April 17, 2003

Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Mrs. Tilton makes a point in the comments to a previous post:

I think the religious should not be shy about being seen as religious, and I would hope the influence of their belief upon their lives might prompt non-believers to wonder whether there might be something to all that. But intrusive crawthumping is not only offensive in itself; it's also likely to drive away non-believers who might not otherwise have been driven away. Note the difference in style between Tony Blair and George Bush, both committed Christians. One can disapprove of both (and for many of the same reasons); but Bush's religiosity puts Christianity in a bad light in a way that Blair's does not.
I agree entirely. Religious people should not shy away being recognised as such. No one should have to hide who and what they are. Not just in matters of religion, but in all aspects of identity. That is an important part of what substantial freedom, as opposed to legalistic freedom, should mean. And this has some bearing on today's instalment from Grandpa.

This part of Grandpa's story has been much harder for me to put together than any of the others and has taken up much of my free time for the last few days. In part, it's because this instalment is longer than any of the others. It covers almost fifteen years at once, from 1929 to approximately the end of 1943. Grandpa's memory of this period is much better, and he recounts a lot of bits about his childhood in Saskatchewan, many of them out of order and spread across several parts of his voluminous memoirs. Reassembling them into a single narrative has been difficult, and I fear less than totally successful.

In the previous parts that I've posted, Grandpa occasionally digresses into highly religious material, which I have largely cut. It isn't really necessary and it impedes the flow of the narrative. I have only discussed religion in order to make sense of Mennonite history. And - I remind my readers - Mennonites have traditionally been people who refused to serve in armies. For many of them, thou shalt not kill is not followed by unless your draft board tells you to. This will be important in understanding the last part.

In writing this section, I have had to give some thought to how to handle religion, because starting here I can no longer treat it as secondary to the narrative. For basically the whole of his adult life, my Grandfather was devoted to his church - the Mennonite Brethren Church - and to God. If I were to try to tell you about his life and ignore this central fact about him, I would not be doing him justice. I would be denying his identity in exactly the manner that I refuse to do to other people and that I try not to do to myself.

This leads me into a quandary. I have not exactly asked the rest of my family for permission to do this on my blog. I don't know if any of them are reading me here. At some point - in fact in my next instalment - I will have to face the issue of how I handle Grandpa talking about the people who are still alive: his wife and his children. For the moment though, I have to ask myself how I should handle Grandpa's most personal experiences, particularly, his highly personal religious experiences. I am sure that if Grandpa were alive, he would not want me to distort or minimise the extremely important religious component of his life.

There is a story told in Sunday Schools about three great missionaries in Heaven. The first one says to the second, "I brought a whole nation to God. How many did you convert?" The second one says "I brought thousands of men to God," and then turns to the third and asks, "How many did you convert?" The last man says, "One." If his story makes anyone's faith just a little stronger, I think Grandpa would say it was worth it. If it doesn't, well, it may grate the ears of some, but this is still who my Grandfather was.

The topic of evolution, and my contention that it is really a question about the proper source of authority is what has brought this introduction on. The thing that most shocks and bothers people is not anything that I happen to think about evolution, but that I'm willing to think about it as a matter of ideology rather than of fact and that I encourage others to do the same. I do credit evolution - I'm not willing to use the word "believe" to discuss it - and my reason is the one famously advanced by Dobzhansky himself: Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. This is not evolution is a demonstrable and certain fact, as true as 2+2=4. It means that with evolution as a concept and an intellectual tool, I can make sense of a lot of what I have seen and read. It is the ability of a theory to make sense of things that is most essential to it.

Well, there are people - people like my Grandfather - for whom their religious faith is essential to their ability to make sense of their lives and the world around them. I am not one of those people, but I promise you that they do exist. They are not less intelligent or less capable than other people, and they are not simply being, to use the Dennettite terminology, parasitised by memes. The reasons they believe as they do are not substantially different from the reasons I or anyone else believes in materialist explanations or particular scientific theories.

