EPISODE 205 MANURE SPREADER AND SOME SKEOCH BOYS
EARTHY is the best word I can you to describe those visits to the Skeoch farm on
the southwest corner of Fergus. Earthy for sure. “Would you fancy a beer, Alan?”
And Uncle Norman would lead the way to the barn stable where he kept a case
of Molson’s Golden tucked under the hay of the first manger. Why there?
Because Norman’s sisters had ‘taken the pledge’ so to speak. Temperance
people. Nice people…warm, hearty, educated, informed, leaders. All of this
including the deep belief that beer and other alcohols were a blight on the
That was a good thing. Kept visitors out in the barn where stories always
seemed richer than around the kitchen table.
Left to Right: The Skeoch Manure spreader, long retired but still admired, then Uncle Norman Skeoch (my Dad’s youngest brother),
the Jake Raison (first husband of cousin Jean Skeoch…Jake played box Lacrosse), Bruce Skeoch, Hubert Jim Skeoch (brothers from
the Skeoch farm on the North east side of Fergus), and finally Long John Skeoch … possible to play dominoes on his pants.
HOTTER THAN A PEPPER SPROUT
Jake and cousin Jean got married in Mimico. One of the best weddings I ever attended. All the Skeoch men were there in the back rows
of the church while the Skeoch women were attentively listening to the minister at the front. My brother, Eric, sat beside me for
a while then he just disappeared. Uncle Archie or Uncle Norman had reached under the pew, grabbed him by the ankle and
hauled him in a game of ‘pass the kid’ to other uncles and hangers on until Eric got close to the women when he was released.
What a wedding. Uncle Art and Aunt Mary and the Rawsons had rented a hall not far from the church. It had a kitchen
walled off from the main hall using thick paper board. I know it was paper board because Uncle Ernest (who was really a cousin)
came smashing through the wall … pushed hard by Dad (Arnold Skeoch) as they argued about politics, or sports, or anything
worth arguing about. In my mind I still see his body as a kind of ‘cut out in paper board’ which made a new door to the kitchen.
Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Greta, Aunt Lena and mom acted like mother ducks protecting ducklings. They were determined that
the children should not enter the kitchen while the discussion was happening. Someone had got beer into the hall.
Uncle Ernest’s wife, Aunt Ayleen, had the warmest laugh of anyone I had ever met. She was an Arawak
from the Caribbean…loved us…she was a hugger. I don’t know how she
reacted when her husband smashed through the wall. I do remember, however, that Ernest and Ayleen drove
mom, dad and us home that night. Laughing. No hard feelings. No. I do not know who paid for the wall.
What a great wedding…”Hotter than a pepper sprout” but eventually ‘the fire went out.”
See Hubert Skeoch next to long John. he was in the air force in World War II. Somehow he
got his teeth knocked out and they were replaced with some kind of plate. He would swirl
the plate around in his mouth for the Amusement of Eric and me when he lived with
us at 18 Sylvan Avenue. He hated the name Hubert…wanted us to call him Jim…which
we never did.
Long John Skeoch and I got the unpleasant job of being the executors of the Norman Skeoch estate.
We presided over the selling of the Skeoch farm and all the equipment. Norman left the farm to all
his brothers and sisters which was the death knell of the farm. Had to be sold. Sad ending. Wish I had the sense
to buy that manure spreader.
Bruce Skeoch was the historian of the bunch. Father to Lloyd and Vernon. He Kept the records as best he could. The Skeoch women kept
a lot of the records as well. When i showed an interest Aunt Elizabeth loaned me the letters sent back
and forth to Scotland in the 1840’s . I laboured long and hard transcribing them. Maybe I got a little to
close to the truth behind the Skeoch migration. Aunt Elizabeth got them them back.