A SMALL BOY AND HIS BORDER COLLIE The first fourteen years of my life.

On the farm: Jonsig Eirik

Dad, being a very good carpenter, worked for many years on several power dams in both Ontario and Manitoba. In the fall he would return to the farm and help run it through the winter. He had a workshop, about 12 by 24. I better take a moment to explain something about this. I was born in that little building at that time it was located on an adjoining 40 acres that dad took up as a homestead, which he abandoned after mother died (a few days after I was born). Following her death, my grandparents took me into their care to look after me. The building was subsequently moved off the 40 and relocated, maybe three hundred feet or so, west of the farmhouse. Soon after that, dad built a lean-to on the side for a blacksmith shop to house his forge and anvil. I found this place a very fascinating escape; many things to play with, and while it may sound profoundly stupid--- I was almost jealous when dad was home and I had to share it. But that was not the case this time! Today was very special! Dad was a pretty darn good mechanic and many of his friends would have him rebuild their motors. They were mostly model T's that he worked on, mostly old clunkers. He had all the tools he needed, not that it required that many, but there were certain oddball wrenches such as the one to remove the flywheel assembly. It couldn't be done without it. This was no ordinary day, heading to the workshop. Dad had promised me an absolute super experience! I WAS GOING TO TAKE A MOTOR APART! If only he had known how long I had waited for this moment! He probably knew. I could hardly hide my enthusiasm.

There were two steps up to the door of the shop, and dad told me he took my hand so I wouldn't fall flat on my face in my eagerness to get at the motor, sitting there on a low bench. What a beautiful sight. There was this model T motor all covered with grease and gunk, beckoning for me to start taking it apart. While I stood there virtually mesmerized, staring with profound admiration at this hunk of grubby metal, dad went outside for an armful of wood, why I don't know. I certainly wasn't cold. I just wanted to get at the motor and all this preparation didn't make a big impression. The fire in the airtight heater, which was located in what used to be the kitchen, was crackling and the room was starting to warm up when dad stepped back into the workshop half which formerly used to be a living, bedroom area. It was larger, better suited and safer, as gasoline was sometimes used for soaking parts; further away from the stove. My enthusiastic attempt at cleaning away the gunk around the pan bolts probably subsided somewhat when I discovered the darn stuff was stuck on like concrete. When the screwdriver I was wielding seemed to make no impression on the stuff, dad suggested that a small hammer would help it along. That worked better till I hit my finger. But I wouldn't cry! Not a chance! This project was too important to jeopardize it with a trivial show of emotion. Throughout the morning, and again after lunch dad worked on the motor until the afternoon light faded, when we called it a day and went back to the house. Dad and grandpa went to the barn to do the milking and other chores. Grandma got the washbasin and a bar of laundry soap while I proudly explained how I had helped dad dismantle the motor. Somehow I don't think she was too impressed. The grease and oil all over me was something else to wash off. I'm sure poor old grandma had better things to do than spend time scrubbing up a dirty kid who suddenly thought he was a mechanic. While I remember a lot of the foregoing fairly well, dad filled me in on a lot of the fine details. Many times he told me how he'd

loosened all the bolts on the motor so I could take it apart, and by the time I was about eight I knew single every part on a T model engine, and exactly where they went, down to the cotter pins. There was one story dad used to tell although I can't recall it. Two neighbors came over one day and one of them wanted to know how to get the three triple gears in the transmission onto the pins on the flywheel, when there was no room in the flywheel recess for your fingers to hold them. I told him that was easy. Place them in position then tie them in place with a string and slide the whole assembly onto the flywheel. He looked at me and remarked if I thought he was damned stupid or something, so I shut up. When dad showed up he asked him how to do it. Dad explained how to place the gears in position then tie a string firmly around them... It was about this time the other fellow started to laugh. "See," he said. "You should have listened to the kid." Dad said it was about this time that I took off. The last thing you did was to get in trouble with the whole neighborhood. I can't remember how many times this story was told over the years, when the subject of model T's came up. Dad must have felt a special pride in telling this, although to me it meant little as I had very little recollection of it. Good heavens! What was so complicated about assembling a model `T' transmission? At this point, I think I'll move onto a different subject, and periodically flash back to the old workshop with the hundreds of hours of pleasure it gave me.

