Hugo Gruending, a time to plant

Hugo Gruending, a time for planting
Hugo Gruending, a time for planting

I want you to meet Hugo Gruending, my father’s younger brother and always my favourite uncle. Unfortunately, neither he nor my dad is with us any longer. I came across this black and white photo of Hugo recently when I was rummaging through boxes in my basement, looking for family photos. I recall taking the photo but not the exact date – it would have been in the late 1970s or early 80s. It was in St. Benedict, Saskatchewan, the small farming village where I was born and where Hugo lived his entire life, other than one year as a conscript in the army in 1945. Hugo, like my dad, was a farmer by choice.  The Biblical book of Ecclesiastes says that there is a season for everything, including a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted. In those years, Hugo and other farmers would be busy planting their crops in mid to late May. Now, with much larger farms, people tend to seed their crops earlier. My grandparents on either side were of peasant stock from Europe. Early in the 20th century they arrived in Saskatchewan as pioneers.  Farming was never easy and it was financially insecure. Hugo was always industrious and to make ends meet he drove a school bus, then he purchased a garage and later added an insurance franchise. Along with the garage, he purchased a bulk fuel dealership which meant that he supplied farmers with gas and diesel fuel for their vehicles and farm machinery. He worked out of a small office in town and it is there that I took the photo. We all learn in life that appearances can be deceiving, but not in this case. Hugo was  hard-working, wise, honest and warm – I believe this photo conveys all of those qualities. He died in 1990, and his much loved wife Magdalene a few years later. I still miss them.

 

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Dennis

Dennis Gruending is an Ottawa-based writer, blogger and a former member of Parliament

16 thoughts on “Hugo Gruending, a time to plant”

  1. What a beautiful tribute, Dennis. It is good to hear those “simple” virtues appreciated and valued in our busy, outward-success oriented world. And, my goodness, there may be a slight family resemblance between you and your uncle!

  2. What a touching tribute to your late uncle! Many of us can identify with such special uncles/people in our lives! Thanks!!
    Anne

  3. Hi Dennis: Thanks for the article and photo – it was great. Hugo reminded me of Sam Wilson (my daughter Cynthia’s paternal grandfather), who was also a farmer and worked off the farm to make ends meet.

  4. Hi Dennis, What a touching tribute. There is a resemblance in looks which really tugs the heart strings. I often think of my parents and growing up on a farm – an experience I treasure for the lessons from nature which provided the bounty of good food and all of the joy in the beauty which surrounded us, but also taught us the lessons that even with hard work and honest endeavours there are no certainties in life. Take Care.

  5. Dennis: Can’t help but to reminisce. I knew your favorite Uncle Hugo well, and his lovely wife Magdelene, who was my cousin. I got to know your dad, Rudy, when he and I found we were born in the same year. We discovered that when both of us attended my Uncle Johnny Kurtenbach and Aunt Clara’s [nee Frey] wedding — in 1934! The Gruending family were hard-working farmers, who also loved local sports days and baseball. Your Dad had the reputation as having a good baseball pitching arm.

  6. Super item. Since my first teaching position was in St. Benedict I knew both Hugo and Magdalene. You captured that big effort and spirit of the early farmer/entrepreneur. Thanks.

  7. I love your uncle Hugo, Dennis. Having lived much of my life among farmers, I learned, years ago, that the good ones are literate in a language most of us do not know exists.

  8. That is how I remember Uncle Hugo, too. (Or Uncle “Hoodoo,” as our young brother Jack called him when he was little.) Uncle Hugo always had time for people, kids most of all, and would often slip a quarter into your hand. He had a great, slow smile.

    1. Thanks a lot everyone. I am pleased that a brief note and a photo of Hugo could bring all of us together in this way.

  9. Dennis, your story about my Dad is wonderful. Today reading the comments was nice because they show others appreciated Dad too.

  10. Hi, Dennis. I happened to stumble on this article because I decided to try do some research on the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. This was a pleasure to read for I also remember that kind man with the warm smile. I taught in St. Benedict for many years starting in 1975, (then I was known as Miss. Semeniuk). Part of the radio favorites was listening to you on CBC. I also read your article about the Sk. Pool and am presently encouraging a friend to take charge of pursuing and retrieving his Pool pension which very many workers lost. He was one of many workers who built the elevators for the Pool in Sask. over all those years. After a lengthy lapse I encouraged him to persist to find out how his earnings could just disappear without explanation. He got hold of a contact and numbers and just this week began his search for answers. This is just another example of unfairness, shady dealings with major companies. Maybe a bit off topic but it’s off my chest and you have always had fond connections to your old hometown, area and province, along with the people that were and are the makeup of this fine place. Thanks for your time, was great to come across your writings again, keep up the great work.
    Iris Marko St. Brieux, Sk.

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