1935 -1940

 1936 was the beginning of a different way of  living with the move from Veteran (the dust bowl)  to Mannville.  We found the people very friendly and very helpful , they made us all feel very much a part of the community in the Stellaville School area.  When we were asked where we lived and we said in the Stellaville district they would say "Oh, down south in the sticks", as  there was a lot of open land and the cattle and horses grazed on the open range as only the cultivated land was fenced.

     We would have several neighbours help each other saw firewood.  We all worked hard as it was out first winter in the Mannville area.  We packed the loft of the barn full of the 28 rackloads of hay that Dad and I had put up the last summer, also hauled up a lot of straw so Ronnie and Robert could do the chores.

      Dad and I were going back to Veteran to bring back a team of horses, a sleigh and items that we weren't able to put in the relief cars.  We had sewn heavy jute bags, that were used for shipping sugar and other items of food, together for horse blankets.  Dad and I left the first part of February 1936, we had planned a three week trip including a three day rest for the horses and visit with relatives.  It was one of the coldest winters I can remember, Dad and I walked two thirds of the way to keep warm.  We never took the blankets off the horses, they would have icicles hanging from their nostrils and Dad would have to break them off  being very careful not to hurt their nostrils so they could eat.  We had wrapped the bits of the bridles with twine so the metal would not stick to their mouths.

      I can remember staying the night at the Amisk Hotel it was very cold, colder than anything I have ever endured at home.  The tea kettle was even froze. We sat around the stove to keep warm until they could make breakfast.  For 35 cents each we each had  2 eggs, 2 slices of toast, 2 strips of bacon, a generous helping of hash browns and coffee.

     The next day we pulled into the livery stable in Hardisty about 6 PM.  The man in charge wanted to know why we were out, he said  "Do you know it was  -71 F  in the Battle River valley that you have just came  through.   He also said he had no room for the horses but we managed to convince him to let us put them in the alley of the barn and to let us sleep in his office in case the horses created a problem.  The office was heated and much warmer than the Amisk Hotel.

     The following morning we started off to Irma, it was dark and very cold when we got there.  They had no livery barn but told us that there was a bachelor at the end of main street that had a small barn, he was kind enough to let us use his barn.  Dad asked him if we could stay the night and he told Dad he only had one bed and Dad said that would be OK as we would sleep on the floor.  The man said we couldn't sleep on the floor as we would freeze to death so Dad and I slept on the table and almost froze to death.  In the morning we got our horses ready for the road, woke up the owner of the  cafe to make us breakfast and once again had to wait for the tea kettle to thaw out.  We got a late start for home.  We got about 14 miles from home and got into a drift of soft snow that was so deep the horses couldn't pull the sleighs through, so we unhitches the horses and drove them through a few times to break trail.  It was very late when we got home.

     The spring of 1936 was very busy, we had to put a lot of machinery together and cut a lot of poplar rails so we could build a straw barn as the original barn was too small.  We had four milk cows, one six horse outfit and a four horse outfit and Dad also wanted to raise a few hogs.   This was also the first year of the Social Credit Government in Alberta and whoever worked on the road got so much a day for a 4 horse outfit, I can't remember the amount but do remember taking a 45 gallon barrel of water and feed for the day and drive 4 miles to the job and walk behind a frezno from 8 AM to 6PM.  Everyone was allowed 5 days work.

     In the fall I hauled bundles for 25 days a threshing time, the pay was $1 a day for team and wagon and $4 for the man.  These were 12 hour days.  We always had a great time at threshing time.  We would sleep in chicken coops and several fellows would throw them out one end and a couple of guys would toss them back in at the other end of the chicken coop.  The poor hens had no idea what was happening.  Lots of fun and foolishness.  I also remember sleeping in straw stacks and getting up in the morning with 6 inches of snow on top of us.  We would have to go out and shake the snow off the stookes then go home and get the rack and haul bundles and hope they would not thaw as the straw would get too tough to thresh.

     The fall of 1937 Mother's brother Gus Maron and family moved to Mannville to a place 4 miles south and 3 miles west of Mannville.  It was a cold day and all the neighbours got together to move their cattle and machinery to the farm from the railway track as they had a government relief car that had to be unloaded before the next train.  Dad and Muriel Johnson had made all the arrangements for the move.  This was another cold winter with lots of snow.

     Bob Strang and Bill Nobel had moved into the NE10-49-8-W4 and Bill Nobel to E1/2 of 10-49-8-W4.  In 1935 they had built a house 18 x 24, a small hole for a cellar, the bedroom was dry walled and the others just had insulation, building paper and calcium paint, it was very cold.  They had a log barn with a straw roof and a log garage that had a tar paper roof.  There was a shallow well, no fence and nothing broke.  One morning Joe Gadke came into the yard asking for me.  He came up top me and said that Strang and Nobel had moved in on the quarter next to him and wanted 11 acres broke.  He wanted to know if I could operate his John Deer and 20 inch breaking plow.  I told him I had never driven a John Deer.   He told me he knew I could do it.  That was my first job at bush land breaking. Joe Gadke was a very small man and he had the largest Percheon horses in the district,  he had to stand on the manger to fasten their collars; he had also never  started or drove his John Deer tractor as his son Chris would use it to do custom threshing.

     On the Harry Drayer farm there were two wells about 50 feet apart and we had fixed it so one pump jack could pump both wells by using a tumble bar between the wells.  We also had a generator mounted on the pump engine to charge batteries as all radios at that time had one battery that needed recharging.

     One afternoon in August after dinner there was a great cloud of smoke about 3/4 mile east of the house.  Dad said "Boys, hurry and get a barrel of water on the wagon and some jute bags",  he had fought fires on the homestead.  The telephone lines were busy with people saying that the prairie boys had set the fire.  As it turned out Willy and George McMinis were putting up hay and came across a hornet's nest and set it on fire and it got out of control.  It burned about 35 acres of bush and grass.

     One Sunday afternoon we all went to Mother's brother's place about ten miles away for supper. After supper my cousin Ernie Maron asked Ronnie and i to go for a walk over to the neighbours, the Nafzigers, on the way over he was telling us of the good times they had playing parlor games as they had a large family and the Lug brothers would also come over and we had a great evening.  Mother asked us questions about the family and I had told her that they had a nice looking girl with curly hair.  As it happened she became my wife in November 1940.

     In the fall of 1938 Joe Gadke came walking over and asked if I would rent his 1/4 section of land as he was going to retire.  To this I agreed.  Dad let me use his equipment, I already had 5 horses a cow and a yearling heifer..  I was a happy young man starting to farm and making my own way in life.  My first crop in 1939 was a fair crop, the crop of 1940 was doing very well and I was on top of the world.  I was dating Eleanor Nafziger and we were getting married on November 20, 1940 as I had $325, 5 horses, 2 head of cattle and lots of love.


Home Previous Next