Memoirs of Howard Leopold Morry
Ferryland Dec 12, 1939
Having long been thinking of writing an outline of the principle events of the time and the everyday life of the people of this little place, and the events that have happened to my remembrance, and some of the happenings of my own life. Now being in my 55th year and having an 80 percent heart disability through services in the Great War of 1914 to 1918, if put off writing any longer it will be too late, for my expectations of a long life are pretty limited. So on this 12th day of December, 1939, being a wet day with a gale of a N Northeaster, and with some time on my hands and hoping it will be of some interest to those who come after me, when I have said my little piece and passed behind the veil.
I will begin.
I was born on the 24th day of July, 1885. My father was Thomas L. Morry, son of John Morry, son of Mathew Morry , who was son of Mathew Morry , who is buried in the Church of England cemetery on the Forge Hill at Ferryland. My mother was Catherine White, daughter of John White, a native of Devon as were all the Morrys. My mother's mother was a Sullivan, who's father was an Irishman. I had three brothers: the oldest, Albert Graham died in Victoria, B.C. in 1934. My next brother Thomas Graham lives in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Then a sister Beatrice, who married Dr. Louis Giovanetti and is living in Placentia. Then John, who is living here. He has eleven children, six boys and five girls, (and still the end is not in sight).
Well, I had a very happy childhood, and had all the diseases usually had by children. All our childhood days, the times were very good, the supplying system was in being then: if a man gave all the fish he got, the merchant would see him through the winter. That is, if he was an honest man, and worked hard, and gave in all his fish. The fishermen of that time were a hardy and happy lot as a rule, and at Christmas, when they all got their jars home from St. John's, then all during Christmas Holidays they would all visit each other's homes and drink and sing and dance, and fight occasionally. I just about remember the last of the mummers. They wore masks of all shapes and forms, and went around with whips, and chased any fellows that came in their way and gave them a beating. Sometimes this bit of fun was used to settle old scores and people were badly beaten. So then the law stepped in, and mummering, or "rigging out" as it was called in many places, came to an end. So one of our old customs passed into the realm of forgotten things.
As boys, we played the following games, and played them hard: In the spring, Bazzing Buttons, and Throwing at the Lead, then came Rounders, Hide and Seek, Scout out, and Football, the latter usually being a cow's bladder, and then after that, a bag stuffed with hay. Any of the footballers of the present day with their fine expensive footballs, can get a picture of the boys of those days with old patched leather boots, about twenty on a side, kicking and shoving with all their might. I can tell you that when the old bag of hay got good and wet, it took a good kick to lift it. Only in my twenties did I see a real football. Then we'd collect from each man and boy till we got enough money to get one. Money was scarce in those days, but they were happy days for all that. When it came to winter, we had skating and sliding, and of course, Hurley, which is hockey now. The skates were of all shapes and prices, from the ones made at home by putting a piece of iron hoop in a piece of oak stave, and boring holes through to tie on their feet, to the more classy ones that cost about five dollars.
Some of the older and tougher boys, who had learned to smoke and chew, and drink rum, were a source of wonder and admiration to us younger boys. I'm sorry to say that I cribbed a stick of Home Rule tobacco from Father's store to see Jack Quirk and Tom MacKay chew it and squirt it through their teeth. I however, lost all interest in chewing tobacco for a long time when I tried it out for myself.
When I was about seven years old, I remember the fire of 1892. The place was filled with smoke and a gale of westerly wind was blowing hot cinders right out over our heads. All the men and women were passing water and covering their houses with wet blankets, and pouring water from puncheons and barrels that they had filled for the purpose. The fire bummed out to the top of the Gaze, crossed the road up by the Quarry, and down here to Flannigan's Hill. All the fence and crops were burnt off our farm, and it was quite a job to fence it all again. What a change that fire made, I can see it yet after almost fifty years. Before the fire there were lots of lovely trees right out to the top of the Gaze, and as far back as one could see. When it was over, nothing was left, only a blackened ruin. People in this country should be very careful of fires, as that fire ruined this part of the country. I don't suppose it will ever get the chance to grow up again. At that time, you did not have to go more than a mile for firewood, and sticks for building and sawing could be got in the hundreds without having going in to Benger's Marsh, which when I visited with my father for drywood, a couple of years afterward, was a solid block of standing burnt wood that went back for miles. What a waste! Now, in the present hard times, it would have given employment to hundreds of men, at cutting pit props, saw logs, etc.
That reminds me, when I was a boy and up to the time I was a young man, every man that was industrious had a sawpit. In the long spring days, you could hear the saws going everywhere, sawing planks for boat building, repairing and building houses, etc. I've heard of two good sawyers called Yetman who sawed 400 feet of board in one day. They must have been great strong men because two hundred feet was considered a fair day's work. The Yetman's are all gone long ago. Old Mrs. Yetman and her husband used to cross over through the country to St. Mary's every winter as soon as the bearing came in the snow. It would only take them a day with dog and slide. A descendent of Yetman was murdered in Cape Broyle by his captain, a fishing captain named Woolard, an American. I can remember Yetman well, my father tended him in the store the morning he was shot. He was a fine big upstanding man. I've seen many a dead man since but I thought an awful lot of that poor chap, who was shot down like a dog by a dirty bully.
December 13, 1939 Wind Southeast, foggy, and very mild. Thirty five men from this place are waiting to go overseas, for the Foresters and the Navy. Well, I must get back to the point again.
My brothers and I at that time were fine healthy boys, and were up to all kinds of devilment. A favourite sport of ours was playing pirate. We had a cave dug out in the bank, and there we'd sit and play at watching for vessels, fighting with bows and arrows, and sticks shaped like swords. Matt Barnable's boys, Jim and Bill, were our chief playmates. They, like myself, are now getting worse for wear. About this time, my brother Bert and I started shooting. Father would not give us a gun, as he said we were too young. At that time, the muzzle loader was the only gun around here. Only the well-to-do fellows could afford a breech loader, so we would get a loan of a gun from a friend of ours. This gun was about six foot six long, and could kick like a mule. When I look back now, I can see two light-haired boys, down behind a rock waiting for some hounds to come in, and shivering like leaves with excitement. How I still remember how it was when it was my turn to shoot. I'd take sight, turn my head away, close my eyes, and pull the trigger. We must have been over a year shooting, till one lucky day, I killed a duck. I could hardly wait till it drifted on shore, and when it eventually did, I grabbed it and rushed home with it, forgetting all about the gun and leaving it behind me on the beach. Father asked me how I got the duck, and when I told him, he did not say anything. A short time after that he got us a gun. If there was any such thing as perfect happiness, it was ours for years until we grew to early manhood. I could tell for hours of the days we were after ducks, we were always on the rocks before day no matter how frosty it was. I often left the house in a blinding snow storm to get a shot at birds. I often think and wonder how we escaped with our lives, for we had many narrow escapes, but I guess we were not to go that way.
