’ books. We had a cat named Lucy. She was my first pet; we also had a dog for a pet. Every cat we had was named Lucy. I remember playing with garter snakes. We had a team, a wagon and sleigh. The nearest town was thirteen miles away. We went to church in a tent; then a log church was built. I remember riding horseback, herding cows, the milking, the coyotes, the ice house.”

“The church we went to was called St. Patrick’s; the Harcourts sat ahead of us and we sat in a pew opposite the stove. Billy Knaus would sit in the first pew; chewed tobacco and sometimes would spit on the floor.”

“ The best years of my life was when the family was all together on the farm in our old log house.”

Mary and I walked 1 ˝ – 2 miles to a pasture on my uncle Frank’s quarter to milk the cows and carried the milk home.

In my teenage years we did what we were told to do.

“I had an older sister Mary Monica, an older brother, James, we called Jim and a few years after me, was Margaret; then my brother Edgar Parnel Thomas, and younger sisters Cecelia and Nellie whose real name was Ellen. She was born in June of 1925. Dad (Thomas) said Edgar was named after 2 priests and a saint; the saint being his father.”

“The first person who told me about God was listening to Mom and Dad going over the Catechism with Mary and Jim.

“My earliest memory of home; I’m about five years old; it was Christmas time of 1916; John McCann; a Caseyville teacher boarded at our place and he bought me an Eaton beauty doll. Before we had that, Mary and I had 2 sticks of wood and dressed them up and they were our babies.”

The real meaning of Christmas? “The word: Stands for Christ’s Mass. Day of his birth which has been celebrated ever since. “ Every Christmas we always attended Midnight Mass. A favorite Christmas tradition? “Mom’s Christmas cake.”

A Christmas Meal? “Chicken, mince pie, fruit cake, nuts and candy; not much; potatoes and gravy, a vegetable”

“In early days we didn’t celebrate Hallowe-en or Thanksgiving.”

My childhood bedroom: “We generally slept 2 & 3 girls together with a straw mattress, and after thrashing, we’d fill the mattress with fresh straw 4 feet high and did we have a heyday. Slept like a log.”

“My best childhood friend was Mary Knaus; visited as kids; they lived close. We never had lots of friends back and forth.”

“On a winter’s day, we’d play snowballs and tag. Summer and winter we’d play hide and go seek and anti-i-over.

When I think of what I always wanted: “There was lots I wanted.”

My favorite hiding place: “Well as far as hiding, we never tried to get away with anything. Hide in garden of raspberry trees, lots of gooseberries. The yard I played in had the whole front yard; had a row of maples. We all played ball and horseshoes and neighbors named Downeys would come and join us.”

“We had lots of lawn. A great big snake with little ones were on lawn, and when we’d move, make noise, the snake made a S S S S S sound, sissing sound and as quick as you could say Jack Robinson, the 9 little ones went to the Mom and she swallowed them up one right after the other.”

“Jim and I did the chores. In the wintertime; put the 35 stock in and feed them, clean stables, bedding them in the log barn; needed two layers to keep the wind off. Other chores we had to do was get the sheep in the corral around the haystack, jump on their back and go for a ride.”

“On a summer day, I’d like to go horseback riding which I did from the time I was 6 years old. One time I went out to play and found a garter snake about 3-4 feet long, held it by the tail, and when head would come up give it a little flip and it would go down again; I called Mom and that was the only time I got a strap. When Mom saw a mouse, all the Sinnett girls were up on a table.

One night I went after cattle – it was dusk; I’d ride up Miller’s hills to locate cattle; about 5 coyotes started howling at the foot of the hills and I foolishly answered them. Not long I had five coyotes beside me and my horse which was a bronco. I gave the horse rein and I was home in a few minutes at a dead gallop. I was 8 years old and I never tried that again.”

When I was 8 years old, I said I needed glasses so off one day, just Dad and I to Saskatoon – while there, stopped and visited someone he knew at the hospital. Talked to one man who had been lying on his back for 20 years. That still sticks in my mind. They put some drops in my eyes. Couldn’t see. Not long after being back home I lost them and I never needed glasses again.

 

1920 – 1929

The farm I lived on had a log house. It was made of logs and plaster. After most of the family was born, we added a sod kitchen to where the cookstove was moved in. We had a quarter section of land. Con Miller had a quarter section, Ed Miller had a quarter section and Frank Casey had the other one.”

It was a Happy Home. You remember that song ( my students used to sing it); “It’s not the house that makes the home, it’s the love that lies inside.” How True. Dad would play games with us. We danced, played cards, when home work was finished. On Sundays, after mass, dad would make pull taffy if Mum could spare 2 cups of white sugar. Mum wasn’t very strong.

Everybody pitched in and helped. If Dad was filling up bags of grain, we’d help by holding the bags. My favorite treat: “Everytime Dad went to town, we looked for a bag of candy on his return. The cost for a large ice cream cone when I was young was a nickel. Now, in 1995 is a dollar and a half.”

The yard around the log house; was a row of stones to make the Letter T and then in the wheels; lilacs and flowers all around; this was out the front door of the log house. Front door was never used. In front of the house was a garden and a row of maples; on each side. Left side; potatoes, fruit trees, raspberries, gooseberries, and right side all the vegetables. At end of the garden was the slough in the pasture; (a mother snake in the slough). We played horseshoes there; also in the yard by back door was chokecherries, pin cherries, Saskatoons loaded. We’d go down a path out the back door; to right was a granary, a hay corral where we’d chase sheep and 3 log barns for cattle. There was bush and pasture; the pasture where cows were kept and west was the barn for horses; 8 with haystacks. We had setting hens; would sit for 3 weeks on 15 eggs and then chickens would hatch.

Jim and I did the chores together. Mary was at a convent in PA. Our first episode with chores was to put sheep in corral and we’d jump on their backs and go for a ride. That is if Dad was nowhere in sight. Grab the wool and way we’d go.

When a child, we bathed in a tub or basin. Water was scarce.

In early days, clothes were washed in a tub and wash board, wrung by hand; then hung outside on a clothes line. For bathroom facilities, we had an outdoor toilet.

We had no ice house at the first house.

Quite often hens would sneak into that house.

When young, we all ate together. Mum would say, “children wash your hands, face, comb your hair and to the table.” We moved; we knew she and dad spoke only once. Grace was always said before meals. We always had our own meat and vegetables, etc and picked wild fruit for desert. Our meat was generally pork. To preserve it, it was salted. Milk, cream, butter, etc. was placed in the ice well. Sugar, etc was bought in 100 lb bags. For flour, dad would take a load of wheat in to be ground in to flour at the Flour Mill in Humboldt. It would take 3 days. We used Roger Syrup in 3 gal pails. Family drank tea; Blue Ribbon Brand. Fruits and vegetables were preserved in sealers. To bake bread, we used Royal Yeast.

“The car we drove was a Model T Ford; was a 1925; cause I was going to high school in Humboldt and Dad used it to come in and get me”

“From the time I was 7 years old, I was going to be a school teacher. I proved that by taking Margaret, 7 years younger than I; as my student; poor thing; when she started school; about 6 or 7 years old; she was nearly ready for Grade 3.”

