Naida Drew Anderson's journey spans nine decades, beginning in the early 1920s. Her story begins on her aunt and uncle's farm near Belleville, Ontario. Her childhood was clouded by the deaths of her sisters, as well as her mother's painful struggle with mental illness. Through it all, Naida stood strong, surviving these hardships to come of age at the beginning of World War II.
Living near Canada's largest air force base provided her the opportunity to meet young pilots from all over the world. One handsome American flying ace named Johnny Anderson captured her heart and made her his wife.
What followed was a story of love lost and love gained and of Naida's struggle to find a place in an alien world not of her choosing. All around her, society's perceptions of women and their roles were ever changing, redefining what women could achieve in the world. Open to possibilities, Naida nurtured romantic notions of life and eventually came to grips with the reality of human existence. People would come and go from her life, each contributing to her experience, her wisdom, her understanding; each helping her to answer the question that defined her journey: Who am I?
Daughter, wife, lover, mother, cancer survivor-Naida has worn many titles. Now, comfortable in her retirement, she looks back at the path. Ultimately, it has been a lesson in resilience, living with the consequences of one's choices, and the value of remaining true to oneself.
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NAIDA WHO AM I?
By NAIDA DREW ANDERSON
iUniverse LLCCopyright © 2014 Naida Drew Anderson
All rights reserved.
The Early Years
It was the spring of l923 when I was born, April 2lst to be exact, and this day would turn out to be Princess Elizabeth's birthday as well. I was born at my Aunt Nellie's house in Belleville, Ontario. I was the second daughter of Mabel Cox Drew and Thomas Ray Drew. My maternal grandparents were Dorothea Coulter and David Cox who were both deceased at the time of my birth. My father's mother, Hannah Drew, was still living at this time. Before her marriage to Coffield Drew her maiden name was Johnson.
I know very little of my Coulter Cox ancestors. I do know that David Cox, my mother's father, was born in Ireland and immigrated to Canada, perhaps during the potato famine. He helped lay the cornerstone for the parliament buildings in Ottawa. He married Dorothea Coulter and they homesteaded near Mountain Grove, Ontario. They brought up ten children on the farm, five boys and five girls, my mother being the youngest. Sometime during those years my grandfather was notified that he had inherited a castle in Ireland. Although a Coulter relative offered to pay for his passage, he made the decision not to pursue it, which was probably wise. I know nothing of Coffield Drew other than that he was my grandmother's husband. He was Irish and she was English. They had three boys and two girls. My father was the youngest of this family. My grandmother Drew remained on the homestead until the time of her death, which occurred at the age of eighty-two.
When I was two months old my mother had a mental breakdown and was hospitalized for nine months. During this period I was cared for by my Uncle Dave and Aunt Hattie. Uncle Dave was the youngest of my mother's brothers and had been given instructions by their mother, at the time of her death, to always take care of Mabel. I expect this included Mabel's children as well. Since they were childless, they were more than happy to lavish their love and attention on me and any other children who came within arm's length, which turned out to be quite a few in the ensuing years. I was too young to remember any of the feelings I may have had, but there were many stories told and retold detailing how smart and good I was. Our bonding continued for many years.
While I was with Aunt Hattie and Uncle Dave my sister Elaine, who was 14 months older than me, spent this time at our Grandmother Drew's farm in the care of Aunt Mamie. This was not too far distant from where I was living and both places were about an equal distance to the nearest post office and general store in the village of Mountain Grove. I was with Uncle Dave and Aunt Hattie for almost a year before Mother was pronounced well enough to take up her duties as wife and mother. I do not believe that I ever bonded with her in the same way that I had with Aunt Hattie. My early pictures attest to the fact that I always looked a little sad. However, I was never treated differently from my sister by my mother. Everything was done exactly the same for both of us, but I have come to believe that there was a closeness between them that did not exist between my mother and her other children.CHAPTER 2
Moving to Roblindale, Shannonville & Beyond
My father was too young to join the army so he lied about his age and enlisted to fight against the Kaiser in World War I. It was not until I read "Birdsong," a vivid account of that war in the trenches, that I knew what my father had suffered. He never talked about the war with me or his other children. However, I learned that he tried to talk about it with my mother when he returned from France, but she did not want to listen because it was just too awful, as indeed it was. They were not married before he went to France. He was already working for the Canadian Pacific Railway as a telegrapher when I was born. In the early years he did not have seniority so we moved quite often, always to and from a number of small towns in Ontario. Roblindale was the first town that I remember and it was where my sister Dauphine was born when I was three years old. Our next move was to Shannonville. This was about a year later because I remember this is when Elaine started school.
