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Page 2 - From Conversations with Steelworkers: How Mike Oleschuk got his Farm

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/12/1 (523 reads)

said, Don't worry. They said, In a couple more years there you'll be cleared up. Don't worry.... But my grain stays there. I can't sell it. What's the good? Mortgage combined with interest, interest. I went working for 50 cents a day, cleaning up their land, other people's land--what's the 50 cents a day? How am I going to make the payments? Well, I started looking around every place there to find a better job--no job. And I had a brother-in-law living here in Sydney, And before I left the old country, he was sending money to his wife in the old coun? try. She bought land, built a nice home. He was in Sydney. He worked in the steel plant. I wrote him a letter. I said, "Look, 'I would like to come to Sydney." He wrote, "Don't come, because there's nothing here." He said, "I'm working only one shift in a month, one furnace going-- that's all. Only one furnace"." I don't want to believe it. Because how did that happen there in two years--so quick? Well, I said, there's something fishy. He doesn't want me there. I decided to go, I met a fellow--a Ukrainian guy, but he was born in Ontario and he talked Ukrainian and he had good English. That's good for me, you know, anything I'd want to know, I could find out in my language, He was my buddy, Well, we became hobos right through to Syd? ney on the train. Sometimes the police chased me out but, well, you catch another one. That's the way I landed in Sydney, One morning, the boxcar landed in the yard there in Sydney. We woke up to the stink from the steel plant. We got up, opened the door--I looked and, by jeez, there's lots of stacks. I said, oh, we'll get a job here, A big factory. Oh by gosh. VJell, we get up, go and wash ourselves with the stinky water there by the brook, and we go to Number One Gate, Nobody stopped us. We landed in the bar mill. By gosh, I could see lots of butts there, cigarette butts. We saw nobody there, so we picked up those butts, made a smoke. Then we walked. Didn't see anybody. We came back *and I go back to the gate and I asked the fellows there, "Where's the Whit? ney Pier?" And they told me where to go. Well, we came to the Pier. I asked where's my brother-in-law, anybody know? Well, they sent me to another fellow with the same name, I found him and I see that's not my brother-in-law. But he called me into the house, gave us something to eat. And he gave us each a package of tobacco. And he told me to go to Edel Hirsh on Lin? gan Road, that all the foreigners deal there. Ukraine, Polish, Hungarian, Italian deal there. It's a grocery store. He speaks Ukraine, Polish, all kind of lan? guages --he's an old country Jew. So, "Yeah," he said, "he deals here in my store. He lives on Henry Street." I go there and a lady hollers up, there's somebody to see him. Right away I'm recog? nized. We shake hands and everything. He asks me questions: how I landed, how did everything go there. Sat down and talked. I told him all the history. He asked me a- bout his wife and children in the old coun? try and how are things there. "Well," he said, "Mike, there's nothing here in Syd? ney." He's saved a few dollars, and he had to pay the board for me. I saw, by gosh, I've got to go looking for something. A fella had a farm at Blackett's Lake; he wanted someone to clear up the land. Well, I went there with my buddy, the Canadian- born fellow I came with to Sydney. AIR CANADA 3y SERVING CANADA COAST TO COAST THE UMITEO STATES • UNITED KINGOOM • EUAOPE • CABmSEAN For information call your Travel Agent or AIR CANADA ??f|f?''?* Genuine Down East Hospitality Keddy' Motor Inn 600 King's Road, Sydney, N.S. Phone 539-1140 • Telex 019-351? cape breton historical essays I The College of Cape Breton Press announces a new public:ation Ten essays on topics ranging from French colonization in the 18th Century, through the Loyalist and Scottish migrations and the industrialization of the 19th Century, to the labour unrest of the early 20th Century. Maps and illustrations • soft cover. $5.95 AVAILABLE AT MANY RETAIL OUTLETS if you wish to order by mail, send cheque or money order in the amount indicated to: The College of Cape Breton Press P. O. Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, BIP 6L2 (2)
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