My dad was born and raised in the area that is now known as the Medicine Hat Historic Clay District. The area where the South Saskatchewan River meets the clay bank was dad's childhood playground - as were the Brick and Tile and Medalta factory grounds.
Dad was a storyteller, and we often heard childhood stories about how he and his brother spent weekends digging through the "dish dump", a pile of discarded Medalta seconds. They used to cobble together sets of unbroken dishes and sell them to ladies in the neighbourhood - until word got around and the Medalta employees put a stop to it.
Luke Lindoe was working at the Brick and Tile Company when my dad was around 12 years old. He got to know my dad from seeing him play in the area on a daily basis. One day, Lindoe gave my dad two of his promotional plates from the Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Company. This must have happened sometime between 1962 to 1965, as my dad left Medicine Hat for Lethbridge in 1965 when he was 16.
Years later, my mom recognised the plates, heard my dad's story, and wisely stored them away for safekeeping. Fifty years after the plates were gifted to my father, one of them is mine and the other will go to my sister.
The plates are simple promotional pieces for the Medicine Hat Brick and Tile Company and I admit, they're not my favourite Lindoe pieces. However, the story of Lindoe's generosity to a local kid, my mom's recognition of Lindoe's work, and the connection the plate has to my dad's childhood have made the little plates incredibly precious to me.
My dad died in 2013, and in 2014 my mom, sister and I visited Medicine Hat to experience the Clay District and the area my dad spoke so fondly of. The restored factories are still there, as are the clay banks, the meandering river and the railway; the auspicious combination of resources that put Medicine Hat on the map.
- René Mehrer
*This story has been put together with input from my mom, stories from my dad and uncle, and further confirmation and clarification of the facts from Luke Lindoe’s biography.