Letter to Jean Funkhouser, daughter of Howard Leopold Morry
Memories, what a word? And what a nice thing for one when they are old.† To have lots of nice ones, and some not so nice.
I remember, my Father and Mother took me up the harbour to see my Grandmother White, who was dying. I remember it quite well, when they put me in bed for her to kiss me. I saw her headstone a few years ago. It will be 73 years ago on the 9th. She was 83. I can remember it perfectly. We went up over the harbour ice, and when† we came home, I sat by the oven in the kitchen to get warm. It was awful frosty and my mom was crying hard.
Then next I remember going to watch a football match on the downs. There was an excursion from St. Johns on a steamer, and they had big marquees set up and a band playing. To me it was wonderful. There was a bunch of men playing football and the ball rolled towards another kid and I. When we saw it coming we started to run. It was the first time I had seen a football and I sure was scared. And I remember well I had a lovely velvet suit, with silver buttons down the front of it and buttons on the side of the legs and my first pair of braces. In my fright I messed it. Mom was very embarrassed before all the folk.†
I remember my bother Graham being very sick and how we were afraid he'd die and how delighted we were when he got well. Next thing in December '92 we were sliding in the middle lane and McFarrell came down the lane with a telegram from Father who was in St Johns saying the Banks commercial and (......) were broke. We did not understand then, but we soon found out that it would make quite a difference to us. At that time my Father carried on a big business. Imported all his own goods and had all the money in Bank Notes, as at that time it was the custom to settle in the Fall and Spring. The banks paid 5 cents on the dollar and he was broke almost. But to finish it the next fall, he had about $10,000 worth of fish and oil going down to St. Johns and as twas only a few hours run, to save money, he neglected to insure it. She was lost with all hands and that finished him. As far as business was concerned, instead of declaring insolvent he kept trying to pay his debts and worked like a slave and all us boys as well.
We set barrels of potatoes and .....'s of turnips and we boys had to dig and weed and watch them. Not much play I can tell you. I remember I used to cry because the clay used to dry up my hands and crack them. We got very little time to play. About 1894 he started canning lobsters. Then we really had to work. Get rocks to ballast them and put them in the pots right. If not we'd have to do it all over again. Father hired a hardy boy and he set his traps all around antside (?) and over in Calvert. My brother Bert and I had 35 traps to haul and bait every morning before school. I was up early , to bed early to rise and then I can tell you in the long Spring mornings, we got up in the cold and frost of the year in early May. After there was frost on the water, I still can feel the cold. Wet sleeves from putting our hands in to change the bait and take out the lobsters. Then I got Water Whelps. You know what they were like Jean. Both my arms would be covered with small pussie pimples. I had hairy arms, baby arms the fishermen called them. When I was older, I often had boils from the poison in the water. Lots of fishermen wore a band of brass chains around their wrists and they did not suffer as much. I've seen men I was fishing with, have pimples form the wrist to the elbows and they lean over the side and wet them and then take the back of the knife and rub them all off.† they surely did suffer and some men did not have them at all.
I remember the second year I was lobstering, my brothers were bigger then and we got the traps out back of the Island to haul along with the others. One day a gale of N. E. sprung up suddenly and before we got to the Isle aux Bois Gap the seas were meeting in the middle of the Gap and going about seven or eight feet high. It was too rough in the other Gaps and we had to make it, so...., I kept her rowed off while Bert stripped and then I stripped and we made the sign of the cross and rowed for the gap as hard as we could hoping to make it on a low sea. If we were older and had more knowledge of the Gap, we'd have rowed near, wait for three seas to roll in and then row like hell and get through before the next three big ones came. Lucky for us, we struck an easy time and though the dory stood on end and we fell in the bottom of the boat, our oars floating away and the dory almost full of water, we were through and safe. After a while we got the oars and rowed in† to the pool. Twas too hard to row down against the wind. In my mind I can see us now, two poor little half drowned lads. Father scolded us for going out, but we did not have the sense to know the danger.
We were used to work then and found lots of time to play and other devilment. I remember one time. At that time there was good Partridge shooting on Cape Broyle Barrens, and Father, Mother and a half dozen other couples had arranged to go shooting and berry picking down there. No room for us and we were disappointed. But there was one good sport from St. Johns and he said Boys, crawl under the seat in your Fathers wagon. I'll put the baskets in front of you and you won't be seen. My but we sure suffered that time, cramped and short of air. There was a hole in the front. We took turns putting our mouths to it.† Going down over Power's Hill, my Father put his leg against the hole and stopped the air. I put my finger through and my father gave a yell and jumped out and we were found. He never had any sense of humour, but my Mother and the others had a good laugh. He agreed to take us along and we had a wonderful day.
Another time my two brothers and I had built a house of brick and covered it with old boards, with brick on top. We called it a fort as we were playing pirates at that time. One night we put about twenty hens in it, prisoners, closed it up.† When we woke in the morning, it had rained and blew hard that night.† When I looked out in the morning, twas blown down. We dressed quickly and stole out and there were five dead hens, and the rest pretty bedraggled looking. We took out the dead and buried them.† We were scared to death lest they'd find out about the hens, and suddenly Bert came up with an idea. He said let's pray. I know a good prayer. So the three of us stole off to the stable, hid in the door and knelt to pray. Do you know what it was? Bert said it and we all said it after him. God says call on me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee. He said it fervently and as we never heard anything about the hens, we had great faith in it after that.
We now used to play games, and looking back they all seemed to help smarten on up.† These were cricket, quoits, scout, firing at the lead. Which was played by any number of fellows. First a stick was driven into the ground and a bit of flattened lead about the size of a fifty cent piece put on it. Then there were three sticks about eighteen inches long with a hand hold on them and the game was to knock the lead more than thru the length of the stick from it. But first we would all throw the three sticks in turn and the fellow that knocked the lead farthest away would own the lead for a while. The rest then would pay a button. There was not much money then, buttons had to do. You'd get three shots for a button and sometimes that fellow would get a couple of dozen buttons before he'd lose to somebody else. Then there was duck, which was putting a round beach stone about two pounds weight on a large flat stone. Then we'd all pitch in our turn till some one knocked it off. Then he'd own the duck stone. All the rest would have a duck stone each to pitch at the one on the rock. The idea was to knock off the duck stone. Each fellow as he pitched went and stood beside his stone, while the fellow who was on stood by. If the stone was knocked off each fellow grabbed his stone and tried to get home.† If the duck man touched anyone, before he got home with his stone, then he was on. This game went on for hours. Then there was snig.† this game was played with a short round stick laid across two stones about a foot apart them there was a stick a little thicker than a broom handle and about the same length. There were two sides called. No limit to the number. One side would field out, the other side would play till they were all caught or struck out. First the players would put his stick under the one across the rocks and pitch it off as far as he could. If it twas caught, he was out. If not caught, the chap who picked it up was to throw it at the one he'd measure with the long stick to where the short one lay and that was the way he counted. If he did strike and count, after that he's snig again. The fellow would try to pitch the snig stick at the stones, if the player did not strike it and it went nearer than the length of the stick from the stones that player was out.
