GEORGE HENRY LATTA
Oct. 8, 1905-June 26, 1985
By Marilyn Macneall, Branch 13, Marilynmacneall@cogeco.com
This is the life of a very gentle, loving, kind man. George was my father and although he did not lead an exciting life, it is interesting for the time he lived.
His great-grandfather was John Latta, who founded Latta Mills, Ontario. When John Latta came to Canada, he brought with him an all wood geared Eli Terry clock. This clock was on the farm in Barrie ISland brought by Archibald Latta. My father learned how to care for this clock and for some reason was the only one who could make it work. When my Uncle Gilbert moved off the farm, he gave the clock to my father and my Dad had it running until his death. The clock stopped running within days of my father's death and though my mother and I took the clock several times to be repaired, it always stopped working. On my mother's death, I inherited the clock. Thought my father had shown my daughter and I how to repair it, it will not work. We let it hang in my house anyway as a tribute to my Dad. Someday when I pass it on to my daughter Cheryl, maybe she can get it to resume working.
George was born 8 October 1905, on Barrie Island, Ontario, the last child of seven siblings. Margaret, Mary, Florence, Bertha, William, Robert, Gilbert and George. His mother had been ill in bed for a few years, having borne two children while she was bed ridden. When George was 18 months old, his mother, Mary, died of consumption, at the age of thirty-nine. His older sisters became his mothers, and they looked after their father. His father, Thomas, was never to marry again and it was said he always missed his late wife.
As George grew up he went to school which was four miles away. He had to walk, and in the winter sometimes they did not get there because of the snow. Since it was so hard to get to school, Dad and his brothers and sisters never went to high school. It was hard living on the farm; there were lots of hard work and not many pleasures.
There was not a lot of money, but they always had something to eat, just not always very much variety.
His beloved sister Bertha, and George himself, both suffered from asthma. Bertha unfortunately died on her sick bed, when she was twenty-four, while George slept beside her. He was always to remember her fondly.
When he was a young man his first job was logging in the bush. This was lonely work because he was away from home for long periods of time.
As his sisters grew up they moved away except for Florence who stayed to look after the young boys. George was for the rest of his life very close to Florence and his brothers Gilbert and Robert.
His older brother, William, who was a soldier, died in Toronto during World War One of pneumonia, probably a complication of the Spanish Flu.
His brother Robert first moved to Hamilton. When his sister Mary married, she moved to Toronto and later to Windsor. George followed his sister Mary to Windsor, where for a while he worked for Jack Miner Conservation. He loved to talk about the geese. When George married my mother he moved to Hamilton. After my grandfather died, Florence joined them in Hamilton, and Gilbert joined them in Hamilton in the 1950's.
When he met my mother, Mary Williton, they married and they raised two daughters, Helen and Marilyn, I being the youngest.
George worked at the CIL plant in Hamilton, and was burned by caustic acid. Luckily for him there were showers close by and he did not get too badly burned. However, later he developed abscesses on his lungs and was in the Sanitarium for 12 weeks and was out of work for a year. He was never to return to the CIL.
When he was in the Sanitarium, at that time they thought he had tubercle or cancer but later realized it was abscesses in his lungs, was a very unhappy time for me, as my sister was now married and I missed my father very much, and this required my mother to go to work. My father was sitting at the side of the bed trying to rest while he had difficulty breathing with his asthma, sometimes gasping for breath. Unfortunately there was not the medicines we have today, and he suffered a great deal. My father's health never improved. He developed diabetes, a bad hemorrhage from his nose, a small stroke, angina and heart failure, and sometimes was cranky. He never complained about how he felt and I am sure he did not feel the greatest.
I remember the day he came home, I thought I would do something for him. My friends and I washed his car. Little did I know it would be a long time before he would be able to drive.
Once he was able to return to work, he tried a few positions, one being real estate, but he was too soft to be a salesman. He finally worked at a car dealership until he retired.
My childhood is full of happy memories of simple things with him, combing his hair funny, him tickling me, sitting by my bed at night and rubbing my aching legs.
Before he became sick, he built us a house in Stoney Creek and how I loved to go out there with him and help out. I was only eleven but he let me bank in nails, help lathe the house and lay hardwood floors.
My father loved children and always welcomed my cousins and later his grandchildren to our house and would play with them, he was a great tickler, playing bore a hole and bouncing us on his knee. I loved to spend time with him in his workshop talking to him. My parents almost yearly returned to Manitoulin and Barrie Islands to visit with friends and relatives. Their greatest pleasure was family and friends and their holidays and time spent at home reflecting that in their life.
When I started to work, and even after I was married we would go to work together in his car. I would drop him off and he very generously let me take his car onto my work place and then I would pick him up. They were fun trips chatting with him in the car.
Once after I married, my father asked me if I was happy and I said yes, and he said are you sure? He had a lot of insight because I was very unhappy and did not want to admit it. I later divorced my first husband. Luckily, he lived long enough to see me remarry and become happy.
My Dad had four grandchildren, and although he only lived to be 79, they all remember him with love. When I look at my son, Jason, I am reminded of him, as my son in looks and nature is very much like him. I only wish he could have lived long enough to see his great grandchildren. They would have brought him so much pleasure.
Whenever I think of him, I remember him with love, and would love to be able to give him another big hug.