“ One thing I did with my brothers and sisters, we’d go to dances. I started going when I was thirteen. One time I was supposed to go to a barn dance by Arnold Loehrs,it rained so Jim took a team and buggy for Mary and him and I was left at home. I talked to Mom and Dad and I was able to go with them, and when I got there, Frankie Bunz asked first dance and then sat together for supper and when came time and Frankie’s time to play, he asked his brother Albert to partner me. I didn’t care who it was as long as they could dance. At 2 am, those boys took their parents home. My next partner was tall; Edmond Britz; now father to 13 children, who held my coat after the song, home sweet home and escorted me out to where Jim and Mary were in the buggy.

The next day we had to turn the hay as it rained, so I reminded Jim that that snip of a kid that he didn’t want to take long, had a whale of a time.”

“New Years, as a teenager, I looked forward to the New Years Dance; and then could hardly wait for Easter Monday as we never danced in Lent.”

“ With my brothers and sisters we played a lot of cards. We were fortunate to have a deck of cards so we could play with our neighbors.”

“ One day Jim and I walked to Catechism at St. Patrick’s church and Father Sinnett wasn’t there yet; so Jim started Catechism class. Mary was at a convent in Prince Albert. He asked one of the neighbor girls, “Who made you? She took to grinning and said, “I know and told him a different neighbor man’s name.

When we went home, Mom and Dad were away so we decided to taste Mom’s Dandelion Wine; Jim thought I might get too much so he put me out with the milk pails and he locked the house door so I took the milk pails out to the whole herd of cattle and started milking. To tell you how strong the wine was, Mr Doyle drove over on horseback one day and Dad said to Mom, “why don’t give Mr. Doyle a taste of your dandelion wine ?”

Mr. Doyle said afterwards that all the way home, he couldn’t look down, had to look up.

Our kitchen was our sitting room, parlour, everything. My mother let me help by watching the children. It was my job to take care of Edgar. I fell down the stairs with Edgar. We were in the log hour with 2 upstairs bedrooms. He wasn’t hurt. I don’t know how.”

Lessons I learned from my mother: “to be clean and tidy.”

My mother’s best recipes: “Ginger Snaps; Christmas Cake and Christmas Pudding.”

One of my most precious memories of my mother: “When her two younger sisters would come to visit us. Laura, a stenographer and Margaret Sinnett who was a teacher”

“Mom was not strong. Suffered from headaches nearly every day.” “Mom had one child before Mary – called Mary – born in Ontario; only lived a few months; bones were like rubber. Mom’s 2 sisters lived till in their 90’s; never had children; Peg never married. Lola married in her 60’s.”

My mother’s favorite piece of advice: “My mother hardly ever chastised us, because if we needed it, all she had to say was, “Tom, speak to those kids” and when she said Tom, we were like angels.”

I never told my mother: “ I couldn’t think of a thing.”

Something that makes you laugh, “I fell off an ox.”

What my mother taught me about God: “If we ever wanted to get to heaven, we had to earn it. Prayer and behaviour.”

My most memorable “woman -to- woman” talk with my mother: “Never had one; meaning re boyfriends and/or what you tell teenagers; but she had many with Mary. Things weren’t talked about in those days. Never talked about menustration.”

“Mom only went on trips with Dad.”

First trip: “When I was 7, 20 degrees farenheidt, we went to Johnny Sinnetts about 6 miles away – to trade chickens. Oh, the first trip I remember; this was stupid. When I was 5, in the wintertime, Dad was taking a team and sleigh with a load of wheat (to ground into flour to last a year). Temperature could have dropped to 40 below. I sat up beside Dad on the load 40 miles in, stayed overnight at Dad’s sister – Aunt Kate Millers and home next day.”

About my first house: “ Heated by a coal stove and heated by wood ( a McClary). Dad always banked outside of house every fall. Water came from a well with a pump with a blue wooden handle. Before school I’d be sent with a syrup pail and play with the frogs and toads down at the slough. I’d put them in horses watering trough which was there. Had to keep trough full as it was a wooden trough and wood gets dry.”

“We’d sing and dance at home using Mom’s organ. Mary could play.”

“Mom was sewing all the time.”

My confirmation: “Father Corker was an Irish priest there; Irish as Paddie’s pig; not much patience and we knew that one only receives a host once at a Mass. That day I received it twice.”

The most wonderful things about my father: “He was lots of fun. He demanded respect. Spoke once and was very good to Mom. During harvest time, the busiest time of the year, he sat beside Mom’s bed and would fan her as generally Mom had a headache every day.”

“ My father was especially good at entertaining, telling stories. After dances, no one was dancing. No one would go home; all would sit in a circle listening to his stories. After the supper waltz, everyone in the school would stop and listen to Dad. Barnyard stories had to be separated from parlour stories.”

Lessons I learned from my father: “When talking to children, don’t waste words. I used that. Speak once – Mean it – used it well in my 50 years of teaching.”

From my dad I learned, “through a sincere prayer, if it is God’s will, you’ll get your wishes.”

“We prayed together as a family. The litany of the Blessed Virgin. I have seen God work in our family by first cloud or first speck of lightning, on knees praying. I also remember Dad leading the rosary.

I remember when World War I broke out 1914-1918. I was 7 years old. Mail was very undependable. Then we suffered the Flu which killed more people than the War.

Jean Lewis boarded at our house; was a teacher. I was 4 – went to school as a visitor; put my fingers in an inkwell and got a strapping.

The school I attended: “Caseyville – named after Dad – built on his quarter of Section 20.” My favorite teacher and why: “Mr. Challis. He was strict, had good discipline and was a good teacher.” My best subject in school: “Math”.

Mary and Jim hated school. Father Sinnett sent Mary and about 10 other girls to Convent in PA.

A school event I will never forget: At Caseyville, we were participating in the school fair in Leroy – Grade 8. Spelling Match and the student from LeRoy was also participating (grade 8). The word bicycle was asked to be spelt. She got it wrong and I got it right. I got first prize. I forget what that was. That lady later received the Governor General Award of Saskatchewan for the highest marks in Grade XII.

My best friend in school was Gladys Johnson. She was in my grade. At school there were only the 2 of us in my class. I could always beat Gladys. We got along okay. Some teachers should never have been teachers.

In 1921, the train went through LeRoy which was 11 miles away. I was 16 when I started to date. Dad allowed no powder, or lipstick or rouge. Mary was 18, Dad said, “Have you got powder on your face? Go wash it.”

