Concert program from 1930s brings back memories

‘It was like receiving a piece of history'

Published on January 7, 2013
Louise Fleming

By Lyle Carter

The parcel arrived over the holidays, sent from a childhood friend who had been living in Montreal for many years.

What could it be? Eighty-four year old Louise Fleming was mystified. Turns out the gift was simple, yet priceless.

"It was a (hand-written) Christmas concert program from 76 years ago," said Fleming, who lives in Truro. "Can you imagine? Dorothy Coleman sent me this program from our 1936 Christmas concert at Onslow Parade School, which was in Central Onslow.

"I suppose she thought I'd get a kick out of it after all these years. It was like receiving a piece of history."

And there, in the middle of the program, was little eight-year-old Louise (nee Hoyt) scheduled to perform a tap dance with another girl.

"Quite a few young people took tap dancing lessons during my youth," said Fleming. "I liked tap dancing and as the concert was very country I suppose I must have been excited at the time to perform tap dancing."

A few people who took part in the concert still live in the Truro area.

"This kind of made me interested in passing this information on," she said. "Vaughan Dickie, who has lived in Central Onslow all his life, did a recitation. So did Charlie Boyce who now lives in Bible Hill. My sister Ruth Jones who lives in the state of New York gave the Address of Welcome.

"Besides the names found on the program, there may be other people living who might have been part of the Rufty Tufty folk dance or one of the choruses. There were quite a few parts to the program."

For Fleming, the Christmas concert was one of the highlights of the school year.

"In the tough years of the ‘Dirty 30s' there were large families who probably very seldom ever got into Truro. The concert was the most excitement some kids had during the whole year."

Louise's father, Albert, owned a mixed farm, which included a large number of pigs, at the time.

"Quite a few men worked on the farm and my mother Carrie prepared large meals for everyone," said Fleming. "I don't know how she did it? I'll always remember my mother working hard and being very fair and standing up for what was right."

Fleming's friend Dorothy lived on a nearby farm, having immigrated to Central Onslow from England.

"Later, during the (Second World War) years, the Colemans had a soldier's family from Montreal come and live with them," Fleming said. "Everyone with an extra room had someone living in their home.

"After the war ended the family returned to Montreal. They invited Dorothy to come to Montreal and live with them. It was an opportunity for my friend and she worked for many years in the big city before retiring. We've kept closely in touch all these years."

After taking Grade 8 at the Parade School in Central Onslow, Fleming attended a school in Truro and later the Colchester County Academy where she took a business course.

"I worked first in the office of F.W. Woolworth on Inglis Street in Truro," she said. "Over the years I had a number of jobs which involved accounting. At the end I worked for Hollis Chrysler in Truro."

During her teenage years, Louise began dating Reg Fleming.

"Reg played hockey in the local district league with Onslow," she said. "I began spending time around the old Truro Forum watching Reg play. My memories are of a big, old, cold place."

Fleming said she also enjoyed skating but skated mostly outdoors on the marsh or on a pond near her home.

Louise and Reg married in 1950. He was a trucker and freight handler before being employed for several years with the Canadian Order of Foresters. The couple raised two children.

Reg died in 2010. Louise has one granddaughter.

Lyle Carter's column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.