Dig, Dig, Dig….

Sunday Evening

We had a relaxing time at home by ourselves in the afternoon.  Attended Church in the morning and Villa Singing in the evening.  Once a month a group of teens and young couples goes to the Villa for a hymn sing, primarily for the residents but a lot of us older ones go to listen and be inspired, too.

Logging in tonight, I see that several other bloggers have subscribed to my Journal.  Welcome!   Even if you’ve just stopped by for a short look around, you’re welcome to check out my musings and a few frivolous poems.

I hope I can keep on posting interesting things for you to read;  I’ve checked out your sites and read a lot of interesting things, too.  Many thoughts flit through my mind in the course of my days, but to catch them and nail them down on paper before they flutter off is another matter (and you may actually be glad I didn’t. :))  Sometimes I wonder about this bizarre urge to share everything I think with anyone who’ll listen–or read my writings–but at least I’m not unique.

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of learning Math.  Today I’ll post a story of how Math and hard work joined forces to keep a young man busy one winter.

For the past couple of days a neighbour, Walter Smith, has been spending his days at the Villa (the senior’s home where I work).  He’ll be 100 in July and his daughter who looks after him had to be away for three days, so he stayed with us during the day.  He has a lifetime of stories to share and the Villa residents have been eager listeners; I even get in on a few at meal times.

Yesterday he told us that when he was a young fellow he was employed one winter by a local farmer.  Part of his job was to dig wells and he dug twelve of them, each one over 50 ft deep.   By hand.  November to March.  He dug, filled the buckets with dirt, and another fellow carried them away.

Winters in Saskatchewan are not balmy.  We can expect -10 to -30 C (about 0-22F) off & on for most of the winter with at least a week of -40 (F & C) in December.  In those dry years, he says, the ground was frozen to a depth of 3-4 feet (one metre) by spring.  So I asked him how he could dig wells in winter.

“Oh, I had a pick.  I’d chip away at the ground until I got down below the frost line, then keep on going.  Yep, I dug twelve wells for this farmer–and every one of them was dry.  Not a drop of water did he get from any of them.  When one well proved empty, he’d say, “Well, maybe you should try over here… or there…”  (This farmer must have been an optimist – sure there must be water down there SOMEWHERE.)

“And how much did you earn for all that work?”

“Five dollars a month.”

(Do you think YOU’RE slaving away for peanuts?)

Still, he fared better than another teen from Kyle, SK, who hired out to a farmer south of here.  This was during the “Dirty Thirties” and the government had an assistance programme so farmers could hire single men.  The govt would pay the farmer $10: $5 went to the worker as wages; the farmer got $5 to cover his worker’s room and board.  A number of 18-25-year old farm lads found work this way.  (No Relief was paid to single men; if you had no family it was up to you to survive as best you could during those hard years.)

Anyway, this teen boy went to work for a farmer all winter and in spring the farmer sent an application to the government for the $10 per month.  He got a letter back stating that because the lad was only 17 he didn’t qualify for the assistance.  Then the farmer told him, “Well, I have no money to pay you, either.”

Dismayed, the young man wondered how he’d even get home as he hadn’t any money for a train ticket.  So the farmer took him to the train station and told him, “Go in and take a seat.  Then when you see the conductor coming to collect the tickets, jump up and go to the bathroom.  Stay there until he’s done collecting and goes on to the next car.”

Well, that’s what he did–and it worked.  He made it home again, having worked all winter with not a penny to show for it.

Mr. Smith told us that HIS employer paid him $5 each month and saved up the room & board money.  When spring came and Walter was leaving, his boss paid him that, too, so he actually got the full $10 for each month.  Now that’s a generous employer – but you’ll agree he had to work for it!