One of the first things Mum wanted to do in the new home at Snake Creek was give the rooms a fresh coat of paint . The colours were worn from the endless scrubbing that was required to rid the house of the soot that coated everything . Locomotives spewed a thick gummy black smoke that infiltrated every nook and cranny .The walls grew stained from a combination of soot and woodsmoke so were spot cleaned weekly . The scour marks showed that the previous homemaker had tried hard to stay ahead of the grime .
A walk along the track trailed the soot into the house . But , the floors faired better than the walls . A weekly scrub with lye water made from the woodashes kept them bleached white . Mum always put a coat of paste wax over the top. When the wax was set , she would put on a pair of Dad's worksocks and skate around the house , buffing the floors to a glass finish . This made washing the floors easier since the soot could not lodge in the shiny surface .
Interior paint came in only two CPR colours:white and green . Even if Mum had wanted
to purchase her own from Bell's Hardware in Mattawa , or could have afforded it , she would not have been allowed since CPR property was specifically regulated . So she resigned herself to the fact and asked Dad what she had to do to get paint and brushes . " You have to ask the roadmaster ."
With the history that had already passed between them over the past year , she knew that her plans could be doomed before they began .
However , she put her personal opinions of the man aside and politely requested ,in writing, the paint and brushes for the job and gave it to Dad for delivery . Within a few days , the RM was at the door knocking politely and waiting for Mum to answer . He asked if he might inspect the house to see if paint was really required ..." head office expects it", he explained . Before he entered , he wiped his feet well on the braid mat . He followed Mum while she led him through the house to see the walls , and agreed that it was in need of a good painting . The roadmaster said that he would requisition the paint as quickly as possible . Then , he left . Mum thought to herself " That is not the same man ." Her letter from the previous summer had had the effect she desired . Someone had set him straight . There were few complaints about him from anyone along the line . He later transferred out to another region.
Soon Mum had her issued paint including a gallon of brown to touch up the wood trim on the exterior . The thought of the same old scheme niggled at her . She painted one room white and one room green . Then she took the part can of white and added green to make a paler version for another , and an even paler green for the last bedroom . On a creative roll , she added stripes to the kitchen to emulate wallpaper . After painting the outside trim and the doors , she was left with a half can of each colour . On the final painting day , she mixed all the leftovers together to get what she called 'a vile greenish brown' which she used up painting the large tongue and groove cupboard in the kitchen and all the window ledges . Despite the last creation , the house was bright , clean and different than any other section house ... all with CPR issue .
Dad was pleased with the results of her creativity , but the dark oddly coloured brown in the kitchen really concerned him . "Well they may not like it much . It's pretty awful . "
" They shouldn't complain too much ...they chose the colours ."