Letters: The Little Red Wagon
Farmer's Market mural in Pembroke, Ont.
There is an old saying “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” Sometimes this is true, other times, it is not. Very often the background or the story behind the picture is never fully known by those viewing it.
Take for instance the murals which grace some of the business buildings along the downtown streets of Pembroke. These pictures are beautifully painted, but in many instances, we do not really know the background of the stores and the activities depicted. There are scenes of some of the work which was carried out in our area. For instance, log driving, blacksmithing, religious ministrations, plus several other occupations.
On the north-facing wall of the Giant Tiger building, there are numerous personages, activities, occupations and careers depicted. There is a magistrate, loggers, farmers, a wedding, a mother and child, and much more.
One of the newest depictions is not painted on a building, but on a billboard at our local outdoor market. In fact, there are three billboards showing several different activities which could well have taken place in our fair town (as it was known back then).
The billboard on the left-hand end of the trio catches my fancy. Let me tell you why.
This billboard features a depiction of an earlier farmers’ market in Pembroke. It was located where Tenet computers now have their business. It was an indoor market and featured counters much as detailed in the scene. I visited that market with my mother when I was quite young. My grandparents, William and Mary Holtz, who owned and operated a farm on Witt road in Alice Township, now known as Laurentian Valley Township, would be sellers at that market. They would most likely have sold firewood, pork, chickens, eggs and headcheese. My grandmother used to make the most delicious headcheese. Even as a young child, I liked it, especially spread on McGaughey’s white bread with butter. I have been told that some of the purchasers would take a dime and cut off a sliver of the headcheese in order to taste it before they would spend their money on it. There was always lots of chatter amongst the farmers and shoppers who would congregate there on a Saturday morning – a very noisy place, but it totally captivated my interest.
Also on that mural, at the very front and centre, is a young boy, probably 11 or 12 years old, with his little red wagon loaded with purchases which would have been made at that market. This boy would allow his neighbours and relatives to fill his wagon with their purchases and then he would deliver the goods to their homes, on Miller Street and Trafalgar Road in the west end of town. He would usually make two or three trips on a Saturday morning and would be given a nickel or a dime for his services.
This little boy had lost his father on a New Year’s Day, as the result of an accident. He had been struck by a drunk driver while on his bicycle riding out to Melton’s Flower Shop so he could purchase flowers for his wife for Christmas. This boy assumed as much responsibility to support his mother and sister as he was able to do, at that young age.
How do I know all this? Well, that little boy grew up, and when he was a few years older, I married him. He had a natural God-given sense of business and put his talent to work. He started out renovating houses and later became a house builder and subdivision developer. His name is Ken Seigel. Recently, Ken succumbed to a vicious case of pneumonia as well as aggressive leukemia, and went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Now, whoever painted that mural may not have had Ken in mind, but Ken certainly fits the bill! As soon as he saw the billboard, he told us his story, as I have tried to tell it above. He lived life fully. He was always looking out for “the other guy.” He was generous in philanthropy, would often help people in need (I could tell you about it, but not today), and would give credit to those who deserved it for acts of kindness they had done, if he happened to become aware of it. Just before he passed away, he said he had no regrets. I, too, have no regrets for marrying him and for being his business partner and supporting him in all his business endeavours.
So long, dearest. We’ll meet again in Heaven.