Stories of Rural Life! Horning's Mills Post Office - Part 2
Date Posted: 11/02/2015
By Tony Reynolds, Orangeville, Ontario
Pat and Aileen Lightheart’s house in Horning’s Mills had a front porch, where Pat would rig up a speaker at Christmas time and play carols. Then on Christmas Eve, the two of them would walk around town wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and delivering little bags of hard red Christmas candies to families with kids.
The speaker on Pat’s front porch would reappear in August for the Old Time Fiddle Contest in Shelburne to set toes tapping with two-steps and other fiddle music.
In fair weather Pat would often sit out on the porch, beside a table and another chair, an invitation for visitors. Aileen would join him sometimes but often there was a neighbour sitting there, helping to solve the world’s problems and whiling away the morning. If someone came to pick up mail, Pat would get up and go into the Post Office, right inside the front door.
I suspect the Post Office was built as part of the house from the beginning. Certainly the wooden wall that divided the room had the patina of history. So did the wooden boxes on the back wall that were labeled with names and addresses for all the houses in town. Labels for houses where families had lived for generations were yellow and faded. Ours was fresh and white.
The rest of the wall space Pat had covered with ephemera, antique tools and other old and rusty bits of things that he had collected over the years, no “wanted” posters, though. That would have been fun. He had clamps and hammers, pitchforks and ice tongs, and a few box planes.
These were fascinating, smoothed and oiled from the hands of the craftsmen. The bottom of the plane was often carefully wrought, both the blade and the wooden box shaped into an inside or outside curve, or a bullnose. The planes were used to turn square lumber into molding for window- and doorframes, hand planed, and for the ornate wainscoting like the trim in our house.
One item that seemed a little out of place on the Post Office wall was a fiddle, obviously homemade but complete with f-holes and other details. Pat said he made it one winter, copying another. He had played it a few times but said it sounded thick and wasn’t very loud. He did know how to play a fiddle. He’d tell stories of himself and his brothers hired for Saturday night barn dances around the county, sometimes playing most of the night through. In winter, they’d take the horse-drawn sleigh to get there. One cold moonlit night, he said, they were headed home very late, wrapped up warm in a big blanket and they all fell asleep. Fortunately the horse knew the way home and they woke when the sleigh stopped by the door to the barn.