One Saturday, George Camden decided to be generous and let his sister Elise and me go fishing with him. We walked the two miles down to Big Hill Creek and got quite bored standing there, quiet, watching George fish. Suddenly he caught one. Much to his surprise too, I think. He yanked it out and hit Elise across the face and she fell off the bank into the muskegie edge of the creek. She got all wet and muddy and so did I helping her and we got heck from George for being so noisy and clumsy, so we went home and left him there.
I sold Gold Cross garden seeds to the neighbours and got a beautiful violin from the company. The seeds were really good and grew well but I have my doubts about the violin. Anyway, I took lessons form Mrs. Easton in Cochrane and conned Ruth into playing those horrible scales on the piano so that I could follow in tune. I loved the violin and still do. Alex Beadle took violin lessons from Mrs. Easton too and once we had to play a duet at a concert in Cochrane. I shudder yet when I think of the awful squeaks I got out of that instrument. But the Chautauqua that used to come to Cochrane was wonderful. They really were an inspiration. Then came the radio. And Oh My! It was wonderful. We got Philip Aries to make us a crystal set and we would sit there just enthralled. And dare help anyone who walked across the floor and jiggled the needle off the crystal. I still think it’s magic that a thin delicate little thread of wire touching a piece of crystal rock could connect us to the world. Cochrane had an active minstrel show every winter for many years. We always looked forward to that. They used local talent and were popular in all the neighbouring towns too.
Once when I was riding home from school there must have been a wagonload of household furniture far ahead of me and they lost a stuffed bird off their load. I picked it up and took it home, it was quite nice. But later I got the bright idea of playing a joke on my Dad. So when he came home for supper, I put the bird up on a post and ran into the house all excited and showed him the bird. He got his gun out and sneaked around the corner of the house and shot it. His eyes sure popped out to see the stuffing all flying out and I sort of regretted losing the bird.
Riding to school all winter was quite a challenge. The horse would stand in the cold barn all day and could hardly wait for me to get on at night. By now I had two or three lively horses to ride. Sometimes it seemed we would hardly touch the ground, but just sailed out of town until we climbed the hill north of the creek. I often drove a cutter to school when the sleighing was good. A kind neighbour gave me a set of sleigh bells and the pony I drove tried her best to run away from those bells but the harder she raced the more music they made. It was exciting.
One very foggy morning while riding along the little path over the hills to school, I heard what seemed like a whole pack of coyotes howling quite close to me and he had his head thrown back and was halfway through a shuddering howl when he saw me and shot straight up in the air then hit the ground and disappeared in a flash. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen a coyote howl.
High school was fun but hard work too. We had a young people’s group called the “Rustler’s Club”. At that time the Russell Hotel had no bar, a lovely dining room, and very nice people named “Dickensons” running it. They allowed our group to meet and dance to their big gramophone on Friday evenings. The dining room was closed to the public and made a grand club room for us. The teacher joined too. It was very enjoyable, it gave us a chanced to learn to dance. We also had a high school orchestra about that time and that was great fun.
Those were dry years and poor crops and I worked in Brought’s Cafe one summer holiday. Then later Mrs. Allan asked me if I would help her in the busy summer months and it’s was like a home to me to be with her. It was like home to many people to stop into her store for a visit. I took my grade eleven in South Calgary High school and decided to work steady with Mrs. Allan before completing my grade twelve and going to Normal School.