The crib corner, then and now

Where the crib for my brothers – first John, later Ken – was, once upon a time. Raymond and I bought the cedar chest (blanket box) that you see in the photo at the auction sale at the Melbourne place. We may very well make it into a reading corner. And the carpeting will soon, I hope, be gone.

This is the corner of the upstairs where the baby crib was. When my family moved into the Manse in July 1964, I was four years old, my sister, Melanie, was two, and my brother John was brand new, just four months old. (And as I’ve recounted before, you can imagine how my mother, busy with these three very young children and soon-to-start minister’s-wife duties, must have felt when Will Holmes, our neighbour across the street, greeted our arrival with the words, “Don’t drink the water!” Right. The water in the Manse’s well was not potable. Eleven years of carrying drinking water from the community pump ensued. We all survived it quite nicely, but my mother must have wondered on that July 1964 day whether she would.) Anyway, the crib for baby John was in that corner, and when my youngest sibling, Kenneth, was born at Belleville General Hospital two years later – he has the honour of being the only one of us four to be born while we lived at the Manse – he of course occupied the same crib corner.

Because I think people (readers) like (okay, also because I like) before-and-after shots – or in this case, after-and-before shots – here is the same corner back when baby John was in the crib:

John sound asleep in the crib, I guess in 1964, the year he was born. You can see why I have a soft spot for that corner of the Manse. (Photo by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)

It’s quite the feeling to stand in any particular spot in the Manse – like, say, the once-upon-a-time crib corner – and just know so clearly what used to be there. Like, a crib containing one or the other of my two infant brothers, now middle-aged (sorry, guys) men with children of their own.

But of course the Manse housed many more minister’s families than that of The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick. Between 1888 (the year it was built as the Manse for the long-gone Methodist Church in Queensborough) and our arrival in 1964, and from 1975 (the year my Dad took up new duties at the United Church of Canada‘s Seymour Pastoral Charge outside Campbellford, Ont.) until 2012, when Raymond and I bought it, the Manse has housed many ministers and their families. Including, I expect, at least a few infants.

Was this their crib corner too? Maybe it was; or maybe they used this corner at the end of the hallway, with a window allowing in lots of sunlight, as a reading corner. (Which is what Raymond and I may very well do.) Or maybe a minister’s wife or two used it as a sewing corner.

It’s kind of cool to think about the different ways that different corners of the Manse may have served different ministers’ families. But it goes without saying that my strongest connection is to how it served my own family. So this is the crib corner. Whether there’s a crib in it or not.

One thought on “The crib corner, then and now

  1. And those crib corners…I can remember my brother’s brown-painted (don’t want to think what kind of paint) metal crib with metal ‘caning’ pattern at the ends, in a dim room connecting the front hall and the main floor bedroom of the ‘old part of the house’ where we lived while the extended family occupied both the 1860 and 1900 halves of the homestead. Mystery all tied up with a bit of jealousy “where did this little scrap of humanity come from…I’m not getting the whole story here.” Thanks for taking me back.

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