Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29

MORE BARNEY'S RIVER STATION

Written by
Published on January 2018

One Saturday, Linus asked me if I was in the mood to earn a little cash.  Without asking him what the job was I soon said YES. So, after breakfast, clothed in our bib and brace overalls (mine shortened by Katherine to suit me) we sauntered down to the wooden bridge over the creek adjacent Linus’s land and there met Mr Alan Bannerman and his son Donald whom I had met at my school and made pals with. I was introduced to Mr Bannerman who shook my hand most vigorously and said “ by the way, Alan is the name to you.”

“Now then,” said Alan to his little group (he appeared to be in charge of us potential workers) “ this little bridge is in need of a few repairs.  Some of the planks need renewing so we might as well do them all while we are at it.  Now we have to be most careful that any of us does not fall into the creek, so we shall do one side at a time then the other side.”  I was beginning to catch on why we were here as just up the lane was his team of horses and wagon loaded with a number of planks and various tools.

Donald and I were to take off the planks when requested and he pacified the team a little as they would have to stand a long time. Alan suggested that we unload the wagon and move the team to a spot under the trees and give them a feed bag to pacify them and munch on.  As the two men, Linus and Alan, measured the new planks ready to fit they removed the old ones and they fitted the new planks in place. Donald and I were kept busy tidying the sawn off wood and loading it on the wagon. We stopped briefly after about two hours for a meat sandwich and a lemonade, courtesy of Donald’s Mum. Eventually, the bridge was completed but it still had to have a coat of creosote on the new planks to help preserve it. This fell to Donald and I as the men tidied away their tools. Donald and I, working as a team, soon finished our painting.

Now Alan, to my surprise, paid us at once for our labours and Donald and I received $4 each, far more than I ever expected. Linus was paid more for his expertise in his carpentry work.

I wondered  later how Alan fitted into the scheme of things.  As far as I could make out later, he was acting on behalf of the highways and roads department of the local authority, no doubt a responsible position. Donald and Alan climbed on to their wagon, whereas Linus and I had to walk back to the homestead and get ready for milking and see to the horses before supper. Katherine was prepared for us with a delightful meal prepared with her usual culinary skills. Bed came early that night and I was soon asleep after a bath and a soft bed.  Ho hum. Wow! $4 in my pocket! I was pleased. The following Saturday the telephone rang early, as we were having breakfast. Katherine answered it and all I heard was, “yes, yes very kind of you. I’m sure he will. About 2 - 3 o’clock. Thank you goodbye.”

Katherine then spoke to Linus (sotto voce) then turned to me and gave me the news that I had been invited to the Bannerman home for an early supper, a look around the property and I could stay until late evening when Donald would walk me home.  I couldn’t believe it! My first invitation to anyone’s house alone, in three years! I was thrilled to bits and couldn’t wait for Saturday to come.  As the afternoon came (Saturday) I was excused milking by Linus and I had a bath and washed my hair which by this time, for some strange reason, was beginning to get wavy. On went a clean shirt, best trousers and best shoes and off I went just after 3pm.  Donald greeted me at the door and introduced me to his Mum a dark haired lady, his Grandma (Alan’s mother), then his sisters (I cannot remember now if there were three or four girls). They all made me welcome. Now, Donald seemed to be master of ceremonies and he was most pleased to show me around the Bannerman property which proved to be quite extensive. As we finished our tour he showed me around the house and, in particular, his own room (little did I know that we would be sharing in the not too distant future). Mother called and the supper was ready and we all (7 or 8 of us) seated ourselves around the table in the dining room and what a spread was laid before me! We had venison, and all the vegetables you could think of followed by ice cream and homemade cake washed down with a small cup of coffee. Phew!! What a blow out!  After our meal the ladies cleared the dishes away whilst us men sat around, Alan asking me about England and my trip over to Canada. What a story!! They could not believe the difficulties that Bessie and I went through and the fact that we had survived the U-Boat attacks on the way over. I mentioned the facts of our reception in Halifax and the kindly way that we were treated by our new friends, the Canadians.   Now, unknown to me, came the highlight of my visit. The girls and Alan and Donald pushed all the furniture back around the room.  Donald then turned on the radio and tuned it in to CJFX  Antigonish to a programme of Scottish fiddle music.  He turned around and grabbed one of his sisters and the two of them danced to the music, then, to my surprise, Phyllis, another sister, reached for my hand, pulled me up and we danced to the music (well, she did ).  I was all with two left feet, but she persisted and taught me a few basic steps. There was much jollity in that house that evening as everybody danced with a partner. We formed a circle and went around and around and then moved forward to the girl opposite and did turns in the middle then a circle again and round then took another partner and so on in turn. Except poor old Grandma but she kept time by clapping her hands. This hilarity went on for at least an hour until the radio programme finished and we were all hot and excited.

Sitting down we chatted to each other. Phyllis, who lived in New Glasgow, gave me an invitation to her home if I was in town (more later).

Donald’s Mum brought round hot chocolate and a home made individual cake, after which I gave all my thanks as Donald walked me home.

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/more-barneys-river-station