King, Ida

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                                        REMEMBERS MANY FIRSTS, INCLUDING FIRST TIME WOMEN VOTED
                                                         By Carole Morris


Although Ida Kings’ memories span more than 90 years, she still vividly remembers her first car ride, her first motion picture and what her mother said when women first got the right to vote. “Mom wasn’t a bit into politics,” says Ida with a grin. “She was making bread when they came to get her to vote, but she said she had to make the bread.” Women in most Canadian provinces first got the right to vote in elections in 1918, but didn’t get to exercise their new right until 1921 (when Ida was just a young lass).

But unlike her mother, Ida has been fascinated by politics and history all of her life. She has a bookcase filled with political, historical and factional books on the Royal Family. She also never missed Front Page Challenge, Canada’s longest continuously running television panel show, which aired for 38 seasons o CBC. Although Ida doesn’t knit, crochet, cook or do preserves as much as she used to, she can still charm a room with her quick wit and interesting stories.

So what is listed in Ida’s top childhood memories? Running around bare foot of course! She laughed as she recalled her footwear-free days, until she remembered something crucial to the story. She abruptly stopped laughing, leaned in closer and said in a very serious manner, “But you couldn’t go barefoot to church.”

Ida grew up with nine other siblings on a farm in Pokemouche and learned how to shear sheep and use their wool to make delicate blankets. In fact, one such blanket is a cherished family heirloom. The afghan, which is only taken out on special occasions, is more than 60 years old and was hand spun, dyed and crocheted by Ida. According to her son, she would turn wool into just about any article of clothing. Family members often received afghans, socks, children’s clothes and even men’s underwear as gifts. Her son still has a few pairs of homemade socks. And she passed her knack for needle work on not only to family members, but friends as well.

Diana, who has been Ida’s caregiver for the last two decades, said she’s learned so much from listening to Ida’s stories. “She’s like a grandmother to me,” Diana said. "She’s always telling me that I’m the only one calling her Mrs. King, but that’s because she’ll always be a lady to me! Over the 22 years, Ida taught Diana how to knit, cook, and make jams and preserves. She even got Diana interested in politics. “We’ve never had a rowe!” Ida said with a laugh, adding they better not start now. Diana said she loves the time spent with her neighbour. But there is one thing Ida couldn’t teach her. “I couldn’t learn to quilt at all; it’s the only thing she couldn’t teach me,” Diana said with a laugh, adding how much she loves the log cabin quilts Ida made. According to one of Ida’s daughters, the elderly woman still insists on having a log cabin quilt on her bed at night. “It’s made out of our old clothes, and she still keeps it on her bed,” she said with a smile.

                                                            How Does It Feel To Be 94?

When asked how it felt to be 94 years young, Ida King raised an eyebrow, cracked a small grin and said, “old”. It’s this honest yet youthful attitude that her family said keeps everyone intensely glued to her every word – not to mention her knack of storytelling.

Ida (nee Hayden) King was born in 1910 in Pokemouche, New Brunswick – the second oldest of 10 children. She grew up working on the farm, while her father was away working as a scaler. She learned all the basics of farm life, including how to milk the cows, churn butter, collect eggs and shear sheep. “We used to make homemade bread and butter. We cooked or baked everything,” she recalled.

After completing high school, she went on to study at the Provincial Normal School (now known as the Teacher’s College) in Fredericton. When asked how she managed to teach grades 1 through 8 in a one-room school house she shook her head in disbelief. “I don’t know how I did it, it was so long ago,” she said, but added, “Children were good compared to now.” She taught for 14-and-a-half years, until 1947 when she married William King and moved to a farm in Douglasfield. “I ended up being a farmer’s wife, my teaching career was over,” Ida stated, before adding a joke she used to share with a good friend. “I married a King and my friend, she married a Duke!” she laughed.

After she married, Ida began a family of her own, having four children who Ida noted have all turned out to be quite successful. One daughter works as a nurse, the other as a school teacher. One son works as a computer programmer in Calgary, and the other as silviculture worker. Ida is also the proud grandmother of four.


Source: Miramichi Leader – December 28, 2004

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