Then there was Scout out. Both sides would try to catch a fellow and take him prisoner, if you took one prisoner he could demand a legs length on each side of him clear. His mates from the other side of the lane would try to touch him without being caught. If they did, he was free again, but on the other hand, the chap might get back to his own side and would start to run. One from the opposite side would give chase and try to catch him.† Sometimes the whole crowd would be out chasing each other (hence the name scout out). All these games tended to make one smart on the legs and long winded. Another game, rounders played something like baseball, only it's played and struck off by hand. Much like baseball.
Then there was Hurley, played on the ice. Like Hockey, but very tough. No trouble to get hurt badly. Then there was football, of course in these days we had not the rubber flash covered with leather. There wasn't any money for that. We had a cowís or pigís bladder blown up and covered with canvas or heavy duck. Then when we'd run out of them we'd stuff the leg of an old pants or overall with old rags and tie it up tight. You can imagine how heavy they got and what a kick it took to get them off the ground. Good for a scrimmage though. All these games made us tough and hard.
†Then when we got older there was trouting. What days to remember and what cums (?). The kettle boiling, the smell of smoke and watching your bobber go down. Then you'd land one. You'd admire the colour and all the spots. Remember Jean? Lovely memories of a generation that has almost gone and will never be replaced. Hard work, no money, but plenty of fun.
Then to school, many hours I looked out and saw the sun shine and an occasional peep of the vessels and small boats coming in and out. I used to watch that sun come in through the end window in the school and creep around to a certain seam in the
floor and I knew twas noon time. We did not have a clock. Just an old barn of a school, with a big old wood stove in one end. The class near that would be nice and warm, but the ones in the far end, especially in the winter, would be frozen to death and on a cold morning we'd be all clicking our feet together, trying to warm them. There was not any rubber shoes or gaiters at that time, just lace boots, greased with fat. Lacking fat, lard or cod oil and they would leak snow water. It's no wonder people used to die like flies with TB. You never had dry or warm feet once winter came. We used to wear baggins that helped. They were made to fit down over the boot, with eyelet holes in the bottom to tie under the sole of the foot. A running string in the top to tie over the calf to the leg to keep them up. The ladies wore heavy blanketing stockings that came above the knees. Leather boots inside. They would not look very glamorous by today's standards, but I guess we thought they were just lovely and I was just beginning to know how lovely they looked and how nice it was to get your arms around one of these lovelies at night when we were sliding. Imagine the thrill, a big heavy coat, sweater, heavy blouse and undershirt, flannel panties (coloured mostly) London smoke. At last three petty coats, heavy down to the ankles. A girl would be thought real wicked if she pulled her clothes up above her knees to fix a garter. Everything about them was a mystery and I believe if they had kept that way a little twould be best for them and the world in general. Now there is not very much left to the imagination of the male. Too much show window stuff.
When I was twelve I got a loan of a gun for one day. My father had forbidden me to fire a gun. But ducks were plentiful and I got a loan of a gun and a load of powder and shot from my cousin. Went around the rocks, crawled in a flock and killed three. I'll never forget what a thrill that was. When I went home with them, Dad relented and got me an old second hand gun. I had to tie the hammer on, as it flew off every time I fired.† In spite of that I got lots of birds. Two chums of mine, Gus and Jack Quirke, whose father was dead, had a gun without a hammer and Gus generally carried the gun and Jack the hammer. When they were ready to fire, Gus would put on the cap and sight her and then he'd say strike and Jack would strike and off she'd go. They'd often fight about who was to carry her. Once I got after ducks twas an awful craze every spare minute I'd be after them before day and after dark and in boats on icy rocks, taking your life in your hands almost every day. I escaped very well until† I was about six or seven years home from overseas. One morning the ninth of March, frosty smoke coming out of the water. I heard the house cracking with the frost (remember Jean), and the wind just light enough to take the slob ice off the land. So I got up and went out on a long point. It was all ice from the sea freezing on it and it took me a long while to crawl out. I got up on the top of a sloping rock, with just room to lie on and piled a few lumps of ice ahead of me so the birds would not see me. I had two guns. The big muzzle loader to fire into the flock and the double barrel 12 gauge hammer gun to shoot the cripples. I put the cartridge gun on the slope of the rock beside me and thatís where I made the mistake. I was too careful. If I had cocked her she may not have gone off, as the hammer were lose and when I fired the big gun, I heard her sliding and looked and she was sliding down over the rocks with the muzzle towards me. I knew I was for it and just had time to get on my hands and knees.† When she went off. It took the coat and shirts and my hand on the far side. Just grazed my stomach. When I saw my mitt going away up in the air I knew my hand was hit and it was a mess. I made for home, with my wrist help tightly to stop the blood.† When I came to the cliff, I lay down, for I knew I was due for a reaction and if I fainted going up the cliff, Iíd fall. So I just lay there and felt the heat come on me. I got weak. When I came around the frost had congealed the blood and there was a huge lump of frozen blood on my breast where I had held it against me while I was weak. I climbed the bank and made for the doctors, only to find that he had gone to Cape Broyle on a maternity call. So I came back home and tied it up myself. Fredris was still asleep. She was expecting in a few weeks and I did not want to give her a shock, so when I went to the bedroom, she woke up and asked m what was wrong. I said I hit my thumb with a hammer. So I took my good clothes and made for Cape Broyle. The doctor tied it up and sent me to hospital, lost the thumb, first finger, and part of the second one. Came home from Hospital on the 18th and walked around for a few days looking at the ducks and moaning. First thing when I got home, I asked Fredris, where's my gun.† She said your finished with that. I don't want to be worrying about you any more.† After I was home for a fortnight, one day she brought the guns to me and said, there they are take them, I can't watch you moaning around. Poor Mom unknowingly I cost her many anxious hours, when I was away shooting. I did not know till about a couple of years before she died. I had gone shooting on an awful stormy day, early in the morning and had not come home and at 4 PM when the big kids came home, she came looking for me. I heard someone crying and I went to the sound and there she was crying like a baby, I never realized till then how much she must have worried while I was away and I never gave her anymore worry.
We also spent a lot of time, in the winter, after deer and rabbits. When I look back and think we must have been very hardy, for we'd follow deer all day. Just before night get in to a grouse, cut down trees and make a wind break. Plenty of wood to make a big fire in front of it and set the watches. We'd all sleep in our turns. Now† I can't sleep in a comfortable bed.
At fourteen, I left school. I had learned all the teacher could teach me. Reading, geometry and algebra, grammar, geography and history. So after that I began to get interested in the girls. What lovely creatures they were and how nice it was to kiss them and nicer again when they'd kiss you back.† Would be crazy about one for maybe a month or so and then began to cool off. Thinking of all the fun I was losing with the boys. Maybe wouldn't bother one for months again. Then a strange one would come along and you were gone again. At last I got a steady. Lovely looking she† was. Black hair and big blue eyes. Went with her for months before she let me kiss her. Gee what a lovely girl. Pure and good and kind. My folks did not want me to go with her as her dad had died in the mental. So when she got about twenty and I about the same, we agreed to part. So she entered the convent and made a lovely nun. That's my boyhood love.† Call it love if you will.