OFF TO SCHOOL As you may have gathered from the first part of the story the winters were just horrific, and unless you were close to the school most kids didn't start until they were seven, or close to that. We were three miles from the school and it was an awful cold walk when the temperature went below zero with the wind blowing.

Dad had a 1920 Ford touring car at that time; canvas top--side curtains with celluloid panels for windows. Only time you'll see one of them now, is in some old black and white movie, or a vintage car parade. Dad often took me to school in the morning, and if it were cold would pick me up in the afternoon. But he couldn’t always be there for me and I remember many a time I would cry all the way home. It made no difference how many clothes I had on, in fact, too many clothes made walking too hard. A mackinaw was nice and warm, but very heavy. There was one trick we used. If you had two sweaters on, put a newspaper between them. I can remember to this day how that stopped the wind from blowing through. But this was a way of life that everyone accepted. Some of the kids had a horse and even a cutter. (A small sled pulled by one horse). But I usually had to walk, as the high ‘mucky mucks with the cutter’ lived on the other side of the school. But I didn't mind walking when the weather was tolerable. About halfway and not far off the road, was the Anderson farm where I would often stop for a short warm-up. Not long though, or grandma would worry herself sick if I wasn't home by six, when school let out at four. I never fully appreciated that until I got much older. She was such a dear old soul. But there was a wee little fly in the ointment about making a pit stop at the Andersons. While the Andersons were among the nicest people on the planet, they had a son, probably about thirty, with only one arm. Several years prior, he'd had a nearly fatal accident while duck hunting. At that time he owned a 12-gauge hammer type shotgun, which he kept at the ready in front of him in the rowboat. He hurriedly pulled it toward him and the hammer caught the edge of the seat and discharged, mangling his left arm just below the shoulder. Apparently he almost bled to death by the time he got help. For stupid little me this was just too horrible. I had never even heard of a person with one arm, and even if he was the nice

person that he really was, I was terribly scared of him. The thought of running into him at the farm made me go by many a time when I should have stopped in to warm up. Bessi. That was his name. (the i pronounced like in sit). A lot of people referred to him as One Arm Bessi. That was hardly necessary; everyone knew who Bessi was. He was the only `Bessi' in that whole country! An impish spirit supposedly often preceded Steve Anderson, Bessi’s dad. When he went somewhere, strange happenings had just taken place minutes before he arrived. A lot of Icelandic people thought little of this and my grandparents were no exception. I had heard of such things as far back as I can remember. There was one other major problem that faced me when I started school. I knew very little English, and I can remember how my poor teacher was always so patient with me. But often when she was really backed into a corner some of the other kids would translate. They may not have let on, but I suspect they were secretly amused while the teacher, being only about 19, and fresh out of normal school was probably quite embarrassed. Normal, as it was always referred to in those days was one more year after grade 12 to focus mostly on specific teaching requirements, and upon completion, these girls (they were mostly about twenty) would take on one of the small country schools that were scattered across the prairies. Board and room for forty a month! But in those days the people on the prairie were genuinely grateful to get a teacher. A lot of them had very little education, so this was probably their greatest wish fulfilled, to see their kids get a good education, which most of them did, especially after the first war when times were good and an education was affordable. But for many, the stock market crash in the fall of '29 spelled the end of a meaningful career when the whole country was thrown into the depression of the thirties. Teaching had to be one of the most popular professions for young women; grade 12 was available at most of the schools but

