‘To my horror, I had forgotten to flip the spout’

By Emil Eirich – Saskatoon, Sask.

I began my career with the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool on Jan. 29, 1957, starting as a helper at Cabri, Sask. I worked under the tutelage of Carl Wickstrom for two months and was then moved to Abbey to train under the supervision of Mel Nixon.

My work as a helper lasted for seven months at which time the powers to be felt I was qualified to operate an elevator on my own. I was transferred to Coppen, Sask. and checked in as an agent on the Sept. 13, 1957. So far, so good!

It was some time the next summer in 1958 that I encountered a problem at which time, as a green elevator agent, I thought it might cost me my job.

To fully understand this – with the addition of an annex, the bin spouting had been changed and bin No. 10 on the indicator dial served both bin 9 and 10. In order to direct the grain to either of these two bins, you had to go to the top of the elevator and flip the spouts.

Well, on this day a load of durum wheat was delivered, and since there was durum in bin 10, I set the dial on bin 10 and promptly elevated the wheat to its location, only to realize after it was elevated – to my horror – I had forgotten to flip the spout up top from bin 9 to 10.

I now had a load of durum wheat on top of a bin that had spring wheat in it. What to do now? The only thing that I could think about was to go to the next station which was Bateman and ask an old-time agent there, Norm Austin, what to do.

As luck would have it, the area superintendent, Merv Ryan, was there. I thought, “Now, I’ve had it for sure!” but when I told them what had happened they both burst out laughing. I didn’t think it was that funny at the time as scared as I was, and it probably showed on my face.

However, with some reassuring words I was told how to correct the mistake. It was only a matter of drawing the wheat off at the bottom until the durum wheat started coming through and when the spring wheat started to appear again the bulk of the mixture will then have been separated.

It still required some blending when shipping these stocks to avoid any grade loss, but I came out of it okay.

I retired in 1992 after 35 years of service with the Wheat Pool working as a helper at Cabri and Abbey, and as an elevator agent for 17 years at Coppen, Lakenheath, and Mankota, and in Melville and Saskatoon as an area manager for 18 years.

Through it all, it was a great experience.