My parents, especially my father, were active in the Anglican Church. Our neighbors were a Methodist clergy family with four rowdy boys. One day my mother caught them on our front porch in the act of raising my younger sister's skirt. I'm not sure what their intentions were because it was all so confusing to me. To avoid my mother's wrath, they took off for home in a big hurry never to be seen on our front porch again. Needless to say, my mother was relieved when this family was replaced with another of superior refinement and one with whom she could associate. They had a son who was a paragon of virtue and with whom we were allowed to play. My mother by nature was a perfectionist. She wanted her house to be perfect, her relationships to be perfect, and above all, she wanted her children to be perfect. To this end she subscribed to a strict form of discipline. Table manners were enforced by a strap kept at her side as she presided over the family meals. We were not to speak unless spoken to and were never, never to interrupt. To achieve her high expectations she would enlist our father's help. If we were naughty during the day he was to spank us when he returned from work. I don't think this was a duty he looked forward to. There was a time when my sister Elaine and I were both punished for telling a lie because it could not be determined which of us was telling the truth. She does not remember this as she had been justly punished, whereas I having been unjustly punished remember I had been the truthful one.
Another time that I felt we were not deserving of such harsh methods was when our Kingston cousins were visiting. (I was about four or five.) We had decided that we would like to walk to our Uncle Bill's house which happened to be some miles away and we had to travel along the highway. The adults were busily engaged in talking about politics, as was their custom when they were gathered together. Therefore they did not hear us when we told them of our plans. Perhaps we did not speak loudly enough. However, they certainly knew where to find us because they arrived on the scene just as we entered Uncle Bill's yard. We were whisked away immediately, not given time to say hello. We were all roundly spanked. This was a new experience for our cousins as their parents were usually quite lenient. I expect they felt compelled to follow the discretion of our mother and father since they were visiting in our home.
It was at Shannonville that I ran away to join my sister Elaine at school. The teacher contacted my mother to let her know where I was and allowed me to stay for the rest of the day. I was anxious to start school and did so in the next small town where we moved, Newtonville.
During this time Patsy was born at the Belleville General Hospital so we became a family with four girls. While we were living in Shannonville, we all came down with whooping cough. Aunt Hattie was called upon to assist us. It was too big a task for mother to deal with four coughing children, even though she had day-help. We all did recover, but I was especially hit hard and could not eat. Bananas became the only food I could tolerate and I lost weight and was never again the chubby little girl that appears in earlier photographs. This was a dreaded disease when we were young, but with the advent of inoculations it has become a thing of the past. We also frequently faced tonsillitis while we lived at Shannonville, so we were all admitted to the hospital in Belleville and had our tonsils removed. This seemed to be the remedy of choice in the nineteen twenties. While I was there I developed an earache and was given a hot water bottle which leaked all over the bed, soaking not only me, but the bed linens as well. Not one of the most endearing memories of my childhood.
My Aunt Mamie was hospitalized with mental illness while we were in Shanonville. She was single, never married, and had always made her home with Grandma Drew and Uncle Bob on the farm. She had come to stay with us for awhile, probably thinking to get help. Although I was not immediately present, I do remember the family conference that was held with the doctor at our home at the time of her breakdown. I have a vivid memory of Uncle Bill yelling that his sister was not going to the Ontario Hospital for the insane. However, she did go and remained there for the rest of her life. This does not mean that she was actually insane, only that she was not functioning within the range of what we had come to believe was normal. I know very little about my aunt's life. I learned that she was well liked and respected in her community. She may have had an unhappy love affair. She was the treasurer of the little Anglican Church at Mountain Grove and at one time was accused of taking funds. She was innocent and subsequently exonerated, but it did great damage to her spirit. I don't think she ever recovered from the pain of those false accusations.
