Chapter Eight Orville Skilling

Orville was born June 16, 1883. He was only 13 when I was born but I have no early recollection of my eldest big brother. He was always playful with me and taught me how to waltz, although dancing was frowned upon by our parents. With a lovely tenor voice, he would often sing “Goodbye My Bluebell” and other songs popular at the time of the Boer War. He used to slip me the odd penny and would dance me on his knees. He had a quick temper that would sometimes flare up but was soon over. When we used to stand around the piano and he would sing with that clear beautiful tenor voice putting harmony, I was really in heaven.

Orville left school when he was quite young and went to Toronto. He married Rose Darling there in 1909 and she was a wonderful wife. Their home was a happy one and whenever I visited, there was a lot of fun and laughter. When they were first married they lived on Wascana Avenue in Cabbagetown, when it really was Cabbagetown. Orville was a very hard worker and had a great talent for business. He started off working for himself going door to door selling butter and eggs. Soon he had a horse and wagon and continued to expand. (If you have seen the Kraft Cheese ad on television, you know what kind of wagon I mean.)As his business grew, he bought 311 Jones Avenue, a block above Riverdale Collegiate with a large yard and stables in the back, and a lane at the side of the house. Before long he had about 12 employees and was doing a thriving business.
Orville and Rose had four children: Grace, the twins Jack and Marion, then a son Harold William, the latter named after my brothers Harold and Bill, both off fighting in France at the time of his birth.

When the twins were 9 months and Grace was about 3, I spent 2 months of the summer holiday helping Rose with housework and the children. I was only 16 and had a lot to learn. Rose taught me so much and gave me good advice. I am forever grateful to her. She also made me some very nice dresses.
At Easter 1918 I was in Normal School and had to have a very serious operation for appendicitis with complications of a bowel perforation and gangrene. There was no Ontario Health Insurance then and I had no money. My wonderful big brother Orville paid the doctor and all my hospital expenses.
When the Spanish Influenza epidemic struck in September 1918, I had just started teaching. My school was closed so I went back to Teeswater along with sister Gert and 2 year old Merren who were visiting from Calgary. Gert was pregnant with Jean and it was said that this flu could be fatal for pregnant women. In Toronto Orville was sick in bed but got up to go and help the widow of one of his employees who had succumbed to the flu. He returned, went to bed, and never got up. His little daughter Marion died on October 18th and Orville on October 21st. They were buried in the same grave in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Orville was a going concern when he died at 35 years of age. He was a good father as well as a wonderful husband, son and brother. He left behind a grieving widow, a daughter Grace of 6 ½, Jack nearly 5 and Harold only 16 months. Young Harold was just walking then and carried his father’s hat wherever he went for days after Orville’s death.
The world lost a wonderful man in his prime and on his way to his first million dollars. He left behind a great many descendants who will carry on his tradition of doing good in the world.

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