the final exams were usually written in Winnipeg, and mandatory if you finished grade 12 at a school where there was a first year teacher, which was mostly the case at our school, it being so small. After graduating you were on your way. One more year and you might earn board and room and 40 a month. Good wages in the thirties with a lot of potential teaching spots. There were no buses in those days, so numerous one room schools were to be found all over the prairies. I hated school! But I loved the teacher. I would much rather be home developing some earthshaking idea although as soon as I got a handle on the English language, new avenues began to open up and I no longer had to depend on grandma to read something to me in Icelandic, not that she wasn't good at it. Now when I look back I can really appreciate how well she could read? She had never been inside a school to the best of my knowledge. Every afternoon when I got home a full report on the days progress was expected. Sometimes an accurate report was given. Other times things were left out that probably were better left unsaid. If one of the kids happened to throw a snake in the door I seldom mentioned that. Grandma had no use for snakes. I usually told dad about this for a good chuckle. Of course I never did such things. Might get the strap. Us kids used to take our turn at raising the flag every morning, usually with fair success. The flag was tied to the rope and hoisted to the top of the pole. On a windy day a knot might come loose and the flag would dangle on one tie. If the teacher saw this, she would make the culprit responsible go out and fix it. Couldn't have that! Disrespect to the King! (King George the fifth.) Even worse was if you got stupid and hung the flag upside down. The wide white border must be at the top, at the tie. I recall pulling this boo-boo a couple of times and was sent back out to haul the flag down and change it. Somehow I can't recall telling anyone about that! It was bad enough to look stupid at school without spreading the word at home.

HAYING TIME I was about eight, when I started to help with the haying, and then in a very limited capacity. Running errands from the house to the field, fetching little things from the house for someone in the field; a wrench or an oilcan that were forgotten in the morning rush. About ten in the morning, and three in the afternoon, a onegallon Rogers syrup pail filled with coffee, was taken to the field, along with some goodies, like doughnuts or a plate full of lummas. I rather liked this chore, always ending up having coffee with the crew. A lumma is a thin hotcake (probably no added baking powder) the full size of the frying pan. It’s sprinkled with brown sugar, rolled up tight and then cut in half. Piled high on a large oblong plate. Delicious. Now you know! It was somewhere about this time that I started to do a little bit of serious work in the field; I got involved in was raking a small field with a ten foot trip rake. It was not too easy for me to reach the trip lever without the danger of falling off, which was suicide, as you would be rolled around under the rake, smothered in the hay if the horse didn't stop. The old mare pulling the rake however, knew one word best and that was "Whoa" so I might have been safer than I thought I was. But I had a way of playing it pretty safe. The seat was supported by a flat piece of steel about two inches wide, and by tying a belt around this and over my lap I felt fairly secure. I should add the hierarchy approved of this early version seat belt. About the only time I had second thoughts about the seat belt, was the time I raked up a hornet’s nest. Now that was one time old Ruby took off. She vaulted into a dead gallop and never slowed down till she had the rake jammed into the scrub poplars at the far end of the field. Fortunately, I'd had the brains to trip the rake somewhere along the way, so the bees’ nest was gone. I think I got stung a couple of times along the way, and about then I would have jumped off, if I could have got my seat belt unbuckled. But in

retrospect I'm kind of glad I didn't, as I probably would have hurt myself, besides, a captain never abandons ship! There was one thing about that incident I couldn't understand. How could the boys mow the field without stirring up the bees’ nest! Nobody explained that or admitted knowing anything about it; one of the strange happenings on the farm that you never seem to get a handle on. Before I go to a different subject, I want to elaborate a little more about old Ruby. She was a lazy old Clydesdale, evidently a good horse for kids to work with, but I would add to that, unless you were in front of her and not looking. Yes, I made that mistake-- once! When I leaned over to pick up something, she took that golden opportunity to bite my ass, and boy, let me tell you, that hurt! I think it was about a week before I got close to a chair. While the front end of that old mare was dangerous, the back end was a bit annoying. I never saw a horse that could fart like that old critter. So help me, I swear to this day that every third step she took, was accompanied by a fart. Mind you, that was no big issue, except when you were working into the wind. Must have been the lump sugar I used to give her. So much for Ruby! But there was another horse on the farm that I really liked. That was June, a beautiful black Belgian Percheron that belonged to dad. (at least he said she was) She was always half of a team, either on the mower or the sweep or the large trip rake, 'cause she was a very good worker. The larger rake was used for bunching the windrow, and required a team. I'll explain this in better. When I got old Ruby mobile, we would start at the outside of the mowed field and when the rake filled up I would trip it. This would start the windrow. Next time around I would trip it in the same place, and the windrow grew longer. But then as the circle grew smaller, the rows got closer together so you skip one, and so forth, till the field was done. Then the big rake was used to bunch it up. The team would straddle the windrow, raking it into bunches, till the whole field

