Pamela Haist

Pamela Haist

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I love my grandmother (or whom I call Nana) very much and I look up to her more than anyone else I know. She’s smart, kind, funny, social, and very outgoing. I remember one time at the mall, when she was walking up the “down” escalator, and she couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the stupid thing! She just kept walking up it, and cursing at it wondering what was wrong. As you’ve probably guessed, my speech is about Nana, my greatest role model.

     Pamela Haist was born in March, Cambridgeshire, England on March 19, 1924. Her name at that time was Pamela Muriel Bailey. She was raised by her grandmother and uncles until she was about eight years old because her father and mother could not afford to keep a child at that time. According to Mrs. Haist this was quite common in a time before unemployment insurance and social benefits. She was an only child, and raised with very strict rules. For instance, every night she had to be in bed by six o'clock. She had to lie in the bedroom of her two-level house, listening to her friends playing out in the streets until she fell asleep. This continued until she was twelve or thirteen years of age.

     Despite the rules that may have hurt other people's social skills, Miss Bailey had many friends as a child. She told me of one friend that she remembers quite well, her best friend Daphne.
     "When I was a young girl," she reflected with a laugh, "I remember us going out one day to play. We were on our bikes, which is how we usually got around, wearing our best Sunday clothes at the time, white frocks with frilly lace. We were walking along the wall of the sewage centre. I said 'Let's go over that wall and see what's there. I'll help you over first. Come on, it will be ever so much fun.' So I helped her up over the wall and she landed right in a sewer filled with muck. I said 'I'll be right over. Keep on going!' By the time she came out, her dress (for picture day) was filthy! She came up to me the next day and said 'My mother says I'm not to have anything more to do with you.' But of course that didn't last five minutes."

     Miss Bailey did very well in school with various subjects.

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She never got the strap, although many other children did, and all in all was a very good student. Her phys. ed. was usually just the hopscotch and tag that she played during recess, and basically, all she studied was math, english and religion. "However," Mrs. Haist added, "when I was about thirteen, I started to notice boys, and that's when my grades plummeted." Miss Bailey also took gymnastics for many years, and was quite good at it. It didn't cost nearly as much as it used to, either. But of course in those days, twenty-five pence could easily buy a loaf of bread.

     Later in life, Pamela Bailey met her husband, Vernon James Haist, or as he prefers to be called, Jim. They met when he was in England, fighting as a Canadian soldier in the Second World War. "We clicked almost immediately" Mrs. Haist told me, "and there was this one time, I remember, Jimmy was taking me out for a walk in the evening. He was still fairly new in England, and he hadn't caught on to some of our expressions. He said to me as we were walking, 'I'd like to hold your hand if I may' and of course this was a very rude expression in England at the time; I said 'excuse me?!' and he said 'I'd like to hold your hand.' I'd never been so offended. Of course he then told me he didn't know that that was a rude term." Pamela Bailey and Vernon Haist were married in June of 1932. Mrs. Haist was eighteen at the time. They moved to Niagara, Ontario, Canada, and have lived there ever since. The first few years in Canada were quite different for Mrs. Haist, and there were some things that she didn't, and still doesn't like. She had made friends with a lady, also from England named Olivia Sylvester who had many of the same opinions. Together they decided to form the Mount Batten Club, a social club for emigrants who wish to complain about Canada. "Of course we didn't let Canadian women join, because we were complaining about their country. It wouldn't be proper." was Mrs. Haist's comment "We even limited it to just English war brides at first. But we decided that that was narrowing it down just a tad too much." The Mount Batten Club celebrated it's fiftieth anniversary on October eighteenth in 1997.

     Mrs Haist now has three sons, one daughter (all are married) and nine grandchildren (including me!). She is seventy-six, goes with her husband to Florida every winter, and "is as snug as a bug in a rug, and very happy."
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