27 October 2011

Carl & Clara Pitura - A Love Story

Prepared by Carolynne Pitura for Carl & Clara's 60th Wedding Anniversary

Once upon a time, there was a young girl named Clara and a young man named Carl who on October 13th, 1951 (60 years ago) began a beautiful journey together.

Clara was the youngest of 5 daughters born to Caroline and Albert Kozier of Osborne, Manitoba. Carl was the youngest of 5 sons (4 surviving sons) born to Sophie and Paul Pitura of Domain, Manitoba. Carl had a twin brother who unfortunately did not thrive after birth and passed away at the age of 8 months. 

Originally Sophie and Paul and their family had lived in Winnipeg, but there came a time when Grandpa Paul wanted a better life for his sons and they moved to the original farm land when the boys were small. This is the land that is still farmed by Calvin today.

Dad  and Mom grew up together in the Domain/Osborne community. Dad attended Shanawan School which was located next to the Dobrowolski farm stead and Mom attended the Osborne School. Now being 6 years apart in age and at different schools, Dad and Mom really did not interact much with each other until Dad moved to Osborne School for high school. In fact, Dad spent more time with Mom’s older sisters Wanda  and Betty than he did with Mom initially. And as Dad reflected one day…. “ at 16 - 17, every girl looked attractive - there was Alice Linkquist, Viola Poersch, and others”. It was also rumored that Mom had her eye on a Eddie Guertin from Ste. Agathe. Things could have turned out so much differently.

As time went on, Mom’s older sisters married and/or moved away from home to work, Agnes, Helen, Betty and Wanda. Mom remained on the farm and worked with Grandpa and Grandma Kozier, helping driving equipment, working in the yard, and doing the multi jobs that are involved in running a family farm.

Dad worked along side his parents and brothers, Walter, Frank and Stanley. Walter, Frank and Stanley eventually set up their own farms and Dad continued to farm with Grandma and Grandpa Pitura until he was 22; at which time Grandma and Grandpa moved back to the city and opened up a small store on College Avenue until their move to Seymour.

“What am I supposed to do all by myself?”  Dad remembers commenting when Grandma and Grandpa left, so he invited Aunt Agnes and Uncle Stanley to live with him on the homestead for the next 4 years as their family was growing. At the time they moved in with Dad, they were living in a very small home that was no longer meeting the needs of their growing family. With this living arrangement, Dad would stay on the farm with Aunt Agnes, Uncle Stanley and the family until Christmas and then would  move into the city and stay with Grandma and Grandpa Pitura until spring rolled around. While Dad was in Winnipeg, he took courses at the University.

So how did it all begin? So don’t know whether they wanted to be secretive, or just had a difficult time remembering because they had so much fun together. But upon much reflection by both Mom and Dad, it appears that their first date “just sort of happened”.

Every Sunday, all the girls would come back to the Kozier home for Sunday dinner. Aunt Betty, who Dad had been courting for awhile, needed a ride to the train station in Ste Agathe to go back into Winnipeg that evening. This particular day, Dad volunteered to drive Betty to the station but also asked Mom to come along for the ride. Well, we know what happened then. Dad saw the light and a new romance began.

Mom and Dad went out or courted for about two years. When asked what they did on dates, both Mom and Dad said that due to the war years (end of WWII and the beginning of the Korean war) with many family and friends overseas, dating was very low key. Dad who had taken violin and saxophone lessons in grades 9, 10 and 11, became a member of a band that played at many local dances and events. There were also whisk drives at the Sanford school which were usually followed by a dance or social, there were barn dances, family dinners…….and I remember seeing pictures of  fun times up at Kenora!

So the big day came along. It was Christmas Eve and the family was gathered at the Kozier home. Dad drew Mom aside into a side room and on bended knee put a ring on her figure. As Mom commented…. “what could I do….. I had to say yes….. Dad just put it on my finger with out even asking……”  (I don’t think she fought too hard.) 

Now we all know that it was the “proper” thing to ask the father of the young lady in question for his daughter’s hand in marriage, however. in Dad‘s case, besides Grandpa Kozier, Dad also had to gain the approval of the potential brother in laws, Uncle Sid, Uncle Stanley and cousin Bill.

Plans moved forward for a June wedding. Unfortunately, things were put on hold when Grandma Carolina passed away in February. Mom made the decision to stay on the farm and help Grandpa Albert with the spring seeding, summer chores and fall harvest. The June wedding was moved back to October.

So the wedding date was set - Friday, October 13th
The church was booked - Holy Trinity Church on Donald
The bride‘s maids were chosen - sisters Betty and Wanda
The groom’s men picked - Bob Dryden and Ted Dobrowoski (Sadly, Uncle Bob ended up the hospital prior to the wedding so Uncle Walter stepped in to fill the gap).
Flower girl - Valerie (Only 3 years old at the time and cute as a button. It should be noted that Valerie is the only surviving member the wedding party.) 

