The Greenwater Report for August 12, 2003



The weather remains nice, at least for holidayers. As of Friday, there seems to be wild weather all over, except here. The rain we had wouldnít wet a postage stamp. The nice weather makes it tough on some of the businesses because people stay on the beach during the day and barbecue at night, leaving the cafes with excess staff. We went to the Farmersí Market at Porcupine Plain on Friday, and it was very quiet, likely for the same reason..


I got a phone call from Marg Putnam, of Watson. She grew up near Gronlid, and tells me that the wide main street used to have a hitching rail down the centre. There was also a row of scrawny poplars, no doubt planted to give horses some shade. Thanks, Marg! (Now, as to those of you who donít know what a hitching rail isÖ..ask your Dad!)


We went to Golburn Fair on Wednesday, again to judge photography, then home via Tisdale. Doreen remarked that it definitely looks like late summer ó the crops are turning, and the flowers in the ditches are sweet clover, alfalfa, goldenrod, and purple stemmed asters. Some crops have been swathed. Seems like summer just started!






I picked some chokecherries last week; they are a bit on the pink side, which I understand makes them better for jellies. Doreen extracts the juice and freezes it, then it can be used for jelly, syrup or even wine. In another week, we will able to do another picking. There is nothing like chokecherry syrup on pancakes!

I found some nice saskatoons, too, and picked enough that Doreen made a saskatoon coffee cake. Itís getting tougher to find any that arenít wrinkled and dried up, but once found, they are sweet and juicy.

Our cranberries are definitely taking on some colour. I wouldnít be surprised if we can pick some of them in a week or so.

I have been interested in Morse Code as long as I can remember. When I was about thirteen, a friend and I borrowed a field telegraph set from the school and rigged it up between our two houses. That was the International Morse Code, using beeps instead of clicks. A few years later, a schoolmate wanted to apply for a job as a telegrapher on the railroad, so I helped him study the American, or railway, Morse. He bought me a package of tobacco a week for helping him. The exposure helped me when I started with the CNR in 1951.

CNR had a training program for prospective operators to train under a station agent. There were two of us at Kenaston, Jock Johnstone and myself, and the agent was George Brownbridge. We stayed in an idle railway shack. George taught us the CNR Station bookkeeping system and routines, and in our spare time we practiced Morse code.


Jock finished his training in mid-summer and went to a posting; I had a girlfriend and was in no hurry to leave, but finally George kicked me out. A lot of telegraphers started that summer; because I had delayed going to work, I was at the very bottom of the seniority list for 1951. When I did go to work, there were no operator jobs available, so I spent some time as a towerman and assistant agent, at a lower rate of pay. I finally got my first operator job at Carlyle, in November. In my three years on the railway, I never did go on unemployment insurance; most operators didnít want to work the lower-paying jobs, and I didnít mind. I even worked on the section gang, but was called back to work after the first day.

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I worked the spare board until April 1953. One of these days I am going to try to make a list of the towns I worked in ó the shortest stay on a job was one day, and the longest one month. I finally won a bid for a permanent job in 1953. It was a swing job, working from 9 PM to 5 AM Monday and Tuesday nights in Atwater, from midnight Wednesday night to 8 AM Thursday at Welby, a coal and water center almost at the Manitoba border, and from 8 AM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday at Uno, MB, an order station and water stop. It was referred to as the Trans Canada Swing for some reason. It was on the CNR main line and there was an average of eight trains a shift. I usually caught a ride on an engine or caboose between points, but most of my spare time was spent waiting for a train or riding on one. In late winter of 1954, stations were closing out and jobs were getting scarce. I got bumped off the worst job on the railway, so I quit and joined my father in the creamery business at Kelliher.


Doreen & Jerry Crawford
Box 100, Chelan, SK S0E 0N0 (306) 278-3423


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