Newtonville and Newcastle
Our next move to Newtonville was rather uneventful except that Elaine found it difficult to change schools, as I would later when I had been doing it for a while. We learned to skate on the pond assisted by some older girls who had volunteered to help us. We were friends with a young boy next door and would have dinner with him and his family. I kept trying to call Aunt Hattie on the telephone. The operator kept asking me for a number but I insisted that I just wanted my Aunt Hattie.
On to Newcastle where we did not remain a family of four girls for long as our mother delivered twins, one of whom was a boy. We were allowed to go to the hospital at Bowmanville to see the babies. Now we had Raye and Faye. When they returned home Mother spent most of her time in the nursery with the twins and was too busy to continue her role as a strict disciplinarian. I do not remember ever being spanked again. Cousin Catherine, one of Uncle John's children (my mother's oldest brother) arrived to take over the housekeeping and to see to the needs of the rest of us. She was strict but not unkind. She saw that we made our beds and washed and dried dishes for which we were given a small allowance. Upon returning from work my father would load us all in the car and take us to get ice cream. This was a rare treat and something we looked forward to.
As well as being enrolled in grammar school we went to Sunday school regularly. Mrs. Lindsay was the superintendent and a lovely lady she was. My mother had a great deal of respect for her. We were given workbooks and had to complete the lessons like regular schoolwork. Regular school was uneventful except for Valentine's Day—I did not receive any valentines. Catherine tried to console me without much success. I also remember Elaine and I were very mean to a girl whose mother did ironing for us. We were acting like we were superior or better than she was. When I thought about this later, I was ashamed of my behavior.
While we lived in Newtonville and Newcastle, we visited Aunt Hattie and Uncle Dave frequently and they also visited us. They were living in Oshawa at this time. They had left the homestead and Uncle Dave was working for General Motors. Aunt Hattie liked the city, but they were to return to the farm as Uncle Dave did not enjoy working and living in Oshawa. We would sometimes visit the farm which was now about two hundred miles distant from Oshawa. We were always very excited and happy to go there although the long car trip over rough and winding roads caused us to have motion sickness.
At Christmas time mother and Aunt Hattie would take us to Toronto to see Santa Claus. We traveled free on the train because of our father's employment with the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was an exciting time for us. The windows of Eaton's and Simpson's department stores were splendid with automated toys and Santa's elves doing their best to provide entertainment. The street was lined on both sides with happy children and adults of all ages who had come to see the parade, for the Santa Claus of those days was a joy to behold. He was truly a jolly old fellow as he was transported down Young Street in his sleigh behind his prancing reindeer. One time when we arrived at the station to begin our homeward journey, we discovered that the first train had departed without us. We spent the time in the Union Station huddled together on hard benches too exhausted to move. This did not dim the wonderful memory of all we had seen that day.
We were friends with another family who had a daughter around our age. Elaine and I were invited to their home for dinner. That was when I discovered they also had a retarded daughter who was made to sit on the stairway to eat while the rest of us were at the table. This made me uncomfortable and left a profound impression on me.
