Issue: July 2019
Uniacke Newsletter Logo
Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

At school Donald Bannerman and I became firm friends and seems we were always together. On one occasion I mentioned to Donald about going fishing and if there were any likely spots to go to.  “Well,” he replied “there is a spot right on your doorstep where we just recently mended the little bridge.” So as the day after that was a school holiday he asked his Dad for leave to go fishing and Alan soon gave him the nod when Donald told him that he would be taking me.

I was all for this and I mentioned to Donald that I would cut a couple of good willow rods off nearby trees. He laughed and said,  “You just turn up and I will show you how to fish without a rod.” Mystified, I duly turned up at the little bridge and soon Donald turned up with a broad smile on his face.

“Now then Ronald, lay down on the bridge with your shoulders over the edge, be quite still and make sure that your shadow does not reflect on the stream or the fish will see you.” I laughed. “You’re pulling my leg” I said, “the fish are not looking for me,” but he was determined.  “Shhh. Don’t make a noise and put your hand in the stream and keep still and soon a trout will come and look at your hand and gently he will slide into your palm and you then gently lift him out.  Watch me, I will demonstrate. And so he did and within about five minutes he had lifted a lovely rainbow out from the stream. “How’s that?” he grinned. “Now it is your turn.” So, guided by him, it was soon my turn to take a wriggling trout from out of the stream much to my surprise and delight; on this visit we each caught four, without a rod and line much to my amazement.

 At school one day, Donald asked me if I would like to look after the furnace which was located under the floor of the school room - just keeping it going during the school day and lighting it up in the mornings, five days a week. His Dad, Alan, had told him about it and passed the invitation onto me.  The pay was quite generous - $3 a week - and if I was really interested there was another job of going to the mill and hauling back a wagon load of slabs from there to the school. They were already cut to size for the furnace and all I had to do was haul them, unload them, stack them in the basement and use accordingly and the pay was even better - $3 for one trip per week. I told Donald that I would have to ask Linus for permission first. 

I approached Linus with this information and his first question was, “Can you fit it in with your family chores?” After much thought and cogitation I decided to have a go, but I needed a wagon and a team. Here Linus stepped in and offered the use of his own pair. “Be my contribution to the school”.  he said.  So I decided to go and tell Alan Bannerman that I was his man, whereas Linus said,  “No, don’t go, phone him up” which I did and he was very pleased for me and thanked Linus for his willingness to provide the transport.

Alan asked me to call and see him when I could as he would confirm the job and the payment which he would make every week of my work. Wow! I was going to get $6 a week if I could carry out these jobs successfully.

 As we were now moving into the fall Alan suggested that I prepare myself and get a load of slabs to start off with so as to be ready for the cold days to come. This I did with Linus’s permission and off I went to the sawmill and loaded up with the help of one of the workers there who were pleased to see their pile of slabs go down.  I, as a proud young man, made my way back to the school house with my team.  This was only the second time that I had been allowed out on my own with horses on the highway - once before at Egerton when Harry let me go to Thorburn to deliver potatoes, visit Bessie and return with sacks of slack coal.  I was growing up !

 I was going to be very busy, with having to get up and milk my cows, clean them up, feed and turn out the horses and clean the stalls, then have breakfast, get to the school and start the furnace off, go back home and change my clothes ready for school and get myself back there and start lessons after I had stoked up the furnace, then return home to do my chores over again after changing clothes once more, then some homework.

It wasn’t many weeks later that I wonder if I had taken on too much. I did not have much free time but I stuck at it.  Then one day, the phone rang and it was Donald and he was inviting me to a local dance in the village hall. Murmuring I could not dance he encouraged me by telling me that all the Bannerman girls were expecting to attend and they wanted me to come too. Also, Donald’s cousin Lena was hoping to go, so I gave in after asking Linus who said make the most of it and enjoy it. How would we get there? It was about two miles. Well, Alan put his pickup truck at our convenience and we all piled in the back sitting on little seats around the side covered by blankets. Off we went to an unknown destination except it was the village hall and my first visit. 

Uniacke Newsletter