Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

As a young lad in England I was in the Saint John Ambulance as a boy cadet. Subsequently, every week I attended first aid classes with other boys and girls. Once a quarter the officers gave us a test and in passing three consecutive times we were allowed to wear a cadet’s uniform and were allowed to accompany the seniors at public events, and proud we were too.

      With that behind me now, in New Glasgow the Canadian Red Cross was holding a blood donors’ session and so I went along to donate.
     Signing in I had to give my address and age.  As I was nearly 17 I put that down and climbed onto the donation bed.   As I was settling down, a Red Cross Nurse came to me with my application.  “How old are you?” she asked.  “17”. I replied.   “When is your birthday?”  and on my reply she said,  “Sorry, we cannot take your blood until you are 17.   Perhaps when you are fully 17 you can come back and we will take your donation”.  I was most disappointed, but I gave her a $10 bill as a donation and with that she enrolled me as paid-up member of the Canadian Red Cross and gave me a membership slip, which I still have.
     As I was a reserve soldier, I put extra effort into learning more about first-aid on meeting nights.  ie loading and carrying a stretcher, for example. 
Once a month the Medical Corps platoon marched up the High Street and back down the Back Street. The Medical corps flag was carried and, of course, the National Flag of Canada.   I felt somewhat self-conscious as passers by gave us hand claps but I soon settled down with the others and took it in my stride. I could not help being a little proud to marching under the flags .
     We really needed a band but had to do with marching to the beat of two side drums.
     Back at work on Monday on the plane machine the site boss came up and beckoned us to shut down. He directed me to come to him and I thought the worst, what did he want with me?  However, he started to smile at me and I felt somewhat relieved.  He put his hand on my shoulder and said,  “ I am pleased with your efforts on the plane machine and so are your buddies and so I am raising your weekly wage by $2 per week to $10.   I still want you to clean up when you can on a Saturday morning to get ready for Monday morning and if you do that I will give you a little bonus for your efforts.”                                          
     My work mates, of course, were curious as to what he had said to me and I received many pats on the back in congratulations. My Saturday bonus was to be paid once a month but I was not told how much it would be.
       I could not believe my good fortune - I was to be earning a $1+ a day and so I decided to invest some of my cash to purchase a pair of boots, and a Raglan overcoat. These were the up to date items in town at the time. I topped myself off with a brown trilby hat to match my coat.
      Meanwhile, I carried on using the jacket that Harry Powell’s son gave to me and knock-about shoes to wear at work. He also had given me a pair of bib and brace overalls for my work.
     The boots I bought were knee length but when I was on parade I naturally wore my army boots.
     On the lower side of New Glasgow was the Car Works. I never did visit that area as it was huge and I assumed that they just made cars, but when talking to one of my buddies one day and the subject came up in our conversation, I asked him what models they produced but he replied that they were not automobile cars but Rail cars. “They pay very good money,” he informed me “but I reckon you would be too young for such a heavy job.”
“Oh, I was just interested,” I replied.  “I am happy at the wood works on the barges, especially now I am getting more wages than ever by tidying up on a Saturday morning.” 
     After a month at sweeping and tidying up plus my regular work in the weekdays and Saturday mornings, I received the extra cash in my wage packet as promised by the Site boss.   I was amazed to receive an extra $13 for one month’s extra work.  Adding it all up for one month I figured I had received a total of $52.  I could not believe my good fortune.

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