This was also a time when the medical profession had discovered polio and there was much consternation about what it was and how it was contracted. We were not allowed to go anywhere. There was so much fear about whether it was contagious and if so, how it was spread. Swimming holes, parks and other community establishments were closed. We were not allowed to eat fresh fruit.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1. The Early Years, 1,
Chapter 2. Moving to Roblindale, Shannonville & Beyond, 3,
Chapter 3. Belleville My First Encounter with Death, 8,
Chapter 4. The Years on the Farm 1935-1951, 11,
Chapter 5. Outdoor Life, 13,
Chapter 6. The Play and David's Missteps, 17,
Chapter 7. Grandma Drew, 19,
Chapter 8. Christian Education & Beyond, 23,
Chapter 9. Return to Belleville 1939, 26,
Chapter 10. The Beginning of World War II, 29,
Chapter 11. The Dashing Hero Appears, 31,
Chapter 12. Trying To Fit In 1943, 37,
Chapter 13. Returning Home Again 1944, 46,
Chapter 14. The Birth, 1944, 49,
Chapter 15. Airplane Disaster, 1945, 54,
Chapter 16. Earl and Maxine, 1945, 56,
Chapter 17. Rockford Fall of 1945, 60,
Chapter 18. Earl's Return From Florida 1946, 63,
Chapter 19. Return To Long Island 1946, 67,
Chapter 20. Kirsten 1947, 71,
Chapter 21. Bus and Ruth, 1947, 80,
Chapter 22. The Flying School, 1948, 82,
Chapter 23. Grandpa Martin, the Kittens & Uncle Earl, 85,
Chapter 24. Reckoning, 1948, 87,
Chapter 25. South Dakota, 90,
Chapter 26. New Direction, 1949, 92,
Chapter 27. Kirsten at the Sommers, 96,
Chapter 28. Marriage of Dauphine and Don, 98,
Chapter 29. Sobergs and Caledonia, 100,
Chapter 30. Allenbaugh Fiasco, 102,
Chapter 31. Christmas in Ontario and a Disaster, 104,
Chapter 32. Arlene's Choice, 109,
Chapter 33. My Workplace Experience, 113,
Chapter 34. Montreal 1951, 115,
Chapter 35. Introductions to the Frosts and Albert Cullum, 117,
Chapter 36. Birth in the Family, 1951, 119,
Chapter 37. Another Daughter, 1952, 123,
Chapter 38. Move to Illinois, 1952, 128,
Chapter 39. Waiting Again For A Home, 132,
Chapter 40. An Old Acquaintance, 135,
Chapter 41. North Dakota Moving Into Our Home, 138,
Chapter 42. Daily Living, 1953, 141,
Chapter 43. Homecoming, 151,
Chapter 44. Going Home to Canada, 157,
Chapter 45. From Fargo to Rockford, 1954, 159,
Chapter 46. An Unexpected Visitor, 1954, 163,
Chapter 47. New Job—New Friends, 1955, 169,
Chapter 48. A New Infidelity, 171,
Chapter 49. My Advent Into The Workplace, 177,
Chapter 50. Solutions, 1956, 181,
Chapter 51. Moving Back to Fargo, 185,
Chapter 52. Moving Back Into Our Own Home, 190,
Chapter 53. Important Connection 1957, 196,
Chapter 54. Back to the Farm 1959, 199,
Chapter 55. New Employments, 201,
Chapter 56. Some Consternation, 1959, 206,
Chapter 57. Family Matters, 1960, 212,
Chapter 58. The Inevitable Happens, 218,
Chapter 59. Dianna and Grace Lutheran School, 243,
Chapter 60. The Lela Story, 244,
Chapter 61. Beverly and the Merchandise Mart, 249,
Chapter 62. Moral Fiber, 1963, 251,
Chapter 63. Ongoing Kirsten Saga, 255,
Chapter 64. Summer Vacation in Gananoque, 264,
Chapter 65. Bismarck, 269,
Chapter 66. Kirsten's Marriage, 274,
Chapter 67. Family Troubles, 280,
Chapter 68. Life On Hold, 284,
Chapter 69. Fawcett House 1970, 290,
Chapter 70. On the Move Again, 294,
Chapter 71. John's New Venture, 300,
Chapter 72. City Living, 1974, 306,
Chapter 73. Introduction to Paul, 310,
Chapter 74. Life Changes, 315,
Chapter 75. Moving, Ever Moving, 321,
Chapter 76. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, 325,
Chapter 77. He Returns, 329,
Chapter 78. Trials and Tribulations, 338,
Chapter 79. Our Home, 343,
Chapter 80. Traveling and Life Changes, 351,
Chapter 81. Arlene Visiting The Island, 361,
Chapter 82. Discussion of the Inheritance, 364,
Chapter 83. The Need to Expand My Life, 371,
Chapter 84. Eric & the Foosball Parlor, 376,
Chapter 85. Spirituality Group, 379,
Chapter 86. Josie's Funeral, 383,
Chapter 87. Lilly & Lutheran Social Services, 387,
Chapter 88. Moving Into The Log Home, 391,
Chapter 89. Xiyun Gao, 393,
Chapter 90. Chanhassen, 397,
Chapter 91. The Family Evolves, 401,
Chapter 92. Clouds On The Horizon, 406,
Chapter 93. Other Virgin Island Stories, 409,
Chapter 94. A Surprise Visit and Ontario Trip, 414,
Chapter 95. Earl, 417,
Chapter 96. Planning For The Future, 428,