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GOLDEN RULE DAYS AND OTHER THINGS

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Published on January 2018

 The first two or three weeks slid quickly by as Bessie and I became more and more acquainted with our new surroundings and some of the local population.  We visited the Uniacke Gold Mines of which I understood that Grandpa Cole was a partner.  Then we were given a bit of a shock!  School was mentioned for the very near future.  As I was still in the short trousers which I had arrived in Uncle George thought I should have some long trousers so that I wouldn’t look out of place with other boys.  So, off we went to Windsor and there he purchased for me a pair of long navy serge trousers.  I felt great in them.  Almost like a young man.  I was curious as to what the little square pocket was at the front and later learned that it was for a pocket watch.  I had seen pocket watches in Glen’s General Store for one dollar and I was then deteremined to have one.  So as each week I received 25 cents pocket money I decided to save up for four weeks and get one.  Four weeks later it was a proud young man who walked away from the store with my Westclox Big Ben watch in my little trouser fob pocket.  I was “tickedy boo” with my purchase.  Uncle George spotted it and asked how I had afforded it.  I explained my method and to my surprise he increased my pocket money to 50 cents and congratulated me on my thrift.  This kind and unexpected act made me even more pleased with myself but I didn’t expect what was going to happen next day.  Monday morning came and we were informed that we were going to school (oh oh) and we were prepared by having a pencil and writing pad each and a small box each for our midday meal.  We duly arrived in the car with Uncle George and Aunt Allie and we were introduced to the teacher, a smiling happy young man by the name of Fred Campbell.  He wasn’t very tall.  In fact, I think one of his pupils (Lester Kerr) was just as tall.  Fred introduced us to the rest of the other pupils - all 20 or so of them.  This was quite a surprise to me as it was only just a few weeks ago that I had been attending The Lawson School for Boys in Middlesbrough, England with a compliment of 250 boys only split into age groups.  <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->one-room school was quite a surprise.  Our Canadian guardians duly left us in the care of Fred Campbell with a promise that they would collect us at the end of the school day.  First impressions: why were all the other pupils looking at us and whispering amongst themselves?  I was given a desk at the front and Bessie behind me.  Then the teacher called us all to attention and announced, “All stand for the National Anthem”.  We stood facing the flag on the wall.  It was then the old Canadian Flag with the Union Flag in the top left hand corner.  On a red ground was the arms of Canada which comprised of the Thistle, Shamrock, Rose, entwined with the Maple Leaf.  All sang the anthem “Oh Canada” with the exception of Ronald and Bessie Mizon who did not know it, of course.  When this had been sung, teacher gave Bessie and I a written copy for us to use for future use.  I did make one alteration though.  I changed “my home and native land” to “my home at present time” which I thought was appropriate.  No one really knew the difference.  Later on we sang the anthem in French.  Now that was a challenge to us and took some time to learn.  Classes commenced and we went through the usual things: reading, writing, arithmetic and a new one for me – a subject called Citizenship – but I enjoyed learning how to be a good Canadian citizen.  Mid-morning break came and we all trooped outside where we were the centre of attention.  My fellow pupils gathered around me and Bessie in curiosity.  “Say something” we were asked.  “We want to hear you talk”.  They were apparently curious about our Yorkshire and Lancashire accents, with words like “Eh Up” for hello and “Sithie” for look at this.  Everybody was amused, even us.  We opened up a new dialogue for our new friends.  Did you see any bombs?  Did you see any German planes?  Did you see any German U-Boats?  No, they were under the sea but we were attacked by them for nearly 3 days.  WOW! Were you scared?  Yes, we were.  Very much.  The end of recess was over by the school bell ringing and the end of their curiosity, for the time being, but I think they were fascinated by having us in their school.   

Next day we walked to school with three more children-a boy and 2 girls.  One girl was Carol Cole and the other girl’s name escapes me but the boy was David Williams.  I liked him very much and we soon became firm friends in school and in Uniacke where we went around together.  He taught me how to make a fishing rod and how to fish in the nearby lakes.  He also showed me another way to school.  Down the road a little until we got to Pentz’s driveway, across and over the meadow towards the lake, skirt the lake until we came to a track where Canham’s bungalow was and approached the school from the rear.  He also showed me how to get water from the well (no taps here) and introduced me to the very important buildings at the rear of the school.  One signed Boys and one Girls.  Some days I arrived at school in style!  If I was alone Fred Campbell would come alongside on his bike and help me onto his handlebars and I hung on for dear life as he rolled along with me perched up there.  It was fun though and so was he for a teacher. I wasn’t in school many weeks when Lester Kerr invited me to his home on Saturdays where his father owned a service station.  There, Lester and his sister Ruth, would roam around the property and the barn and have great fun.  More than once Mrs. Kerr invited me to stay for supper.  She rang Aunt Allie and got the OK and I enjoyed my first meal of deer meat, with potatoes and veg and lovely gravy.  Afterwards Lester would take me home in the red International truck.  Boys will be boys.  On one trip home we tried chewing tobacco.  UGH!  It was horrible!  We didn’t try it again.  Another incident at school stands out in my life.  When one of the boys gave me two black eyes.  We had a misunderstanding and we went for each other and I ended up with two black eyes.  Can’t remember what happened to my opponent.  What an initiation into Canadian school life!!  When I arrived home (Cole house) I explained that I had walked into a door.  Of course, Uncle George just gave me a grin and then the Postmaster spotted me later hanging my head.  He had a chuckle but was nice enough not to make fun of me.   It wasn’t long, of course, before the whole of Mount Uniacke knew about it so I kept a low profile for about a week.  Strangely, though, my protagonist made it up between ourselves and later we became firm friends and had many adventures together.  I understand he still lives in Mount Uniacke.   More later. 

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/ronald-mizon-in-nova-scotia-1940-1944-part-12