Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 74 > Page 28 - From Italian Lives, Cape Breton Memories: From the Memoirs of Thomas Cozzolino

Page 28 - From Italian Lives, Cape Breton Memories: From the Memoirs of Thomas Cozzolino

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1999/6/1 (392 reads)

both English and Italian, asked me to work in his store. Since he of? fered to pay me well, I took the job. At the end of the second month, however, the confractor charged the men twice as much as I had re? corded. As soon as the men got their pay, they blamed me; they thought I had done this. I told them, "Boys, I don't know anything about it, but if the contractor did that he is not honest, for I recorded only what you had purchased." I felt awful bad, so I went to see the confractor. He said, "You mind your own business." The men got to? gether and went to see a lawyer in Summerset. They took legal action against the confractor. When the case came up, I was called upon to act as an interpreter. I took my books to court. I was not going to tell any lies for anyone. At the end of the hearing, the judge fined the confractor, asked him to pay the court costs, plus return all the money that had been taken from the men. The contractor did not Uke the decision. Thinking that I had put the men up to suing him, he came to me and said, "I don't need your services any longer." So I lost my job. I did not care; I wanted the men to get what was rightfully theirs. They had worked hard. The next month, to make up their losses, the contractors tried to cheat each man out of two or three days pay. The confractors did not know that tiie men kept a written record of the days and hours they had worked. When tiie men saw that they had not been given their full wages, they refused to accept the money. They came and told their story to me. After making sure tiiat they were right, I went to Sum? merset to consult a lawyer. The lawyer thought the men had a good case, and proceeded to sue the contractors. I was asked to be the in? terpreter again, but this time they paid me $5 per day. It took several days, because there were over sixty men to be examined. Each man had his book with him, and they were all produced in court. When the judge saw all their books, he said to the confractors, "What are you frying to do to these poor working men." He told the confractors that he was going to use this case to give them a lesson; he ordered them to pay the men in full, plus cover their travel costs to attend the court hearing. Located in Historic St. Peter's, NS Bras d'Or Lakes Inn The Bras d'Or Lakes Inn is an extraordinary dining and overnight experience situated on the shores of the world famous Bras d'Or lakes, directly adjacent to the the gateway to the Bras d'Or • St. Peter's Canal SPECIALIZING IN LOCAL SEAFOOD With twenty cozy cedar rooms and an exceptional dining room and bar • a favourite for the traveller and our overnight guests Our food is of high caliber and the service is quite friendly. The wooden log construction makes the Inn very appealing and relaxing Bras d'Or Lakes Inn is the only full-service accommodation between Sydney and Port Hawkesbury. (902) 535-2200 or FAX 535-2784 1-800-818-5885 OR WRITE TO ST. PETERS, NS BOE 3B0 Bras d'Or Lakes Inn is just down the road from Battery Provincial Park and Nicolas Denys Museum OVERLOOKING HISTORIC ST. PETER'S CANAL The next Spring we all went to Gallizen, Pennsylvania where a branch Une was being built for the railway.... I noted in the newspaper that a confractor was looking for men to work in Wisconsin. I wired him a note saying I had 70 men ready and willing to work. He replied that there would be work for all of us. Before deciding to accept the offer, however, four of us fravelled to Lennoxville to view the work site. We fravelled to Wisconsin by frain, but it did not stop at Lennoxville. The closest stop was 80 miles from the site. The only way to get there was by horse and wagon. The people at the livery stable, however, wanted $80 to take us there. We found this too high, so we decided to walk. It was fall and the roads were very bad; in fact, there were no roads • we had to fravel through the woods. We started out in the afternoon, and had to spend the night in the woods. We made a fire to keep warm as we rested. There were all kinds of wild animals, but we did not mind. After a while we moved on, and toward morning we came to a log house in the middle of a small clearing. We were glad to see it, thinking that we would be able to get something to eat. We found there one man living in one room with a horse and a cow. The three of them slept in the same room. It smelted terrible. We asked this man if there was any place nearby where we could get something to eat. He told us that there was a con? struction company store about seven miles from there. We started out again, but we came to the Mississippi river; there was no way to get across. We noticed, however, that about a mile lower there was someone crossing with a row boat. He took us across the river for 25 cents each. Tired and hungry we finally reached the construction camp, where we were able to rest and have something to eat. We were still 50 miles from Lennoxville, however. A farmer we met offered to take us there in his buckboard for $50. We agreed. He went home and came back with an old wagon; it had a wobbly wheel. The roads were rough and full of boulders and holes. The wheel broke within the first ten miles. We were lucky; no one was hurt. Half a mile from there we met another farmer. He offered to take us the rest of the way for $30. He had a good horse and a new rig, so we agreed. The next morning we started out early. We arrived in Len? noxville that night at 9 pm. We were very tired because the roads were terrible, so we spent the night in a hotel. The next morning, I spoke with the Superintendent and made all of the necessary arrangements for my men and for myself. The men were to get $1.75 per day for ten hours of work, and I was to get $75 per month as the interpreter. 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