At that time the ducks and hounds were very plenty every year. Lately, hundreds and hundreds of them get covered with oil let out of steamers. Their feathers stick together, so they freeze or starve to death, as they cannot stay in the cold water when it gets to their skin. Besides duck shooting there was rabbit and deer shooting. The way we hunted rabbits was three or four fellows go together, one walk on each side of the narrow grove and keep abreast of the man who would enter the grove to drive the rabbits. The other men would go to the far end, and wait for any that reached that far, when the rabbits darted to the edge of the grove, the fellows on the side would get them, and any that turned, the chap that was going through the grove would get. We generally got about five or six rabbits each for a day, but once, after a week of snow, we got sixty for four of us for a day's shoot. That was the most we ever got. They too, like the ducks, are scarce. The principle reason being too many snaring them in the late spring and early fall when they don't get a chance to breed.
Then there was the deer. One fall we got twenty two for seven or eight of us. I spent the most of that fall in the country after deer. My best chums were Jim Meade, Hilary Paul, Bill Barnable, Mont Winsor; then there were Mick Kehoe, Gus Costello, Danny Croft, and old John Hynes, who, though over seventy at that time, could travel and keep up with any of us. He was a fine man, rough and ignorant, but with a heart of gold. I hope he is at rest. What times we had! We built a tilt in Kearney's woods and ranged all over the country from there. We generally got our deer around The Bucket, The Naked Man, The Ragged Hills, and The Red Ground, even out on the back of Bread and Cheese. Mont and I shot one, whilst on our way in country. We were good chums and never had a falling out for all the years we followed the country. Many a drink we had too, for liquor was cheap at that time, and almost everyone took more or less of it. I remember when Hill (Hilary Paul) began to feel good, he'd generally start out with 'The Baggage Coach Ahead'. Ah! Those were happy days! I'm afraid the boys of the present generation don't have as much fun or get as big a kick out of life as we did. But you must not think by this that our life was all fun, for it was not. We worked hard and had very little money; we cleared all the farm, and all the days and days we spent turning sods and hauling rocks, etc., then we always set a lot of vegetables and had a lot of cattle. The other boys fished late and early. Then hard times came about the time we were eighteen or twenty; the price was small, provisions were high, so we all began to scatter. Bill and Jim Barnable and Jim Meade went to the States, Hill Paul to Montreal, Mont to sea, Mick Kehoe to the coal mines in Sydney, and my brother Bert and I to the prairies harvesting. I came back in November that fall, but Bert stayed and got a job in the Bank of Montreal at Montreal. He never came home any more, poor chap, and had said goodbye to home forever, though he little thought it at the time. My eyes fill with tears at the thought of him, though it is 35 years since I saw him last. As well as being brothers, we were chums. He died suddenly in Victoria, British Columbia about five years ago. That was the one and only break in our gang to this day, and I hope the rest of us will be spared for a few years more.
Well, that fall I made one trip in for deer with my brother Graham and his chum Phil Furlong, and I think one of the funniest things I ever saw happened at that time. We were lying down on the top of a ridge watching deer when we saw a red fox coming towards us. We kept low and waited till he came within about two hundred yards of us, when we opened fire with rifles. We overshot him and he began to keep coming, and we firing away at him and missing, as he could not see us. I expect he was wondering what it was all about. when he got about 70 yards from us he sat down, and tried to figure it out. Just then Graham fired and shot the tail off him. Well then the fun began, the fox jumped about 20 feet at a spring and every time he landed he was facing us. The queerest antics anything ever did, till he got out of sight of us. We laughed till we were tired, and many times since I've laughed at the thought of it.
The country did not seem the same without the old crowd, and I did not go in any more that year. I went lobster catching that summer and in the fall sold my catch. I found after paying for my outfit that I had just enough money to buy a ticket for Victoria, B.C. and three dollars over, so I left home again, picked up Bert at Montreal. I did not know him, he was thin and pale. The last time I'd seen him he was as brown as a berry and very fat. Montreal did not agree with him. He had a few dollars more than his passage so we were all set for the Pacific coast. About the second day on the train, Bert got taken with violent cramps and they lasted him till we got to Victoria, three days afterward. I did not have a cent left, nor did he. However, friends of my father, a Mr. and Mrs. Lester of St. John's, took him in and got a doctor for him as soon as we landed, which was a grand thing for him, and a very generous and kind deed for these people, to take a stranger into their home, not knowing what he was suffering from. Well, less than an hour after landing in Victoria, I slung my grip aboard a steamer, the Princess Victoria and shipped on her as a deck hand, plying between Victoria, Seattle, and Vancouver, the Triangle Run. We got very little rest, as every four hours we were in a port and had to load and unload cargo. I asked leave for an hour to go and see my brother, but the captain would not grant it. I had been on her a week then and thought I was quite a sailor, so when I did not get leave, I went up to the office on the wharf, drew a week's pay, and got one of the sailors to pitch my grip ashore when none of the officers were looking. So ended my first voyage as a sailor .
14 December. Junior's birthday. He is five years old today and he is a grand little fellow. I wonder how is our other boy, Reg, who is on a warship in the South Atlantic. News came last night of a fight between the big German raider Admiral Scheer and three British light cruisers, with heavy casualties on both sides. I know if Reg is there he enjoyed himself, as he is a full-blooded boy, fond of excitement. I hope he came through okay. Ah, well! We have to wait and hope, it's over a month since we had a letter from him now.
Back to Victoria again. After I left the Princess Victoria, I went to see Bert and found that he would not be able to work for at least six weeks, so it was imperative to me to get to work again. So I got a job with the Council, digging up the street and putting in water pipes. It was the 9th day of August I went to work, and as it was the first day I ever worked under a boss, I'll always remember it. It was very hot, and though we only worked eight hours a day, I was tired at the end of the day. Next to me digging was an Englishman named Larrant. He was an insurance agent before he got on that job. He was a plucky chap, and I pitied him because his hands were all blistered, and when the blisters broke, there was not a scrap of skin on the palms of his hands. But he stuck it out, and worked on the job till he had a stake, then he went and I never saw him again. I worked at the job till late in the fall, getting $2.50 a day, but having to pay Bert's board and my own. When work closed down, I was pretty near broke, so I went in search of other work. I worked carrying the hod, building fences, longshore work, digging gardens and wells and all kinds of work you could think of.
I was always trying to get on the boats again, but could not, as there was slump on and those that had jobs were holding them. Once we were down to a meal a day, we were living in a shack we built on a vacant lot we were buying on the instalment plan. Then I got a job unloading a big ship and got $23.00 on one shift longshoring. I was tired, having worked over 40 hours straight, but had secured money enough to keep us for almost three months, and by that time, we hoped there would be lots of work. Bert was okay now again and in a few days got work as a clerk in the Winsor Grocery on Princes Street. But after three months of it, his health gave out again, and he quit for two years. That is the way it was with us, we got odd jobs now and then, enough to clothe us and pay our instalments on the lot and feed us, leaving a very little for enjoyment.
