Sider Road — Where’s That Name Come From?

The updated kitchen of the Farm House. The floors are original.

I have two or three parts to my career life.  One is an author and thus, an Office Culture and Politics as a result of the book and 30+ years working experience for the best and the worst in Fortune 500, start ups and mid-sized companies.  As a brand expert, I have grown the top brands in the world to profitability.  As an entrepreneur, I have co-founded three companies.  Sider Road is my consulting company that was hatched in 2001.  I am working on explaining myself in one site as soon as I find the right words….

In the meantime, I wanted to write a little about how I came up with the Sider Road name.  Yes, it’s personal and yes, it’s related to my extraordinary childhood.

Emma told me it was called gravel.  It hit the 1975 Buick station wagon with force as we drove down the straight road to the farmhouse. You know the car.  The one with the fake wood used as side paneling and had no seatbelts. Many weekends, summers and holidays were spent on “The Farm” in Stevensville, Canada which was about 25 minutes from our suburban brick home in Buffalo. The 250-acre working farm was home base to our beloved Mennonite housekeeper, Emma Sider, and her four siblings, Girvin, Edwin, Lillian and Irene, who lived a lifetime together in the farmhouse. The other three siblings married and lived locally; two of whom married their first or second cousins. I can’t remember exactly. If you had asked any one of the Sider siblings a basic question, a long-winded story, mostly of a terrible event, would have been followed up.   The Sider family loved to tell stories with full 0n animation of everysingleangleandcharacter.  Nowadays, we can change the topic and pray the story teller would forget…. not the Sider family.  Each one would keep talking and ensure that you included in the details.  You had to listen as they would ask you questions about the story at another point of the day.

My childhood, even though, I had a wonderful upbringing in Buffalo and parents who cared about us all, was laser focused on The Farm where I learned to milk cows, tend to chickens and chic’s, ducks, work a tractor, bail hey, pick corn, feed pigs, pick strawberries and raspberries and being taught the benefits of trapping foxes.  That was my world. The farmhouse was  built by their parents when they came from Germany to settle in the New World. The heat came from the cast iron wood stove in the kitchen. We shared beds that were covered by hand sewn quilts created by the women of the house. Carefully, I watched the sisters, cousins, aunts and neighbors sew and copied as best I could on the lines shown to me to follow. I wore the Mennonite smock.  At times, I wondered if I would be one of them.  I loved Emma, her siblings, friends and extended family with every morsel of my body. My son Ethan, is named after Emma.

The farm house, which still stands, is located on Sider Road.

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Showing 14 comments
  • Elaine
    Reply

    Jocelyn I spent many a summer at the farm as a young girl. Was so excited to find this article as I am planning a trip back east this September. Your description of life on the farm brought me to tears, best summers of my life. You may not remember me but we did share a room with Lillian and perhaps Emma. I remember you had a small satin covered pillow that I was very envious of :). I also went to visit your home in Buffalo with Emma at some point. Would love to connect with you before I head back to possibly get some details about what happened to the Siders in the years after my family moved to BC. Hope you would welcome that.

    • Jocelyn Greenky
      Jocelyn Greenky
      Reply

      Hi Elaine. I am happy you connected me…but how is that you know the Sider’s? Would love to know the connection. I remember the satin pillow. But want to remember you. Of course, I would be happy to speak to you! Jocelyn@SiderRoad.com

  • Elaine
    Reply

    We originally lived next to the Siders, our home burnt down and we moved away…..I was quite young and I guess my mom stayed in touch with them and we (my brothers and I) would go and spend summers with them. I too had the pleasure of participating in all the activities you described including delivery eggs with Irene and attending church…..oh and wash day, loved wash day :). I also stayed with then and attended vacation bible school. We moved away to BC around 1978. My last memory of the farm was going to visit just after Lillian passed and they gave me a teacup (which I still have) to remember her by…I think I was around 11 or 12 at that time. I think you have a brother named Seth who I had a crush on :). Wow so many memories. I wish could remember more clearly a specific year as to when we met but all I know is it would have been mid to late 70’s. I am not sure why I went to Buffalo to your home but I do remember going there. The Bealeause family lived next to them and there were 3 brothers the oldest being Pat and perhaps Randy (?). Did Emma have a son? I remember a couple (her son) or no now that I am thinking about it….it was Lydia (she was blind)…..and her husband was Jim. So many memories I could go on and on. I am so grateful for the Siders and the experiences of staying on the farm. Not sure if any of that rings bells for you. Funny you remember the pillow as well, you let me hold it a few times :). Do you have contact with the new owners? I so want to visit when I go back east as well as know where they are laid to rest.