was full of miniature haystacks about four feet high to be picked up by the sweep. The sweep was like a huge fork, usually about twelve feet wide with teeth about eight feet long and ten or so inches apart. They were made from small poles, or bought 2x3’s, which were bolted to a double spaced frame at the back so they were rigid. There was also a rack at the back and a pole on the sides to stop the hay from spilling over, and to serve as a guide for the horse. Wheels were mounted underneath a little back of center to raise the back, and still let the front nose along the ground. The ends of the tines were rounded and tipped with sheet metal so they wouldn't be so apt to dig into the ground. Nose caps of steel could also be had if you wanted to make it look posh, and pay the price. A horse would be hitched to a singletree, mounted to a bracket on each side of the sweep. A rein would go to the outside of the bit on each horse, and a thin rope would go between them, which would pass over the bunches being picked up. Some of the horses would adapt to this hookup much better than others, as it was a tricky operation. Where the ground was flat and even, it was easy, but often a tine would hit a bump by a gopher hole and start to dig in, and sometimes break. There were many times I can remember when one horse had to be unhitched to pull the sweep back and get the tine out of the ground. This may sound odd but when those things got stuck, they really got stuck. Maybe the gopher got in a snit and held on to the end! But things usually went pretty well. Yet, even when I was fourteen, I seldom worked on the sweep. More experienced hands were available, but I didn't mind! Best someone else get the blame for any broken tines. The stacker was the next step, in order to get all the hay together into a stack that would survive the winter. There were many types around but I suppose dad wasn't too keen on most of them so he made his own; designed it so well that he made several for other farmers close by.

It consisted of a frame and cables, several pulleys to increase the lifting power and a rack on the end to receive the hay, from where it was lifted to a height where it would slide off onto the stack. Building the stack required knack that not everyone was good at it. There was a man on the stack; he would step to one side when the stacker dumped the load. If he got careless he would almost get buried, or worse he might be thrown off balance and fall to the ground, which happened to dad once and he broke a collarbone. The stacker man would fork the hay to the sides so they would build straight up or even a little more than that so the stack was a bit wider in the center. When the stack was about ten feet high, the sides were gradually brought in till the top ended up nicely rounded. A good stacker man was fussy about the top of the stack. It had to look nice! That spoke of good workmanship, and a well-built stack would shed water so there was very little spoilage from rain or melting snow in the spring. By the end of summer there were many of these in the field, ensuring a good winter supply of feed for the animals. If the crop was poor, and there were those years, or there were sometime losses from bad weather in which case the herd was sometime reduced, but mostly only young stock, sometimes prematurely. During the haying season there was often neighbor helping neighbor with both men and machines, which was about the only way they could get all the hay in without hiring a lot of extra help which was often hard to find on short notice, and usually ill afforded; it worked well! When the depression started in 1929, things began to change. Dad seldom found work on the construction projects as most of them were winding down to become nonexistent in a year or so. He helped grandpa run the farm for a while but there was an ever-present problem. Dad was very innovative and liked to improve on everything to make the place more efficient, while grandpa wasn’t too keen on make any changes.

This resulted in a lot of friction; I suppose dad got fed up, also the farm was no longer making any money, so he pulled up stakes and headed for B.C. But he didn't go there directly. He worked for George Murray for a year or two; The Murray Ranch, close to Red Deer, and then headed toward Cranbrook, where he staked a placer claim on either Perry creek, or Fish creek, just out of Yak, B.C. He worked that for a couple of years then headed to the coast in his old ford, making it over the mountain passes in one piece. I never saw him till 1938, when I moved to Vancouver. With dad gone west things didn't get any easier, but he would send a few bucks when he had some to spare, even when he worked the claim and made only about two dollars a day he often had some to send. Even ten bucks a month made a lot of difference, and it was probably as much as the farm made in that time in those days, so my keep was more than paid, not that this was ever an issue. Getting hired help was no problem during the depression. Everyone was out of a job, and the government would even pay a farmer five bucks a month to take a hired man and let him work for his board and room. Many of the farmers would take advantage of this, but not gramps. He might have, but not grandma. No way would she have some stranger living in the house. Poor old grandma was paranoid about strangers; in fact she was paranoid about a lot of things. Not to be trusted! Might get murdered in her sleep! And to further complicate things they couldn't speak Icelandic. This was really too bad as I always thought those problems were exaggerated. I could by this time translate perfectly, but of course I wouldn't always be there. I'd be at school, or where I couldn't be found if I was needed. I'm going to dwell a minute longer on grandma's paranoia about strangers. This was when I was about nine, and when I look back on it, it's almost funny, although at the time it probably wasn't, at least for grandma. A young Frenchman, a friend of dads, came to see him about something. This was in winter and dad was out in the bush

