Robert "Papa" McCowan
Papa was a great guy. He fooled around with us and treated us to his candies. We enjoyed sitting on his knee while he was smoking a cigar on his veranda: we liked the smell. When he came to our place, I remember how we would put our feet under his opposite leg and bend backwards until our heads almost touched the floor.
Every morning, he came over to our place for a cupful of fresh cream for his porridge. He then took it back to his house across the orchard and had his breakfast. He did not pour the cream on the porridge. Instead, he dipped his spoonful of porridge into his cup of cream.
On rainy days, Uncle Ashley often drove us to school. His car was kept in Papa's garage, so we would wait at Papa's until our "chauffeur" arrived. Papa served us hot toast from his electric toaster. The only "toaster" that we had in our house was a "manually operated" wire rack that we had to hold over the coals. It seemed to be too much trouble to use this method, so we didn't have toast very often. It was a bit of a treat to have hot toast and honey at Papa's.
If we ever heard "hurrah boys", we knew Papa would be on his way across the orchard with a job for us to do. We would try to make ourselves scarce but, of course, he would get us to do the work eventually.
We had a vegetable garden behind the old barn. Papa took charge of it and kept it hoed. He often had us kids pulling weeds and picking potatoe bugs. Now, my Dad never swore, but if he was put out over something, he would maybe say: "gall blast it", or "confound you" or "Judas Priest". I seemed to catch on to the last expression. I was helping Papa in the garden when something happened -- so I muttered "Judas Priest". Papa must have thought he'd heard "Jesus Christ", so he gave me a long lecture on taking the Lord's name in vain. Of course, he told me in no uncertain terms that he did not want to hear this again.
On another occasion when I was eight or nine, we were picking raspberries. Papa and I were having some sort of disagreement -- probably about how to pick. He must have taken a step toward me so I purposely spilled the box of berries on the ground and ran down to the end of the row. Dad and Uncle Ashley were drawing in a load of something, so Papa called them over. He told Dad what had happened and I got a lickin' right then and there.
Dad's usual excuse for not buying me a particular toy that I fancied was that I would only take it apart and turn it into something else. I had seen a wagon in Eaton's catalogue for about $4.95. When I asked Papa for the wagon, he opened up his pocket book, showed me his only $5 bill and said "if I buy you the wagon I won't have any money left". He finally broke down and bought it -- but there were a few conditions. At 5:00 every day, the wagon had to be in his garage, it had to be clean, not broken and there was never to be any fighting over it. Otherwise, we could not use it. Consequently the wagon lasted for years -- as long as Papa was around, I'm sure.
From The Scarboro Heights Record V3 #2