That is why I resent seeing religion treated as mere superstition while science is held up as Truth, because it does a disservice to people who deserve better consideration. I assure you, I resent being told what God thinks by someone who claims to be in the know every bit as much or more.

There is other stuff here besides religion. Grandpa talks about life on the farm in the last years of horse-driven agriculture and in the transition to fully mechanised farming as well as talking about school in the days when grade 12 was considered an advanced education. He also talks about playing with electricity when it was still a new thing.

Furthermore, Grandpa and I have something in common: shortly before our 16th birthdays, we both chose to leave home, ostensibly to pursue a higher education, but really because we were teenage boys who wanted a taste of adult freedom. After that, of course, our lives differ sharply. By the age of 23, when this post ends, Grandpa was back on the farm having dropped out before completing grade 12. At the same age, I was living in sin with my future wife in a hotel on Polk Street in San Francisco after having dropped out of my Master's degree. No draft board ever interfered with my education, although I did have to register for the Selective Service in order to get student loans. And I have never, ever, worked on a farm.

 

Promotional poster for western colonisation published in 1907. From the National Archives of Canada.

 

The house we lived in on the the Henry Craig farm was a storey and a half and measured 18x20 ft. I have the feeling that originally there were two 10x18 ft. granaries or homesteader's shacks that were moved together to make the house. The Craig farm itself consisted of one section of land at 24-30-18 W3 plus another quarter at SE25-30-18 W3 (Southeast quarter of section 25, township 30, range 18, west of the 3rd meridian.)

[Grandpa covers some of this information in bits and dribbles in parts that I've cut. To make it a little easier to understand where he is, the Craig farm was about five miles south of the town of Herschel, Saskatchewan and perhaps six miles or so north of Fiske, where he lived earlier with his mother. (See the last chapter.) This is in western Saskatchewan, about a hundred kilometres east of the Alberta border, 250km or so north of the US border in Montana and about 150km west-southwest of the city of Saskatoon. This is somewhat further west than Albuquerque, NM and not quite as far north as the southernmost part of Alaska. This part of Saskatchewan is moderately fertile, far more so than the drylands to the south in Montana, but not as fertile as the much wetter lands a few hundred kilometres to the north. In the 1930's, there was still cheap unfarmed land in the area, but the best plots were already settled.]

Before the West could be settled, the land had to be surveyed and it was divided into sections of one mile by one mile containing 640 acres. Each section was divided into four quarters of a half mile by a half mile, containing 160 acres. A block of land six miles by six miles was a township. In Saskatchewan, there was a north-south road every mile. East-west roads were every two miles. For a fee of $10 one could homestead a quarter section. Because the Hudson's Bay Company had to be compensated for the loss of all the Northwest Territories, they were given some of the land. In every township, they were given section 8 and all but the northwest quarter of section 26. To finance education, section 11 and 29 were reserved as school land and to encourage the building of the railway, the railways were given all the remaining odd numbered sections. The rest of the numbered sections were available to homestead on a first-come first-served basis. Otherwise, land had to be purchased from the new owners. Dad had bought the Craig farm with his brother-in-law John Epp in 1927.

[According to the National Archives of Canada (conveniently online), James Henry Craig received title to SW24-30-18 W3 from the Lands Patent Branch of the Canadian Department of the Interior. The year is not specified. Presumably, he had purchased all the neighbouring quarter sections at some point and in 1927 sold his whole one and quarter sections - 1.25 square miles - to Grandpa Dick and his brother-in-law.]

From the Craig farm I attended Kensington school #2723. It was about three and a half miles to school. We had to go one and a half miles west and then two miles to the south. [Remember, all roads ran either exactly north-south or exactly east-west.] In the beginning, Dad took me to school in winter, but later on I rode most of the time.