cutting wood a fair ways to the west of the house where the trees were bigger. I tried to explain where he was, but the Frenchman had great trouble understanding my directions, so I offered to take him there. When grandma clued in on this she just about flipped. The young fellow was carrying a 22 rifle, and grandma was so worried that he would shoot me in the back that she made me promise to walk behind him and tell him how to get there as we went along. If I remember right I humored her till we were out of sight from the house. If he'd been an Icelander there would have been no problem even if he'd been lugging a cannon. She was such a dear old soul!

AT THE LAKE Little Shoal Lake was about half a mile from the house, and when I was old enough to be trusted out of sight, I would sneak down there to play. After the ice was gone off the lake, I would spend hours just watching the ducks come and go, and all the mating and nest building started. Even with the constant squawking and quacking, sometime almost approaching a roar, it was such a peaceful place. That may seem hard to understand, but with noise where it belongs in nature, it can still be the most peaceful place on earth. Those ducks, hundreds of them, all so involved in whatever they were doing paid no attention to me, even if I was only a stones throw away. I would eagerly watch for their return every spring. But I was never alone when I was there. Seppi, my old dog was always close by, a border collie that dad had given to him about the time I was born. "Seppi". With the i pronounced like in sit. Not an uncommon name for an Icelandic dog. And he understood only Icelandic. You could swear at him all day in English and it made no impression, but cuss at him in Icelandic and he would go off somewhere and sulk.

But he was a good old dog; something I never appreciated when I was a kid. I was often mean to him but he never cared. Now while I’m editing this paragraph I’m wondering if Seppi is watching me from a dog heaven like he watched over me then so I could ask him to forgive me for the way I treated him; thank him for dogging my tracks wherever I went; lay beside me down by the lake. The ducks were used to him. I suppose he didn't look enough like a coyote, which would have been a different story. There was an old wooden canoe half buried in the deep grass at the edge of the lake; been there for years; pretty dilapidated. Not rotten, or it would have been useless, but the boards were getting loose on the ribs and the caulking had fallen out. The thin bottom boards had been nailed with blued shingle nails to thin oak ribs, a good feature on a ship of such importance; oak didn’t rot. But most of the nails were in two parts; most of it still in the rib; the rest long gone. But all was not lost! I knew that if the boards were sound, where ribs were solid, there was hope. After eyeing it for a couple of years I determined to fix it up. I was now about ten, and a strong kid so I had no trouble getting the canoe onto a couple of sawhorses I had lugged down to the lake in great anticipation. I scraped the bottom clean, then I must have used hundreds of nails to secure the boards to the ribs, and luckily there were lots of nails in dads workshop; he always told me to use all the nails I needed anything I was doing, so I didn't spare them. Then I turned the ship over and clinched the nails on the inside. It was probably one of the crudest shipbuilding ventures in history, but the bottom was nailed on, and I mean really nailed on. Wonder it didn't sink from the sheer weight. But there was more to be done. There were cracks between the boards you could throw the cat through. Here is where grandmas box of rags entered the picture. I probably didn't elaborate too much on what I wanted them for or she would have had visions of me struggling for air at the bottom of the lake, but I managed to con her out of enough to caulk the bottom.

