Page 15 - Travels with Johnny "Butch" MacDonald
ISSUE : Issue 36
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1984/6/1
you've got nothing to worry about. His track is there ahead of you." So I went down, and sure enough, there was his track. Oh, a great track, great travelling on the ice. And I was going along, sailing along. Geez, this is too good to be true! My God, this is great travelling. Then all of a sudden, it was as bare as that pavement there--there was nothing--no track at all. I said, "Geez, what happened to the track? I'm going back. To hell with this." And I went to go back, and there was no track be? hind me. And there I was, out there. The wind started to blow, and it just cleaned off the ice. And I was away to hell out on the Bras d'Or Lakes. I didn't know whether to go this way, this way, this way, or this way. I didn't know what to do. I was driving along. And I saw a fellow coming out from the shore. He had a spear; he was going spearing eels. Well, I made for him. And I got up to him. I said, "Can you tell me where to get off of this ice?" "Well, you might get off there"--and he started pointing. But he pointed back. He said, "Look, do you see that point that you just came through there?" I said, "Yes." He said, "There was never, never as much as a horse crossed there." "Well," I said, "I made it." (Why did you buy hides?) That's part of the business. And I used to buy wool, too, in May or June or July--after they'd shear the sheep. The big kill was in the fall, but there'd be hides and skins the year round. There's not very much of that done now. But at that time there was a lot of local butchers around, all through the country everywhere. Lot up through Loch Lo? mond, and Marion Bridge, Gabarus, East Bay. You name it. They would buy from their neighbours. They used to come into Sydney every week. Some would go to Glace Bay, some would go to Waterford. They had their regular customers. And they'd have produce. They'd kill a cow, they'd be killing lambs. And they'd have eggs, they'd have butter, they'd have socks. They'd have everything like that. Homemade socks. They would buy from the country people. They'd come in every week with a load. Regardless of the weather, winter or summer. And they'd all have some hides and skins. (You'd buy some of these.) Yes. (Would they be some of your competition?) Well, in a way they would be, yes. Not that much, but to a certain extent. They sold at houses. We sold at stores, you know. But there were dozens of them, all through the country everywhere, that m.ade a living, peddling. I'm the only one that survived out of--I'm the last one. I'm go? ing to keep going for another 30 years! (For 25, for sure.) For sure, yes, I'll be awful disappointed if I don't make 25, Then I'll take 5 years off. I've got it figured out pretty good, haven't I? (Why did you survive it? Wiy, of all your competitors, are you still at it?) Well, I'll tell you. I worked harder at it than the rest of them. I was young and I was ac? tive and I was going. I was ahead of the other fellow when he was buying it, and I was ahead of him when he was trying to sell it. That's what it takes. But I worked at it. Holy God almighty. (What about the animals themselves? Did you ever have any trouble with them?) Cer? tainly you have trouble with them. Sure you do. They're not always easy as these, you know. (The ones we had on the truck to? day .) These are milkmen's cows, and they're kind of domesticated. But you get these other animals, you know, that are not handled. You put a rope on them, boy, you've got a tiger by the tail. Vicious. Your life is not worth 5 cents. But I've been very lucky all my life, that I never got hurt. Nothing worth speaking of. I got shook up a good many times. Well, you'd get tangled up in a rope, or they'd trip you and knock you up, kick you, and hook you, and all this. (Lean on you.) Oh, that's nothing. You don't mind that. But they'll kick you, they'll do everything. There was a cow that--she was really rough. See, they go out of their mind, they go berserk. They're just like a crazy person. (Any special reason?) Well, any more than that it was tied, and it didn't want to be tied, and it was trying to get away. And it just went crazy. Jumping up this way, up that way, standing on its head. One case, we had to kill it on the truck. It got itself down, tangled up. Had to take the knife and cut its throat. They'll bite you, they'll hook you, they'll try to get at you with their feet, their front feet. They're really making for you, you know. They're trying to get you. (And yet, on the farm, they wouldn't be like that?) No, quiet as.... But you put a rope on them CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE We Buy and We Sell and We're as Near as Your Telephone Sid s Used Furniture Phone 564-6123 436 Charlotte Street, Sydney Jacques-Cartier Motel M. Mme. Roger Poirier, Motel: (902)539-4375 P.O. Box 555, Sydney, N. S. 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