poetry and prose about place

from the pages of an old diary – entertainment

with 6 comments

One of the themes included in my great-aunt’s diaries is entertainment, to balance all the housework and community work.

T.V. was a new source of amusement.  Before my great-aunt and great-uncle got their first T.V. on May 7, 1957, her diary includes many visits to friend’s houses to watch their televisions.  For example on March 10, 1957, she watched a program at a friend’s home on the famous Anna Swan (Anna Haining Swan, 1846 – 1888, was born in Nova Scotia and grew to a height of 8 feet).  

After they bought their own T.V. , my great-aunt recorded the names of friends and family who came in to watch T.V., often to see the fights (Sept. 28, 1957) or wrestling (Sept. 21, 1957) with her husband.

Other at-home entertainment, especially during winter, included playing cards (Feb. 28, 1957), bridge (March 2, 1957), or Chinese Checkers (Feb. 4, 1954).

Another pass-time was watching ‘slides’.  These were 35 mm slides, taken with a camera, mounted in cardboard, and projected on a screen or on the wall.  In our first house in Medicine Hat, my Dad installed a pull-down screen so we could project our vacation slides.  I still have a rickety slide projector which invariably ‘sticks’ during each use, making for an annoying experience.

Several times a year, they went to the ‘show’.  She records seeing “Anne of Green Gables” [various versions were available by 1955] on January 1, 1955, “High Society” [1956] with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong on May 28, 1957, and a “A Man Called Peter” [1955] on June 25, 1956.  On July 2, 1956, she stayed home all day to read Catherine Marshall’s book A Man Called Peter (1951)!  Other shows they saw included “Gone With the Wind”  [1939]  with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh on March 22, 1955  ( ‘…was 55 [cents]  beautiful scenery.’) and “White Christmas” (1954) with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen on March 6, 1956. 

They also attended live shows from time to time.  On June 25, 1957 she wrote about Don Messer and the Islanders giving their last performance before the summer.  Don Messer was a band leader and fiddler with a popular television show called Don Messer’s Jubilee. The show was broadcast from CBC in Halifax, Nova Scotia from August 1957 to 1969.

They also attended community-based events: graduations, funerals, weddings, and baby showers. There were events on the ‘Festival grounds’ and ‘entertainment at church by the Men’s Club’. 

The other form of entertainment was the ‘drive’.   My great-aunt loved to go for drives and recorded trips to various communities in the region, to New Glasgow or Truro for shopping, or to River John (Aug. 28, 1957) or Wallace (Aug. 25, 1957).  Sometimes, they bought lobster on these drives.  Two or three times a year there would be a longer, over-night trip, to Saint John in New Brunswick to see her son’s family, or to Annapolis in Nova Scotia.



slide show


the fan whirrs

the bulb blares

and fingers burn


a turn, a click and a push 

and there they are

three kids on a beach at Advocate


pull, turn, push and click


and grandson

him in a Shear Tip

apple crate


pull, turn, push and click

and the cardboard sticks

and sticks

and sticks



© Jane Tims  2012


Written by jane tims

February 20, 2012 at 7:07 am

6 Responses

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  1. How different entertainment is today. People seem to be easily bored, with many things to do, when compared to the past.


    Watching Seasons

    February 27, 2012 at 12:34 am

    • Hi. If I list the things I do for recreation, and compare the list with my great-aunt’s activities, we share ‘watching TV’, ‘going to the movies’ and going on ‘drives’. The things I do that she probably never considered are bird-watching and botanizing. As for playing board games, I am too competative and end up in a big fight! Jane


      jane tims

      February 27, 2012 at 6:53 am

  2. Eight feet tall? Yowza!

    My dad used to love to go for rides. Before seat belts and other safety laws were passed my sister and I used to ride in the back of his pick up truck and we always hoped he would go on one road in particular with lots of wavy bumps. 🙂

    I love your poem – it brought back memories of watching my grandmother’s slide shows out in the barn on summer evenings. Some shows were about trips they took but most of them were photographs of bugs in various stages of their life cycles, her passion. 🙂


    Barbara Rodgers

    February 20, 2012 at 10:44 am

    • Hi. I love that your grandmother showed you pictures of bugs and various life stages! Not many children would have this memory. Are you still interested in insects?? Jane


      jane tims

      February 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      • Not as much as my grandmother was! I do have all her slides, though, and someday hope to go through them and make digital copies of them. Grandmother had a lot of patience and a fancy camera to get the best shots possible of her temporary visitors. Grandfather was a land surveyor and she would go out into the woods with him and collect eggs and then keep them in glass aquariums with a screen on top to keep the birds away, She knew what leaves to feed the different kinds caterpillars. Often dinner would be interrupted as she would dash off to capture someone emerging from a chrysalis. We visited about once a month and Grandmother would take me to all her aquariums in the garden and point out the progress of each of her honored guests! She also photographed bugs she’d happen across in the woods. She was never without her camera…


        Barbara Rodgers

        February 21, 2012 at 10:24 am

      • Hi. What great memories. They would make great posts, some of those slides! I remember keeping caterpillers in a jar and big Cecropia moths emerging. Jane


        jane tims

        February 21, 2012 at 8:45 pm

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