But this was not all! Water would still seep through unless the rags were impregnated with pitch, and as luck would have it there was plenty of that in dads workshop. The pitch was in large chunks that had to be melted in order to apply it, but I knew of another way that was easier. I got a small axe and chipped away at the large block till I had a generous amount, about a gallon of small pieces. Then, hunting through the scrap iron pile I found a leaf from a ford front spring. Then, with an armful if dry sticks, I was in business. I built a small fire close to the boat where I could heat the spring.. The boat was bottom up on the horses so I could spread the little pieces of pitch along a seam that was caulked with rags. When the iron was almost red-hot I ran it over the pitch till it melted and bubbled, then by working it around and into the rags they became saturated, almost perfectly watertight. I must have sneaked down there and worked at this for days, but in due time I had it waterproof, or close to it. For the first crucial test I lifted `Seppi' in then dragged the canoe into the water, pushed it through the reeds to a bit deeper water, then climbed in and just sat there while Seppi and I looked at each other. He looked so worried; I could almost read his thoughts. “I’m a Border Collie, Jon, not a Water Spaniel.” I don't know how long I sat there but just to realize that I had the canoe actually afloat, was an awesome feeling I can't describe. But I didn't have any oars. They were probably somewhere in the workshop. So I climbed out of the canoe and `Seppi' out the other side. I just left it there! It couldn't go anywhere being completely hem in by the reeds, which were at least two feet out of the water. When I got to shore, which was only about twenty feet, `Seppi' greeted me by shaking water all over me, and we headed back to the house. But not directly! Beside the trail was a large black oak tree with a hole in the side about three feet of the ground. Dad said there had been a limb there one time that died and rotted away. Through the efforts of a very ambitious little `Downy’ woodpecker, the rotted

limb had been removed and the trunk hollowed down a ways to accommodate her nest. This super deluxe hardwood apartment was used every year by Mrs. Downy, perhaps the same one, I don't know, and it was like a fortress against all intruders. Except me! By using a piece of broken mirror I could spy on the tenants in the oak apartment, except old Mrs. Downy, who took off with a great flutter when I approached the tree. And it made no difference how I tried to sneak up on her she'd know I was there! But I was mean to her! Truly the mean little kid! I would shove a small stick in the hole and then retreat to a safe distance and watch her chop at it. When I'd relished in her misery for a while, I'd go over and remove the stick. I never made it impossible for her, just difficult. It was probably the next weekend before I got back to the boat, but by this time I had found the oars and Seppi and I headed down to the lake. I coaxed him into the boat, then by poling it through the reeds we were in clear water, much to Seppis consternation. He just wasn't cut out for the high seas. Nothing dangerous though! There was a patch of clear water about twenty feet wide but fairly long as this was an arm of water running parallel with the large lake. I could have paddled along to the larger lake as it was clear going but I never had the nerve to try it. It was a little too deep for my liking when I couldn't swim. Besides, if I got caught out there, all hell would break loose and this sailor would quickly become a landlubber. The only way to navigate through the reeds was by poling. I had a nice light pole about eight feet long, and by standing in the boat I could push it along very nicely. But this became very difficult as spring moved into summer and the reeds got tall and heavy, by which time the whole thing wasn't so exciting any more. But not before the ducks nested! I would pole the boat around and look at all the nests, mostly big old mallards. When the eggs were laid, I would pick them up and look at them. This was easy as the nest was built on a bunch of reeds that Mrs. Duck

had doubled over just above the water, or better still, on a solid clump of old dead reeds that would hold up the nest. Save a lot of work! Now this was just the right height for snoopy kid to meddle with it. I used to count the eggs as time went along and test them in a straw hat to see how old they were. Easy! Place the eggs in a straw hat and lower it into the water. The eggs that turned on end would soon hatch. The ones that didn't move were fresh, or duds. I’d carefully place them back and pole away a short distance. Mrs. Duck would sneak back in a few minutes without making a sound and climb on the nest, while the nosey kid went back to shore. Every one was happy, the kid, Seppi, to be back on dry land, and especially Mrs. Duck! She was rid of the nosey intruder. “I was the mean widdle kid that haunted Shoal Lake”

TRAIL BEHIND WORKSHOP Just west of dads workshop was a small pond, a favorite for getting my feet wet, being a little deeper than many others around the farm, but between it and the workshop was narrow road that led through the woods; gradually petered out to a trail leading to the north end of the lake. Actually the road ended up where the winter firewood was cut and then went nowhere. I often went this way when I went for the mail, being a little shorter than by the road. Twice a week the mail came in, Wednesday the free press weekly showed up, usually for sure. Saturday it was potluck! Not like today when three days collection of garbage mail would call for a wheelbarrow to get it home.

