Dad left the farm (near Melita Manitoba) and rode the rails; he got odd jobs in Montreal and Toronto and often went hungry. He used to say that the loneliest place in the world is being in a big city with lots of people around.
He eventually joined the RCMP and worked as the radio operator on a speed boat chasing rum-runners up and down the east coast. After that he got a job with the Department of Transport as a radio operator at various airports around the country. He met Mom in Swift Current; my sister Maureen was born in Broadview and I was born in Fort William. From there we moved to Saskatoon. By that time Dad was a radio inspector.
My memories of Saskatoon:
Dad used to make a skating rink in the back yard for the local boys to play hockey. I just remember skating on my ankles and getting hit in the face with a puck.
I don’t specifically remember being a klutz but I do remember trying to jump over a picket fence and falling with my lip on one of the pickets (I still have the mark). Also most of the photos of me during those early years show me with a bandaid on my forehead.
One enduring memory is walking across the street in front of our house and getting hit by a motorcycle. I woke up moaning to my Mom trying to console the motorcycle driver “don’t worry, he’s not as bad as he sounds”. A few days later Maureen fell out of a tree and dislocated her elbow. Afterwards she was getting a lot of sympathy and I just kept saying “yes, but I got hit by a motorcycle”. No-one paid any attention.
Smoking at the age of 5: Mom had a roller that rolled 5 cigarettes at a time. You then cut that roll with a razor blade. It was easy enough for a 5 year old to do – so I did and would take a few matches and smoke at the side of the house. By Ottawa I had a paper route so could buy my own – cigars and a pipe with a few candles to sit in the storm sewer with some friends and smoke under the gas station (a highly intelligent thing to do). I quit smoking in grade 8 when I realized there were other better ways to spend my money.
From Saskatoon Dad got transferred to Regina. They bought a house there but didn’t get a chance to move in before Dad was transferred again – this time to Ottawa. I was still pretty young at the time – maybe going into grade 2. My first memories of Ottawa as compared to Saskatoon:
Back is Saskatoon we were still playing with marbles. We had a whole gambling thing going on at recess with wooden blocks with holes in them etc. (get the marble through, you gained a marble, get blocked and you lost your marble). I showed up first day of school with my bag of marbles and no-one was interested.
Ottawa had television – even though most of the time it was just a TV pattern.