Even though I had been recommended to pass at Point Grey Junior High School, it was conditional that I attend classes at Langley High for the last ten days of Grade nine! What a waste of time. I had to walk a mile to the school bus, then a five mile drive to the school. This late in the term nothing was happening anyway, but I did get to meet some of the kids.
I remember that first Christmas at Langley. I was sixteen! Clendon gave me a 24 bass accordion. Turned out later he bought it on time… a man came to our house to repossess it, and dad had to pay what was still owing on it!
When I was seventeen I was asked to play in a band… in fact, to be the band… a drummer and me! I was petrified…. But I did it!
Saturday night at the Otter Community Hall they held a whist drive and dance. Whist from 8 to 10, dancing 10 to 12. The drummer was an older man… Stan Wright. He was a customs officer at the Lynden border, near Abbotsford. The fellow that had played accordion with him had moved away, and they would have had to cancel the dances unless I agreed to play.
Mom and dad would go and play whist (me too) and then they stayed and watched the dancing. I soon found out that if I made a mistake in the notes it didn’t really matter as long as I kept the beat! No one noticed if I played the wrong note, but they sure noticed if I changed the beat!
Sometimes someone would bring a fiddle and join us on stage, and then, sometimes, I would get to have a dance. Stan and I were paid one dollar each for each hour we played, so we made two dollars for playing two hours!
One weekend we played at a banquet and dance in Murrayville for three hours ( and had a free dinner) on Friday, then two hours at Otter on Saturday. I made five dollars!
The money I made went towards my clothes. I bought material and made them. We didn’t have a sewing machine… Mom had given hers to Lena when we moved back from the Cariboo. Mrs. Apps, who lived a quarter of a mile from us, let me use her sewing machine at her place. I’d cut out, pin and baste as much as I could, then walk to her place and sew… and then repeat the process until it was finished!
Then I saved up enough money to buy my first store bought NEW coat. Bergundy! Beautiful! I had worn hand me down coats ever since we moved to Beaver Valley. That coat felt so wonderful! I sure was proud of it!
Girls wore a skirt and blouse, or a dress, with maybe a sweater to school. Boys wore long pants… not denims like today’s jeans. Saddle shoes were the “in” thing…. but they didn’t come in my width of Triple A.
Boy, do I ever jump around… I hope you can follow me!
Getting back tto Langley. We had five Jersey milk cows and we shipped milk to the Fraser Valley Milk Producers Association. (FVMPA) I helped dad milk the cows, but if he wasn’t feeling well I had to milk all five of them… by hand. Then I would have to clean the barn before walking a mile and a quarter to catch the school bus.
Dad had fifteen acres, and we grew our own hay and grain. I helped with the harvesting of both crops. We had half an acre in strawberries and I also picked berries at one of the local “patches.” The most I was ever able to pick was 147 pounds, for jam, which meant we had to hull them as we picked. I got $1.47 for that lot. One cent a pound! We had some chickens and we also raised a few pigs.