    • Jocelyn Greenky
      Jocelyn Greenky
      Reply

      I remember now. Your house. I remember. OMG. Emma did not have a son. She never married. Yes, I have a brother Seth and a brother Brett. Randy – was my first kiss in life. They moved in after you in a pre-form house of sorts. Yes, Lydia was blind and they had a son. His name is Arnold and now a new name, Sandy. He married a woman named Lillian. They divorced and now he has a life partner who was an opera singer. He’s fabulous. I, too, have a tea cup. I never went to any of the funerals as it was too much for me and would have broken down. My son, Ethan, is named after Emma whom I consider a mother to me. I went to bible school and was always referred to as the Jewish girl. To this day, I attend church. However, I attend Gospel church and love the music. I’m no christian but their dedication to their family and friends is highly respected by me. There are women who live in the farm house now. Ironically, they are lesbians and I can’t imagine what the spirits must think. The barn has horses and no cows. There are spider webs every where with a hint of life prior. The old wood in the barn yearn to tell the stories of all of our lives at that time.

      I try and tell people that I grew up on that farm and of the pond we learned to skate on. The chickens and the cows that we all sang to because we were told they liked music. The garden was tenderly taken care of. I’m rarely sick and I think it’s because of the food from the farm and the organics of it all. I remember picking raspberries and paling on the tire hanging from the front tree. I loved sitting on their porch and making hand made quilts. It’s like it’s a book. It’s the scents that I miss and the basics of life that worked so hard for at that time. We all don’t need that much. They were the most giving and loving family I have ever known.

  • Elaine
    Reply

    Yes Seth and Brett! Brian was the 3rd brother and he was my first kiss lol. I remember pond and skating on it as well, and the swing…my brothers and I fought over that swing. I was just telling my fiance about your beautuful long dark hair and that dang pillow, I was envious of both. I always had short mousy blonde hair as my mom didn’t want to bother with it. A vivid memory of you is in the upper bedroom (Lillians room) sitting on the bed under the west facing window…it is late afternoon and you have let me hold your pillow, you were telling me something but all I can remember thinking is how do I get me a soft satiny pillow like this! I do remember Arnold and Lillian and that they had a son. I loved going out and helping to call in the cows and milk the calves. I also remember nights when the boys would go and hit bats in the barn, I went once but had the traumatic experience of having one thrown at me and it going down my dress. I loved the pantry and laying across the counter beside the sink and having my hair washed. Getting dressed for church in irenes room behind the wood stove, in one of my dresses they made, and having one of many cuts or scrapes tended to by irene with micuricome :). Husking corn and shucking peas on the front porch, pansies in the flower beds and that beautiful garden so neatly planted and lovingly attended. I remember the taste of boiled peaches before being canned and the best cherry pie ever….never have I tasted it again. Watching hee haw, Lawrence Welk and some wrestling show. Sigh….yes the best times. Do you remember Jack, he was the best dog ever. Where are they buried? I so want to go pay my respects and do you think the lesbians would mind me visiting? I did look them up online (the address) and there last name is Murray?