I remember the last winter of the depression, Bert was away and I went boarding, as I didn't like the idea of living like a hermit. I sawed wood for the Metropolitan Church for thirty days and paid it all out for board. I made about one dollar a day on an average. But it was time for a break, and we soon got it. The next spring, Bert went working with a carpenter, and I went north to River Inlet working at a salmon cannery .There were seven white men there: Bob Johnston, foreman; Donald Scott, engineer; Foster, carpenter; two Norwegians, Olson and Hendrickson, and myself. I went there in April, and stayed until September. When it closed down, I had fifty a month and board and standing wages, and $1.00 an hour overtime. I got quite a lot of that, so I managed to save quite a bit of money. I had a nice time there, and enjoyed the place very much. Sundays we went around in the motor boat and had lunch in the woods. We used to cruise about twenty miles each way.
There were about sixty Chinese at this cannery, 80 Japanese, 15 Finlanders, 5 Hindus, and about three hundred Nootka Indians. We used to speak the Chinook language, which contained about eighty words, and could be learned in a few hours by anyone of ordinary intelligence. The Chinese were very treacherous and would all pile on one man if he did anything to them. The Boss warned me that if I ever had anything to do with them to hit to kill, or they'd get you if there was no one around. I kept that in mind and found it a good practice as you will see later on. Our cannery was about two hundred feet long and eighty feet wide, built right in a cliff at the bottom of the cove. The only way to get around the cannery was by the boardwalks each side of the cannery .The China house where the Chinese lived, was up at the end, so when the gates on the boardwalk were closed and locked, the Chinese were in for the night. When I was night watchman I often spent an hour or so watching them play Fan Tan, Pai Gow, and Chuck a Luck. They used to resort to all kinds of schemes to smuggle the Indian women in there. One night in particular, I heard a noise at the end door and found four women lying there drugged. I hauled them in the cannery and sent them home after bringing them around by turning the hose on them. On a few other nights I heard them try to get over the gates but went out and stopped them. I got plenty of abuse from them for not letting them through, but as I had strict orders not to, as they'd be no good to work in the cannery next day. I always kept them out.
The Indians are a very nice people, and I liked them very much. I spent much of my time over there. I was over there once when old Chief Joe gave a Potlatch. It is like civilised people giving a big party, one trying to outdo the other. An Indian, when he was giving a potlatch, would give away everything he was owner of, and old Chief Joe gave away at that time 300 boxes of biscuits, 5 rifles and shotguns, hundreds of traps, a big boat, and seven canoes. I guess it took him quite a few years to get back all the stuff he'd given away. They are a happy lot, and never forget a favour. I worked with them for quite a while, building a wharf, and the foreman was a mean old bully, but they never minded him a bit. I had to check him up a few times and he always took back water. He is the only man I ever worked for that I really hated. I often went out of my way to get him to say something that would give me an excuse to strike him, but he didn't. I often looked at him and thought what a pleasure it would be to shift his nose for him. One day we were building a wharf and I had fallen and hurt my tail bone the day before, so that I could not lift my foot, only shuffle along. He asked me to get a pinch bar to move the pile driver along the wharf. I was going after it when he called to me to hurry up. I just walked back to him and said "If you're in a hurry with that bar, you better go and get it", which he did. I was so disappointed that he did not tangle with me that the rest of the day was no good for me. He was fired a short time later and I was glad. F or now I felt happy, which I could not be when he was around. Another time I thought he would fight was one morning, when we were at dinner, one of the Norwegians, Hendrickson, who suffered from catarrh and was always sniffing from habit, gave a great sniff. Foster jumped up from the table and kicked away his chair, saying he'd be damned if he was going to sit to meals with a pig. I stood up and said "If there's a pig here it's you". No one said a thing, but next steamer Foster was sent away, fired. Hendrickson, poor man, thought the whole world revolved around me after that, and wanted me to marry his daughter. He said he'd give me his farm too, and he had no other child. His farm was in the Fraser River Valley , and one of the best ones there, so I afterwards heard. But I was not getting caught that way. I was young and healthy, and the world was my football. I've spent a long time telling you at length of those days at the cannery, but it's just to give you an idea of the life we lived. It was a happy, carefree life.
I must tell you of our trip down to Victoria. We came down by small boat, a skiff 30 foot long open boat. We towed another lashed alongside. She was 35 foot long and built by one of the Japanese up there who came down with us. A Norwegian, the Japanese, and I came down, and it took us nearly a week to do the three hundred and odd miles. On the way down we went in to Alert Bay to a dance, and had a great time. Alert Bay at that time had a population of about six thousand, all Indians. We left there at 2 AM, dark and raining, thunder and lightning, and it started to blow a gale. Two or three tugs ahead of us had a big boom of logs in tow, and as the wind increased, more and more of the logs broke clear and drifted down on us. This made it very dangerous for us, as the logs would range along for yards on the crest of a sea, and if they happened to strike us end on, we would have gone down. So I was stationed up forehead with a peavy , to fend off any I could. We also made a fender by hitching one of our gaffs to the foremast and down to the jib-boom, and it shoved many a log that was coming broadside on and out of the way. Well, coming on toward daylight, the skipper asked me to go on board the other boat and light the fire and get breakfast. I got the kettle, and going from one boat to the other on the wet, slippery deck I walked on a hatch, and went overboard. I got a pretty good scare, and pretty near drowned myself swimming after the boats, till my sense returned to me and I cooled down. I remembered having read in a magazine the day before, that if a person fell overboard, heavily clothed, to just keep cool and just take a stroke now and then to keep you afloat. I did so, and after a minute or two, had my breath back again. When I'd rise on the top of a wave I'd see the motor boats still going away from me, and after a while, I heard their motor stop, and I knew that they would soon be back. About two miles away on my left, I could see the lights of a big passenger ship, and I felt how small and insignificant one man's life was in the world. I was quite calm then, and wondered what was wrong on our boats as I could see them quite plain as day cleared away. By and by I saw the Norwegian wave his hand to me, and soon after the boat came towards me. I could see the Norwegian standing forehead with a coil of rope. I was getting pretty tired and was wondering if they'd get to me in time, but at last I felt the rope fall over my back. I grabbed the rope with both hands, and was hauled aboard. Because the storm was increasing, the other two had to leave me to tend the boats, as they had quite a chase after the one they cut clear and get her lashed abroadside again. It seems that when I fell overboard, I'd hauled a coil of rope over with me that trailed astern until it fouled the propeller, and so the delay. I got to my feet after an hour and the next night we stayed at a logging camp, and in the next morning I was fit as a fiddle.