My Gma Sinnett, Eileen Sinnett, Clarissa and Rose were darn nuisances; always wanted to tag along with us. In 1928, I went to get mail at post office in Humboldt; had had measles; wanted to go to school on Monday but got a chill; in February; got pneumonia; nearly died. Dr. said no more school for rest of year. It was in February; I was 16 years; Adam Bunz from Muenster had asked me to go with him. In fact, when I was 16 he asked if I’d marry him. His Mother wrote to me and said before he loses his mind please say NO if I didn’t intend to marry him; which I said already, – I told him I planned on teaching. All summer long we went to about 4 dances a week and he’d be at our place every Sun. When I started teaching at Loyola, I had 4-5 boyfriends so poor Adam said he’d have to live with a broken heart – poor guy. Well, I went with Adam for 4 years. I never kissed him once and he never touched me at all. First man was John Miller.

At home, around Dad, you could pass your opinion and then the matter was dropped. No arguing; our neighbors, a different story; you could hear them 1/8 to a Ľ mile away, in an argument.

One of the most aggravating things, a gentleman from Muenster proposing when I was 16.

I always helped with the chores and Mom with baking.

“We learned about getting along with others when we were kids; there were 7 of us and no one was boss; Mom and Dad were the boss.”

We did things around home. Got the sheep in the coral around the haystack; jump on their backs and go for a ride.

We never had a vacation as a family.

I lived with relatives in Humboldt and attended Humboldt High School for Grade IX. The principal was Hugh McDonald. When he said Yes – Meant it; No – Meant it. Kept good discipline. I learned many things. One friend I spent time with was Verna Timbers.

Sayings I picked up “Those girls have more nerve than…..; or “anyways, anyways,…” ; “ that doctor should be crowned..”; “I am feeling rotten.”

Whenever I came home, I was to get the meals. Mom was never strong and Mary hated cooking.

Your first crush? “Leave that word out but I went with Adam Bunz for 4 years. When I was 16, he asked me to marry him. I said No, I was going to teach. He said how long? I said 13 years. He said he’d wait 20 if I’d say yes. 4 years I went with him and he never kissed me once – he went to a priest and asked him if it’s a sin to kiss a girl you love and the priest said no. I told him , “you can ask me those questions, you don’t have to ask a priest.”

Adam and I went to about 3 dances a week. Mary didn’t have a boyfriend. She was very happy.

Ever have a broken heart? No – I never got that excited about anyone.

Most Valuable Experience: When I found out I could go to Teacher’s College and after that: Loyola had just fired a teacher and said I could have a job. I was teaching relatives as well like Rose Sinnett ( 7 years younger than me).

 

1930 – 1939

We were in a new house Dad and Mom built; it had a dumb waiter to take food into basement.

I always wanted to be a teacher. I was anxious to get out teaching so I could take Mom and Dad back to their old home in Ontario and then Mom died and Dad never had any interest

or likings to go back after that.

I never met my grandparents.

A goal you set and reached? “Goal was teaching school. What I achieved and enjoyed.”

Your biggest disappointment. “When I got word that my Mom didn’t have long to live and I was at Normal School in Regina. I came home Saturday. She died Monday morning at 20 after 9 at age 48. What a blow!”

“ My mother passed away in February, 1931. Nellie, my youngest sister was only 5. I left for Teacher’s College (in those days called Normal School.”

I was living my goal; since 7 years old knew I wanted to be a school teacher.

I was 19 years old when mom died.

A devastating time in your life: When I got the phone call regarding no hope for Mom. We were just sitting down at the supper table. Grma Sinnett had wieners, nice mashed potatoes and gravy; I had one mouth full and the phone rang with message, Mom was very low; no hope; double pneumonia; Gma Sinnett and I took midnight train to Lanigan (from Regina); Charlie Paproski picked us up by car in Lanigan (1931 -Feb 7); and drove us to Dad’s. On Feb 9/31 at 9 am Mom asked if anyone saw the doctor coming down the road from LeRoy and Dad said, “ No, I can’t see him,” and she said, “I think maybe it’s too late.” Holding the crucifix in her hands, she kissed Jesus crucified and died.

Sometime in the afternoon, Dad said, it’s odd how life goes; Cecelia was taken away from him; a couple that never argued; never fought and last weekend when they were in Humboldt, the man at the livery barn was praying that the Good Lord would take his wife away from him as he was stepping out.

Billy Knaus prepared the body (used vinegar). Ladies dressed her.

Nellie had to come back to Regina with me. You see the 4 of us lived in a 3 bedroom suite in Regina. Aunt Laura and Peg worked and Gma Sinnett got meals so Nellie had someone to stay with. She and I came home with Gus Roroff on June 9, 1931.

1931; my first school; teaching 40 students and ten grades in a one room school at Loyola School in Sinnett.

When the dirty thirties struck, we turned that 1925 Model T Ford into a Bennett wagon. In the 30’s; no one had money. You can imagine, eggs were 5 cents a dozen. Farmers hit the newly born calves in the head as calves were worth nothing. They tried to fatten cows and sell them; no pasture – dried out. The Hungry Thirties. Thank God he took Mom in 1931 – se didn’t suffer during those hard times. We had dried bread for lunch. Took load of wheat to mill in Humboldt to get flour. Butter 5 cents per pound so didn’t buy many groceries if you sold your eggs and butter. Wheat .21 cents per bushel.

During the depression, for entertainment, Dad could play the mouth organ, the juce harp; Mom had taken piano lessons; we’d have the neighbors in – we danced, played cards and visit.

When I came back home in June of 1931, after teacher’s college; I had to pitch in and do all the housework, all cooking, etc. My sister, Margaret had excema so bad; her hands were raw. She was 13. She was no help. I washed all clothes on the wash board, baked 30 loaves of bread every week. That fall I accepted a school in Sinnett; Loyola; taught 3 years. Then applied for Brindle. Salary very low. I rec’d $45.00 a month. Paid Loroff’s $20. for Board. I had 42 students and 10 grades. I kept very good discipline. I had no trouble. Our first inspector was Mr. Jas. O’ Brian. In the hungry 30’s, some teachers had to go from family to family. My teacher friend never got a cent; only a promissory note. The Districts had no money; no taxes paid; so I was very fortunate. My school never closed. Some am’s, 50 below. I jumped on my broncho and off to school.(Horse walked all the way). The students came that way too. Nurse came once a year. Checked students eyes, ears, etc. We had mostly sandwiches for lunches. Lunch pail was a syrup can. Games played were ball, hockey, anti-i-over, hide and go seek.

My class won the shield or sports and winning all the ball games. My grade III twins (the Murrays); one caught and one pitched and we beat the LeRoy boys in Grade VII and VIII, so we won the Shield (it is now hanging in our LeRoy Museum in the Brindle School Area).

For Hallowe-en, we held parties. For Valentines, exchanged cards we made. In my own classroom I always had a concert. My longest lasted 4 hours and comprised 48 items. I had a large class and felt I should have every student participate. All social events were held in schools. At a box social, a box of good food was brought by a lady and men would bid on it. Highest bidder won so could eat supper with the lady who brought that basket. At my school, we had a school picnic every year and everyone in the District turned out. We played games, gave out report cards and had a delicious lunch.

After I finished my education, I taught all my life. A profession I loved.

The hardest decision I’ve made – whom to marry. I had 5 boyfriends in the early 30’s.