    • Jocelyn Greenky
      Jocelyn Greenky
      Reply

      I don’t remember Jack at the moment but I do of some other dogs. They are all buried at their church. In the graveyard. I don’t think they women would mind. I went a few years ago and the daughter of one of them let me walk around the bottom of the house. They have completely changed it. I was thinking what must that house think (if it could talk). The aroma is sort of the same and a modern kitchen. Thankfully, they didn’t change the room with the sink. I wish I could have gone to the cellar but I would only want to see the hundreds of canned fruit jars. The wood stove isn’t there either. I walked through the barn and it’s filled with “stuff” from years ago. So many nights and days spent in the barn wandering, poking, kicking, smelling and playing. It’s hard for anyone to believe me when I tell them I spent all my holiday’s, weekends and summers on a working farm … most people glass over. I want to cry as I miss them all so much. My son is named after Emma. His name is Ethan. My company is named Sider Road after them. I clearly remember the fire now. It took me this long to stretch back into memory. They loved you and told us all so. I’m so happy you remember nice things about me and that I shared my pillow with you.

  • Elaine
    Reply

    Did Emma ever meet Ethan? I found Edwin and Irenes obituaries but not Emma’s, Lillians or Girvin’s. I tried to explain to my daughter how amazing it was and finding your blog, but I also got the glazed look :(. I will be forever grateful for all the love that I experienced from them, I think it saved me in a way and has always been a source of joy and comfort….memories I can escape to. I wonder if they knew the foundation they were laying in my life, the way it influenced me as a human being a mother. I have 3 children, my middle son just turned 22 on Thursday. Yes if those walls could talk! I sure hope that I am as well recieved as you were and that I have a chance to visit the barn and the house and wander the grounds 🙂

    • Jocelyn Greenky
      Jocelyn Greenky
      Reply

      Emma made it to my older sister’s daughter’s birth. She was hospitalized at that time. I was inconsilable. We all were joyful that she could meet Moraya. My two brother’s already had children but Emma waited for Moraya. I wasn’t married until 37 and my first, Ethan, at 39 the second, Jade, at 41.

      How did you find me? Of all the people on the planet. My company is named Sider Road after them. I thought the street was Sider Road until I found out it was Arcadia years later. The woman in the house told me because I never saw a street sign telling me otherwise.

      Btw, my children also roll their eyes. It incomprehensible how much of an affect they had on me as well. I saw Edwinoft the back of my mother’a car out of a ditch. I witnessed making sausage and of course all the quilt making a girl could have for life!

      Never went to camp as I wanted to spend my free time with Emma and the rest. I went to her when I cried or was scared BA my own mother. Her hands were delicate. Her education was at the 7th grade level but far reaching. I strive for excellence but happy to be in the back row.

      Cows, chickens, the garden, making hay tunnels in the barn and staring at all the dead racoons hanging in that garage, made me happy. Emma gave me more money than parents ever did. It’s all incredible and only someone like you would ever understand.

      I never saw the obituaries and truly I don’t think they understood what impact they would have on either of us. My brothers also reflect the impact often.

      I can say this about you. We all spoke often of the terrible luck of the family and they were not only happy to have you, it was their divine responsibility. They wanted you. None of them had children other than Alvin and another older brother. They probably were more careful with me as Emma was employed by my family for 50 years. 50. 50.

      How do you think they influenced you as a mother? Am very curious.

  • Jocelyn Greenky
    Jocelyn Greenky
    Reply

    Emma made it to my older sister’s daughter’s birth. She was hospitalized at that time. I was inconsilable. We all were joyful that she could meet Moraya. My two brother’s already had children but Emma waited for Moraya. I wasn’t married until 37 and my first, Ethan, at 39 the second, Jade, at 41.

    How did you find me? Of all the people on the planet. My company is named Sider Road after them. I thought the street was Sider Road until I found out it was Arcadia years later. The woman in the house told me because I never saw a street sign telling me otherwise.

    Btw, my children also roll their eyes. It incomprehensible how much of an affect they had on me as well. I saw Edwinoft the back of my mother’a car out of a ditch. I witnessed making sausage and of course all the quilt making a girl could have for life!

    Never went to camp as I wanted to spend my free time with Emma and the rest. I went to her when I cried or was scared BA my own mother. Her hands were delicate. Her education was at the 7th grade level but far reaching. I strive for excellence but happy to be in the back row.

    Cows, chickens, the garden, making hay tunnels in the barn and staring at all the dead racoons hanging in that garage, made me happy. Emma gave me more money than parents ever did. It’s all incredible and only someone like you would ever understand.