When I was sixteen I was beginning to get tired of lobster catching and boiling oil. With father paying it all out to the merchants he owed to from the Bank Crash, I couldn't see it that way. For they broke the Banks and got away with their debts. But not so with the folks that owed them. The year previous, father and I made $2300.00 boiling liver, working night and day and he turned it all over to the merchants giving me a few dollars to spend. So I was fed up. When the lobster fishing was over, my brother Bert and I went to Manitoba on a harvest excursion. It just cost us $19.50 passage money to Medicine Hat, $25.00 back. Stayed there till November, hard hot work, with bad water that gave us diarrhoea (back door trot). It was an experience though. We were green boys when we left home. I can remember well the morning we left. Twas the latter part of July. My brother Bert, Jack Brien and I. We went on the mail carrierís wagon to St. Johns. I can see my Father and Mother standing by the gate waving us good bye and both of them crying. That was and is still the way with Fathers and Mothers in Newfoundland and is still the children grow up and go away. At that time the beginning of the century all my youthful friends went away to Sydney, Cape Breton in the mines, to Boston and Gloucester to go fishing. Some went to sea on our own fish carriers. The pay for an A B seaman at that time was $18.00 a month on call 24 hours a day. No $250.00 a month for forty hour week, overtime for the rest of it and they wonder why we can't compete in the world's fish markets. Well when we got on the train at St. Johns, it was crowded and we did not get a chance of a seat for about 12 hours. I can tell you we were pretty tired. We eventually got on board the Bruce and crossed the gulf. We got in Sydney in the morning, passed the Immigration Authorities. Then we had to carry our clothes about two miles out to the station and my twas warm. We were joined there by two more train loads of harvesters and picked up another one at Truro. there were now over 4,000 young devils on the train after another leading west. We could not afford the train meals and had to depend on what we could buy when the train stopped twice a day. Needless to say we were hungry most of the time, as the two trains ahead bought up all available supplies. As we went they began to get rougher and rougher. Before we came to Ottawa a chap who knew the ropes told us to hold all our pop bottles, empty meal tins etc., till we came to the elevated going over part of Ottawa and then at a signal we began dumping. It must have been some mess down there. When we came to North Bay we found the stores all closed, and not a thing to get near the station. So we all scattered through the town and of course the train had to wait till we all got back. In the mean time another train load from New Brunswick came along and then things really began to pop. We had managed to get enough for a couple of days and were pretty happy. The first thing we saw when we got near was a kid jump feet foremost through a bake shop window. After that there was no stopping them. So the authorities had to step in and arrange for us to stop outside the towns and the food was brought to us. When we got to the edge of the Wheat Belt (Rat Portage) just this side of Winnipeg we found the train ahead of us off the track. We got out where they were stacking wheat and it was not long before things began to warm up again. Some of the lads in the train ahead had the habit of saving their bottles and firing them at the section men as they passed them by. The news must have gone ahead, for we passed through a big bunch straightening out the track and they opened on us with everything they had and we pulled in to Winnipeg with scarcely a window left. What a howling mob was in the Station, twas Johnny make room for your Uncle. Fighting all over and the police trying to make peace and get the harvesters straightened out. So many to each district were sent out just as fast as they could get them. We did not get out till next afternoon, we went to a boarding house and in the middle of the night the bed that the three of us slept in collapsed and we spent the rest of the night more comfortable on the floor and the old guy wanted us to pay for the bed, which of course we did not do.
Before I go any further now, I'll tell you a few things that showed how neighbourly the folks were and the queer thing we did and got away with. Once I remember going to Cape Broyle for a smuggle of rum with my brother John in his boat. We got forty gallons and figured we'd make a couple of hundred bucks on it. Just as we were coming in to our wharf, John said there's Flaherty the policeman waiting for us. Will we run for it. I said no, better take the risk, so we went in and tied on the boat and left there and pretended we did not have anything on board. It worked. OK our greatest trouble was to watch all the lads as they knew we had liquor on board. We got it all† out and hid it in different places. We had a gallon in the bottom of an old box of old junk of all kinds. About two years after, I was looking for something and came across it. What a time we had on that gallon. I sure got lit up worse than I ever remember. First thing I remember I was sitting on the couch between Phyl and your Mom and they both laughing and shooting questions at me. I sure got lots of kidding from them after that. Another time I was going to St Johns on a boat and they had about ten barrels of smuggled rum on board. When the revenue boat came in sight we clapped all sail on and tried to get out in the fog, but she was too smart. Just fired a shot ahead of us and we had to heave to. The skipper lowered the foresail and be quick boys and get it up and throw it in over the fore boom. I'll pretend the foresail is blocked. So we up with it and have it in the slack of the foresail over the boom, then he sent a man up aloft to clear up the pretended tangle and down comes the foresail by run and covered it all over myself. Just as the small boat from the cutter came alongside. The customs officer went below and cruised around and did not find anything, when he was going away, he said in an aside to the skipper. I would not hoist that foresail for a little while if I were you. He told me afterwards, I did not want to catch him, he's a good hard working man and all the men with him have big families. Anyway he said, how in hell can we have fun if we can't get a drip of stuff now and then.
First year the train ran, there was a garden party at Tor's Cove and a bunch of us went down from here. We had to stay over till next afternoon. But time didn't mean a thing† then at that time, so we got a few bottles for coming home. The Brakesman, Conductor and Engineer were good trumps and we were out for fun. So we gave them a few drinks for a start, while we were at the station in Tor's cove and when we were about quarter hour left some girls saw lovely white lilies in the pond and wanted some. One of the fellows pulled the emergency cord and the train stopped. The engineer and the conductor came back and of course had a drink or two. and we told them the girls wanted lilies. I can see us out in that gully with our pants up above our knees. They had backed up about a half mile. We got the lilies and got on board again after a while.† Then I got sick and leaned out the window, felt better afterwards. The conductor came along and just then I missed my teeth. Hell! I said I lost my teeth. Where? The conductor said. I said I took them out and when I got sick back there where we picked the lilies. He pulled the Emergency and the engineer backed up to the gully about seven or eight miles and just then my sister said. Look in your hand and there they were ( my teeth). We had a good laugh. Well, we finished our liquor there. I forgot to say we had a policeman on board. The same that let John and I land the rum. He was going on his holidays so he said, I wonder if we can get the train to delay in Cape Broyle. I said let us try and we got all the girls to get the engineer to delay in Cape Broyle for a couple of hours. There was a dance there.† It was about 8 pm and we had left Tor's Cove at 2 pm. 6 hours for eighteen miles. Good going. Well the policeman said to me. Have you any money? I said yes. Come on then he said. I was watching smugglers here for two years and I know where to get it. So we went to a house and he said Liz, have you got us a drop? Sure I know you have. She said yes and produced a couple of bottles of whisky. So we were set for another while. We† stayed for a couple of hours and then went on board for home. Could that happen anywhere? Only on the southern shore. Ferryland, Newfoundland. I don't think so. Law was lax, people had a bit of fun and that was all. Now everything is tightened up and full of Red Tape.