Kensington was a typical one-room school where one teacher taught all the grades from one through eight and then helped the grades nine and ten correspondence students after school. The school had a full basement with a furnace, and a lean-to on the south end provided cloak rooms for the boys and the girls. There were two outhouses on the east side among the trees that surrounded the school yard. But Kensington was quite modern and had a toilet for girls in their cloak room while the boys' facilities were in the southwest corner of the basement. A large plunger was connected by rope and pulley to the door and this served to agitate the contents of the pit. Every summer, it had to be pumped out.

At Kensington, I continued in grade three, but my recollection of that year is completely missing. All told, I took ten grades in nine years. I skipped grades two and four, but I took grade three a second year. By June, however, the teacher asked me if I wanted to write grade four exams. I'm sure my English had improved to the point where I could handle the work.

I passed all the exams except one. Yes, you guessed it: spelling. I had 25% on that one. I never did get a foundation in spelling.

At Kensington, we had a new teacher every year or two. I'm sure they were straight out of teacher's college. One was Ida Mae Gowanlock from Davidson. About a mile and a half straight east of the school was a bachelor named George Scott. I was once told that he was still single because none of the teachers would marry him. Seems his luck changed and this teacher did.

Mr. Scott was the secretary of the school district for many years afterwards. It may have been Miss Gowanlock that asked Mother to sew a new slip for her. I was of no help at all in the transaction. But a picture is worth a thousand words, so the Eaton's catalogue had to render translation services in the negotiation.

When I think back on it, I believe our school must have been a picnic for the teachers as far as discipline was concerned. There were just three Mennonite families that provided the majority of the older students, and for us to disobey the teacher was unthinkable.

There is one unique event from that period that I remember clearly. Tuesday, April 9, 1935 had been no different from other school days, but when I got home from school, I was met by the news that Herschel had burned down. Both sides of Main Street were completely gutted. All the old business places were two-storey and housed merchants' families, so besides losing their businesses the inhabitants of Main Street had lost their homes and belongings as well.

Back when Dad had bought the Craig farm with his brother-in-law John Epp, the two had co-signed each other's loans from the Royal Bank in Herschel. Dad repaid his loan, but Uncle John had not. Perhaps it was easier for him because he didn't have a family. However, Dad became responsible for the debt. It was "only a hundred dollars," but in those days it was a lot of money.

On April 9, 1935, this note was still in the vault of the Herschel bank. The contents of the vault were not touched by the fire, but they had suffered from the heat. Dad's note was carefully preserved between two sheets of glass until the debt was paid, probably in 1938. Of course, Dad had to pay interest on the money during all that time, but I never heard him say anything derogatory about his brother-in-law and he never tried to collect from him.

I did not see the town itself until the next Saturday. The day after the fire, Eagle Creek had overflowed and flooded everything left in Herschel. Where the hardware store had been, I found a golf club with most of the handle missing. I used it to knock a ball around a few times - that was the closest I ever got to playing golf.

We did our shopping at Bill Loewen's store in Herschel. One time Mr. Cruikshank, the owner of the other store in town, asked Dad why he did not do any business at his store. Dad reminded him that during the difficult years at the beginning of the depression, he had wanted to buy a piece of meat for his threshing crew and Mr. Cruikshank had refused to give it to him on credit. So, he had turned to Bill Loewen for help and took all his business there after that.

Most of the buying in those days was done on credit. Sometimes Bill Loewen would take potatoes in payment in the form of 75 pound sacks. Mother would also make butter to pay the bills. Butter brought in 25 cents a pound and I think potatoes were a cent a pound.

If Dad had let me, I'm sure I would have dropped out of school after grade eight. After all, only one of the children in our community - David Heinrichs - had ever gone beyond grade ten, and he had to go to the German English Academy in Rosthern to finish high school. He went on to study agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and ended up with a doctorate and a reputation as an expert in forage grasses.

