Murray and Bertha Duff and son, Edward
Many of the pioneers homesteaded and stayed on these farms for the rest of their lives. This was not the case with some and certainly not so with the Duff family. Bertha, my father's sister, her husband, Murray, and their nine year old son, Edward, came to our home in the summer of 1913, with the intention of becoming Alberta farmers, too. They were not prepared for living in the wilderness. After a short six months, they saw the privations, the isolation and the uncertainty of even the making of a livelihood, and they returned to their city home in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
They seemed to enjoy the new country and walked many miles to visit neighbors. One day Murray was absent for a long while! When he returned he told my parents he had been chased by Hoblet's big Jersey bull and he had run till he found a rock pile. There he had sat all afternoon throwing rocks at the bull when it threatened him. Finally, at milking time, someone came for the cows and Murray was safe to go home. Bertha related that she had very nearly stepped upon a rattle snake as it lay coiled up, sunning himself.
Their stay in our home made a closer bond between our families. They were very special relatives, for, we had lost much contact with our kin who remained in the Old Country. My aunt knew about our needs and used to send us much appreciated parcels of special clothing, school supplies, toys and books. My first silk stockings were a gift of finery beyond my fondest dreams and came from her.
She used to send us the comics from the New York Times. These were the funny papers, not horror-filled fantastics. Some particularly amusing were, in whole newspaper size: Maggie and Jiggs; Mutt and Jeff; Barney Google and his Horse, Sparkplug; Blondie and Dagwood; The DooDads; Moon Mullins; The Katzenjammer Kids; Tillie the Toiler; and Toots and Casper. Sometimes in these rolls of paper we found puzzles or cut-out paper dolls or hair ribbons.
Mother and Dad laughingly and lovingly recollected Edward's childlike enthusiasm.
"Uncle and me butchered a big pig and Carl too."
"Baby, if you don't go to sleep I'll spit in your eyes."
"Those gophers! I shoot them and shoot them with my BB gun, but still they keep on running."
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