Three nights after, we got in Vancouver and all the fishermen and sailors I had met up there insisted on me having a drink with them. I don't know how many I drank, but I do know that when I awoke the next morning, I had sixteen cigars in my pocket. I had slept on a pile of ballast in the middle of the boat. I decided that I had better shake that crowd in a hurry, so I said goodbye to my partners and away to Victoria. I expect both these chaps are dead ere this as they were both middle-aged men at that time. I landed in Victoria about nine o'clock that night and went to my boarding house, and then got into an adventure that might have had very serious consequences, but instead turned out a good joke. My brother and I had the one room in this house on the right hand side of the hall when I went up north in the spring, but when house cleaning came it seems that the boarding mistress changed the rooms and gave us her and her husband's. I did not know of it and when I came home that night and found them all to be out, I decided to give my brother a surprise, but it was I that got it. I hid my grip under the bed and crawled in after it, intending to get out and give him a fright when he had gone to bed. I must have dozed off, for when I woke, imagine my surprise when I saw Mr. and Mrs. going to bed. well, I did not know what to do because I knew him to be a very jealous man. Of course it would be of no use to try and explain to him, so I decided to stay where I was till morning. Of all the nights I ever spent, that was one of the worst. I was afraid to stir and was glad to get out of it
when Pete, the boss, went to work. Mrs. ............. Bert and I had a good laugh but we were always careful not to say anything afraid old B would find it out. She was a good, decent, hard-working woman, who was a mother to Bert and I when we went to board with her. Mended our clothes and gave us good advice when we most needed it. I saw a great many boys from Newfoundland out there, but they all scattered around everywhere. We had a few reunions in the Queen's Hotel, but after a while we seemed to lose touch. I worked in Vancouver next winter and spent most of my Sundays and holidays in Stanley Park. There was a tree there so big that it had a wagon road cut through the centre of it, and enough wood left on each side to keep it standing there for years. I know it is still standing and it is over thirty years since I saw it. Victoria was a lovely place to live, and I had always intended to go back there and live, but the war put a kink in my plans. The people there were very nice, mostly of Scottish and English descent. I had a great many friends among them, especially among the Scotch, which was rather queer, since my own people were of English descent, except my mother's mother who was of Irish extraction.
I worked in a logging camp up there for a while. The pay was very good, with fellows getting $7.00 for an eight-hour day. Hook tenders and donkey men also got $7.00, while swampers, muckers and snipers got $3.50. I was of the latter class -all we did was round off the butts of the big sticks so that they would not stick in the ground when the donkey was towing them with a steel line.
We got good food, plenty of fruit, and fresh meat of all kinds. We had to wash and clean up for each meal, and as you were passing in the cook would give you your dinner on a huge plate. Of course you could get more if you needed it. No talking was allowed at meals, and as you passed out, each man took his eating utensils and put them in a locker with a number on it. What a difference! Our poor beggars were getting $18.00 a month and fed like dogs on salt horse, half cooked beans and potatoes, no order, and dirty and lousy besides. When will our people get their rights, I wonder? It seems Newfoundlanders are too eager to work, and then the employers, knowing that there is a plentiful supply of labour, gets by as cheap as he can. The same applies to the seal fishery and the cod fishery. What they don't want, the church does. I'm afraid I'd make a damn poor church man. Anyway, I'd sooner be in hell with a devil-may-care fellow, than with some of the hypocrites I see around here.
December 17 -A grand day. Just heard news of the German pocket battleship Graff Spee taking refuge in Montevideo after an engagement with three British light cruisers. Put the dry cattle in and fed them for the first time this winter -a record I think. Don't feel much like writing today.
December 18 -The Graff Spee blown up by her own crew. The torpedoing and sinking of another German cruiser reported today. That is good news. We don't know yet if our boy was in the fight or not. We have not heard of him for six weeks now -no news is good news. Leo Keefe and Ned Clowe were on Bantam in a punt yesterday, they got 85 fish. They are fine hearty men. I believe Jim Clowe and Ned Clowe are two of the finest fishermen in the place. They were in the Merchant Marine during the last war. I don't feel in the mood for writing again today. These days are nice and mild, I don't feel well, and I guess that is the reason that I can't centre my thoughts on the past. My brother John was here last night and he told us a yarn about Bert Ledwell in Calvert, who is eccentric. Bert was watching Mrs. Swain making bread, and she said "I wonder Bert, if moonshine would raise bread as good as barm?" "I don't know, ma'am", he said, "but I've seen it raise a good many rows".
December 18 -wind Sou'west. Showery .
December 19 -Wind NW and freezing a little. Nothing strange. No letters from Reg. Not feeling very gay, can't content myself to write.
December 20 Howard Hynes came and stayed for an hour or more. I like neighbours to come in and have a yam. He is soon going over in the Foresters. This is a lovely day. Wind NW and as warm as it would be in summer. I'm sitting in my favourite seat in the window, looking out at the harbour and the lovely sunshine, and thinking about what I could do if was well. I love to remember days just like this one, spent in the woods or out around working. I love the out of doors, and I can see now today, all the lovely quiet places pass before my eyes in review: Benger's Marsh, Under the Pinches, Spout Hill, the Scotsman's Marsh, Beaver Rock, where I caught a lynx in my rabbit snares when I was a boy; McGee's Marsh, Goose Nest Marsh; The Dirty Marsh, where you fill up your pipe again in the shelter from the cold winds and look down on Merrymeeting where the horses and handslides go out with their loads. On to Palm's Dyke and the noonday sun shines right on you. I never pass this place without thanking God for being alive and well and to be able to enjoy such natural beauty. Out past the Bracket Rock, out over Moore's Marsh, then down The Scrapes and home, then Mom and the kids and dinner -what a happy, homely, healthy life! If the fisheries were only able to support us properly, it would be heaven on earth. But alas!, they cannot, and we have lots of poor people, who are so low-spirited and down that they don't get time to lift their eyes to the beauty around them. And so they miss the greatest happiness of all, the Beauties of Nature that are with us all the year round. You no doubt will be saying "What a load of mush for a grown man to write", but there it is, and I'd advise you all to lift your eyes, take time when you are in the woods, and look around you. It might pay you big dividends in after years, as it is doing for me now, that I cannot live these scenes or days again. I can sit here in the window, look out at the bright sunshine, and live it all over again. Now that I have to watch every step and movement so as not to overtax my heart, and that I may be able to sit here and enjoy the lives of my children coming home on visits and such, and Tom and Reg come home from away once more before I make my bow. I've rambled quite a bit away from Victoria and my life out there, but please God I'll get back to it again, as I hope I'll have lots of time to write this little sketch of my life, not in orderly style, but as the spirit moves me, and so I will finish for today.
Dec. 21, 1939 What a lovely day! Bright sunshine and warm, not a bit of frost, and as warm as 'twould be in August. Killed a cow today, John Joe Hynes and Howard were the butchers. Back to Victoria for a little while.