We had a policeman here in the thirties whom all those who wanted Poor Relief had to go to get a note before they'd get to see the relieving officer. This girl of shady character came to him. He said what do you want Mary? I want to apply for the dole sir. Alright he said. Taking an empty bottle, but first he said go there in the cell. I want to see a sample of your urine. What's that sir? Your piss Mary. My god sir, I can't do it. I just pissed back of that house before I came in. Anyway, she managed a drop and he labelled the bottle and sent it to Jim B. the relieving officer. Unfortunately for Jim, he was not at home and his wife got the bottle and the note. So he was in the dog house for while. A few days after, I was passing the Court house and thought I'd drop in to have a yarn and see what new devilment he was up to. Boy he said you're just in time. Mary is up stairs. Nellie is giving her a cup of tea. She's knocked up and I have to take a statement from her. He said when she comes you get in that cell and leave the door open and you'll hear it all. She came down and I was all set to listen. Dick said you're in trouble again. Yes sir, the same fellow that fathered Eugene. Yes sir. How old is Eugene. Eight Sir. How did it happen this time? Twas Patrickís day sir. There was a time in Cape Broyle and he told me he'd meet me on the top of the Barrens. But there was a lot of snow down then. Yes sir. So it happened that way? What did you do? We went in a bit off the road and he broke off some boughs and spread then on the snow. And that is where it took place? Yes sir. What did you do with Eugene while you were at it? We brought him over to an alder bush and tied him on with his necktie. Well, it just couldn't happen anywhere else. Now that Iím old, I just sit back and think and laugh at the things we did in the Happy cove those days. With all the folk and friends that are gone forever. My hand is giving out and I can't write anymore today.
I'm here again, my hand not so good. I'm looking back at my boyhood days and I often think how little the kids had, how hard they worked and how hard they played. I remember the moonlight nights, sliding on the hills and down Slaney's hill and even we went as far as Cape Broyle hill. A horse would tow seven or eight big handslides, each hold about eight or ten. What times! Then when the snow was gone and the bridges were clear, we'd meet and dance on the bridges. Sometimes to accordion music, or a mouth organ, no money. Then the trouting in the spring. How happy, a lunch in by a pond, a long stick, a bit of twine, and a hook. Coming out at night, often boiling up. Then to bed or over on the road to meet the rest of the fellows and see how they did with the trout. No motor cars, radios, TV sets or anything. So at the end of each lane or cross road, there would be a bunch of men or boys exchanging the news of the day. Talk about the woods, fishing, shooting or any of the ordinary things going on. Sometimes an old fellow would tell some experience about wrecks etc. Now, you can walk the whole length of the place and wont see a person. Go to neighbours to have a yarn, (no soap) they are watching TV. Progress yes! In one direction, but, what about our friends and neighbours. In a few years there won't be any. Well, whatís the use, its grand to have lived in those days and you kids who were lucky enough to be able to remember these old days, were lucky to see so much of it and be part of it. You are really the last link with old times and old people of the simple kindly kind who are gone for ever. When I grew up and went to school the school teacher could only teach about equal to grade 10. Anyway there was nothing to it except fishing or farming or go to sea. So I left at fourteen. I'll go back to Canada now.
When we went to the Railway Station in the morning, there were 25 of us put on board a train for a place called Brookdale. Brien and I hired to a fellow called Babb for $2.00 a day and board. Day was from daylight to dark. Well, he started us on a 640 acre farm, that is a mile each way and we started one each way.† Stooping, that is standing the sheaves up in piles for to be brought to the threshing machine. Twas hard work for us and hot, we being used to sea breezes. We met on the far end of the field a few times a day. We started off at breakfast with porridge and fried pork (he was backing)(?) At noon we got cold pork and bread and beer for supper, fried pork and pancakes. The water was bad and we being hot and thirsty drank a lot of it and got the back door trots pretty bad. On the second day both of us were sick to our stomachs from the pork , I guess. On the third morning we had fried eggs and beans for breakfast and thought we were going to get a change of diet. We felt pretty bad. Vomiting, diarrhoea and hard work are not conducive to feeling good. At noon we had chard and boiled pork and spuds. Well, we ate a few spuds and started off to work, when we met on the far end. I said what about it? Jack, he said let us quit and I said yes. So we left and met him coming towards us. He said, What's the matter. We said we're quitting and want our pay. Why he said? We said the food is no good. Oh, he said, you half starved herring gutted beggars from down east are always kicking about the grub. So I said that's enough mister. We want our pay and not talk. So he paid us $5.75 each and we gave him the soldiers farewell. We had six and a half miles to get to town and we started off down the road. Had gone about four miles when a man with a team drove past us and stopped and asked us if we wanted a lift and we said yes.
So we got on board the truck and he stopped by a big farm house and called the boss.† He said I heard you wanted a couple of men. I have a couple for you here.† So he said get down boys till I see what you are like. We got down and he looked at me and said you're strong, then he turned to Jack and said by G- this is strength. Go there in the field boys and see if you can earn your supper. Twas about 4:30 pm. We worked till 9:30 when he called us to supper. What a change! He had a nice wife and we had roast beef and vegetables of all kinds two or three different kinds of pies. He had nine men and worked a threshing machine. We spent the whole season with him. We worked from dawn to dark and when the days got shorter they lit a straw stack to give us light. So we really worked till about 9:30 PM for $2.50 a day. Once when we were threshing for a chap called Morgan. We were pitching off two stacks on each side of the machine. I was pitching across the stack against the wind. An Irishman a big fellow about 250 lbs was fast pitching them down in the machine. When† we went to lunch Morgan's boys told me that Carroll was taking advantage of me, as one changed places each half hour, and I was doing the hard work all forenoon. They said you go first and take the place by the machine and see what he'll do. So I got up first and took the place, he came up and told me to get to hell out of it. I said I'm staying here all afternoon. You were here all forenoon. He tried to take the prong from me as we wrestled. I got him near the edge, gave him a big shove and over he goes. About 15 feet to the ground.† He got up and rushed up the ladder swearing, but I was there waiting with the prong. So he said I'll see you after supper. I said OK, my what an afternoon that was. I was scared of him, but the kids were behind me and told me he was no good and a right coward. So after supper I ate lightly and went out hung my coat on the fence and sat down on the saw buck waiting for him to come out. When he came out I stood up and said. I'm ready, what about it.
He said, forget it! I said, that's OK with me. And I put on my coat and I was glad. He was a big burly beggar. Well, we worked with him till the last of November, then came home. My brother and Jack Brien got off in Montreal and stayed there. I came on alone, got in St. Johns by train, arrived at 7 pm and went down to Goodridge Wharf to see if there were any schooners ready for home. I was in luck, the Bonny Belle, Skipper Mitch Kehoe, was about ready. He said he'd wait an hour for me so I went to the station, got my grip and got on board. Gale of a head wind when we put out, and we raced along for home. Arrived at Calvert about 4 pm, landed, shoved a stick through the handle of my grip, and made for home. My first time away and how glad I was when I went in. My father and mother were sitting before the fire. How glad were they. I had $135.00, I brought home. I gave him $100.00, kept the $35.00 for myself to do me for six months. Went to see my girl. Went and whistled. I saw her passing the light a few times. By and by the front door opened and I opened the porch door and put my arms around her and kissed her. (My mistake) twas her mother and what a disappointment that was. However, she went in and sent Kitty out. That is my first trip away and my first time home too. I always loved to come home to the old scenes, old friends, and the sea. Had a great time sliding, dancing etc. that winter. Went lobster fishing and boiling oil with my father that summer. We made about $3500.00 boiling oil and it took it all to pay his old bank crash debts. I never said anything. He was just too honest; we made $110.00 lobster catching, they were scarce. I brought down the lobsters, sold them. Bought a ticket to Victoria, B.C for $105.00, had $5.00 for food for a train trip across Canada. Nothing for anything else (faith - unafraid). My brother Bert met me at the station in Montreal and came along. He got very sick on the train and was lifted off the boat in Victoria on a stretcher and brought to the hospital.
