Emerson and a Letter from Babe

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June 4, 1985 (Image 1 of 5)    

In 1975, the Town of Emerson celebrated its centennial, and a commemorative book was created, called Emerson, A Centennial History, 1875 - 1975. This letter, from the Town of Emerson, Office of Secretary-Treasurer to Babe (Charlotte E. Finkelstein, here called Mrs. M. Finkelstein) reads as follows:

June 4, 1985

Mrs. M. Finkelstein
Apt. 4A - 221 Wellington Crescent
Winnipeg, Man.

Dear Madam:

Re: History Books

Please be advised that the house pictured on page 80 in the Emerson Centennial History Book "Awrey" is the house once lived in by the Shnier family. Enclosed is a souvenir town pin.

Yours truly,

(signed) Marvis M. Sigurdson


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Here is a copy of page 80 of the book referenced above. This is the house the Shniers lived in when they were in Emerson, Manitoba, and is the scene of Babe's stories, in the next pages.

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When Babe forwarded a copy of the Emerson Centennial booklet to her siblings, she included this wonderful three-page letter she wrote with her sister Esther Remis. It is written in her unique style (brief inside jokes and sarcasm, sprinkled with yiddish – there's more of her writing in the Clifford scrapbook section of this web site), and is stories and reminisces of their years growing up.

I would love to receive explanations and background to these stories, and translations of the yiddish.

Dear Sibling: This note is by way of addenda to the booklet submitted herewith. We have entitled it "An Emmessa Mainsa", and I hope that it will evoke many happy memories of Emmesson and the house depicted in the booklet. Esther and I have been recalling a few. We are sure each of you will have many more to share with the rest of us........

Esther recalls that it was in the sculptured gardens to the left where she played ‘knife’ with Clifford and severed an artery in her leg. Dr. Wallace arrived much faster than to any maternity call. "Oh, he said, I thought you said she cut her throat, not her foot."

To the East, the English Rose Garden, was the site of the library a small building which housed only two. Many happy hours were spent contemplating the world thru' orange-coloured papers. Beyond the library stretched the hunting fields where Spot & Prince romped playfully after the hounds. Reliable Bossy would stare dreamily at us, chewing her cud as the chase passed by. Pinchanudeldorf, our literary goat (we fed her our flunked exam papers) grazed close by. Little dears were often found frolicking amidst the flora & fauna.

Tennis courts were located in the North sector of the estate. Esther, Norman, Max, and Phil spent many hours perfecting their game (while Babe was busy cleaning the house--and Allie). The North wing housed the nursery, and nanny's quarters. The architectural design placed the serving court on this wall, which received an incessant and unrelenting barrage of practice serves from the four top-seeded players. The intercom to the courts was used constantly all afternoon during Mama's rest periods.

For the most part, the lower level was a wine cellar and buttery, where one could reach into a huge barrel of slime to+B2 get the most delectable, crisp dill pickles ever--but first, one had to lift the 30-pound rock off the top of the barrel.

Memories of throngs of city visitors bring to mind the day the formal dining salon ceiling fell (due to moisture from the boy's bedroom) & narrowly missed Beattie Rusen's head. Her's was a Short stay.

Our large family boasts many & varied professions--artists, engineers, athletes, musicians & standup comedians (who perform sitting down). Allie began sculpting at age 3½. His first commission (unsolicited) was to peel a case of Japanese oranges. We cried as we took our naked orange to school in the cold weather.

Music lessons were compulsory. Sweet strains were continuously emanating from the music room. Indeed it was sweet. Miss Tandy, the music teacher, was paid yearly with 100-pound sacks of sugar--she pleading for the cash instead--insisting that she had enough and Dad insisting "that was the only way to go". When she finally went "tsu langer urin" they found 200 sacks


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of sugar in her two room bungalow! Lan always asks Esther to play "Somewhere over the Rainbow" for him. Irving, as we all know, is an accomplished violinist, having played two entries in the music festival at the same time--in two different churches. Babe was asked to recite poetry at every recital!

More happy memories.......The summer kitchen was where Phil gave Esther a hand making fudge.

The rear cloisters is where Cecil saved Phil’s life surely, by single-handedly grasping the fridge before it could crash over on Phil as the little dear was swinging on its door. The cost of this noble deed was two split fingers--small price!!

The first production of "Cats" was staged in the main reception hall. Esther sat beneath the magnificent curved staircase engrossed in reading the encyclopedia, as was her wont (didn't help her). Max, the animal lover, quietly dropped the cat over the bannister, causing it to land on her back. The music is still being heard to this day on Broadway!

Babe's first encounter with the medical profession came when Phil aged seven fell off Dowswell's fence and broke his collar bone. She rubbed it generously with zambuk for three whole days until Mum & Dad returned from Winnipeg and took him to the Doctor, who put it in a cast for three months.

Jack's wanderlust began in the West courtyard where he mounted his trusty C.C.M. & rode the 70 miles to Winnipeg. Brother Jack spent several summers working with a threshing crew. After spending the winters unloading boxcars of 100-pound sacks of flour, he wisely chose to head south.

When we phoned the Doctor to come quickly because the baby had swallowed a nickel, the doctor asked "How old is it?". Papa had the right answer on the tip of his tongue--1925!!!

Our Olympic class swimmer, Babe, pulled Numa Margulius out of the Red River when he went under for the 3rd time. 35 years later when she stopped in to his jewelry store to have her watch adjusted because it was going too fast, he thanked her profusely for saving his life--and gave her a 10% reduction.

Brother Norman, who excelled in outdoor sports--really had an ear for it--outshot Gretzky using the old style light weight puck still found in abundance in Emerson.

Brother George was known by all the children in town as a great benefactor. One day, two little boys came up to him and asked for a nickel. George said, "Listen, it's not nice to ask. If I want to give you something, I'll give it to you without your asking!" Walking away, the kids retorted, "O.K. for you, you pot-bellied s.o.b.!!"


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The west section of the gardens, near the trafalgar fountains where many colored Italian marbles & agates greeted the eye, was the scene Bertha chose for her wedding to Gordon. After living in Regina City for three years, she returned to her ancestral home, Tara, to consummate. What a joyous occasion that was!! All of us in our Friday best lined up on the West portico watching the carriages arrive, and divest themselves of their passengers. After that affair, for years to come, we had hockey pucks galore!!!

A favourite niece, Myra, when she was but two years of age, had her first free flight. She took off from the top of the stairwell landing near the nursery. An interested observer at the top of the stairs was Papa, who stood shrying, "das kind, das kind!!" as Bertha shoved him aside, to rescue Myra. Fortunately, Mama's antique collection was at the bottom of the stairwell, so Myra's fall was broken by the sauerkraut crocks, and mason jars!

In 1961, after many years of extolling the majestic grandeur of the family summer home, Pavlitch-on-Red, we stopped in Emerson. We drove past the mansion. I took one last fond look at it, and we continued on our way to Oklahoma City. Driving along, my reverie was broken by Mitch saying, "Don't ever talk 'sterling, or wall to wall' to me again."

I never quite understood what he meant by that.

Love & Best wishes & happy times!!


Winnipeg 1985