Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 38 > Page 4 - With Katie Margaret Gillis, Mabou Coal Mines

Page 4 - With Katie Margaret Gillis, Mabou Coal Mines

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1985/1/1 (583 reads)

that had nobody to take care of them, like sisters or brothers or man or wife. (Rela? tives) were gone, and they were old, and they were just led from house to house. And people used to feed them from house to house. But they were put there. Then when tihey died, if they couldn't find some rela? tives away back, or they were gone to On- tario--well, then they'd go and call the parish, and the parish would go and get somebody to dig their grave, and they'd put it behind the asylum in a blessed lit? tle spot there. A little cemetery. If there was somebody--anybody--friend at all, they'd put them in Mabou, in the regular cemetery. But if there was nobody.going a- bout it, they were just buried in the back there. I've seen the cemetery, I was up at it. It's behind the asylum. (What did they pay you for work like this?) When we went there first, we got just $10 a month. We thought that was beautiful here, then, in the '20s. And then, the su? pervisor was good enough, she let us have our free uniforms. And she put us up to $15. It was a government thing. (I was reading a little about the Nova Sco? tia Asylum. And there were some people there because they were involved in sex.) Yes, there were some in that. Oh, I sup? pose that in those days we were too young to understand it. We were brought up those days so different, we hardly knew anything about that. These little country places, we were brought up very, very--I don't know--modest-like. Well, we were taught, "Watch this...." There wasn't such a thing as that brought up to us before we went a- way. The doctor in New York that we worked for--my sister Ann and I worked 9 years-- he was an old, old doctor. Many's the good advice and things he told us. He was real? ly the first to explain most of everything to us. We were young, leaving. My sister was only 16, and I was only 17. (Were you afraid at the asylum?) Not me--I was too young! I got many a slap, and I got my hair pulled. I had curls, and knocked down and put her foot right on my throat. I can swear to it. Other people saw me. Mom wanted me to come out. But what could you do? There was nothing to do. No work here. There were 28 of us went to New York. There were 17 went on one drive--mostly all cousins. And we all got work in New York, mostly all of us, through one friend. We didn't need a reference because, there were a few of them up before--and one la? dy 'd tell the other. We all got jobs. And green--as green--we didn't know a cabbage from a lettuce! My sister Katherine, she wasn't working, and I went home one day from my day off-- she said, "I'm going to New York, I'm go? ing to Uncle Angus." Angus was a cop in New York. Donald Beaton's uncle. And he was a cop in New York, and a relative of ours. Mom thought the world of him, 'cause they grew up and knew each other very well. He was on Wall Street for 27 years. And a big article was in The Times about him. He was a beautiful man. We called him "Daddy," because he was a daddy of all the 28. And his word would go anywhere there. Oh, Mom didn't want Katherine to go, and she didn't want me to go. So she told Fr. Beaton in Hawkesbury. He was a relative. Oh, Fr. Beaton didn't approve of us going, so young, at all. He said, "It's no place for young girls, a big city." For me, I don't know, it was the way you were brought up. When you did domestic work, you were amongst very beautiful people, you know what I mean. Real Yankees. Oh, there were all kinds. But anyway, we went away. We went to pay our head tax in Sydney. We had to pay a Suppliers of Commercial Recreational Fencing P. 0. Box 98. King St., North Sydney, N. S. B2A 3M1 794-4773 nncEL "Have our auger truck dig your holes." rcnt-a-wrcck' 564-8366 180 Kings Road SYDNEY GOOD CARS CHEAP! From $8.95 Per Day (plus a small mileage charge) Available Across Canada in the 4 Atlantic Provinces: Sydney, Halifax, Dartmouth, Amherst, NS Fredericton, Moncton, Oromocto, Sussex, Saint John, NB Charlottetown, PEI St. John's, NFLD We Rent Carefully Maintained Cars & Trucks (4) Druker Insurance Charlotte St., Sydney . . . 562-5504 Mayflower Mall. ...... 564-1818 will INSURE VIRTUALLY ANY CAR. HOUSE OR BUSINESS COMPARE RATES. YOU COULD SAVE Phone Toll Free 1-564-6000 BUDGET PLAN AVAILABLE IN EMERGENCY: Awie Druker, F.I.I.C. 564-6615 Tourist Brochures & Colour Printing A Specialty PRINTERS 180 TOWNSEND STREET, SYDNEY, N. S. TELEPHONE (902) 564'245
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