Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29

A FRIEND IN TOWN

Written by
Published on January 2018

I settled down well, staying with Mrs. Robinson and periodically would go to Barney’s River for the week end. Donald was most pleased to see me.    I would also pop over to the Cameron’s house and see sister Bessie.  I was pleased that she had settled down there with them, especially when the two Cameron girls came on a visit from Boston, Mass.   Bessie was most thrilled and got on well with them both.

   Donald mentioned to me that his cousin, Lena Robertson, was at High School in New Glasgow and that she was living with a family there during the school period. 
    Lena was a bright and cheerful girl. She was the daughter of Harlan Robertson who owned the General store in Barney’s River.  One day, I gave her a surprise and found her lodgings and knocked at her door and this started a platonic friendship. As it was winter time we went down to the outdoor ice rink and honed our skills more than once. Once in a while we would go to the Roseland Cinema and other times we joined up with another school friend of Lena’s for skating.
    The Health and Welfare officer called at the Woodworks to see how I was getting along.  I am blowed if I can remember his name now. I thought that he was a little strange. Apart from his official duties, he talked to me about the brain, and senses, the physical body and the mental body-  most strange to me.  However, one day he called at my abode in Robertson Street and asked me if I would like to go and visit the local headquarters of the Army Reserve platoon.   So, as a change, I agreed to meet him in town the next evening.
   As he introduced me to the Sergeant Major and the Commanding Officer, I learned that this group was a branch of the Royal Canadian Medical Corps (Reserve) and as I was coming up to seventeen I was invited to join the platoon.  I said I would think about it and the following week I turned up with the idea to join, so my training started right away - learning how to salute properly, parade movements, about turn and so on.
   Being a medical corps we had first aid classes and I excelled at that as I had been a St.John Ambulance cadet from a small boy.  We went through the routine of how to lay a stretcher out and the correct way to carry it and to my surprise, tuition in cleaning and re-assembly of a bren gun (as a first aider?).
   As I passed these tests I was invited into a rear room by the Sergeant Major where, to my surprise, I was fitted out with a soldier’s uniform from boots to overcoat and winter cap and Medical cap badge and an insignia on my coat shoulders with RESERVE on it. 
   As we met weekly and sometimes Saturdays, I was instructed to don my uniform for the regular parade.
   The following week, in the evening, I prepared myself for my first parade. I donned my uniform and boots and gazed at myself in the mirror.   
I thought, “I can’t go out like this.  People will laugh at me”, but I pulled myself together and off I went early into the town.  I slipped into a milk bar out of the way, BUT not for long. As I sipped my milkshake I became aware that I was the subject of attention by two burly soldiers in uniform. They eventually approached me and the Corporal one of them spoke to me and he asked what I was doing in the milk bar.  Well, it was plain to me what I was doing but he wanted to know more about my reason for being there. They scared me to death almost. I thought that I had done something wrong and so I went into detail explaining that I was enroute to the platoon’s headquarters to fall in for training and that I was a little early and just popped in for a milkshake to pass the time.  I produced my identity card and this satisfied them but was warned not to loiter too long.  I was glad when they went, revolvers and all.  I soon went to the HQ and told the officer my tale.  He laughed and gave me a pat on the back and explained to me that they would be the regular patrol of the Corps of the Military Police.

RONALD MIZON

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/a-friend-in-town