As soon as my brother was taken to hospital, I got my grip and thought I'd look for a cousin of my father's there. And as I was going up the wharf, I saw a sign, seaman wanted. So I went in to the office and signed on for fifty a month. That was in July 1902. The Charmer was the ship's name. She ran the triangular run; Victoria, Vancouver and Seattle, about four hours between each place. The crew had to handle the freight as well and we did not get very much rest. How they talk about us selling our fish in the foreign markets, and compete with European, Norwegians, English, Icelanders and all the southern European countries. Our sailors get $220.00 a month for a forty hour week, overtime for the rest of it. We got $12.50 for about at least 100 hours. The people in the States and Canada are far too highly paid and its only a matter of time when wages come down. As soon as mass production gets going in other countries down come the wages and what a howl will go up then. Well I go on. I was a week on the Charmer and never got a chance to see Bert, though I rang him and found he was improving. He had Typhoid Fever. So I stayed for another few weeks and then thought I'd get a job on shore. And I did. A dandy. Working putting in a water system in Victoria. Pick and shovel. Bert had got a job in the Winsor Grocery. I always remember the first day I went to work. The foreman measured off on the pavement each man's work. A strip 2 1/2 feet wide, 29 feet long and 4 feet deep. You did not have much time for looking around especially when you had to dig six inches of concrete off the top. The chap next to me on one end was a Scot, an insurance agent. The pluckiest guy I ever saw. By noon his hands were all blisters. By evening there was hardly an inch of skin on them. Still he staid on the job till he got work. That year was the beginning of a big depression. There were hundreds of men and no jobs. The fellow on the other end of the ditch was an Australian. Another plucky little devil. Name of Burrows. We used to eat in the park, our lunch that is. First thing we'd buy a weeks meal tickets. 21 meals for four thirty. You could buy cheaper ones at the Chinese restaurants for $12.40. The second day I noticed that Burrows was not eating. I asked him was he sick. He said no. Well, I said, do you only eat two meals a day. He said I've eaten only two meals this two days, and them for sawing wood in the evening. I haven't any money he said. And tomorrow if I don't get more wood to saw I have to quit to get my pay. Then I won't get on any more and I want to save money to get home. Boy, I said I'll buy you a weeks meal tickets and you can pay me back out of your pay. He was delighted. I said, where are you sleeping? He said, under boats or old empty stone houses. I used to go to the doss houses at first but my money gave out. I too lived in a doss house in Vancouver the following winter when the depression came. You'd pay a quarter, there was a chair two planks for a bed. Just room for the chairs and the bed. They were boarded about five feet up and if you were foolish enough to leave your clothes on the back of a chair, or hang them up; they'd be stolen during the night. (Lovely) I slept in one a whole month in Vancouver. No work. We used to saw birch for the government institutions for three hours for a meal of scraps. All the hotels and doss houses, Gauls (sp) etc. would send their pig swill out to us (Hunger is the best sauce). There was no good help for the poor at that time. I saw a kid named Johnston from Halifax draw six months hard labour for stealing a loaf of bread out of the Bread Wagon. A warning to all the unemployed, the judge said. There was pretty near a riot that day.
We had to tighten our belts. One meal a day is not much to go on. All these months I could have gone to Victoria and lived with my brother or cousins, but I didn't have $2.50 to pay my passage. And as my boots were gone I bought a second hand pair for $1.50. When I got to Victoria, my brother and I got work to put a fence around the Catholic Church grounds. We made thirty dollars on it, so we built a little shack on the lot we had bought on Shakespeare Street. And after that, we could live for nine dollars a month each. By cutting our fire wood and buying at the cheapest places. We did all kinds of odd jobs putting up fences, digging gardens, liming, etc. And then I got a job sawing wood for the Metropolitan Church. $1.00 a day, sawing wood, hard work. I stayed one month. Twas getting near spring and I quit to go to sea. Went on a tow boat, towing logs down the coast for a month for thirty a month. When that was over, back to Vic again. No work at anything. I decided to join the army. Went out to the barracks at Esquimault. The gate was open and I walked in. Got about 10 yards and was halted and a fellow asked me what I was doing there. I never told him and as I was going out through the gate, I picked up a quarter. Just enough to get me back to Vic on the street car. On the way back sat beside a man. Got in talk with him and he said your Newfie aren't you. I said yes. he said what in hell are you doing five miles away from the water. I told him. Why, he said, I want a man to count fish and work around a salmon cannery. So I hired on with him at once. Fifty a month and board and fifty cents an hour overtime. So that suited me fine. I was off next day on the cannery boat. Boy was I delighted.
When we came near Seymour Narrows, an awful tide runs through there. Its only about fifty yards across and all the water that is in Queen Charlotte sound rushes through it at the rise and fall of the tide. All the water between Vancouver Island and the mainland rushes through that narrows and the only chance to get through was the quarter of an hour slack tide. The lads wanted to give me a scare and they did. There
was a long tow line on the little boat we were towing and the boss asked me to steer her. He said when the tide turned it would be going the same way we were and he did not want to get the two ropes tangled in the propeller. We were getting along fine and I looked back and saw a big tide coming up full behind us. I soon found out when it struck us that you could not steer and when the tide took me I shot right past the tow boat and I saw them all laughing at me. But I ran forward grabbed the tow rope and hauled the boat right up short so they did not get much fun out of it. I loved it at the Canneries.† Twas so strange here to me. I had the water and the hills and the woods†† and strange folks. Chinks, Japs, East-Indians, Finns, Norwegians, Canadians, English men, Red Indians. A lovely people and I got very friendly with them. Especially their chief. And he had a lovely daughter. Edith he called her. Refined and well educated. She was educated in the Methodist school in Victoria. We often went shooting together. She was a wonderful rifle shot. The manager was after her but she did not like him and for that reason he did not like me. Edith and I were good friends and I attended her wedding to a Queen Charlotte Indian, a fine chap. And when I was seeing them off in their canoe, she clasped my hand in both hers and said: If you were an Indian I'd have you for my man. You are good and I will always think of you as Big Howard who respected and was nice to an Indian girl. I never saw her after. But I met a chap a few years later who told me that she and her husband were doing a wonderful job for their people.