1933 – started seeing Johnny Miller from Sinnett area; had been teaching in Sinnett. I started going with him Easter Monday. I had Easter Monday taken with John Cox who was the best dancer I ever danced with but he was always late enough that I could use it as an alibi and said to Johnny if he was there before him, I’d be his partner. Johnny was a good worker, ambitous, a good Christian.

He proposed by? “ He proposed for about 3 or 4 months before he got a yes.”

John had built a new seven room house in the Sinnett area. We had our own electricity. When we wed in 1942, we received a gas lantern from Ed and Mary Pirie, (the druggist and his wife) and also a gas lamp. We bought a gas washer from Ed Pirie. Electricity improved our home by making it much more cosy, heating , lighting and safer.

John dug two wells. Heard how my father-in-law walked from his farm; 4 miles east of Sinnett to Humboldt for repairs for his binder; which was about 40 miles away.”

When we lived on the farm at Sinnett, we had 3 miles to the station . We had no agent.

I rode a bike for the first time at Eileen Paproski’s; it was when I was teaching school; I was there for the weekend. I nearly broke my neck.

The first time I voted in an election was in the 30’s when I was teaching school.

On September 20, 1939 World War II broke out. I was teaching at Brindle. It was sad to lose all our young men. Alfred Miller and MacEacherns, Lawrence Sinnett, John Bevan all left. A General asked them one night to volunteer for a very dangerous expedition over Germany. Alfred was the only one to raise his hand and he’s the only one out of that group that didn’t come back. He was on his 20th bombing and planned on coming home next day for a month but was struck and the whole eight on the plane went down in the English Channel.

 

1940 – 1949

Monday, July 27, 1942 at St. Ignatius Church, Sinnett, I married Johnny Miller. “I was 31 years old; we had a honeymoon in Saskatoon” I wore white gown, wreath and veil. Our attendant were Johnny’s brother, Richard Miller and my sister, Nellie Casey.

For our honeymoon, we went to Saskatoon, stayed at a hotel for 2 – 3 days. A guy from Sinnett saw Johnny’s car and spent one evening with us. The first place we lived was Sinnett on his farm. Johnny built a brand new house.

Your first fight? “Wouldn’t go into that as there were so many of them.” One thing you still laugh about? “Can’t think of any.”

Where you worshipped? St. Ignatious.

In my married years, I arose at 4:30 a.m., went after the cows, 3 men sleeping in the house, John, Wayne and a hired man, I milked them; carried milk into our basement; seperated by hand; fed calves, pigs, etc. etc; John went to Council Meetings; I did all the chores. He generally came home loaded; in not the best of humour; he and your Grampa Harcourt were a good pair.

Any vacations? We were married and had just bought a new car. Eileen Sinnett and I were very good friends. We talked it over at the Irish Colony picnic that if we could get a car, we should go to Echo Lake where Emily Campbell (Johnny Miller’s sister); always called her Emily Miller; lived. To my great surprise, Johnny gave me the car; we went for 2 weeks, to Ft. Quappelle, stayed in a cabin, Eilleen, Rose and I and then drove to their brothers and I had an aunt there.

I bought my first car; Johnny and mine, a 1937.

The first time I drove a car; Johnny and I; we were coming home from Lanigan on Christmas Eve; roads were not good – thinking he would get thru; left road; got stuck in the creek; it’s around midnight and he said “Laura , take the wheel.” It was a gearshift car. He said, “this is low, this is high and this is intermediate.”, and he got out to push. I am sure it was with the help of the Lord that we got out and that was my only lesson and I’ve driven ever since till I gave up my car when I was 92.

January 20, 1944 – Wayne John Miller was born at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Humboldt.

I belonged to the Red Cross, the Catholic Women’s League at Sinnett; held each office of the Executive of the CWL. I guess I did the same for the Credit Union which was organized by Fr. Dunphy.

February 22, 1947 – Marlene born. “I loved that I had 2 children. A calf knocked Marlene over and Marlene hit it and said I’m going to ride you to school. “

An exceptional time in my life was teaching at Brindle School for 20 years. I enjoyed every moment, every day, every year.

Stories about Wayne’s life: “was he worked and worked and worked. About 9 years old, Wayne broke his fingers. He was to disc till noon and Johnny was going to take him to school to play a ballgame and when he jumped off; the power take off got his mitts and then twisted him around his back; broke 2 fingers.”

A saying from back then. “My Irish went straight up.”

I was not someone who longed for something else. I was satisfied with what I had.

I bought another car; it was a 1942 Ford.

 

1950 -1959

I was broken hearted when Marlene passed away. She thought I was perfect – whatever I said was 100% correct. But I’m very proud that I’ll meet Marlene again for all eternity in heaven.

The most difficult thing a mother has to do: “Everything. Bury your child. Make the home a home. If the Lord is with you, who can be against you.”

1951 – Marlene died. “Faith got me through; it was my faith that consoled me when Marlene, our 4 year old daughter died in 2 hours.”

“The day Marlene died I was making a dress for her.”

Teaching at Brindle. Her classroom school concert: the longest was 48 items in 4 hours.

“not one to stand still.”

My father died in February 1956 and Nellie, my sister was pregnant with her 5th child in 5 years.

During her teaching career, she taught in Loyola, Brindle, Burton Lake, Lampard, Sinnett, LeRoy, Humboldt and Muenster.

“ I did all the mending for Nellie’s who had 6 kids by then. (niece Dorothy was born in April of 1958.) I bought an open arm sewing machine.”

There was farm chores and garden;School and church picnics.

So, in the fifties you discovered? “that I’d lost my daughter.”

Had 2 little books, called Our Little Messenger, one with story “When the Savior Was Born” and other, “The Great Wonderful God” that on them jotted the following note, “I read these 2 books to Marlene and Wayne in Feb 1951; the Sunday before she passed away; sitting on the chesterfield – one on each side of me. Marlene passed away on Mon. Feb 12.

 

1960 – 1969

Wayne got married to Marilyn Fedorchuk; “Marilyn is very clever as a seamstress, at crocheting and knitting, hand painting. She made me a tablecloth.” They married in 1965 and put $8000. in changes to the house on the farm.

1966 – a new house was built in LeRoy.

Took Nellie on a holiday.

Visited Nellie’s “had the kids weeding and cleaning.”

Heath – grandson “a real worker” was born. “Did well working from bottom up.”

Tracy – granddaughter “strong capabilities as a mother and in life.” ; “will be more than capable in taking care of Alex.”

Committee Work always; Catholic Ladies Aid in Leroy at Holy Rosary Church. Usually president.

In the 60’s, “I was still teaching school.”

President of the Hospital Auxillary, vice-president of the Hospital Board.

 

1970 – 1979

Taught niece, Shirley in Kindergarten

I subbed in LeRoy for 14 years.

Wintered in Phoenix

Raising niece , Patsy as her mother had died.

Jeremy – grandson was born “honest as the day is long”; “He brought this car in to be repaired. We played cribbage and I stuck a cheque in his coat pocket unbeknownest to him. I told him and he returned and tore it up.”