    I never saw the obituaries and truly I don’t think they understood what impact they would have on either of us. My brothers also reflect the impact often.

    I can say this about you. We all spoke often of the terrible luck of the family and they were not only happy to have you, it was their divine responsibility. They wanted you. None of them had children other than Alvin and another older brother. They probably were more careful with me as Emma was employed by my family for 50 years. 50. 50.

    How do you think they influenced you as a mother? Am very curious.

  • Elaine
    Reply

    So to answer the first question “how did I find you?”….well to back up a bit to this time last year. My fiance (who loves to travel) asked me if I could go anywhere where would I want to go? Without hesitation I said Stevensville, the farm. This spring he said that we would plan a trip back to Ontario. I started searching Google, found images of the farm….could barely see through my tears lol. Then a few weeks ago (when I found your blog) I was searching for records on Sider and your blog “Sider road…….and then I saw Jocelyn Greenky…..never forgot your name, not sure why it stayed in my memory all these years but it did and we’ll the rest is history :). As for your other question – how I was influenced as a mother? Took me a few days to reflect on that and the truth is my childhood was horrendous Jocelyn, like imagine the worst and I probably lived it. My only haven or heaven was going to the farm. And I know beyond any doubt that the experience of witnessing and being embraced by the love of that family allowed me to love and embrace my own children as a mother should, despite how I grew up. I remember when my daughter was little singing to her songs that irene sang to me, saying prayers “now I lay me down to sleep….” as Lillian did with me……sharing with my kids simple pleasures, homemade ice cream, playing games etc. Does that make sense? In my dark days I would always allow myself to wander there in my mind…..it truly was the only joy I had as a child. The only place/times that I can remember feeling happy, safe and loved. And that was all I wanted and want for my children, and I am happy to say I think I achieved that and they are in turn happy, loving adults.
    I too remember the coons in the shed, absolutely facinating…Edwin took me hunting once that I remember….it was very late but what a thrill racing through the bush with the dogs and shining the flashlight up the tree. I still have a soft spot in my heart for hound dogs :).
    I too remember making sausage…what a fun process that was oh and collecting eggs and plucking chickens. Do you remember how their aprons used as a carry all….always enthralled with how they would gather peas etc in their aprons.
    A few weeks ago I finally found (I have been looking for at least 35 years) a book that they had in their den area off the living room. It was a children’s book of stories and poems…..I loved that book! Anyways I never remembered the name if it only one particular poem about a swallow. Well as I said I found it….I cried lol. Another cool thing that also happened just a day or two before I found your blog was I came across a pencil and ink drawing, beautifully framed, of an old wagon….I was so drawn to it and purchased it. Got it home and noticed on the side of the wagon a name “lady jane”….that was what irene called me….then I found your blog. All these wonderful amazing happenings that are pointing me there….can’t wait to go :).
    I have a couple memories of your dad and mom. I think your dad was a doctor? I seem to recall him being referred to as Dr. Greenky, and your mom just seemed larger than life to me, quite chatty and very flamboyant in her gestures.
    Did it ever strike you as odd that Lydia wore glasses even though she was blind? I remember doing silly things like waving my hand in front of her to check out if she was really blind lol.
    Do you have any pictures of them other than emma of course. I sadly have only 3 pics from that time (our house burnt down again when I was 11 so lost any we may have had). I have 1 pic of me in the classic smock, one of my two brothers and 1 of Irene and my grandmother in the kitchen by the porch door.

  • Elaine
    Reply

    ………and thank you for telling me they wanted me 🙂

    • Jocelyn Greenky
      Jocelyn Greenky
      Reply

      Yes, my father was a doctor. An orthodontist. My mother, is as you described. He is not alive but she is. I escaped their awful marriage to the warmth of the Sider’s. He was a manic depressive bi-polar person. It took me many years and a shrink to not take his insanity personally. At some point in my early 20s, I realized my parents are just people who had a kid. I needed to look at them as people who screwed up vs my personal parents who did something on purpose to screw it up.

