By Gordon Legge – Yorkton, Sask.
Chatsworth School was located 11 miles northeast of Saltcoats in eastern Saskatchewan. I and two other boys, Syril Blahay and Derik Bilton, had just left the schoolyard and were on our way home.
Up ahead were five younger boys and the last few nights they kept disappearing into a big willow bush a half-mile from the school.
We decided to walk in and see what they were up to and found them all sitting around having a smoke. Fergie Devins had the tobacco and papers in a snuff box. He held it out and said, “help yourself,” which we did.
The next day at school, Fergie pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and out popped the darn snuff box. It hit the floor and rolled right beside the teacher’s desk.
The teacher, Mr. Davies, picked it up and asked, “Who does this belong to?” Fergie held up his hand.
“Fergie I want you to stay in at recess, I want to talk to you.”
Just before the bell rang at 3:30, Mr. Davies told me, Syril, and Derik that he wanted us to stay after school, too.
When the other kids were gone, Mr. Davies walked to the back of the room, shut the door, walked back to his desk, and got out the strap.
“Now,” he said, “I understand you boys have been smoking. Syril, what do you say?”
“Yes teacher, but only once.”
“Well now, we can’t have that!” as he strapped Syril five times on each hand.
“Derik, what do you say?” asked Mr. Davies.
“Yes teacher,” and Derik got five times on each hand.
I got the same thing.
“Now,” said Mr. Davies, “I don’t want to catch you boys smoking at school, or on the way home from school.”
And you know, we never did – no sir, we never did.
I’m the only one left of those three boys. Derik Bilton passed away in 1953 at age 29 from polio, leaving a wife and three daughters. Just one year later, Dr. Salk’s polio vaccine became available.
Syril passed away about 18 years ago in Yorkton.