Angela – granddaughter “stick-to-it-iveness as in her music lessons”; “want her to use them.”

Bought her own cars; painted one purple.

 

1980 – 1989

In your seventies, “I was still teaching school.” Subbing; I was over 70 and even Grade xii’s asked me to come back.

Secretary Treasurer of the Conservation Development Authority;

1981 – Brother, Edgar Casey of Radium Hot Springs BC; who Johnny and I spent many a holiday with, died of lung cancer.

1982 – she received 4 page letter of analysis of one page of her 1982 handwriting of a letter she had written to her sister Mary Haensgen in Ontario. Analysis was done by her niece, Marion Haensgen.

1984 – Johnny went to LeRose Lodge

Committee work for the Lodge Auxillary, A member of the First Executive of the LeRoy Leisure Board.

Was a delegate at the conference held in Ft. Qu’appelle, representing the Humboldt Regional Health Area at the “Aware” Program. Also on the LeRoy Recreation Committee and the LeRoy Museum Committtee.

She was a VIP in Regina for the LeRoy Kinsmen.

President of Drop In Centre and Bowling Alley; to get them built as well as the Town Houses, Seniors Housing; to get Saskatchewan STC Bus service coming through Leroy three times; to get Garbage Disposal; starting a Museum.

It was mentioned in Humboldt Journal that after a visit to Saskatoon to visit nieces, she went to Humboldt to visit Tom and Nellie Harcourt and Laura Deibert; she returned home to LeRoy on May 26 just in time to finalize the plans for serving the breakfast and supper for Old Chiefs’ Direct Seeding Day Demonstration.

Tried to get Minister of Highways to complete a highway through RM # 339.

Her last wish was that Seniors, their children, grand-children and great -grandchildren will enjoy those achievements for years to come.

Received Award of Merit from the LeRoy And District Recreation Board for outstanding contributions to community; the newspaper mentioned that she was executive when the skating rink was renovated; as well as for Celebrate Saskatchewan; and worked on compiling the LeRoy history book.

Received Certificate of Merit on behalf of the Quill Plains Regional Recreational Assoiation for numerous successful projects she has achieved for the Town of LeRoy.

Was driving her own Chevi Malibu

Supplying nieces and nephews with Gingersnaps

1986 – Sold her house and moved into Humboldt. Signed things Laura T. Miller of Box 3343 Humboldt Sask. SOK 2PO

1987 – Sister, Margaret who had been married three times, to a Downey, then Alderson, then Lloyd Rouley, Died.

Blair – great grandson born

 

1990 – 1999

Was still driving

1995 – had house reshingled

1996 – Exterior of house painted

Active member of church

1997 – Johnny was a resident in the Dust Wing of St. Mary’s Villa in Humboldt and they featured him in the March Resident profile of their newsletter, saying the following: “John was born in the Sinnett area in 1907. He married Laura Casey in 1942 and they had two children. Wayne lives on the family farm and their daughter Marlene died after being stricken with malignant scarlet fever and was buried on her fourth birthday. Besides farming, John was active in community affairs. He was director on the Rural Telephone Committee; Councillor of the LeRoy RM during which time he was appointed Deputy Reeve; Director of the Wheat Board Committee; and was a member of the Trustee Board of St. Ignatius Church. While John was Councillor for Division III in LeRoy RM he helped to collect in the town and RM for St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, our Lerose Lodge in LeRoy, in which he had to move out of and also for St. Mary’s Villa. The response was commendable. Laura and John moved to LeRoy in 1966. They spent several winters in Phoenix and Hawaii. They have also travelled east to Oshawa, Ontario, Toledo, Ohio, and west to the Pacific several times. Due to failing health, John moved into LeRose Lodge in 1984. John takes part in most lodge activities as health permits, particularly shuffleboard and bingo. Musical entertainment is of special interest and he even danced an old time waltz the last time Tom and Nellie were in. He now lives at St. Mary’s Villa.”

Talked about her list of Prayers she said each day.

1998 – Johnny passed away.

My most personal possession is my rosary beads.

Picked Raspberries

Grand In – Laws

Friends and Former Students like Klatts, Jaebs and Kowalskys

 

2000 –

Last of my brothers and sisters died; Nellie Harcourt in May of 2000. I believe your mom, Nellie knew me best. The Harcourt family was closest to me next to family.

To have a good relationship with anyone; you have to be honest, anything on your mind; talk it over; be honest; never talk behind anyone’s back. If I have anything to say, I say it to your face. If one wishes to be a good parent, speak ONCE. One doesn’t have to speak twice. Then they know where they’re at. I take after my dad; He played with us but when he spoke, he spoke once.

Put Leroy House up for sale; an 800 sq foot 2 bedroom, one bathroom house with single attached garage and central air conditioning that was 31 years old at the time. Property taxes in Leroy were $787.50 at the time. Advertisement for HOUSE FOR SALE at 111 Centre St in Leroy Sask had a color photo of the white house with maroon trim; and the two evergreens in front; asking anyone interested to contact Laura Miller at 306 286 -3273, Laura Deibert or Tom Harcourt with their phone numbers listed as well.

Lived on 12th St. In Humboldt and appreciated the neighbors that she said were so good to her.

In 2002, moved into Eastside in Humboldt; “became president and we danced every Wednesday along with 3 other activities; everyone sang songs; shuffleboard tournaments; prizes for tournaments. We serve lunch after every activity; games of your choice every Thursday 7-9; thank God we have lovely, agreeable tenants.”

She noted that every time she would go out the door, there would be some treat hanging on the door handle in a bag that would be from the tenants at Eastside Village.

Said: “I like to listen to old time music. My favorite hymn is “Beyond the Sunset.” Music is important as it’s good for the soul because you are looking on the brighter side of things when doing that singing I mean.”

An important lesson you want your children and grandchildren to learn? “That we’re on this world for a very short time and the minute we’re called, no one knows but in that life, in the hereafter, you’re there forever and it doesn’t end.”

Was there a turning point in your faith? “Never”

When you have a grandchild, be sure to ? “Treat everyone the same. No favorites.”

Being a grandparent means? “To me, it means don’t speak your thoughts, and be there for them. Never be too busy to give them assistance or to hear their point of view. To learn their interests in 2003 compared to mine in the 1920’s.”

The most important things in my life is my religion. One is only here for a very short time, but after we arise after our death, we are in our new abode for eternity- whichever it is – it is our own doing. We are here with our own free will. Do as you wish – Freedom of Speech.

My strongest charachter traits: I try my best to never hurt other people’s feelings. If I have something to say, I try and not be sarcastic. In my classroom I was very strict – spoke once. Just like Dad. Mom didn’t have to say anything. Right now I can’t think of any trait or habit I wish I didn’t have – I don’t smoke or drink. It takes a lot to make me cross. I try to consider other people’s feelings, so….. People can certainly change. Didn’t you quit smoking? Anyone can change but they must use their will power. Make up their mind and stick to it.

I DO believe in God. If you don’t you are a heathen and classed with our animals – eat and sleep.