Grandma always asked me to go by the road, not the bush trail; there might be bears in the bush that might get me, and bears were never to be found on the road. Ha! I never told her they were usually out by the road looking for berries at the sunny roadside. Besides if I went by the road I would pass by Gunderson’s house and I could say Hi. They had two girls and a boy a bit older than I was. This was okay but when I got home I had to repeat every syllable that was spoken at Gunderson’s for her ears to savor. All very boring! But understandable, she never got away from the farm that was a lot more boring. The younger of the girls was about my age and we got along like ham and eggs. Sometime she would walk with me to the post office, which was about another mile further on, and she was cool. We’d talk about lots of things. I'm not sure but I seem to recall her name was Nina, a common name for Icelandic girls. The i pronounced like in sit. The older girl wasn't as friendly as Nina. Being older she probably felt superior and wiser so best not bother with us younger kids. She was a bit on the fat side and this may well have bothered her. Never know! Norman, the oldest kid was about four years older than I was, a very quiet and very likable lad that kept to himself. I would always stop and talk for a moment if he was outside, and one time I recall in particular he called me into the house to show me a 22 rifle he'd just got, probably a mail order from Eaton’s. Most things came from there. What has always stuck in my mind about that, was not the rifle but the way he held it. I have never ever since seen anyone that could hold a rifle so steady as Norman. I'll bet it never wavered more than a thousand of an inch. But they moved away about a year before we left the farm, probably just as well. I think Nina liked me although at the time this didn't mean much to me. I was not very interested in her. Missed the boat, I guess. There was one other thing that comes to mind. When they moved and had all the furniture loaded into a big lumber wagon,

Mr. Gunderson tied the load down very securely and when the horses tried to pull it, nothing happened! They couldn't move it! He'd tied the ropes to the wheels! I enjoyed taking the bush road though; it had some intriguing spots I usually checked! Just past dads workshop the road went by a big rock pile, and that was always worth checking out. Perhaps a snake! Or a gopher! One time I tried to catch a snake in there with the help of`Seppi' of course, but that scheme was forgotten when I caught my finger under a rock I was moving. Yeah, it hurt! Farther along the road, through the woods and off to the side a little, ways was partridge rock. It was about four feet high and stuck out of the ground like a wedge, and partridges, or sometimes called fool hens, loved to sit on it and preen themselves and flap their wings, which made the strangest sound. They started flapping slowly, then faster and faster, till the flapping petered out. This performance lasted about two or three seconds, to be repeated every few minutes. These fool hens came by the name quiet honestly. When they started roosting in the treetops, usually about dusk, I often went under the tree and shot them with a 22, usually through the head. One would fall, the others would look around and when I didn't move, they would settle back, and I'd get another one, I seldom bothered with more than three---enough for a pot of soup. But they weren't all that good, especially late in the fall when they must have been on a diet of willow bark; they sure tasted bitter as hell. I must take this opportunity to elaborate on the 22. I found a barrel from an old rifle and decided it would make one fine piece of artillery. The model T ford sparkplug could be unscrewed in the middle and the porcelain removed. I filed the barrel till the small threaded part slid over it then using a ball peen hammer, I secured it in place. Half the breach! The larger part that screwed into the motor block was the other half!

By placing a small stick like a burned match against the rim of an empty casing shoved in place in the barrel, then pouring it full of lead, I had my breach made and all that remained was to remove the match that provide a hole for the firing pin. A twoinch nail filled the bill for that. Next a stock was carved with an axe and a wood rasp, a groove cut out to hold the barrel, which was securely anchored with top quality haywire. Behind the breach was a spring-loaded bolt that was held in the cocked position by another nail through the bottom of the stock and activated by small piece of heavy tin, shaped at right angles for a trigger. A continuous strip of inner tube wrapped under the stock and over the barrel of this delicate assembly, plus of course a trigger guard out of a piece of tin, precisely placed and anchored with two roofing nails into the stock, completed this magnificent firearm. Jake Ho! Pull back the bolt, and the nail jumped up to locked it in place. Unscrew the breach...dig in you pocket...find a round...shove it in the barrel...screw the breach together...take aim ??? Where did that fool hen go---there she is! Take aim---pull the trigger. CLUNK. Oh, oh. Firing pin fell out...no problem! Whole pocket full, for this emergency...pull bolt...replace firing pin...take aim...pull trigger. ‘BANG' What the heck! Bullet must have hit a limb; the hen was still snoring away in the same place. Oh well, didn't really want to shoot her anyway. There was one minor design flaw...the empty casing had to be extracted with a pocketknife, otherwise this whole exercise could be completed in less than ten minutes. As a follow-up to this project, I made a pistol with about a six inch barrel where the basic difference was that the barrel unscrewed making it more convenient to load and reload, also after some detailed research I found that by putting rubber cement around the firing pin it wouldn't fall out, but had ample

