With files from The Keeper of the Scrapbooks — Christina ‘tina’ Camelon Buchanan — Thanks to Diane Juby— click here..
In the fall of 1929 the threshing mill was trundled down to the 6th line and would be set up for an early start next morning. From the window of our little stone house I watched it as this was something else new for me in this new land. Oh, I had seen them from the roadside, hear the chuff of the old steam engine and the cough of the mill as a tougher sheaf was teased and pounded in its innards and the black coal-smoke was thrust upwards into the sunshine.
Tomorrow, I would be part of it and perhaps meet a lad of my own age. The next few days showed me a different world; peole laughed and joked, played pranks on each other. A young man would remove his shirt as he warmed to his chores. When the noon whistle blew, he would find his shirt tied in a dozen knots and 10 or 15 feetof binder twine around it for good measure. He would come to the table with a sheepish grin, to the roars of merriment from his friends.
Oh the food! I had read of feasts where the table ground from the bounty it held. Yes, it was true– it did happen. Crisp white tablecloths gleamed like snow– two or three kinds of meat, beansm thick dark gravy and such an array of pickles. The women, many from nearby farms, pressed food onto everyone from every angle. Then when you knew you just could not take another bite, in came the pies! Apple raisin, pumpkin and blueberry. How could we do justice to these too? Well, we did somehow.
So dinner over, we would sneak a few minutes in the sun, and I would listen fascinated to the stories and tall tales which I found out would often be repeated the following day at other farms, but no one seemed to mind. I’d go back to that stone house each night, tired dirty and full for at least another day.
The house knew little laughter, held not an atom of happiness for me. The sneering voiceof my employer calling me ‘ the bloody englishman” in his poor attempt at the English accent he thought was funny. Little wonder I hurried through those early morning milkings those mornings and waseager tog et back to threshing.
I recalled a wrinkled gnome of a man who was a great favourite at the threshings. His Irish voice was a joy to hear each day and his speech enthralled me. At noon one day he was really getting ribbed,and I pieced the story together eventually.
The hired girlwho lived on the farm where Billy worked was courting Sam from the nearby farm.What Billy siad to her reamined unsaid but Sam came over and gave Billy a black eye. The thresing gang were egging him on to tellhow he got the black eye.
Billy cleared his throat a couple of times, looked at his waiting audience and began,
“It wus loike this, Oy wuz lighting me poipe and had me poipein one hand and me terbaccy in the other. Now I ask ye whut else could oy do but let Sam lick me”
A wonderful little man he was BIlly Boswell and I know that St. Peter will miss something special if he doesn’t find a spot for him there. I see the huge red combines eat their way around the grainfields. A roar, a clatter, the tall grain totters, is engulfed and disgorged.It is over and done with just like that.