Life is what you make it; and it made me very hopeful. I’m ready to go anytime the Lord calls – can hardly wait to see my darling daughter Marlene.

One world event I consider important to each and everyone of us – when the NDP gave us free hospitalization.

It was much harder when I was young; all the folks have to do now is touch buttons.

I loved my profession; teaching school which I did for 50 years; and then the high school students in Leroy asked when I was coming back.

Manually speaking, life is much easier now than in my young days; now go to your fridge morning and night for milk.

You know there is a God because? “It stands to reason there must be somebody with a very high intellect who controls this universe without any complications. It would be far beyond human power.”

You experience God’s clear guidance when? “Daily”.

Did you always have it? “Yes, but didn’t take it seriously until the last 10 years.”

My best friend now: “Oh Lord, Chris Weyland. One of my best friends; I’d have to say; my grandchildren because they are extremely good to me.”

Nov. 10, 2003 “I’ll be giving myself a perm tomorrow.”

Your most comforting possession? “my prayers; as long as you have that.”

Your most cherished piece of jewelry; “An onyx ring with diamonds or pearl in it; which Rose got cross ;as didn’t get the bid in cards and slapped my hand and broke the ring. It was our understanding ring which Johnny had bought from Birks in Saskatoon.”

That which you value most in life? “My faith, family, dancing, helping people out; trying to keep everybody happy – Gods and War. It’s a Great Achievement.”

The dearest people on earth? “Family and relations and friends cause I got some good ones.”

A health problem I had was weak lung. I think I’ve been near death’s door about 4 times with pleurisy and pneumonia. I have an extremely strong heart according to the doctor but my lungs can be a problem. So far this winter I haven’t had even a cold. I think the reason is I have a humidifier going in the house 2 hours a day; $7.00 at Value Village.

Being a good friend means: “ Did you say means? Honesty and faithfulness.”

A place you’d most like to see? “None. I’m satisfied right where I am.

My most recent trip? “This summer when I was 93, went to Ontario; to a wedding in northern Saskatchewan, went to BC and to Alberta twice.”

You think faith is: “A gift from God”.

A real Christian? “One that realizes that to work out your own salvation, you must realize that you must depend on the Lord Almighty in order to receive that gift.”

Your favorite passage of Scripture? “2 novenas I say. Do you want to see my list of prayers?”

When does God seem especially close? “Daily. Beside us all the time. We are never alone.”

Someone who helps you be a better Christian today? “There’s no one. Myself through Prayers.”

When you die, what do you believe happens? Everyone goes to Purgatory. None of us will go directly to heaven as we have all committed at least one mortal sin. No one will join Jesus or the Almighty God either until cleansed in Purgatory.”

When can defeat be turned into success? “You set your heart and soul to counteract it. Make up your mind. Never give up.”

A goal you were proud of achieving? “The accomplishments I made in teaching, letters and phone calls I receive from former students.”

You always thought love was? “2 people with one mind. I don’t think that now.”

2003: Gave up her car.

2004: “Last year in 2003, I announced I wouldn’t dance in Lent.

Moved into Eastside Village in Humboldt.

President of the Village and of organizing dancing, singing and once a month suppers.

Something you learned? “I will not talk if there’s a speck of noise. ORDER PLEASE.”

There is nothing more important than? “Good health.”

Had some side effects from some medication in 2003 and said “I want to give that doctor a kick in the rear that prescribed the capsules with 20 side effects.”

Something in life you are grateful for: “My health, my mentality, my memory.”

Biggest thrill: “Dancing!”

What depressed you the most? NOTHING depresses me. NOTHING gets on my nerves; NOTHING bothers me. WHY? We were not allowed as young kids to make a fuss over anything. Take things day to day as it comes. Face the music and smile. Make the best of everything. That’s all you can do.

What pulls your heart strings? When I see children badly spoiled, I could climb the wall. Just spoiled kids; kids that are neglected. I feel sorry for them; to them my heart would go out.

Words that you use are: I use common English that everyone understands.

I think that real success means, “when you’ve felt you’ve done your utmost to keep your friends and relations happy.”

You are only a failure if: “you have it in your mind that you have not got the ability if you have it. You have to give it a try.”

Loves music . “When music starts, old time dancing, I’m out there having a whale of a time.”

“My favorite hobby is dancing and singing. When I’m here at Eastside, in the kitchen and the music starts and I’m dancing, they think I’m nuts to get up and dance but now they find out that exercise not only improves their arthritis but their spirits.

“I like to teach how to give and take.”

Doing something you love is important because? “it makes so many people happy.”

Still said her rosary.

Once one passes on they are soon forgotten. My ambition is to get to heaven and hope that I will meet many of my family and friends there, for all eternity.

When Laura finished answering questions, niece, Ellen had sent her, she wrote, “I don’t think there’s a thing you don’t know about me. Hope you don’t have a headache or get cross eyed.”

2003 – 93 years old, went to Ontario, to BC and to Alberta twice.

Great grandchildren – Ashley, Parker, Alex and Nolan

In 2003, told Ellen, “to keep your organs always working, Breakfast – 3 tbsp quick cooking oatmeal, 1 heaping Tbsp cracked wheat, 1 Tbsp, crushed flax (put flax in coffee grinder); 1/8 tsp salt, ˝ cup boiling water. Microwave two minutes. Add Ľ cup boiling water. Microwave 2 minutes. Remove. Add brown sugar and cream – 10%; Organs work perfectly. Main reason I have good health.”

2005 – Recognized as one of the top 100 Influential Women in Saskatchewan at Province’s 100th birthday year. A large plaque outlining this is in LeRoy museum.

Sometime between 2005 and dying she wrote, “ Last Christmas I was invited to Marilyn and Wayne’s as usual. About 10:00 pm, all visitors, had left for home so we decided to retire. I closed the bedroom door and was just going to hop into bed, when I heard a voice behind me and to my left, spoke five words loud and clear, “This is your last Christmas.” On that note I hopped into bed and went to sleep. So I knew a year ago, I’d never see my 100th Birthday.”

NOTE: she did share above with family and did have another Christmas.

Short stay in Bruno at a care home. She spent most of her time covering hangers with yarn. She did not like it there and became paranoid. She wanted different and niece, Ellen wrote the following letter.

 

November 18, 2008

Dear Dr. Huber:

RE: Laura Miller’s placement in a nursing home

I, Laura Miller’s goddaughter would like placement to increased care; as soon as possible due to concern for her emotional state.

Since May of 2008 she has reported to me and many others more than 10 incidents of stealing; ex: clothes, jewelry, handkerchiefs, scissors.

She has no trust of what her caregivers will do and is in a constant state of high anxiety. I know this from my near daily phone calls. This is foreign to her previous life; and she is now 97 years of age. She wants to live at St. Mary’s villa when she can get in. She knows she may need to go to another nursing home or respite until there is a room available.

She does not want medication.

She has given all her clothes; save 2 blouses and 2 slacks to nieces until she can move somewhere else for fear they will be stolen. My sisters and I had insisted she keep 5 blouses; and when I was there this past Friday; she took 3 of them out of the sleeve of her winter coat; showing her constant fear of theft.

