Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

As the spring days went by and school became a regular routine I was promoted to be the pupil who would keep the water cooler topped up with water.  I knew how to do this, having been shown how to draw water from the well in front of the school door by my friend Dave Williams.  He also taught me something else as well and I soon learned how to combine the two to my advantage.  It was the learning of the word “Hooky” and its meaning.  So, one day, putting into practice my new knowledge, I put my hand up and as Teacher looked at me I uttered, “water” and he just nodded.  So, off I went with the pail, drew the water and looked around me.  I was alone!  So I thought I would have a stroll down to Pentz’s Lake and just generally mooched around.  I must have been away for about a half hour when I returned with my pail full of water and filled up the cooler.  No one seemed to notice my short absence.  Well, as this scheme developed, Dave and I would slip away together – he to the boy’s and me for the water – then we both slipped off to amuse ourselves by the lake.  It really was very naughty of us, though I think of these little expeditions now with nostalgia. 

Spring moved gently into summer and the summer holidays were just around the corner.  What would Bessie and I do then?  The big day came and Teacher, in the middle of the afternoon, announced holidays were upon us and wished us all a good time and released us.  Before we left school he told us that he was going away to enlist in the Canadian Officers’ Training scheme and he would not be teaching us any more.  When school was to restart we would have a new teacher, but as fate moves in strange ways, I was not going to see who it would be.  Other plans were formulated for me which would materialise later in the year. 

Meanwhile, during the summer holidays, Dave and I roamed around the meadows and woods just having fun.  We went fishing.  In Five Island Lake we were after trout and one day I caught one and couldn’t wait to get home to show Gladys. 

<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]-->She cooked it for me but being a novice to the finesse of eating trout all I seemed to taste were mouthfuls of bones. UGH!!  It put me off trout somewhat until I was shown how to really go about it.  

<!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]-->Uncle George gave me the regular job of bringing in the dairy cows, so I actually became a cow boy. Not cowboy. A difference somewhat.  Now it turned out that I would not be a cow boy every day as Uncle George had other plans for me as well so my lot fell to his handyman, who I recall was called Eldon or Eldan, who looked after the horses.  So it turned out that Uncle George and I went to the sawmill, or close by, in the back woods where the previous logs had been transformed into various sizes of timber.  We sat in the cab of one of the trucks.  He gave me lessons on how to be a Tallyman, or in my case, Tallyboy.  So, as each man brought a length of timber, he would shout out the size and the Tallyman would mark it off in fives. 

There were about five different sizes so I was kept busy and had to keep my wits about me.  After a half hour or so the boss came to check on how we were doing, examined my work and gave me a slap on the back with the retort “good work”.  I must confess I felt just a little proud of myself at what I was doing so far away from….where?  Well, Middlesbrough, England – it seemed so far away now and I was beginning to be accepted by all the men.  I received a dollar for each day’s work.  The next day we loaded lumber again but this time I had a different task outlined to me.  I was to climb onto the truck and as the men brought their timber they shouted “Circle” or “Diamond” and I was provided with two big rubber stamps – a Diamond and a Circle and an ink pad.  If timber was shouted as “Diamond or Circle” down went my stamp on the end of it. That was all, but by golly I had to keep up with the men and the sun was scorching hot and I began to slow down after a while and one of the men shouted up to me on the truck, “Old Larry’s got you buddy”, meaning the hot sun was taking its toll on me and he wasn’t far wrong as I will relate next time.  Meanwhile, I did my best and managed to finish my stint.  All the above was manual labour compared to the mechanical age we now live in. 

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