Page 7 - MacDougalls and Whittys and Songs
ISSUE : Issue 23
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/8/1
the evening of the fifth our -cickets we produced/ To take us all to Winnipeg, that place that we all cursed." Because when we got there we couldn't get a job.. And we were shy on money. You had to get grub e- nough in North Sydney, and you know what that was like after a few days in an old suitcase. It was that hard it was like bullets. My dear soul. There were jobs in Winnipeg. But we went too early. It wasn't our fault. That was the time that was advertised in the papers. There was no place for food along the way, really, you couldn't get anything. You'd get the train stopping here and there, at a little store • get a bottle of pop or something like that. We were dying for that. The water was awful on the train. "We travelled for six days and nights, our provision it got slim/ And to get off the iron horse we sure were in bad trim/ Both sleepy, dirty and hungry we scarcely could crawl/ And to be without cold water, we found the worst of all." There were 820 on our train. And there was 800 on a train three-quarters of an hour after. But when we got to Winnipeg there was nothing to do. All 7 of us could have got on, but they only offered us the smallest kind of wages. Because harvesting hadn't started and they thought they had us right there. Some fellows on the street told us the harvest had got started in Moose Jaw, Sas? katchewan. That was 400 miles from Winni? peg. But still and all, you could go that 400 miles for two dollars • half a cent a mile was the rate. We went to Moose Jaw. "Oh Jim, he was quite nervous, as any you ever saw/ He bid goodbye to Tom and Frank when we landed in Moose Jaw/ 'May the Lord above look down,' he said, 'have mercy un? to me/ For here we are both one and all, no work that I can see.'" When we got there it was the same damn thing. Harvest? ing hadn't started. So there we were, the 7 of us on the street. "Now Jack he was quite surly, smd unto us did say/ 'Oh pity my condition and warning take by me/ If my father had done justice when first out west I roamed/ And taken down the shotgun and broke some of my bones.'" By and by we saw a fellow coming toward us. Asked us were we looking for work. Told him yes. "We walked along on Main Street all looking for a job/ We met a man who said to us, 'Go get on a waterworks/ I'll pay you five dollars a day, charge forty cents for meals/ You will not go a- harvesting if you'll accept this deal.'" That didn't leave us a hell of a lot, but we were satisfied to go. But it was a bad place to work. "We went to work next morn? ing in that God-forsaken place/ Nothing but French Canadians, and the flies, they'd eat your face/ Down in the hole went Frank and Jack, in mud and mar they strayed/ Which caused them to look around, say, *A damn short time we'll stay.'" Eve? ry evening we'd go out to see if we could find out anything about the harvesting. "It was in that place of poverty we lasted for five days/ There was no place else to Steve Whitty eat or sleep, not even to wash your face/ It was then we took the notion, another job to hunt/ We went to seek and we did meet the man they call Beaumont." The boss we hired with in the harvest said he would give us six dollars a day and free board and free bed. We had a great place there. Didn't work hard at all. The work was stocking the grain. It was all cut by machinery. It would go on this rake and it all went in sheaves and it was tied and thrown out. And you came along and stocked them together. Leave them standing in the field to ripen. We only had two jobs, stocking and thrashing. After the grain was all ripened on the stalks we had two horses each to haul it in to where they were thrashing it. Wonderful experi? ence. I never forgot it nor I ever will, because I loved it. But I went to the Harvest just the once. For us, that, was the end of the Harvest Train. It was awful going out there. I en? joyed it because there was a bunch of us good fellows together. But there was some of them awful, for stealing and breaking in stores and things like that. The people were frightened to death. I don't see why they didn't shoot them. They fired out everything. All sorts of clothes. Boxes of shoes and everything else. And you know those small buckets of jam • well, boy, anybody on the train wanted jam could get it with no trouble. Carry loads of that a- board the train. Train would start in North Sydney. There were 22 cars. And it was breaking in and stealing from the time we left. Because some that were on the train were used to thisi were at it before. They would tell
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