Our good luck seemed to have petered out again. Bert took a contract to remove a large oak from the front of a man's residence. We were three days at it, from day to dark, and had spoiled three axes with stones that grew up in the roots of the tree. Then, when we thought we had the worst over and would finish on the morrow and make about fifty dollars, a gale of wind came that night and blew it in on the house. Result, $100 damages and a fortnight's work for us with no pay. The next I got a nail up through my foot and lost three months work, but it could have been worse, for I got $10 a week from the Forester Society that I was a member of. Then Bert got laid off, or could not get a contract. As soon as I got well, I started off in the country one day to visit a cousin. I took my revolver, a 32, with me, as I thought I might get a shot at pheasants., and so I did. About two miles from town, I saw a pheasant and made a grab for the revolver, and set her off in my pocket. Result, a bullet through the shin bone. I didn't feel any pain at first, just felt my leg getting weak. So I started to hop back to town, and quite a hop it was. After hopping for about 10 minutes, I hooked my toe under a root and fell. I could not get up, so I crawled the rest of it to the city limits, where a couple of boys saw me and got me home. I was laid up for three weeks. One night, I woke up in an awful fever and got the doctor, who said "blood poisoning" as soon as he entered the room. I was rushed off to the Jubilee Hospital, and for a long time I was afraid I'd lose my leg, but after three months, I was discharged, broke and unable to work, so it was Bert's turn to keep the home fires burning. After being out of hospital for a month, my cousin, Jacob Windsor, took me to his house in the country on a visit, and fed me good, and I regained my strength rapidly. Then I got work with an Icelander named Paster(?) for a month. He was a nice man, but his mother was not very clean. We had to sit on the side of her bed to eat our meals at the table, and generally collected some live stock. I slept in the hayloft most of the time, and got on very well for the month he needed me. The work was very easy, all I had to do was boss two Hindus and see that they dug the post holes deep enough and straight, and then get them lined up, and the clay tamped down and the wire put up. It took us a month to fence the 10 acres, and I was a kind of sorry when the job was finished, as I like being in the country, and the Hindus were nice mild poor fellows. I had $3 per day and board for this job, and had a nice stake after the month was over, and saying goodbye to Paster and his mother, went to town again and got a job right away with the firm of Dinsdale & Malcom, two redheads. Dinsdale a Yorkshire man, and Malcom, a Scot. I worked with them all winter till the 24th of May, a general holiday. Then Malcom asked us if we would work that day for double pay, we agreed, and thereby hangs a tale. We had to unload silica brick, which were very easily spoiled -if the edges were broken, they were spoiled. All went well until about twelve o'clock. Then we had to wait so we ate our lunch, then we had a drink of beer, then as the trucks were not yet come we had another. Then they came, and we unloaded them in a hurry, result, another couple of rounds of beer or so, then hard at the brick again. This went on for another hour or so, then the last thing I can remember was seeing my chum trying to hold sixteen brick between his hands and falling on his face among them all. I saw old Malcom as in a dream, he did not say anything, and I knew we were for it. Next morning, when I was passing the office, which was by the gate in the yard, old Mac tapped at the window and passed out my paycheque. I took it without asking any questions, and just as I was on the street, I met my chum going in. "Where are you going?" he asked and I said "Down the street" .I was just down the street a bit when he hailed me. I waited for him, and when we had Malcolm's pedigree read, we decided to go down to the Post Office where Dinsdale was bossing a job, a new government contract for building anew piece on the Post Office. When he saw me he said "Hello Morry , how is it you are not working today?" I said "We got fired for celebrating the Queen's Birthday too well". When I told him all the particulars, he said "Oh, Heck! A man isn't a machine, come on, I'll give you two a job". He did so, $3 a day, 50 cents more than we were getting on the other job, and twice as easy on times. We worked with him for over a year, in fact, till the job was finished. I often think of old Malcolm's face when he called to see Dinsdale one day and saw us both working there. He must have said something to Dinsdale for I heard Dinsdale say "These are the two best men I ever had". We gave him all was in us, as we were grateful to him for taking us on. I always think of these two men, one with an understanding mind and heart, and the other narrow and bigoted.
Dec. 22 -A perfect day, sunny and Wam1, but it's not a bit like the Christmases of long ago. I suppose it's on account of not feeling very good myself, but this day would make anybody feel okay. After dinner, I went out and sat in the sun by the end of the house for a while. Then Pat Crane and I went for Christmas trees. I remember one other Christmas like it. Fredris was in hospital, and the three boys, Bill, Tom, Reg and I went for a tree and decorations. Poor Phyllis was going to decorate the room. They were all small then, Phyllis, the oldest, was about fourteen, and in the seven or eight years that have passed since then, all four have left home, and we miss them very much, but that is life. We are hoping that Phyllis and her husband will be with us for Christmas, if the snow stays away.
Dec. 23 A lovely day, not feeling very good.
Dec. 24 Christmas Eve. Feeling better, a lovely day, but no stir like the old time Christmases. Spitting snow all day, but I don't think will amount to much. Went to Midnight Mass. A wonderful night, clear and moonlit, was thinking of the boys, and looking at all the Calvert young men, the big bunch of slackers -not one of them enlisted. Was to Communion and felt real good. I don't know how long that will last. Said prayers for the boys.
Dec. 25 A lovely day, no frost. Only six of us at dinner, felt lonely without our four children, who are away. This is the first Christmas they have been all away. When we were done tea, we went for a walk as far as Jos Sullivan's, we met only a few people on the road. It's getting a lonely old place, all the good families are disappearing.
Dec. 26 Snowing a little, but nice and mild, wind SW. Back to Victoria again. I went working with a contractor Matthews. Started for $2 a day but soon got a raise. A very nice old man. Worked with him till he got out of contracts. I then went back again to the water works department. Our boss was old Bill Barnes. One of the old school, about seventy years old, tall and red-headed. Went to his wedding and had a good time. He married a fine looking girl about 27. We also had a celebration on the birth of a son to him about a year after. He was an old Alaska miner, tough and hard-bitten, but a good trump. He was a fine man to work for, had no use for loafers, and though I never heard him speak to a man, he could see a lot, and when a man did not please him, he sent him to the office for his pay cheque. I went outside the city limits with him, building a reservoir. I was mucking, that is, pitching the rock out of the ditch where it was blasted up on top, so that the trucks could take it. Each mucker had to muck for three sets of drillers and blasters. It was hard work if you were not strong, as fellows that could not throw up bits of rock of 200 pounds or more had to break them up with a sledge. But at that time, I could handle anything and what was hard for the other guys was only fun for me, and I spent half my time chatting with the drillers. We had a fellow called Hayes, an Englishman, who got his feet crushed by a rock fall and he lost both of them. I never saw a man suffer as he did while we were trying to free him. He lived, but lost both feet. One of our foremen blasters was killed one evening. He had a lot of holes charged, and one did not explode. He knelt down and blew the fuse, and got blew himself. We did not get very much of him, as the blast was a big one, about 300 sticks of dynamite. I guess the poor chap did not even get time to think.
December 27 Another nice day. Went up to the C.O.P. store in the morning, and came home around noon. Wind NW, no snow, and very little frost. Christmas festivities pretty well over . Very little news from the war, but the Finns are driving back the Russians. This is a hopeless task, as they are outnumbered sixty to one. Well, about this time, my brother Bert got courting a girl, and he was not much good as a companion, so I got a nice chap for a buddy, an Icelander called Bradford. We had good times together. His sister married a kind of snooty guy, and Ernie and I got his goat by hoisting his bedroom crockery to the top of the flagpole and it was there till he came home from work at the noon hour. He kind of blamed Ernie and me for it (but of course we were innocent), but he was a fine chap at the bottom of things, and many a good time was had at his home. Ernie was a plumber by trade, and a happy chap, and I can truthfully say that when he died, it was the first real sorrow I felt. Bert, Ernie, and lone Saturday took out an insurance policy each for $2000 in the North American Life Assurance Co.. He got a job over in New Westminster, and the following Sunday, he and a couple of other fellows were after a panther and it crawled in a cave. Ernie saw its eyes shining, he was lying between two other chaps about twenty feet from the mouth of the cave. He fired, and there must have been some dynamite hidden there as there was an awful explosion, and poor Ernie was blown about thirty feet and instantly killed, though there was not a mark on him, and the other two were unhurt. So ended the life of a good trump. His sister was heartbroken about him, and for months after, every time I saw her, she cried.
