By Tina Schuitema – Edmonton, Alta.
It was a hot Sunday afternoon in Regina, the wind blowing, and there were grasshoppers and potato bugs as usual. We were all lying on the living room floor, trying to keep cool, when there was a knock at the back door.
On answering it, there stood a young man, travel weary, hungry, and lonely. “Do the Haymores live here?” he asked.
I called my dad and soon we heard his voice: “Welcome. Welcome!” as he ushered the young man into the living room. “This is Charlie from Calgary and he’ll be staying with us for awhile,” dad said.
Wow! Calgary, the home of The Stampede! We were immediately friends and soon Charlie was spinning yarns about the Calgary Stampede. He talked about how the cowboys roped the girls as they rode by in the big parade, and much more. Then off to Banff, the Rockies, and Lake Louise.
To make the visit even better, we cranked up the old gramophone dad had purchased for $5 at an auction sale. We had some records such as Springtime in the Rockies by the Billing Brothers – and Wilf Carter singing Swiss Moonlight Lullaby.
Charlie knew a lot of cowboy songs and could even yodel after a fashion. Then, out came an old mouth organ with some of the reeds blown, that we were trying to play.
“You can’t play that thing,” said Charlie and he pulled out a Marine Band mouth organ and started to play. Now, this fellow was no slouch on that mouth organ. We were spellbound.
No sewer or water
Mother had ideas of her own. She knew Charlie would never find a job in Regina. No one had a job it seemed, but he could help around the house pulling the weeds and fetching water from the tap.
In those days, there was no sewer and water in our area because we lived on the edge of the city. Perhaps Charlie could even water the garden a bit. She even had him on the washboard helping with the weekly wash.
Well, Charlie, Sam, and I would rather sing and play the mouth organ, so mother and her big ideas didn’t develop to her liking.
Mother had a way of solving all problems and to her delight, Uncle Shibley, who was a pretend uncle, arrived from Radville. He had the general store and always stopped by for a chat when in Regina.
Poor Charlie! Mother had him all packed up and into Uncle Shibley’s car because he realized what was happening. “You can help uncle at the store in exchange for your room and board,” she explained.
This had to be the saddest day of our lives as Sam and I stepped forward to say goodbye. As Charlie turned to go, he handed me his mouth organ with instructions on how to play his style. Sam and I did learn to play. In fact I often play today.
The winds of war were at hand and Charlie was one of the first to line up to serve his country. When it was all over Charlie returned, minus a leg. He was now married with two cute little kids, looking for a job, and was just another veteran, soon forgotten.