It is my understanding from MaryAnn; the co-ordinated assessment staff’s phone message that a Dr. Visit is necessary to receive immediate respite until placement available.

In my last phone call to her daugher in law, her relatives agreed that the private care home is no longer appropriate for Laura.

I believe the activity of a nursing home is required for my aunt’s health as the move to private care home in Bruno has her missing all she knew such as

  • no family or friends are near ( she had been very active in Eastside village community in Humboldt and I do believe would be again in a nursing home.)
  • no spirituality – in Humboldt she went to Mass weekly and had daily mass on tv; not happening in the private care home. Laura knows I am writing to you and is praying we get her a new home.

Please consider for immediate placement for mental; emotional and spiritual reasons. Thank you.

Sincerely,

 

Ellen Sagh
Niece & Goddaugher
403-603 Lenore Drive
Saskatoon Sk S7K 6S1

Cc: Assessor from Home Care

 

In February of 2005, 2 months before Laura turned 94, she had her first perm by someone other than herself; said she is going to end dying her hair, left phone message for niece, Ellen that a wine bottle must have exploded behind her chair in the living room as nothing left in the bottle.”

Another phone message for Ellen, “where are you today? This is your Aunt Mariah calling. Just found out some people turn on an answering machine when they are at home; and if that is what you are doing, by gosh, the next time I see you, you are going to get the devil.”

Another message that said, “This is Laura Miller speaking and it’s getting later than you think; just finished pool; last time I got the consolation prize; this time I got nothing; got the supper organized; next month’s shuffleboard tournament; Tracey and the baby are at home; going to be okay; they think; but if not; will have to go back to Edmonton and phoning to tell you that and to thank you for all your help last night.” ( I had taken her through the lunch line at a niece in law’s 50th birthday party.)

She gave Ellen photocopies of the following list of prayers she said each day:

  • Prayer to St. Anthony
  • Novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Oh Jesus forgive us our sins, Save us from the fires of Hell and bring all souls to Heaven, Especially those most in need of Thy Mercy.
  • Miraculous Invocation to St. Therese
  • When Hearts Are Lonely by St. Augustine

2009 – Moved to Lanigan in January

April 4, 2009 – Laura Miller’s Birthday Party – 98 Yrs Young

with over 40 family and friends in attendance.

Received a card “GREAT AUNT LAURA – QUEEN OF US ALL” I think came from Sarah and Casey.

May 23, 2009 – wrote in her own distinctive handwriting; “11 A.M. – Wayne Miller visited.

February 27, 2010 – a Saturday,when Ellen was visiting, walked with Ellen from her room down the hallways to the hall where Ellen played the piano; she tapped her foot and hummed along to the songs. She said she wanted to use the washroom prior to returning to her room; and Ellen was unsure whether she needed assistance or not and so went into the washroom with her. She did not need assistance and Ellen was so impressed that she was still wearing panties at 98 years of age.

Three days later, on Tuesday March 2, 2010, she said she was tired, went back to bed in the morning and died.

 

LAURA MILLER PRAYER SERVICE MARCH 7, 2010

REFLECTIONS WRITTEN & DELIVERED BY DIANNA KNAUS

There is no one we meet along life’s path that does not influence us, who does not make a difference and impact our lives in some way, but surely there are few that have left a greater impact on individuals, the church and entire community in so many dramatic ways than our beloved Laura Miller. She will be remembered despite the long passage of many years. We are grateful for her servant’s heart and the love she poured into each project and person. On behalf of Holy Rosary Parish, we extend to Wayne and Marilyn, to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to relatives and friends, our most heartfelt sympathy.

The Lord is certainly the giver of all gifts to His people and Laura was the recipient of many, many gifts which she used to fulfill many purposes and as her years grew in number, so did her resolve to ruffle the systems that be and create good things for the people of LeRoy and surrounding area. In the book of Wisdom we hear the words – In the time of their visitation, they will shine forth, and will run like the sparks through the stubble. Laura did a real trial run here on earth, as many would agree, Laura often ran like sparks through the stubble!!

Laura was truly an extraordinary lady! She was a visionary in seeing what would benefit others. Her determination and ability to see a project to fruition was truly inspiring. A real mover and shaker…surely many of the men folk in this town could tell stories of Laura’s 6:00 am phone calls to remind them they were pouring cement in 15 minutes. That little spark ignited many fires!

I had the good fortune to know Laura in many different capacities…and my first encounter was as a student. Laura was an exceptional teacher with extremely high expectations for a strong work ethic and cleanliness (of course cleanliness is always next to godliness) and polite manners. As a Gr. 12 high school student, I don’t know if I truly appreciated her expectations as I recall her words when I returned to the classroom and let the door shut on its own. “Miss Wickenhauser, is that the way we close the door, please go back and close it properly.” And of course, I did, oh so softly.!!

After I moved back to LeRoy and was married, I learned to love and appreciate Laura in many new ways. Laura was a leader heading many committees and organizations in our church and community. As president of the CLA, she always ran a business like and no nonsense meeting. Laura loved order and structure. Always firm and confident and focused… no needless chatter… accomplish what we needed to do – plan a fall supper, shower, wedding or clean the church. Then came the time for laughter and joking and chatter when the job was done. Laura loved to joke around and tease the best of them!! I know she could give my husband quite a run for his money!!! The two are probably bantering right now and I know Laura will still get the last word.

You will read and hear tonight of many of Laura’s accomplishments..it is phenomenal to recount what Laura did in her golden years, her retirement!! Laura was instrumental in orchestrating the building of both the senior complexes and the public housing units. The thing about Laura was that she didn’t just see that a project was completed and then pass it over to others to look after, NO she continued to chair the committees and took a lead role in seeing that all went well. I recall that prior to any meeting, Laura would have visited each senior tenant individually to see that everything was good. What a selfless use of her time and effort, what devotion, what love!! Can you see the spark flitting through the stubble!! She never stopped!!

I came to know Laura after her retirement into town, but would often hear of her beloved son and daughter in law and her grandchildren of whom she was so very proud. Laura’s life was not always easy… there was the loss of her daughter at a young age and in her final years she looked after her husband, John who was stricken with Alzheimer’s. Despite her sufferings, Laura remained strong in her faith and demonstrated profound courage. Her faith was always alive as she lived it in everything that she did. Great was her faithfulness, but even greater is God’s. Jesus says… “Anyone who hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.”

Laura had many gifts and used them to help others and to glorify her God. Laura, the eternal spark, lit many flames under the people who had authority to make profound and meaningful changes. Certainly the Lord would be pleased with her devotion, her time and effort and will now say…”Well done, my good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful in little things, I shall make you ruler over much!!” As John says in the gospel reading…”Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life.”

