Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

My job at the coal company was very hard and I ended up each day going home dirty and very tired from heaving the sacks of coal.  As I was washing, one day, my mother caught sight of my back.  She said it was sore from the rough sacks and lumps of coal.  She advised me to change my job, ie: go to see my Uncle John Ewitson who had a small business selling kindling. I did not really fancy this but he also delivered furniture in his large van to customers after they had purchased their various items such as tables, chairs, beds, kitchen items, cupboards, etc.       
   Uncle John took me on with another boy and we got along well together.  Most of our deliveries were collected via his van from sale and auction rooms.  I wasn’t hard to please but the biggest drawback was the late hours that we had to work and at times it would be 8.00pm or later before we could go home and eat. After all, I was a farmer’s boy in Nova Scotia.  
   One morning before we started work, I went down to the docks and looked longingly at the steamers unloading from faraway places.  
   I managed to talk to an officer and asked where he was bound next.  “America” he said.  That was good enough for me, but he would not take me on as I was untrained and a little too young.  I did know that some ships went to Windsor, Nova Scotia as I had had a conversation with a crew member who was loading for Middlesbrough, England (whilst I was in Nova Scotia). I was still yearning to get away to Canada again.  
   Another day in Middlesbrough I went down to the Tyne/Tees Tugboat Offices and thought that if I could get a job on one of the tug boats I would get some experience and then I possibly would qualify for a Transatlantic Berth, but no, I was turned down again as I was too young.  As I was visiting around the dock area, occasionally ships would make a blast on their hooters.  I fancied that they were calling me.
   One day I read in a local newspaper of a training school in Yorkshire about 30 miles away. I enquired, and apparently they trained Ships Radio Officers.  This fired my imagination but there was quite a large sum to be paid first in fees for board, and lodging and uniforms plus the training.  I approached my father and gave him the information about the school and the fees but he said that he could not afford to pay this large sum and so could not accommodate me.
   I was getting despondent by now and thought that I would never get back to Nova Scotia. In desperation, I had the idea of joining the Royal Navy.  There was my way of a free trip to Nova Scotia!  After a preliminary talk with a naval officer and questions, followed by a test concerning mechanical tools, I finally was accepted as a rating in the Royal Navy.

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