movement; a great technical advance. Damn wonder I didn't kill myself. I must add one thing more. When I served in the army during the war I had the opportunity to watch the big coast guns being fired and when I saw how the breach worked my heart skipped a beat. The dirty beggars stole my idea! And improved on it by cutting away some of the threads so it slid in place and locked with a quarter turn! Now why didn't I think of that? I could have cut firing time by at least a minute. But for a twelve year old I didn't do too badly. Somewhere in his travels, dad acquired an old rifle. If it wasn’t salvaged from the civil war it was at least from the 1800 hundreds; might have been some old thing cooked up by Winchester....'cept the breach was a bit different than say a 30 30. It was a lever action though which operated a round bolt that slid back allowing the round to be lifted from the magazine to be loaded in when the bolt came forward. Like the 30 30, except for the round bolt. What a cannon! The barrel was hexagon steel; hard rock drillstock with the air hole enlarged. The whole thing was just plain big. Dad thought it might be a 40/60, and bought a box of shells, but they didn't seem to fit, so they sat on the shelf until one day, when the nosey kid decided to see if they would work. Ah, yes! I tried the bullet in the end of the barrel, and found it would slide into it with no difficulty, so therefore it would come through the barrel, it seemed a little loose but so what! I wasn't going moose hunting. I lugged this gem of artillery through the bush to partridge rock; tied it securely to a couple of poplars with bailing wire. Binder twine was tied to the trigger and spooled out about fifty feet to a safe vantage point behind a clump of trees. A shell was nervously placed in the chamber and the lever pulled up, the breach was locked, the cannon loaded. Commence firing when ready!

I made certain `Seppi' was not in the line of fire, and then yanked on the string. "POP" That was it?! Where was that loud bang that was supposed to happen? I went over to the cannon and ejected the casing--the bullet was no longer in it. I blew in the barrel and it was clear, so the bullet must have gone out the end. This needs further research. I went back to the shop and found a large piece of cardboard; set up about twenty feet away, and then repeated the whole performance. But the target didn't have a mark on it, so I figured the bullet must have fallen out of the barrel somewhere into the leaves. I looked but I couldn't find it, so I scrubbed the whole experiment and snuck the cannon back into the house when the coast was clear. Best this whole exercise remain under wraps; too many questions. While on the subject of guns, weapons, and other deadly inventions one of the things this kid dreamed up was using a pipe about two feet long with about a quarter inch bore, mounted on a rifle stock. A strong rubber band was secured to the front of the pipe, and went around the back of the pipe, then by using a heavy gauge wire about a foot long or more the rubber band would propel it through the pipe; a guided missile; accurate to almost ten feet. This worked well till the day I pulled it back too far and the wire came out of the pipe and went through my coat sleeve. Discard immediately! Unsafe device. Burn any drawings should they fall into the wrong hands. But slingshots! Never leave home without one! There was lot of red willow along the frog ponds around the farm, and I remember spending many an hour getting my feet wet to get just the right willow for a perfect slingshot. Then a strip from an inner tube and a piece from and old boot would do the rest. In the summer an ample supply of stones could be had for ammunition, but not so in the winter. Buckets of carefully selected pebbles were gathered before the snow came and put away in the blacksmith shop. Never run out of ammo!

A bow and a few arrows were always somewhere on hand, but these were never as good as I would have liked as I never seemed to find very good wood to make the bow from. Also to find a perfectly straight piece for an arrow seemed next to impossible. When I tell my young friends I never had bought toys; I made my own from things around the farm, they think I’m kidding. “But Jon, there couldn’t have been much around the farm to play with?” “Yeah---right.”