The soon to be ending adventures of my paternal grandfather who wrote a short (and incomplete me thinks) memoir at the age of 70 in 1974. He is currently aboard the Scythia traveling to Canada from his home in Barrow in Furnace, England at the age of 20… reflecting on his youth. The story is nearly finished, which is probably why I haven’t posted since early October – I really don’t want it to end… it’s tagged under ‘a story’ if anyone wants more background…
I thought about my school days when I was very active, playing soccer, with plenty of swimming in the salt sea water. I also belonged to a temperance group, not of my own choice, but as a part of my parental guidance programme. This juvenile group was known as ‘The Band of Hope’, and we all quite innocently pledged that we would never imbibe in the demon rum or any other alcoholic beverage, as long as we lived. I was also a member of the Baden Power Scout Group of Boy Scouts and a chorister in St. George’s church choir. Piano lessons were thrown in for good measure.
I also remember that is was about this time, near the end of the war, I had my appendix removed. I had suffered pains in what I thought was my stomach on many different occasions which our doctor diagnosed as pleurisy and he prescribed rest with the application of heat. When I had a later attack, he had by this time joined the armed forces and we had a different doctor who said it was my appendix, and he ordered me into the hospital. This doctor must have been right as I had no more pains after the operation. When I was thirteen and in my last year at school, we were marched once a week to the indoor pool, towel and swimming suit under arm, and taught how to swim, although I could already swim reasonably well. We were also marched once a week to the central handicraft school where we were taught to use the hammer, saw, plane, chisel, square and compass, and with these tools we made models out of wood. I remember the first model was a one foot ruler, the second was a tee square, and then on to the more difficult model of a railway signal.
During the time I was sitting on the deck in the sun and breeze, alone with my thoughts, Pat was getting to know men of his own age, and I think he was addicted to the game of crown and anchor. He mentioned a few incidents of the officers breaking up several games. I was quite content to have these periods to myself, and it amazed me how fast the thoughts can fly through the mind. We can think about the good times and the bad, and remember our deepest anxieties about things which never did actually happen.
Although I was enjoying life on shipboard, I knew it was only a passing phase and I became anxious to get my feet on to solid land which would bring me closer to my main objective. Towards the end of the voyage I was greatly impressed by the Sunday service of worship when the captain, resplendent in his gold braids and decorations, assumed the role of clergyman, and a few members of the ship’s orchestra played their band instruments. It was held in the ballroom and it surprised me how well everyone joined in the singing, with so much feeling and volume.
That’s it for today – only one more part left, and I’m certain that one page won’t tell me how he came to Southern Ontario. I know for certain that my grandfather broke his temperance promise, as he apparently had a well stocked liquor cabinet which my grandmother was embarrassed about, and made him hid it in a cubby hole above the stairs to the basement in the Amherstburg home. Ha! I think he always attended church and continued through his life to be a great lover of music, playing for us nearly every Sunday and always at Christmastime. He died when I was about 10 and had advanced Alzheimer’s so I really never knew him (to be well) at all.
Maybe I’ll dig up some pics to post next time or soon.