Working at home

I had to quit school after grade 8 to stay at home to help. I used to stand at the window and watch the other kids going to school and cry because I wanted to go to school to become a nurse. I stayed at home until I was 15 or 16 and then went out to work. When I was living at home, I worked outside with Dad. Viola was just the opposite, working inside most of the time. She did not even know how to milk a cow.

One time Mom put grease on the stove to make donuts and asked me to let her know when it was hot. I thought, how am I going to know that, so I asked Viola to put her finger in the oil to see. Thank goodness it wasn’t too hot at that point.

                                                                                        Picking potatoes with Viola

I used to go out in the mornings and help Dad milk and do the chores. One time I went out ahead of Dad and when I opened the barn door, I saw that a cow was having a calf. I slammed the door real quick because girls were not supposed to see anything like that. I went into the hen house and watched through a crack until I saw Dad go into the barn, then I came back out. He quickly came out of the barn and told me I did not have to come to the barn and I could go back in the house. He did not say why, but I knew of course.



First Paying Jobs

Around 16, I started going out to work. The first place was in Eganville at Byers. Mrs. Byers was sick in bed. I worked for $10 a month and had to give mother half of it. It was amazing what you could buy for $5 in those days. One time I bought a dress, but mostly I saved my money. I worked there for just the one winter. In the summers, I had to quit to work on the farm, getting in the hay and grain, working in the garden, and pickling and preserving.


                                                                                                                                           My new dress


The next winter I did housework for a sergeant in the army in Pembroke. Then, the following year, I went to Ottawa and did not have to quit in the summer, as Viola and Garnet were now old enough to work at home. I worked at 2 different places in Ottawa, one of which was on Somerset Street. I went there by train with Edna Sell, who worked in Ottawa too. We would get one afternoon off a week. Her older sister, Elizabeth, warned us not to go out by ourselves, as she was afraid we would get lost. She had already taken us downtown a couple of times and we thought we could do it by ourselves. We went into a store and then back out and up the street and were lost. We walked around but finally had to phone Elizabeth who came and got us. Did she give us a good talking to! We found out later that the store had two doors on different streets and we had gone out the wrong one. We never got lost again after that.

With Edna Sell