Now my time in Victoria was getting short, and time passes on without waiting for anyone. At this time we went to see the Indian Canoe Races on the 24th of May, and I can tell you it was very exciting. There were, I think, about twenty men in each war canoe, and they were fine built fellows, all stripped to the waist. The canoes seemed to fly through the water. Then after that came the "Klootchman's" (women's) Race. They were dressed in gaudy colours, scarlet and red being the prevailing colours. I was down on the landing when they came on shore. The perspiration was pouring off them in a river, and their hair was hanging over their faces, but they were a happy lot. I imagine each of these women must have weighed about 200 lbs. or over, as they get very fat as they get old. They are slight and wiry when young, and very good-humoured. They look very much like Chinese. At this time there were quite a lot of Chinese in British Columbia, and the government passed a law prohibiting any more Chinese women entering B.C.
The same law was afterwards applied to the Japanese. But I'm afraid the future will hold a lot of trouble for government in trying to control these Asiatics, as their standard of living is so low the whites cannot compete with them. Even at the present time, they control the fisheries and the market gardening, besides buying up some of the best business stands, so already whites have to pay large rentals to Chinese and Japanese for business places.
[End of Volume 1]
December 30, 1939 A beautiful day. Bright sunshine and very little frost. Went up the road for a load of wood. Howard Hynes cut it, and even the little exertion of putting it on with him was too much for me, I guess. I'll have to be satisfied to hang around the house and fiddle around a bit to keep my mind occupied, and make the best of it. So that will be my New Year's resolution, to try and look out for my health better, to try and be satisfied with my lot and live along as long as I can for the sake of Fredris and the children, and also to have a little more patience as things go wrong. An English mail today, but no letter from Reg, it's over two months now since we had a letter from him. I expect he is down in South America somewhere. What a wonderful experience for a young fellow.
31 - A gale of NE and snow came up last night, so it looks like the Old Year is going out hard, and what a year it has been. 1939 the fateful year for the whole world. Let us all hope that 1940 will bring us peace in the world again. The old year gave a kick just before it went out. We had just enough snow for driving.
Jan. 4 - A stormy day. On days like this years ago I would be duck shooting, and they were always good days too. The young fellows don't go on days like this, although Bill did, and always got birds too. It's funny how you lose the zest for hunting as you get older. Once, I could not sleep even with excitement, and now I can't muster energy enough to go over to the battery on a day like this. Had a letter from Reg last night from Trinidad. We were delighted to hear from him, although he could not tell us any news, not even the name of the ship he is on, and that is hard because if we knew what ship he was on, we would be able to follow his movements. Coming back to B.C. again -The Chinese had all the protection of the law. If you as much as laid a finger on them, you'd be fined $20. They were always trying to make up to the white girls, and often I felt like socking them, the way they looked at the girls when you were walking with them. One of them was a real pest after Pete's girls, so that someone always had to escort them home when the days got short. One fellow in particular that I had to speak to three or four times, and he was getting bolder and bolder. Pete lived on Shakespeare St., which at that time was on the outskirts of the city, and the Chinese followed us right home several times.
So I decided to wait till I was leaving town and teach him a lesson, so on the night before I left for home, I was seeing Jane and Norah home from work as usual. I had told them that when he spoke to them to keep right on and not turn around, and just as we came to the dark part of the road, he spoke again and stepped up beside them. They walked on, and he stopped and turned to see why I had stopped, I suppose. Just as he turned, I gave him a blow under the chin with everything I had behind it. When I got to the next pole about a hundred yards farther on, he was just getting to his feet. He never bothered them afterwards and I never saw him again.
I had one other experience with the Chinese up at the cannery .A coal steamer was unloading coal, and the boss asked me if I would work at unloading for a dollar an hour. I was of course delighted and got to the job of filling the wheelbarrows for the Chinese. One big fellow would empty out half of what was in his barrow just as I had it filled. I did not pretend to take any notice of him, till I saw a lot of them gibbering together every time he went up with his barrow. I told the boss about it and the boss spoke to him, but just as the boss went, he began the same old tricks again. As I was the only white man on the wharf, and there were about sixty Chinese, I done my best to keep my temper, but at last he emptied it all out and laughed at me. I hit him a punch and he came at me with a lump of coal in each hand, which he picked up when I had knocked him down. I gave a yell for the crew of the steamer, and sailed right into them with the coal shovel. The first swing I hit my old enemy right on the head while he was stooping to pick up a lump of coal. He lost all interest in things for a while. It was a lively little do while it lasted the Chinese had coal and shovels, the crew of the steamer had iron bars, spanners, etc., but it was not cleared up till the engineer of the cannery turned the hose on the whole lot, and we got cooled off after several had got knocked over with a stream from the hose. The boss gave me hell for starting it, but the firemen and crew of the steamer, the engineer of the cannery were delighted with the fun. That particular Chinaman was sent down on the steamer, and I never had any trouble with the rest of them. I had to laugh on Bob Johnson, the boss, a few days after when I saw him knock a Chinese over the wharf with a blow of a pike pole, and he would have drowned only some Indians happened to be on the spot and hauled him into their boat. The Chinese are a very suspicious race, as every evening up at the cannery , they would fire off a lot of fire crackers around the door of the China House to fight away the evil spirits.
Our boss sent two of them one day to sink bags of sawdust in the bottom of our reservoir that supplied water to the cannery, and in the evening one came down alone. The other fellow had fallen in, and he was afraid to haul him out lest the evil spirits that wanted his chum would come out of the drowned chap into him. we found him clinging to the bottom, and they would not touch him as they were all related to him. Old Lee, the Chinese foreman, gave me $15.00 to bury him, and I got a little Indian boy to help me. We brought him out on an island, and dropped him down in the cleft of a rock, and filled it up with loose shale and old turf. I guess he'll stay there for a long time, as the crack was about fifty foot deep. I went out to see if he was disturbed about six weeks later, and in getting off the island I slipped and cut my hands and knees. Old Lee told me that was the spirit of the Chinaman keeping me away from him, and maybe it was, as there are lots of things we don't know of.
A great many people that I have met in my journey through life have queer beliefs. One, a Norwegian, believed in the transmigration of souls. One day we were going down the street and we saw a fellow ill treating a horse, and Ole said to me, "By so and so, that fellow will be a horse next time he lives." Another chap I knew, a Finlander, said that he believed that life was like making tracks in the snow. His belief was that as soon as the breath left your body you'd start backtracking, and everywhere you did wrong, you were stopped for a length of time till you paid for that sin, until you went right back to when you were an infant, and then God would take you in. Was not that a curious belief, and rather a nice one too, I fancy. I expect 1'11 soon know all about it. I know that if a man lives a good life, believes in God, and is really sorry for his back slidings, that God is not going to let him down. How much did our parents forgive us, and what we do for our own children. They would want to treat us pretty badly if we would not forgive them.
