EXETER — Local writer Arnold Mathers remembers well his life growing up on the farm in rural Ontario, and those are some funny stories he just had to share.
Mathers, who’s lived in Exeter since 1964, has been writing about life on the farm for almost 20 years. His tales are relatable annecdotes about dealing with animals, nosy neighbours, and struggling to keep a home in order, but told in such a way that the reader can laugh at life’s problems.
More than 40 of his stories have been compiled into his new book “Homemade & Hand-Me-Downs,” which is available locally.
“The first two or three stories were about my father and mother as I was growing up, about fixing fences, putting cattle out on the grass farm, things I did as a kid I remembered,” he said. “All of the stories have some humour in them.”
Mathers was born in 1938 and grew up in Morris-Turnberry municipality near Wingham. He retired in 1994 after nearly 40 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent with the Huron County Board of Education. For the last decade of his professional life in education, and for two decades after retirement, he worked as a part-time farmer raising beef cattle and growing cash crops.
Mathers originally wrote his stories to entertain his grandchildren with stories of “the good old days.” It was his mother who suggested he compile the stories in a book for posterity.
Most of the stories in Mathers’ book have already been published over the last two decades in The Rural Voice, an agriculture magazine. The book does contain 10 original stories that have never been published before.
When asked to pick a favourite story, Mathers immediately said it was one called “The Bargain.” The story begins with Mathers and his wife picking up a dishwasher for a great price. As Mathers tried to install it in the kitchen, he ended up needing to get new taps, which led to a need to get a new sink, which led to getting a new counter top, and ultimately, the “bargin” dishwasher snowballed into a major renovation of the whole kitchen.
“Everybody’s done that. You have days like that where everything goes bad,” he said.
The manuscript of the book was made print-ready by Deb Lord, manager of the Exeter Times-Advocate and the book was printed by the Goderich Print Shop. Some illustrations in the book were provided by local artist Randy Jones.
“Homemade & Hand-Me-Downs,” is available at The Exeter Times-Advocate, the Rural Voice in Blyth and at the ReStore in Exeter and Goderich.
Someday soon, Mathers has plans to enter his book for consideration for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.