The girls wore pale green satin dresses and carried bouquets of white and yellow moms. Valerie was dressed in a pale pink satin dress. Mom’s bouquet was made up of gardenias and daisies.

The day was cool and slightly overcast, but as Mom and Dad were leaving the church the sun came out and shone upon them. A very good sign! Dad shared with me that the aisle walking out of the church was the longest aisle he ever walked down, especially since they were being hit with rice and confetti from all directions; and the fact that only a few days before he had stepped on a nail and was still limping slightly.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Pembina Lodge on Pembina Highway. A big old home that was converted into a reception hall. A turkey dinner with all of the trimmings was served to about 75 people.

The day after the wedding, there was a family dinner at the Kozier farm. All the sisters (Agnes, Helen, Wanda, Betty)  and sister in laws (Doris, Myrtle) cooked up a small feast.

Dad remembers the sadness in Grandpa Albert’s eyes that day as Mom had become his right hand person,  working with him on the farm, hauling grain, cooking, taking care of Grandpa and the yard. But despite this sadness, Grandpa did send Mom away with a dowry of a couple of cows, a heifer and a side of pork. Grandpa also bought Mom a set of pots and a set of knives from a traveling salesman. I mention these, because only a few days ago, Corie cooked potatoes in the very same pot for our Thanksgiving dinner.

Dad also remembers that Grandpa Paul and Grandma Sophie gave him and Mom a wedding gift of $100.00, which was a lot of money in those days and totally unexpected. He couldn’t thank them enough for the money!

The honeymoon was a trip to Yellowstone Park and the Badlands. Now, Dad only had a pick up truck at the time they were married, so Grandpa Albert or Pappy as he was fondly called, felt that was not suitable for his little girl for her honeymoon, so lent Dad his red, bullet nose Studebaker. Now they were traveling in style. And all that Pappy wanted in return was that they come home safe and sound with a full tank of gas and fresh Quaker State Oil in the car.

When the honeymoon was over, Mom and Dad returned to the family home which meant that Aunt Agnes, Uncle Stanley and the kids moved back to their small home while their new larger home was being built.

Dad’s first line of business even prior to the wedding was to be a seed breeder and marketer. The challenge he always wanted to overcome was the missing link between the breeder and the farmer, which resulted in him become a pedigree seed grower for over 50 years. He started with 10 pounds of seed, a little yellow tractor and Mom by his side, planting plots of grain … and we all know things developed from there.

On the side, Mom and Dad also raised turkeys for a few years. Turkeys were considered mortgage lifters and were only around until the mortgage was paid. There were also a few head of cattle for a few years, chickens during the summer, and I do remember two pigs in the back barn. But growing grain was Dad’s passion and became the foundation of the farm.

Besides planting pedigree seeds, Mom and Dad also began to plant another form of seed and 2 years after their wedding, they were blessed with a beautiful baby girl…… me (Carolynne). Now, I must admit, I was Mom and Dad’s little princess, especially Dad’s, and I can remember sitting on his knee in the evening and having him read me stories. I remember standing on a chair and helping Mom wash dishes and bake cookies.

Two years later, Mom was pregnant again. however, things did not turn out well. Mom slipped on the stairs while cleaning turkeys and baby Michael was born prematurely. His lungs were not developed enough and he did not survive.

Now at age 4, I am feeling really special, until that fateful day in November, when a little brother entered my life. Calvin was born. First son… so much for my position of importance on Dad’s lap. A fall from stardom. And then a year and a half later in May, another sibling. Sister Cheryl was born. I must admit, I was not a very nice big sister. Who would have thought that a 5/6 year old could be so jealous. Anyways, I did get better when Corie came along 4 years after that.

Life on the farm was always busy for the 6 of us. There was always lots to do no matter what season. I do remember that no matter how busy things were, as a family we were always together for meals. Especially dinners where conversations were lively and animated. Mom’s special fried chicken on Sunday and broiled steak on Saturday night. When Dad was away at meetings, there was always chili for us kids to eat.

Over the years, there were several family trips across the country to seed grower conventions, warm Sunday afternoons at St Malo beach with family and friends, family dinners and get togethers with both sides of the family, a trip to Expo 67 in Montreal, and one very memorable camping trip with a pop up camper. Road trips were always very interesting with 4 children. Who would have the window seat, who would have to sit in the front with Mom and Dad, who got the hump in the middle.

Anyways, there are many many stories to tell, but I need to stop. Today is a true celebration of love between two very special people. Two people who built a life together, who raised a family together, and who cherish every day together through sickness and health, in good times and in bad, during sunny days and stormy ones. Two very special people who have shared their special love with everyone around them over the years and continue to be role models for their children and grand children.

Albert Schweitzer said “ At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person… Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” 

Mom and Dad, you are the light  that brightens our lives every day. Your love for each other and your family  over the last 60 years has been the flame that has inspired us and guided us.

We are so honored to be able to celebrate this your  60th Wedding anniversary today. Now let us toast our bride and groom.