It was very rainy at Rivers Inlet where I worked as watchman and fished for a while. I kept a diary for July. It rained 24 days for the month. The high hills all around hooked the clouds. Twas a wonderful place for sport game of all kinds. Ducks and geese in thousands. Salmon and trout and deer. They'd come down to the beach in the evening and eat seaweed. I often watched bears lying by little brooks, waiting for the salmon to come up and they'd claw them ashore for the pure hell of it. We didn't shoot them for their skins were no good in summer. Almost every day one could spy mountain sheep up at the snow line on the mountains. I was sent counting fish. The boss showed me the different kinds of salmon and one kind that was not any good. First morning I was down on the scow and an Indian and his son came in with a boat load of salmon. I was not real sure of the kinds and the boss warned me that the Indians knowing I was green, would try to pass bad ones. This old chap was counting them in and he kind of hesitated and looked at me as the threw one in and I stopped him right away. Twas a bad one, but I never had any trouble after that.† The Indian women came to work in the cannery and I often wondered about their children. The women would nurse them and sit them all in a row by the side of the cannery. It was only narrow, about four feet and a drop of about twenty or thirty feed to the rocks below. They'd come out and look at them once in a while. I never saw one of them kids stir or cry. They reminded me of home. How the cows would hide their calves and they'd never stir till the cow came and moved them. Some of the Indian women were pretty low. The cannery was built in a gulch with a board walk all around it. And the China house with fifty Chinese was at the inside end of it. There were gates about 10 feet high to keep the women from going up and what a joke that was. When I'd be working in the cannery, I'd hear the pad of bare feet and the gates rattling. And I'd have to turn to hose on them to get them back. One night I heard a scraping at the door at the upper end of the cannery. And I opened the door and two Indians just fell in on the floor. They could not speak or anything. So I went and called the manager. They must have got up in the China House before close up time and staid there till then. The manager got some of the old women to come after them and take them home. The chinks made a drink out of apricots and it was potent. Anytime they got a chance to sell it to the Indians there was hell to pay. And very few turned up for work the next day. Another night I heard a noise under the cannery and turned on the hose with cold water. It did no good, so I turned on the hot and you should hear the squeals. Twas the chinks trying to smuggle out liquor to the Indians. You should hear the noise up at the China house just before night last. They'd come out with different coloured papers with Chinese writing on it and then they'd set off fire crackers all around the house and throw them all over the house as well. A queer race the Chinese. I caught our cook spitting in some corn cakes he was mixing for breakfast one morning and he said something not very nice and spat in my face. I hit him and knocked him down and I was so mad that I believe I'd have killed him if some of the chaps had not come in to breakfast. The boss fired him right away. And he told me to watch them from now on and I did. One day a stranger came with coal and the boss asked me would I load the wheel barrows for the chinks. There was double pay in it. I said yes. There was one Chinaman the biggest chink I ever saw. Spilled some of it out each time. And used to look at me† with a kind of sneer. I warned him and the very next barrow he threw it over my feet. I hit him and knocked him over a couple of barrows and he came at me with a lump of coal in his hand. This time I used the shovel and knocked him out, completely. Then they all rushed at me and it took all the white men on the steamer and hot water hose as well to clear it up. After that, the boss told Old Lee the boss Chinaman that if there was any more trouble, he'd send them all back to Victoria. So that was an end to that, although I watched myself pretty close at night.
A couple more incidents I'd like to relate. One night an Indian, Opium Johnny, came to the cannery with the other Indians. He was wanted by the police for killing two white men. Those men had raped his wife and daughter and desecrated the graves of his people that were up in trees. Everyone up there liked Johnny and always hid him from the police. The boss said, I expect the policeman will soon be down from the next cannery for him. We'll have to hide him. So I went after Johnny, put him in a retort that we steamed the salmon in and piled tins of salmon outside him and then screwed down the end to within a quarter of an inch of the bottom.† Just enough to let in air to him. Almost two hours after, along come Curtis the policeman. He stayed a couple of days snooping around but no one saw Johnny. That was the way people knew the kind of characters the two white men were. Years after, Johnny's father got sick with pneumonia and he brought him down to a doctor and gave himself up. There were so many letters went in from people up north that he was released after a few weeks.
The other was when one of the Japs killed another one over a game of cards. I was on one side of the cove and I saw the Jap run out and the other fellow chasing him. He ran out in the water and the other fellow stabbed him to death before we got over. He then went into the Jap house and got a rifle. I went to the next cannery in the motor boat for the policeman again. When we came old Curtis took out his revolver and said I appoint you my deputy in the Kings name. So when we came to the door, he said, you go first and I said like Hell! You go you're getting paid, and I'll back you up. When we went in the poor devil stood up and held out his hands for the handcuffs. He was hanged on xmas eve, poor fellow. He just got vexed and in the heat of passion.
Sundays we always went away for picnics in the boat. All except the carpenter, called Foster. The most selfish son of a bitch that ever lived. He'd get three or four bottles of whiskey and lock his door from Sat till Monday morning. One time when we were repairing the wharf, he and two Indians and I we had a run in. I told him if he did not put in more bolts on the outside of the pile driver that if we hit a soft spot the pile would go below the bolts and he'd lose the hammer. and about half an hour after that he did in seventeen feet of water. You should see the two Indians look at him and then back at me. He wanted them to dive for it but they wouldn't. I told him I could get it in half an hour but no he wouldn't listen to me. At last the manager asked me if I'd get it and I said yes, if he asks me and pays me. So he had to humble himself and come to ask me. I said yes for $10.00 and you keep away. So I get the carpenter to make a hook for me and at lunch hour I get the two Indians and we went and hooked it. When he came out after lunch, the pile driver was ready for work. He never said a word. I said that's $10.00, you can leave it at the office for me. Next day we were working away on the wharf and we wanted to move the driver. I had to go back twenty feet to get the pinch bar and he yelled at me to hurry up. I just stopped and stood back. He said what's the matter. I said, if you want that bar in such a hurray you better run and get it. I know he could have gladly killed me on the spot, but he had to go for the bar and what made it worse, the two Indians laughed all day. I did everything I could to get that man to give me one excuse to take a poke at me. I had such a dislike for him, but he never did.
Another time on a Monday morning, he was properly cricked after his weekend booze. He had a Norwegian there, Ole Hendricksen, about 45, I guess. Nice man, but he had a habit of sniffing and it must have got on Foster's nerves. Ole gave a big sniff and Foster stood up and kicked back his chair and said he'd be God damned if he was going to sit down to breakfast with a pig. I jumped up and kicked back my chair and said, if anyone is a pig youíre it and you can take that how you like. He never said a word, but went out without his breakfast, which pleased us all. Ole thought that the whole universe revolved around me after that. Had a lovely blond daughter and a farm down in the Frazer River Delta and he wanted me to marry her and he'd leave us the farm. She was a nice girl but I was not interested. Guess Ole was real disappointed.
Well, I stayed in Victoria and worked at carpentry work, pipe laying, etc. Lived with my father's cousin, Pete and his wife, seven daughters and two sons. They were very nice to us and a lovely family. Pete's wife was about twenty years younger than him and he was very jealous of her, though he had no need to be. She was a good woman.
I'll tell you a funny thing happened. When I was coming from the cannery at Rivers Inlet I got a chance to come down with a Norwegian and a Jap. They were in a boat of thirty feet long and seven inside with a larger one lashed long side. It was a 400 mile journey in an open boat and I got quite enthused with the thought of that trip in an open boat. We went to a dance at Alert Bay the first night we were there. Six thousand Indians live there with hundreds and hundreds of Totem Poles. It was a dance and we had a nice time. Left there at 2 AM. It was raining and blowing and when we got out in the Queen Charlotte Sound, which is thirty miles across. We were about an hour out when we ran into a boom of logs that had broken loose and I was sent to fend them off with a peevee. I lay down hooked on the boat and made a pretty good job of fending them off. I did not have only an overcoat on and twas soaked with the rain. When we ran out of them, he sent me on the other boat to fill the kettle out of a barrel.
