Nightime on the Green Chain, Port Alberni 1951

Editor/Daughter’s Note: In my Dad’s journals of his memories he last wrote about getting married in Vancouver to my mom. 

When I was laid off after the summer season at Arctic Ice Cream in Vancouver I left for Port Alberni, and picked up a job at the McMillan and BIoedel timber mill there.

After I rented a tiny apartment from an old couple, Hilda came over and landed a job in the hospital where she worked as a nurse. Together our incomes would make enough for a down payment on an old house.

The work on the mill was pulling lumber off a green chain and stacking it. The nightshift in particular was very bad, especially when the fog rolled in from the Pacific.Dad's painting of a foggy night in BC, 1951The foreman used to give me the instructions, and then left me to try and communicate with the East Indians who spoke very little English as they were new immigrants too.

They were not always too eager to work and I often yelled at them, but they didn’t understand what I said and just laughed at me.

They were quite impressed with my ability to tell time. They would keep an eye on me and seeing that I had not looked at my watch they’d come up and ask me the time, which I would tell them not even bothering to look at my watch.

Then I would show them my watch. What they never knew was that I could see the clock on the post office tower and tell the time from that. This was strange because in their former country they had been agricultural people and should have had good eyesight.

Came May, I left for Chemainus, which was not nearly as wet as Port Alberni. I applied for a job there with the same company and got a job right away.

Hilda came too, and we began the search for the nest. We finally chose an old house belonging to Mrs. Andrews. She wanted four thousand dollars for it.

We paid one thousand down and borrowed the rest from Hilda’s parents, paying it off at sixty dollars a month. That seems cheap now, but that was a lot then and kept us out of mischief for the next seven years.family homestead in Chemainus c.1952

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