Dad insisted that I take grades nine and ten by correspondence, so I dutifully returned to Kensington school to take grade nine. When I got to grade ten, Dad gave me a choice. I could continue by correspondence and ride three and half miles a day to school, or I could ride five and half miles to take grade ten in a one room high school in Herschel, or I could go to the boarding school at Rosthern. Being an innocent (and ignorant?) fifteen year old, I chose what I thought was the least of the three evils and opted for Rosthern. This was in the fall of 1935.

[Rosthern was a larger community on the rail line between Saskatoon and Prince Albert. It was about 150km away to the Northeast as the crow flies, and probably over 200km by rail.]

I guess I came a little late, because by then all the rooms in the dorm were taken and I ended up rooming with the Lehn sisters, who knew my mother in Russia. We students paid ten dollars a month for room and board. I imagine the sisters had a problem making ends meet and often bought the cheapest products. That was surely the case with the honey. When we complained about all the stuff in the honey that wasn't honey, they told us that everyone had to eat his peck of dirt before he died. [This must be another common Mennonite saying - I've heard it from everyone in my family to excuse some piece of food that hasn't been treated with the strictest hygienic practices.]

My roommate, David Wirsche, was a couple years older than I. We shared the same double bed that sagged badly in the middle. He was my senior and got up earlier than me, so I got to sleep in the back. Dave was a Christian at this point; I was not. Five years later I was to meet him at Bethany Bible Institute in Hepburn. He got to the mission field much sooner than I did too.

[The bit that probably requires some explaining here is Grandpa's claim that he wasn't a Christian. Mennonites - like all Anabaptists - do not believe in child baptism. Salvation is by faith, as it is in most Protestant denominations, and that faith can only be an uncoerced adult decision. This is symbolised by baptism, which most frequently takes place in one's late teens although in principle it could happen at any time in life. In a theological sense, most Mennonites recognise that someone's faith is only symbolised by baptism. God isn't usually believed to necessarily be doing anything special at the moment of baptism. It is as much an outward declaration to the community as a sacrament. Baptism is not required, as far as I know, to attend a religious school or even a Bible college anywhere in the Mennonite world. It is usually required to become a church member. Grandpa is merely saying that he had not been baptised and had not made that essential and personal decision - a whole-hearted devotion to God - expected to preceed baptism. His roommate Dave had. Grandpa nonetheless grew up in a firmly and thoroughly religious home and presumably believed in both God and the basic tenets of his church. As for the "mission field" - think of it as foreshadowing.]

I remember the time the guys in the Lehn place had two bare electric wires in series with a light bulb and tested our ink to see if it conducted electricity. It did. Then Dave decided to try the gold nib on his pen. It conducted too, but it melted in the process and he had to have it replaced. Durch Erfahrung wird man klug aber nicht reich. (Through experience one gets to be wise but not rich.)

Although we were far from home, [and therefor no one could tell their parents] we thought it would be safer just the same if we got permission to go see a movie. Jacob Schmidt, teacher at the school and houseparent at the dormitory, gave Jake Ediger and me permission to go to the Rosthern theatre. The movie we saw dealt with G-Men, evidently a forerunner of the FBI. [As my anglophone readers no doubt all know, "G-Men" is a very archaic slang term for FBI agents.] They were after bad guys - organised crime - and as I remember it there was shoot-out or two. Admission was 25 cents in those days - about a week's wages for us helping out around the house. We would have loved to watch the hockey games at the enclosed town rink, but that would have cost 25 cents too and we did not have that many quarters. So we had to make do with looking through the knot holes until the third period was well underway and they no longer charged admission. There was another quarter that I did spend for a second hand box camera that took a 127 film. I filled one film with pictures and those are the only ones that I have of all my school days up to that point. [Grandpa was an avid amateur photographer all the rest of his life. He must have had thousands of slides in his collection.]