On the deck of the other boat, just as I stepped on the hatch, I slipped and I went over kettle and all. I started to swim after her, got panicky at first. I took in a couple of swallows of water and then I thought of what I'd read in a magazine the day before we left. Twas to keep calm, and take a stroke now and then and I just did that. After a while the coat got very heavy and I was getting tired. And in the rush when I fell over, the ropes of the boat, the Jap was letting go so they could turn quickly to come back for me, got tangled in the propeller and here they were going away from me with the tide. When I'd rise on the top of a big roller, I could see a big passenger liner on my left, all light up and I began to cry. When I looked and saw the boat coming back for me. It was getting daylight now and the thunder and lightning had ceased. In a few minutes I saw the Norwegian with a coil of rope and he threw it right over me and I got dead man's grip on it and they hauled me on board.† I went down below, stopped and fell asleep. Didn't wake for hours and hours. in fact just about an hour before night, Hendrick and I went out and shot a couple of ducks for supper. I was happy and thankful to be alive.
We got down to Vancouver after three days. It was a very enjoyable trip. We tied our boat to a wharf then I went to a bar that all the sailors and fishermen hung out at. I was only a kid and they were all standing me drinks and I did not know anything about getting drunk. Result blotto. I woke up in the morning when the sun woke me. I was lying on the ballast in the boat. How I got on board I'll never know. First thing, I put my hand over to my pocket and found my wallet with six month's wages was still there. So my guardian angel must have been watching over me. Or some of my girl friends, good decent girls who had found the convent may have been watching me look the best for Victoria next day.
My suit had shrunk so that I could hardly get it on. When I went to the house, it was locked up, they had all gone to races or something. So I let myself in and thought I'd play a trick on them. Locked the door, hid my suit case, and crawled under the bed and lay down. I was intended to walk out when they were all sitting at supper. Well, when I woke it was bed time and when I peeped out here was Peteís wife undressing and that is where I made my mistake. If I had spoken then everything would have been OK, but I was scared of Pete. He was so jealous and I kept quiet. They got in bed and what a night I put in. Pete was a light sleeper. I know, I was afraid to go asleep again, afraid to breathe hard in fact. Two or three times through the night I had almost made up my mind to crawl out and make for the door, but if Pete woke I was sunk. He'd believe I was hiding there with Bridget and he came in too quickly. So for her sake and my own, I kept quiet. After one of the worst nights I ever put in, morning came. Pete got out to get breakfast and just then I wondered where I had left my boots and I was scared for a minute till I found I still had them on. After a while, Bridget got out and I could roll around and stretch. When I heard him going out to work, I came out to the kitchen and didn't Bridget laugh. My god, she said, Pete would be awful mad if he knew. So she warned the two older kids not to let their dad know. How the mistake came was that while I was away, she changed bedrooms. The one my brother Bert and I slept in she took for hers. Allís well that ends well.† We had many a laugh and twas a lesson to me of how wrong a jealous person could be. I worked at carpenter work in Victoria for a while and then my brother Graham wanted to come away and I decided to go home for a while and give him a chance. So the war came and I never went back.
†You asked me how I met your mom. Well, I was in barracks writing letters and Mont asked me if I'd come out on a blind date with him. I was not in the mood to go but anyway I decided to give it a try. So I went. We went to meet at Fairly Restaurant. No sign of the girls and we had a few drinks. I looked and saw the two girls coming. I said here they are Mont, I'd never seen them before. Mont came along and said that's them. I thought you did not know them. I said I never saw them before. Love at first sight I guess. That was the first day of April. We were married the second of June. Your mom's birthday was the third of April. I gave her a present of a silver Caribou Head Broach that was for sale on Princes Street, the Scot's Jewellers. I guess now that they'd sell a few for chaps and their girl friends. We went to a show that night and she said she'd meet me† next night and by† hook or by crook I saw her every night that she was out. Even going as far as sliding out through the storm sewers, from the causeway inside the outer gates, that ran off all the surplus water that fell on the yard. My chum was slight and could leave his clothes on, but I had to take off mine and shove them ahead of me. Got my shoulders and hips scratched a bit. But that's love for you. We dropped about four or five feet to the ground, back of some bushes in Princes St. Gardens, fixed up our clothes, brushed them off, etc. We never had any trouble getting in. Our Sgt and chums were good and as long as you were not drunk, they let you in with or without a pass, especially if you had a smidgen of whisky. Well it was such a lovely time for the few weeks we were in Edinburgh till we were moved to Stobbs Camp.
††††††††††† Two shall be born the whole wide world apart
††††††††††† And speak in different tongues and have no thought,
††††††††††† Each of the other's being and ho heed;
††††††††††† And these o'er unknown seas to unknown lands.
††††††††††† Shall cross, escaping wreck defying death,
††††††††††† And all unconsciously shapes every act
††††††††††† And bend each wandering step to this one end -
††††††††††† That one day out of darkness, they shall meet
††††††††††† And ready life's meaning in each other's eyes.
Strange, isn't it Jean?
Well, when we went to Stobbs I got a weekend pass and spent three days in Edinburgh. My what days.
Coming back to camp there was not any sentry at the gate. There was a big sign over it with the name Stobbs Camp, and a thought came to my mind. I was feeling blue, so I climbed up and wrote "Abandon Hope, All Ye who Enter Here"† It was days before any of the officers noticed it. In the mean time, some chap had got a nice square of paste board and printed it in letters about an inch long. There was an enquiry but of course, no one wrote it.† A military secret. All our plans were made for the wedding then.† Guests invited and all, so I got Capt. Gernard to come to the Colonel with me to ask permission and to get a week off. I sure got a surprise when the Colonel said I could not get permission till I got a certificate of the girls character, etc., so that changed everything.
When we came out the Capt. said, What are you going to do Morry?† Well, I said, Sir, I'll have to break leave. These people are to big expense. I can't let them down. He looked at me with a kind of smile, and said don't do anything you'll be sorry for.
