|A service car|
Mum immediately tied a rope from tree to tree beside the track for the laundry . While we children played and dirtied clothes , Mum would wash them out in the handbasin with water she hauled from the lake in a bucket . We only had one change of clothes so that meant five days of hand laundry .
Since there was no yard in which to play outside , most activity took place inside the service car . This was a cramped space with only a small aisle down the middle to navigate . On one side of the aisle were four bunks (beds) . On the other : a wash stand , a cupboard , a table and two chairs , an icebox and a stove .
When Mum was washing up or cooking , the children sat on the bunks so she could have the aisle unimpeded . Before we had left Mattawa , Mum had bought us each a pencil , a notebook , crayons and a colouring book . It was a special surprise for us when she presented them on our first day . She had picked out a toy car for my little brother,as well, which he pushed along the floor up and down the aisle , complete with all appropriate sound effects . Mum was agile , and hopped over him as necessary .
The only time we left the car during the day was to use the outhouse set beside the track ... or to run a bit back and forth alongside the service car , between the bush and the siding . The land fell away into the lake which we could just get a glimpse of between the trees . Since the siding was beside the main track line , it was a dangerous area for small children . The door faced the bush and we had to remain on that side of the service car .
In the evenings after Dad had finished work , and supper was done , we tried to go blueberry picking a few times . We headed outside , each with a CPR mug in hand , hopeful to pick a treat for ourselves along the track . Dad lead us along the rails but we didn't get far . We were driven back by mosquitoes that were just coming out for their supper . After a short exposure to blood donation , we retreated to the service car- our refuge . Staying inside for quiet evenings was best . I don't recall anyone whining or complaining too much , given the alternative .
I do recall ,vividly, one exciting moment from that holiday that almost cancelled all other memories for me . Mum had washed the sheets that we used that week on the last day of our stay . She wanted to make sure Dad was set for the following week of work . Normally , he would have hauled these home for washing on his days off . Mum decided she could manage the chore and keep the weekend free of some laundry .
She placed the wet sheets on the table by the door where Sis was drawing in her notebook . Then Mum climbed down the access ladder to the ground outside . The doorway was about four feet from the ground . Then she called for Sis to pass one sheet to her so that she could hang it on the line to dry . Sis gathered a wet sheet in a bundle and brought it to Mum's waiting hands .
Suddenly , Sis was flying through the air and promptly landed on her rear in the bush- surprised but unhurt . She had forgotten to put down her pencil . The hand holding it was wrapped up in the bundle . When Mum whipped the sheet out of her hands , she was taken with it . We all laughed..."It was like a scene from a Buster Keaton silent movie " she told Dad later . Everyone had a good chuckle over this story . Thoughts of it filled my head as we drifted to sleep on the last night of our Biscotasing holiday 1958 .