It must have been at Christmas and Easter that Jake and I went to the movies in Saskatoon while we waited for our train. We saw the original Mutiny on the Bounty and another movie about the Mexican Revolution and the former bandit chieftain Pancho Villa. [I think he must have seen the 1934 minor classic Viva Villa! starring Wallace Beery, Leo Carrillo and Fay Wray.]

There were two outstanding events that happened that winter. One was in January when Jake Ediger and I were walking uptown in the afternoon. All of a sudden, one church bell began to ring, and then another, and another, until all the bells in the whole town were ringing. This was January 20, 1936 and King George V had just passed away.

The other event took place late one evening while I was walking home alone from school. I was walking through our back alley and had almost reached the gate at the barn. Suddenly it was exceptionally bright - so bright I turned around to see if there was a car behind me. The back alley was completely empty except for a lone pedestrian who was coming home late from school. By the time I realised that it had been a comet or something [more likely a meteor], the light was gone.

Of course, I went home for Christmas. I don't know whether it was before grade nine or after that Dad gave me a new single shot .22, a Springfield Model 53-B manufactured by the J. Stevens Arms Company. Dad had always been an ardent hunter in his youth, and that winter there were exceptionally many rabbits. One day, we hitched the team to the sleigh and drove to a slough one mile due south. At the bottom of the hill below the old Craig place they had deposited a bunch of old farm machinery. The slough stretched at least a quarter mile into the next section and was quite wide. It had willows growing to the east and west sides and hills rose to both sides as well. The wind was drifting snow from the west and I sat down among the machinery with my .22. Dad drove to the east and just walked the team along the the willows. It didn't take long before the rabbits started coming. Of course, they did not sit still for me, so I kept plunking away at them as they ran. I counted 200 jack rabbits, but I could not keep up with all of them. We found 16 dead rabbits which I skinned and then stretched and dried the furs. I had used over 60 .22 shorts. I sold the skins in Saskatoon and got 25 cents for the best ones, but all told my income from skins that winter was less than $5.00.

Overall, I think I got along quite well at school, but for some reason none of the other grade ten students planned to return after Easter and I did not want to be the only one, so I bought Jake Ediger's correspondence course which he had taken the year before. My whole stay at Rosthern, including train fare, cost about $120. Dad had a fair crop that year - about 4000 bushels of wheat, but the crop froze and he sold it at 19 cents a bushel. When I think about it in terms of the proportion of the crop, I realise now that it was a considerable sacrifice for Dad to send me to school that year. I wrote the exams at Kensington and passed everything.

In the fall of 1936 we did not have a good crop. Saskatchewan's average was eight bushels to the acre, and that was our average too. 1937 was even worse. Summerfallow yielded five bushels per acre, and from a 97 acre field of stubble wheat we salvaged about 50 bushels in the valleys. The whole crop that year was just below 400 bushels. For me, high school was out of the question.

I remember some things about life in Saskatchewan in those years. During the depression, Mother always planted a big garden and did a lot of canning. We had no fresh vegetables in winter, but there were always dill pickles and lots of sauerkraut with the occasional pickled watermelon if we were lucky enough to get a crop that year. Fried potatoes were standard fare for supper and meat was provided by the one pig we butchered in late fall after the weather turned cold.

During those years Saskatchewan had an open herd law. The municipalities set a date by which all grain and feed had to be adequately protected by fences. On that day, the horses that were not used for the winter were turned loose for the duration to fend for themselves. We kept one team of horses for driving during the winter. Cattle were turned out for the day only and brought back for the night because they had to be milked.

Weather forecasting in those days was not what it is today, but we always knew when a blizzard was coming. The horses always sensed it and would head for the nearest farm. And, in spring it was always necessary to round up the horses again. Dad would ride miles looking for them.