Friday was payday and I got Sgt. McKinley to put me on guard duty, so I'd be off duty the next day. I also got him to fix the guard so I'd be off at 4 A.M. He'd get someone to take my place while the guard was being dismissed. So in camp the boys had a few shillings collected for me and I said good bye to them and walked about three miles to the next station away from the camp so they would not know where to look for me. I got on the flying Scotsman and went to the toilet and closed the door till we were passed Stobbs. But, I needn't have bothered for the first stop was in Edinburgh. I did not know it, and only by pure chance I got off at the Waverly Station. I was yarning off to a chap and had taken off my tunic and had all my gear on the seat when the train stopped. I thought they said this train's first stop was at Edinburgh. I looked out grabbed my gear and hopped out on the station† just in time. I got dressed there and went to 6 Ardmillan Terrace and they were all in bed. As they were expecting me on the regular train in about four hours time. She took almost three hours from Stobbs
instead of the Scotsman's one hour. Well, I had two days before the wedding and the Military Police were busy rounding up our fellows, as there were 350 men who had broken leave and were scattered everywhere. We were a wild bunch. The day before the wedding, Mont and I went down to a jewellery store on the North Bridges to buy the wedding ring, and as we came out he asked me for my pass. Mont and I had walked on a bit and he knew I didn't have one. So, I produced a fake pass my chum had written for me. He looked at it and asked where is the orderly room stamp. I said we didn't have one, and he said, I'm sorry, but we'll have to take you it. There are too may of your (....) out on the loose. And I said, Oh Hell Sgt., I was in there buying a wedding ring and I went on to explain why I didn't get a pass. He said, who's the girl. Oh, he said, Jimmy Minty's daughter. Away you go, keep out of sight and report after the wedding. He was a good stump. Well, just before I got home one of our own Sgts., Walter...? of Cape Broyle, stopped me and asked for my pass and he waved me on. I was able to repay him afterwards when he was sick and jaundiced up at Cape Helles. I stole prunes and dates and figs from the English ration dump for him. The Turks used to shell it every evening at dusk. We found that then the guard was withdrawn for a while. Then a few of us moved in and made our haul, from the officers dump. Found potted ham and chicken and all kinds of goodies. Guess it kept us alive.
To get back again, I kept out of sight and we were
married in a hall two doors away from the house. But, first we had to get a car
to pick up Fredris, who was staying at her sisters. When we got to the hall
there were about a hundred girl friends of Fredris' there. Mont and Fredris
went in front, as where their care was, there were only a few girls, but we
could scarcely get through. I could hear them say, which (Yin?) is it? And I
nodded to Mont and Nellie and I got by without much trouble. I remember while
we were standing by the corner windows, there was a column of troops marching
past. There was a whole division 16,000 men. We had just got through in time.
We had quite a time at the wedding and next evening we left for our Honeymoon
at a place called
Bavelaw Mill, up north. We got a train, freight and passenger. Just on the outskirts at
a lovely station on the way, Fredris would walk ahead to a corner and give me an all clear signal and that is the way we got to the Station, got our tickets and away without being seen. When we got to Bavelaw, we had a lovely 3 mile walk to Fredris' aunts farm house. Hislop was the name. We spent a glorious week. There the hills were all in
bloom with Heather. We had a dance whilst there. Jim Minty and Jim Stormont came up from Edinburgh. The oldest boy of the family of seven Hislops, was about forty,
had an awful squeaky voice and no hair on his face. I said to Jim Stormont, is he a
girl? And Jim said, There's doubt laddie, lets away and see. So we got him out for a drink, but he squealed so much, the crowd came out and it's still a mystery.
Well, one evening out we were on the hills and we saw a soldier on a bicycle going up to the door and I was scared to come down. By and by one of the lads came up and said, there's a soldier to have a crack wi ye. So we went down, and twas Mont, he said the call was out for all defaulters to return to their unit at once. So twas over, the happiest week of my life. Back to Edinburgh, and caught the train to Stobbs. A four mile walk from the station. No money for bus fare, raining hard† and black as the inside of a cow. Crawled past the sentry, found my tent and in 10 minutes was asleep. Reveille next morning. Now, I fell in among the bunch and the Sgt. Major saw me just as he called my name. Fell out a corporal and two men and marched me off to the clink. In the dark a fellow spoke to me. Billy Anderson, his father was a bank manager in St. Johns and Billy had been on the loose for over a month, before he came back on his own. He said, Hey Morry, what you here for? I told him. So at 2 PM we were marched off the Headquarters orderly room. There were about fifty there, quite a defaulters parade.
Billy got a month field punishment. My turn came next, the colonel read the charge
and said, remove your cap private Morry.† I was just removing it when the Sgt. Major, an English regular army bully grabbed it off my head. I just turned and gave him a
look. The colonel said, replace that man's cap. And now he said remove your cap and I did. Any excuses for breaking leave? I told him. he just said 10 days field punishment, number one, and 10 days pay stopped. Field punishment meant getting marched around full marching order from sunset to lights out. I forgot to say that Mrs. Minty got a stroke three or four days after the wedding and wished to see me. I went to the Captain with the telegram, he brought me to the Colonel. No pass. he said it's easy to get some one to send a telegram. Well after that, I had never known what it was to be tied down and made to obey an order and so again I got my friend the Sgt. to put me on guard duty and let me off before day. Caught the train again and arrived in Edinburgh really early about 5 AM. Rang the bell. Fredris thought twas the mail or a telegram as usual. Just opened the door to peep, and put out a hand which I grabbed and hauled her out in the hall in her nightclothes. We had a good laugh. Went to see Mrs. Minty at noon time and she was nearly gone. When they told her I was there she just turned towards me and smiled and held out her hand and pulled me down so she could speak to me. She could just whisper and said, Be good to my little Bairn and then I said, When I see you on the other side, I'll be able to look you right straight in the face. She smiled and turned in to the wall and was dead in a minute. Just seemed as if she stayed alive long enough to get my promise which I surely kept to the best of my ability. We had good times and lots of hard times and sickness and worries of different kinds, but we faced them together.
When I got back to camp, I again stole in and got a good nights sleep. I had stayed
three days this time. Clink again. the Old Limey Sgt. was marching me off to be tried
by the Colonel. Our captain saw me and said Sgt. that man is not for headquarters orderly room. I'll try him. He read the charge, and I told him just what happened and about Mrs. Minty being dead and buried. He said why in Hell didn't you come to me. I said, I did sir, but you were away, so he gave me a very light sentence. Three days C. B. (confined to barracks)
Did not get down to Edinburgh again till a week before we sailed to the Dardanelles. The colonel sent for me and I went shivering. But, he said to me. Morry, you're a good man and we've taken everything in to consideration and your company officers have asked me to remit your fine. So here is your 10 days pay and her is a five day pass, and may you both be very happy. He shook my hand, Well, I got to say thank you sir, and saluted him and left. I was in Edinburgh in a short time and I can tell you - five days how quickly they pass on a time like that, when you are spending them with someone you love and may never see again. Well, it came time to go. Fredris and her dad and sisters came to the station, where the troop train was and she looked very sad and sick too. A lot of troops were saying goodbye to their wives and sweethearts. when the good byes were said we went through the gates to the train and twas all over. I never saw Fredris again for over two years and Phyllis was able to run around.
So Jean, that is how I met and married your Mom. Now Jean, maybe I could write
more, but I have arthritis and it pains to write and maybe you are tired of all this old chatter. But to me you are still the little girl who would drop her school books and run
to help her dad at hay and who would fill up and leave the room if anyone sang (That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine.) I worked hard to rear you all and so did your Mom and so did all you kids, and had to do without lots of things, but still I think we were very happy. And, I have lots of lovely memories of Sunday afternoons spent with you kids in the woods or sliding etc., and now Jean that I'm near the end, I often wonder if† your Mom and I will really meet again on the other side, or is it all over. Somehow I can't think that. Bye for now, and I always think how lucky I am to have a family that are all so kind to me in my old age.
Mar 11, 1961