Tonight we thank God for Laura’s long and fruitful life and we take a look at the years we ourselves have been blessed with. We look at the good we have done and it may pale in comparison to that of Laura, we may not always have been as faithful as we could have been, we maybe are not even sure what our gifts are. We all do not have the gifts Laura was blessed with but we all have gifts and can do something – it may be a gift of smiling, of listening and encouraging a friend, of baking a slice for the lunch. Our gifts are not all as visible or dramatic as others, but God loves each one of us with the same BIG LOVE. God doesn’t love us for what we do, He loves us just as we are. We don’t earn our salvation by the things we do, but by what Jesus has done for us when he died on the cross. It doesn’t matter if we turned our back, the Lord has never turned His back on us.

In closing, I am reminded of yesterday’s meditation in “The Word Among Us”… some of you may have read this. The prodigal son returns to his Father after he has squandered all his money. He is filthy and dressed in rags. In Luke, it says… “While he was still a long way off” his Father sighted him. Without question, the Father accepts his son, welcomes him home and showers him with every good thing he has. This is exactly how our Heavenly Father will treat us!! We are all prodigal sons at times. He is unfazed by our condition. The rags and filth that may cover us don’t fluster him, he is not waiting to scold us for the gifts we haven’t used or the sins we hid. No he is watching us from a distance and he runs towards us!! He longs to embrace us, to treat us with mercy, and to rejoice at our return. It doesn’t matter where we have been or what we have done. All that matters is that we’ve come home!!

We live our lives in expectant hope, that one day we will join Laura and all the faithful departed in our eternal home and enjoy the company of angels and saints. I know that if there is a Homecoming committee, Laura will be running the meeting!! God bless her soul!

 

Information from the Prayer Card:

In loving memory of Laura Theresa Miller

Central Parkland Lodge, Lanigan Saskatchewan

Born: April 4, 1911 Caseyville District, Saskatchewan

Died: March 2, 2010 Central Parkland Lodge, Lanigan, Sask.

Age: 98 years.

 

SAFELY HOME

I am home in Heaven, dear ones;

All’s so happy, all so bright!

There is perfect joy and beauty

In this everlasting light

All the pain and grief are over

Every restless tossing passed;

I am now at peace forever

Safely home in Heaven at last

Did you wonder how I so calmly

Trod the Valley of the shade?

Oh, but Jesus’ love illumined

Every dark and fearful glade.

And he came Himself to meet me

On that way so hard to tread;

And with Jesus’ arm to lean on

Could I have one doubt or dread?

Then you must not grieve so sorely

For I love you dearly still

Try to look beyond earth’s shadows,

Pray to trust our Father’s will.

There is work still waiting for you,

So you must not idle stand

Do your work while life remaineth

You shall rest in Jesus’ land.

When that work is all completed,

He will gently call you home

Oh, the rapture of that meeting,

Oh, the joy to see you come.

 

Prayer Service Sunday March 7, 2010 7:30 p.m.

Holy Rosary R. C. Church, LeRoy, Saskatchewan

Presider: Dianna Knaus

Readers: Laura Deibert and Marilyn Miller

Eulogist: Heath Miller

 

 

EULOGY WRITTEN AND GIVEN BY HEATH MILLER

I want to begin with a brief story directly from Grandma regarding her eulogy.

A gentlemen from this parish passed away a few years ago. He was very kind hearted and a great asset to his parish and to his community.

His eulogy was very, very, very long. A few days later Audrey Moore and a few ladies dropped in to visit Grandma and Audrey said, “My wasn’t that eulogy long” and my Grandma replied, “Quite.” Well, Audrey said, “If Laura Miller ever dies, we’ll never see supper. “

With that said Grandma stated that she wanted her eulogy to be kept short and I will try to fulfill Grandma’s wish.

The passing of Grandma Miller occurred at her residence on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. She was 98 years o age. We already had her 99th birthday celebration planned for April. Grandma was the last surviving member of her original family of 7.

Grandma was born on April 4, 1911 to Thomas and Cecelia Casey at their farm in the Caseyville district in the LeRoy/Sinnett area. She attained her elementary education at Caseyville School, her secondary education at Humboldt Collegiate Institute and got her teaching certifcate in Regina. Grandma taught at Burton Lake, Loyola, Brindle, Lampard, Sinnett, LeRoy, Humboldt and Muenster. After her move to LeRoy she sustituted in elementary and high school for 14 years.

She loved the teaching profession dearly and is remembered and respected by many of her students.

In 1942, she married Grandpa Miller in St. Ignatius Church at Sinnett. They resided on my Grandpa’s farm in the Sinnett district. They had two children, a son, Wayne (my father) and a daughter, Marlene. Marlene passed away at the age of 4 due to scarlet fever.

Grandma had four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and most recently achieved five generations with one great great granddaughter.

In 1966, Grandma and Grandpa moved into LeRoy and my father took over the family farm. In 1984 due to failing health Grandpa became a resident of LeRoy Lodge. Grandma continued to live in their home until 1987 when she moved to Humboldt. After Grandpa died in 1998, Grandma moved into Eastside Village. There, she continued to use her organizing skills and planned a variety of social events for the other residents.

In 2007, because of failing eyesight Grandma moved to Lily’s Care Home in Bruno. A final move was made to Central Parkland Lodge in Lanigan in 2009.

As a grandchild of Grandma’s, we learned at an early age that we had to share her with other members of her extended family, friends and the community.

There is a saying Those who can’t …. teach. Those who can… do. Grandma was the exception. She loved to teach but she was also a doer never giving up on a challenge. For example, Grandma was President of the Catholic Ladies Aid, a member of the hospital auxillary, vice-president of the Hospital Board and Secretary -Treasurer of the Conservation Development Authority. She was also a member of the First Executive of the Leroy Leisureland Board. Grandma was a delegate at a conference held in Ft. Qu’Appelle representing the Humboldt Regional Health Area. Grandma was a V.I.P. In Regina for the LeRoy Kinsmen at the Kinsmen Telemiracle.

I still remember as a young kid being so proud seeing her on TV and answering one of the phones in the background.

Grandma was a very generous person who helped family and friends at their different times of need. Each of her grandchildren can attest to this.

Grandma we love you and will all miss you very much.

Grandma I’m sure you are as busy critiquing this, always the teacher – but I hope it was short enough for you.

 

FUNERAL MASS Monday March 8, 2010 10:00 a.m.

Holy Rosary R. C. Church, LeRoy, Saskatchewan

Celebrant: Fr. Paul Paproski

Cross Bearer: Blair Miller Hyer

Alter Servers: Taylor and Rahelle Block

Readers: Shirley Pratchler, Denise Prachler and Amy Deibert

Intentions: Thomas Deibert

Organist: Marion Miller

Memorial Table Attendants Brian and Colleen Harcourt

Honorary Pallbearers: All those who shared in Laura’s Life

Active Pallbearers: Heath Miller, Jeremy Miller, Jim O’Brien, Darren Helstrom, Kevin Harcourt, Ken Deibert

 

Internment: Holy Rosary R. C. Cemetery, LeRoy, Saskatchewan

Memorial Donations: Holy Rosary R.C. Cemetary Fund

Fellowship Luncheon: Holy Rosary Parish Hall

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