About 1937 there was a year when Dad promised me 25 bushels of wheat for working on the farm and the agent at the lumber yard was selling his mantelpiece radio to buy one for his car instead. My wheat went in payment for that five-tube Spartan radio. Of course it was battery operated: a wet 2-volt A cell that had to be recharged, two dry B cells and one dry C cell. It gave us very good reception. We could even pick up a one-watt station that was operating out of "Pumpkin Center" (a.k.a. Fiske) until the Mounties zeroed in on its location. By the time they got there, they only found the board on which to the instruments had been mounted. Back in those days, you needed a license to operate a receiving set, not to mention a broadcasting station. We also had no trouble picking up a Chicago station, but that was back before there were so many radio stations competing on the waves.

[Canadian winters helped too. My father told me that on cold, clear days in winter in Manitoba, he would listen to Wolfman Jack on XERB from Tijuana. The signal bounces off the ionosphere, and in the north in winter the ionosphere is particularly strong and reflective.]

It was radio that brought us many of the spiritual benefits that were not available locally. Rev. Brooks of the Christian and Missionary Alliance had a programme from Regina and another from Moose Jaw. We heard Charles Fuller on the Old Fashioned Revival Hour. He used to call his wife "Honey" when he asked her to read letters from the listening audience.

In the fall of 1938, Oscar Lowrey had evangelistic services over the radio, first I believe from Regina, and then he repeated the same messages from Moose Jaw. On the evening of December 4th he spoke on the consequences of resisting the Holy Spirit. I knew Mother was praying for me and that night I accepted Christ as my personal Saviour. I remember how disappointed my parents were when I did not pray publicly at the next opportunity. That was something that believers expected of themselves.

The following fall, August 28, 1939, I was baptised in the South Saskatchewan River. When those of us being baptised that day gave our testimonies before the church in Saskatoon, someone asked how I could prove that I was born again. That is a question that I still can not answer. His Spirit gives witness to our spirit that we are the children of God, but that can not be proven to anyone.

We had had a good crop in 1938 and bought a new John Deere model "D" tractor and a new 10 ft. John Deere power binder. In 1939, we had another good crop year and used the binder as a swather for the 8 ft. power take-off Massey Harris combine that Dad bought that fall. We had Thatcher wheat that year with a heavy stand around the sloughs and no live power take-off on the tractor, so the cylinder got clogged numerous times before the season was over. Thatcher wheat was more resistant to saw fly because it had harder straw.

[I understand some of the farm terminology Grandpa uses from listening to farmers talk over the years. I know what a combine and a tractor are of course, and I think I know what a binder is. The brand names are also familiar: John Deere is well-known enough, and I think Massey Harris became Massey Ferguson in the 1960's. In 1994 it was acquired by the giant AGCO Corporation, which still sells farm equipment under the Massey Ferguson brand name. The rest is a lot of educated guesses. I presume that this paragraph could be translated into a less agrarian dialect as something like this:

In 1938 we had a good crop and bought some better farm equipment. In 1939, we also had a good crop and we planted a sturdier and more pest resistant kind of wheat. Unfortunately, that variety of wheat had a very stiff stalk and kept clogging up our harvesting machinery. Since we had had a good year though, after harvest we went out and bought some more modern farm equipment.

Three cheers for primitive capital accumulation! Of course, modernisation has consequences.]

Over the years, I have ridden all our horses, with and without saddle, sometimes without bit and halter. Dad gave me a colt he had raised one year, and by 1938 I ended up owning three horses. But, one by one, the horses we had bought with the farm reached the end of their life, and after 1938, the days of horsepower were about over. $12.50 was all I got for my horses as mink feed.

In 1939, we had threshed 18,000 bushels. The granaries were full and there were large piles of grain on the ground. After I became a Christian, the question of my continuing education came up. Dad, however, was not too interested in the school in Rosthern, because he felt it lacked spiritual emphasis. ["Spiritual emphasis" is a difficult thing to define, but it is a word I've heard frequently enough in describing various choices in churches or religious schools. It seems most frequently to mean places where religion is not mere ritual or form, but also usually excludes the kinds of churches where it seems like you can bargain your way into heaven by being doctrinaire.]