Jan. 11 -A grand day. I am sitting here by the kitchen window and the sun pouring in. Jim Barnable and Junior are gone in to Brook's Marsh for a load of wood. Junior cried to go with him and as it was so nice a day I let him go. The Foresters are going tomorrow. To get on with my yam: Things were getting kind of dull in Victoria, so I decided to go home for a while. I made arrangements, and bought my ticket. It cost $103.00 -if I had not bought that ticket, I wonder what would have happened. I would have probably gone overseas with the Canadians, I would not have met Fredris, and would not have the family we have. It's strange what things happen and alter the course of our lives altogether. Well, I left Victoria on the 15th of January , 1909. As I was passing through the garden, I picked a rose and put it in my buttonhole. Everything was blooming there then. A couple of days later we were snowed in up in the Rockies and spent a couple of days stuck in a snow bank. I arrived home in St. John's the 29th of January, and got a boat, Michael Kehoe of Caplin Bay, and made a quick run home. It was a very mild winter at home, and Graham and I went fencing and I got them to plough a strip of ground -that was on the 9th of February. Graham left home for Victoria on the fifth of March, a big snow storm raging. He was wrecked on the SS Bruce on the Scatterie Island. Two more chaps from here were going there the same time, Jack Kavanagh and Ambrose Williams. A number of our men went to B.C. these times to work on the whale factories. They made good money and generally came home after a year or so. Somewhere about this time, they surveyed the right of way for the Trepassey Branch railway, and between work and what many people got for right of way through their ground, times were good. All of our crowd got deer hunting together again. We built a log tilt at Kearney's Woods, and brought in a stove and funnels. That was the first tilt in that part of the country that was so well fitted out, and we had great comfort and spent a lot of time there, and many happy, carefree hours. Deer were plentiful, and we kept our respective homes in meat. Once the fall came, Hill Paul would always be rooting around for samples of ore, and he had some dozens of different kinds. He is still at it after thirty years, but so far has not made a strike, however, he might yet. We built a dory for going up and down the Hawk's Nest Pond, and it saved us many a mile. The first trip we made up in her, there were Bill and Jack Barnable, Bill Jones, Phil Furlong, Hill Paul, and I. It was blowing hard from the northwest. We had to land several times to free her of water, as she was low and it blew over her as we rounded the points going up. We got three deer this trip and had a fine time. This went on for a few years, in fact, till the fall of 1914. Fishing was good, plenty of work on the railway, and we had great times. Till the war put an end to it for all time as far as I was concerned. The last time I went in the deer country was November, 1914. I came home after being in training in town, and heard that there were a lot of carcasses of venison there on the Ragged Hills Marsh. The fellows that killed them reported them and anybody that wanted any meat to go in and get it, but times being so good, nobody seemed to care. However, I went alone and found five deer lying side by side where they had paunched them. I cut off seventy-odd pounds of steak and put it in my pack and went to camp for the night. It was lonely in the camp that night, and I was glad to take my load and get for home when morning came. That was my last trip deer hunting, and though I had brought out 105 pounds of venison one time before, and my rifle and other gear besides, the load I brought that time almost pulled the shoulders out of me. It was a dead weight. I had a grand day coming out. I sat down often and viewed the country, saying good bye to each familiar sight as I passed, as I knew the chances of me ever passing that way again were slim. However, I enjoyed myself to the full, and the memories of that day are still with me. I can see the ponds and rivers and woods as they lay before me from the top of the Eastward Lookout. When taking a look from there I saw Ambrose Williams and Jim Cannon shoot a bear .I saw the two of them run down over the side of a bare hill and get behind a big rock. I wondered what they were looking at, and just then I saw a big black bear moving up the hill towards them. He was eating berries, and the sun shone on him and he glistened like glass. I saw them put up their guns and fire. The bear gave a great jump, made two or three bites at his side, and fell over and lay still. Both of these chaps are long since dead. they died young. Ambrose served the full term in the Navy and died about five years ago of blood poisoning. Jim went to the States to go winter fishing, and the first night he stayed in a boarding house, he blew out the gas instead of turning it off and was dead when they found him.
Well, to continue my story, after coming out with my load of venison, my leave being up the next day, I decided to go and see my great uncle Harry Winsor, over eighty at the time. He was an old sea captain, and brought a load of seals in on the Pelter when he was only 20, and arrived on the first day of April with 4000 seals. He lived in a big house over in Freshwater where Jim Meade now lives. I did not know what to give him, so I brought him a couple of bottles of whiskey. I thought he'd have a nip now and then through the winter (but I did not know him).1 talked with him until about 10 PM, when I stood up to leave, and he begged me to take a drink with him, which I did, and of course stayed another while, and then stood up again; so he said a bird cannot fly with one wing, so after that it was easy for me to stay. Well, he told me several happenings of his youth, and his adventures prowling around in different parts of the world, and we took nip for nip ( only I made sure mine were very small as I did not want to go home to my mother and father with a sign of liquor on me). At last I got away about 2 AM feeling pretty good, but I had not drank a third as much as he. he stood up, took the lamp, and walked to the front door with me and said goodbye. It was a lovely moonlit night in November, and I can still see the old man standing with the lamp in his hand watching me down the lane. I kept going till he went in with the light, then I stole back and peeped through the blind, and there he was walking back and forth the floor with his head hanging. Then he'd straighten up and walk with shoulders erect for a little while only to slump back again. At length he stopped walking, stirred up the fire, put on the kettle, and got his Bible and started reading. Then, when the kettle was boiled, he ate a hearty supper, walked back and forth again for awhile in deep thought, then knelt down to say his prayers. He got in bed and blew out the light, and I left for home. I was afraid he'd drop the light before he got into bed, that is why I stayed so long. When I got home, poor mother and father were waiting up for me, and though I knew they felt hurt, they never said a word, nor did I. We sat and talked till almost daylight, then to bed. Poor old Uncle Harry was asleep before I came back, a great old man and I liked him a lot. I hope he is happy. That last night at home before the war, I slept like a top, though when Reg joined the navy he and I slept together and we talked far into the night. I was wondering and thinking of what he'd see and do before we'd meet again, if ever. And that is what advancing years do, they make you think.
It's grand to be young once, anyway, and play your part among men for a while. The shades of evening are falling now, and I must put this writing away. I hope I'm not boring my readers. I always took a great interest in listening to old people "yarning off", as we called it when I was young, and as I don't expect to live to be old, I'll tell of some of the things I remember now when I can, hoping that in years to come, they will be of interest to those who come after me.