      Being the youngest of the four of us and three years younger than my sister, I wasn’t close with my siblings. They were siblings only. My brothers were and still are extremely tight. In fact, they work together. At the time, my best option was to leave and head towards the farm. It was obviously quite a different culture and I knew that even at 5. It was unconditional love but I didn’t know what do with my feelings of conflicting culture. One was bent on education, money and status and the other didn’t care about any of that other than a long winded story (normally one told that was always seemingly a disastrous story of who did what to whom and a bad ending). One was about being proud of being a Jew and to hold the religion and luck of being born into that tightly and never forget to be proud. The other was being singled out at church of the “jewish” girl and felt and knew I was different than them all. I did sit in church every Sunday when I went on the woman’s side of the church. They sent me to Sunday school and I learned all about Jesus and how Christians were born as sinners. I didn’t buy that. It seemed silly to think I was a sinner just because I was born. In fact, I couldn’t see how the Sider’s were sinners either. I liked the feeling of community there but not the message. I still don’t. It makes no sense to me.

      Often, I would try and argue my case to the family, and somehow it turned into talking about “darkies”. That was how they described black people. I remember trying to keep track of their thinking but always sidetracked when the food showed up which was usually overdone … but I ate it anyway as it was always mashed potatoes, meat, some vegetable and then the pies.

      I still have the quilts they gave me. The smells of the barn hit me when I go to farm stands and I stand and cry.

      Arnold who is the son of Lydia…and it’s true, why did she wear glasses?…of Lydia. I called him today to send me some pictures. He will. I will send them to you.

      Regarding they hay tunnels, I was in them :). They loved you. I know that for a fact. They felt bad about the house burning. I remember. Did you have siblings?

  • Elaine
    Reply

    …..and hay tunnels! I cringe when I think about what could have happened! 🙂

  • Elaine
    Reply

    I have 3 brothers, Mark is the oldest and spent summers on the farm as well….in fact he has farmed around Alberta and BC most of his life. We have not spoken in over 10 years but I think he is in Vancouver and has 3 kids. Cale is a year and a bit younger than me and lives in Nanaimo just 50 minutes north of me….we don’t speak at all due to a differing opinion of how to walk in the world….he takes and uses people and is just generally not a nice person, you could say I don’t enjoy his personality :). My youngest brother Stephan escaped to the other side of the world and lives in China. He has a lovely wife and 2 daughters, he is visiting at the end of this month. Cale has a daughter, Carmen, who I am close too.
    My mom has no relationship with Mark or Cale but stays connected with Stephan and myself, she lives about 5 minutes from me.
    My mom was diagnosed about 5 years ago with dependent personality disorder, she is unable to be alone…..hence the years of crazy relationships that she endured despite the horrors it brought into her children’s lives.
    I woke up the other morning and had a memory of your sister….is her name Sharmon? I recall her being blonde with glasses???
    I was wondering if we’re about the same age? I always thought you were older than me….I will be 51 in December.
    Funny you mentioned the “darkies” I too remember those references and them coming to purchase the racoon skins. I also remember (and have no clue why) that there was a “pet” racoon in one of the sheds behind the house…..I have a terrifying memory of going to visit it and it getting it’s claws into my head!
    I too remember crawling around in those hay tunnels and jumping into hay mows from the hay loft. How no bones were broken is a mystery. Do you recall walking on the big barrels in the yard? I think they were like oil drums or something that we would maneuver on like circus performers. I loved going out to the barn and letting the calves suck on my fingers and watching Edwin at milking time. I can still taste the ice cold kool-aid that was put in the big round thermos jug that we would take out to the haying field. Sitting on top of the hay bails racing down the highway….OMG again how no lives were lost is a mystery to me!
    I still love quilts, have a few that I have aquired over the years. I had one that the Siders made for me that is in sad need of repair as well as a nighty that they gave me.
    Do you see your mom often? Your brothers? Your sister?
    I never really thought about the being born as sinners thing. I do have a strong belief in God which I am grateful to the Siders for instilling in me, it has gotten me through many hard times and definately influenced my path in life.

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