World War II started only days after I was baptised. [September 1, 1939 to be exact. Three days after Grandpa's baptism.] Nonetheless, in the fall of 1940, I attended Bethany Bible Institute in Hepburn. [Bethany Bible Institute - now Bethany College - is a Mennonite Bible college on a small rural tract informally called Hepburn about 50km north of Saskatoon.]

Because I was just short of 21 years old, they let me take mostly second year subjects. Here too, we paid about $10 a month for room and board and all my expenses for the year amounted to about $120. The next year, Dad asked me how much he should pay me for working for him. My reply was that he should put me through the next year of Bible school.

To go to Hepburn, we had to take the train at Fiske, because the CN [Canadian National Rail] line went to Saskatoon. [The train line that went to Herschel was presumably Canadian Pacific Rail and didn't pass through Saskatoon.] From there we would take the bus and get off at the road leading into Hepburn. That left us with a three mile walk.

After the first year of Bible school, I volunteered to teach vacation Bible school [a sort of religious summer day camp] under the Western Children's Mission. It was at the closing program that I preached my first "sermon." For the second two week session, I had Sam Ediger as my partner. He had already graduated from Bible school and was much more experienced.

It believe it was while we were at that second school that we visited a home after class and they asked us to share their noon meal with them. It was still early for potatoes and these people were homesteading in the bush. [I take this to mean that they were living on public land semi-illegally.] The father asked us a question that put us on the spot. "If a deer were to cross my yard, would it be wrong for me to shoot it?" Out of season, yes, but his family was certainly in need of food.

I suppose most of us grew up on the farm in isolated locations and lacked many of the social graces. To help us along a bit, the administration decided that boys would sit on one side of the long table at dinner and girls on the other. The hope was that this would help to improve our manners. I wonder if it did? I remember one of the boys saying that as long as one foot touched the ground, it was all right to reach over.

While I was still at Bible school, the draft board caught up with me. My medical proved satisfactory, so I was to enlist in the army. I applied as a CO [conscientious objector] and had to appear at a hearing before Judge Embury in Saskatoon. There was a group of about a half a dozen from the Hepburn-Dalmeny area who had been turned down at a previous occasion. They had their second hearing and were promptly rejected again. By the time Judge Embury was through with them, he was in no mood to accept anyone else as CO. I was rejected.

As I recall, the trial was on a Friday. The following Wednesday was to be my turn to give a Probepredigt - a trial sermon. I left for home on Monday and never found out whether I could preach or not.

My parents had just concluded the purchase of the Booth farm. Dad could have bought it a year earlier, but the Booth family was still living in the place and it was against his principles to put them off their own homestead. The bank did not feel that way, and rented it out to a Mr. Waterstone for a year. Since Dad's refusal had not prevented the loss of the land, Dad bought it in the spring of 1942 and by the time I was back they had already moved. I now rented the south half-section of the Craig farm while Dad kept the other three quarter-sections. When I applied for a draft postponement as a farmer, I received one for six months and when I applied again I received an indefinite postponement. With that much land and being the only boy in the family, it must have had some bearing on the matter.

[I presume the draft board decided that the Empire could be better served by Grandpa bringing in Saskatchewan wheat than by putting him in jail as an example. He would have gone to jail rather than be drafted.]

Personally, I felt my experience was like that of Joseph: "... ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day..." [Genesis 50:20] Those that were accepted as CO's had to go to a forest camp or pay $15 a month to the Red Cross. I did not have to do any of those things. How wonderfully God takes care of his own children!

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Posted 2003/04/17 0:01 (Thu) | TrackBack
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You may be interested in the web site www.alternativeservice.ca that is about the CO expereince. It also has some info on judge Embury.

Posted by: Cstoesz at September 14, 2005 23:33
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