Jan. 22 Wind Sou'west, snow shower and drift. Well, to continue with my story: We trained in St. John's until the 5th of February, 1915, and then one fine morning, we boarded the old steamer Algerine and cut our way about twenty miles through the ice, out to a large steamer called the Dominion that was waiting for us. It had been very frosty for about a week before we left, and even out there, we could walk on boards quite well. In memory I can still see the crowd on the wharf, women trying to get a last handshake and goodbye kiss from their sons, and sweethearts waving goodbye, and the fathers and brothers cheering the departing ones and trying to keep up a brave front. So good old C company set sail, and we went off on the Great Adventure. The hardest was over, and now we had the war and its great trials ahead of us. It's good that we could not see what fate had in store for us, as the words of one old verse comes to me:
We went away boys, and came back scornful men who had diced with death under the blazing skies.
We had a very pleasant passage across, though when we got near the Irish coast, the submarines had us uneasy. But the Captain got us in safely. It was very foggy when we arrived at Liverpool, and we could hear steamers rushing past us in the fog, hear the bells ringing on them, and men talking. It was a strange thing to us. At length, we landed in Liverpool, a cheering, laughing, carefree bunch. We were given a great reception by the people on the wharf. Then we entrained for Edinburgh, where we were billeted in the Castle. We were taken out for a route march one day, and the kids began calling out to us about our bonnets. So we were brought back again, and kept in the castle till we got new uniforms and caps, puttees, etc. The ones we got at home were the first made in the country , and should have been the last, as they were scandalous.
Well, at last the happy day came, and we were allowed out around the city, to see the sights and meet the fine people of this grand city. We soon made friends and were invited everywhere. The castle itself is worth a trip overseas to see, with all its history and objects of historical value. The crown room with its crown jewels, the reception room with its suits of armour, Queen Margaret's Chapel, Mons Meg, a big gun taken from Germany hundreds of years ago, the dungeons under the Castle where great men were imprisoned and spent many years in solitary confinement. Then there was Holy Rood Palace with Queen Mary's room, just as it was when she lived in it, the place where Rizzio was slain, Arb-- Seat, Queen Margaret's Loch, the Braid Hills, Loughton Park, The Meadows, and Princes Street Garden, the loveliest place I ever saw. Then there were trips around the country places, quiet lanes and avenues all near Edinburgh -Colinton Dell, Mussel Borough, the Forth Bridge, and a thousand more places of interest around there where we visited and spent many happy hours with our Scottish friends. To us Newfoundlanders who were used to the hard and lonely life of the outports, it was a great and wonderful change, and the most of us when we went to the front always looked back to Edinburgh as our second home. These people seemed to have taken us right into their hearts, and would not let anything be said to us, even when some of our lads in pure exuberance of spirits would start a row for the pure devilment of it, and many is the paragraph that appeared in the Edinburgh papers making excuses for our bad deeds. We also went to the Picture Gallery, Shakespeare's Monument, Scotland's Folly, and all the theatres and picture houses. I must say that the three months I spent in Edinburgh were the happiest and most enjoyable of my whole life.
March passed along pretty quickly, and then on the first day of April. 1915, I was sitting in the barracks room at Edinburgh Castle, writing home, when Mont came in. He said" Are you going out tonight, b'y?". I said, "I'll probably go out bye and bye", and he said "Come out and meet a nice girl, a chum of mine was supposed to come but he was on picket duty". I thought, "well, it's too bad to disappoint the lassie, I'll go" -and as she hadn't met the other chap there was no harm done. We were to dine at Fairly's Restaurant on Leith Street, and then go to the pictures or the last show at the Empire Theatre. It's funny how simple things alter the course of your whole life. Mont and I went to Fairley's to wait for the girls, and we went in to have a drink while were waiting. We were there perhaps a half hour when I turned around and saw two girls passing us going into the dining hall. Mont was talking to a chap, when I said "Here they are, Mont", and sure enough it was. Well, we were introduced and so began our short, sweet courtship. Fredris at that time was not yet twenty, tall and fair, with a lovely complexion and blue, laughing eyes. I was captured right away. I met her next night and every night that she and I could get out. I went to see her father and mother, and showed them letters of recommendation as to my character, etc., and met the whole family, and a lovely family they were. I went there many nights during the weeks that followed, and we often paid visits to her married sister Alice's home, where we had music and sing-songs every Sunday afternoon and night, and some nights through the week. It would generally be about 1 a.m. when Mont and I would get to the barracks. Mont still went out with the girl I first met Fredris with, and as she lived in the flat below Fredris we went home together. By the judicious use of a lot of whiskey and a little soft soap, we always got by the guard at the gate. Of course our sergeant at the barracks would not post us missing but mark us present at roll call in the evening. He said if we were not in for roll call in the morning, he would have to mark us as missing. He was a good trump and never changed. His name was Joe McKinlay and he now owns a garage in St. John's. We managed to escape detection until one night about a week before we left Edinburgh for Stobs Camp, when we were caught out at 2 a.m., four hours after we should have been in barracks. So our leave was stopped, that was pretty hard on me, but the old saying "love defies locksmiths" proved true again. For I found where some of the chaps whose leave was also stopped had found an open drain pipe which carried water off the causeway in a big flood, had an outlet on Prince's Street Gardens. it would be about a twelve or fourteen inch main, and was about forty feet long and then had a drop of about eight or ten feet when you got there, before you came to the ground, and besides, there was not any way of getting back if you did get out. I had several looks at the pipe in the long spring evenings when I was barred in, and spent them looking over the wall at all the lads and lassies strolling along Prince's Street Garden. I had sent out a couple of notes, and got back answers, but there was not much to that, and knowing that we would be leaving Edinburgh for we knew not where, I was getting pretty desperate. I had asked for a pass every evening but was refused, so I decided to go out the drain pipe way, even though the chaps who had gone out that way told me I'd probably get stuck as they were only small fellows and I weighed 213 pounds. Nothing ventured, nothing won was my motto, and the risk did not bother me as much as the thoughts of not getting another sight of Fredris before we left for somewhere. So I waited till about 9 p.m., went down by the drain pipe, stripped at the mouth of it, and rolled up my clothes and put my equipment belt around them, shoved them into the pipe and got in feet first behind them. I found that by putting my hands over my head I had lots of room. The pipe had a drop of about six feet over its forty foot length, and I slipped down pretty easily with a little twisting and shoving on spots of rust, etc wherever I could get leverage with my hands. I thought it surely must have been about 40 miles long instead of40 feet. Bye and bye I went a little quicker, and I felt my clothes drop. The next thing, I dropped on my hands and knees in the grass, with a few little patches of skin off my shoulders and hips. I got my clothes, got under a tree, and dressed, then went to a rest station and got a bath and brushed my clothes, and was quite the thing. Arrived at Fredris' just as they came in, my oh my, that will be 25 years ago on the latter part of May this year. I can remember our meeting yet as plain as yesterday. She forgot to ask me how I got out, and I did not tell her, for it's a bad thing to make a girl too wise, and besides, I was ashamed of the foolish thing I did. But now, looking backward, I think I would do the same thing again. However, that night, we agreed to get married on the second day of June. I wandered back to the barracks like a man in a trance, and as luck would have it, a great pal of mine was on the gate. So instead of being arrested for being out without a pass, I was let in and got safely to my billet, thanks to my good pal, Davie Carew, who was killed at Gallipoli before he had reached his eighteenth birthday.