Does anyone know where Dodsland is?
It’s just over one square mile, so it can get misplaced in a hurry on a map of Saskatchewan. Populated now with around 200 people, I wonder how many lived there in 1927 when Dad was born?
His mom, our grandma, was a nurse. She delivered him, but she didn’t actually deliver him, if you know what I mean…. But she did deliver Don Parker, who ended up being Dad’s roommate and a Judge, years later. It really can be a small world, and great people can come from small villages, like our Dad, Judge Parker, and the wrestler, Kyle Stefiuk.
Our great grandparents came from Fort Stewart, Ontario to homestead in Saskatchewan. They overturned their wagon, and covered it in sod. That was home. There’s something to say about sod; it was there to be had and it was a good insulator for the bone-chilling winters. Those months must have seemed like an eternity out there on the “bald prairies” as our parents, so fondly refer to our home province.
Dad didn’t actually live in that first sod house, but his Grandpa did. His name was Colin Campbell. One of the things he could do was step dance. They say when he died it was the biggest funeral Dodsland had ever seen. Great Grandpa must be why Dad is such a great dancer! He had all the moves, from doing the twist to the jive, and all things medium and slow in between. I did not inherit any of those dance moves. I did inherit my Dad’s knees, thin face that you can’t find glasses to fit on, and a hair-line like Eddy Munster. Thanks for all that Dad… but, honestly, Barb and I would rather have been able to Jive.
Dad was the oldest born to Ernie and Ione Campbell. It was six full years before he met his brother. He didn’t think much of having him around. One day he took care of that. He hid Wayne back in the corner, under his bed! I’m not sure what the punishment for that was.
I’m sure Grandma was relieved to find Wayne and let her older son off with a stern warning, maybe a finger wag… maybe more, but the point is, Dad did grow into being a good big brother, to not only Wayne, but to his sister, Ina as well.
If we think it’s hard to find a job now, image what it would have been like finding one around 1939 in the Village of Dodsland. Dad recalls how the water “slurshed” out of the bucket, wetting his pants legs while he carried it to those who hired him. He was the local water boy, a dime a bucket.
He was 17 when he left home, and ventured off to Saskatoon to join the Army. They wouldn’t let him in. He was too young… so “small time village boy” had to land a job in “big city Saskatoon”.
Monty Burns, head honcho at Massey Harris knew a shining star when he saw one and hired Dad as office boy, which meant he did this, that and the other thing. One of the other things, away from the office would be to drive Mr. Burns “chick magnet” Caddy to fetch the liquor… for what ever occasion, Dad was always up for driving his Caddy.
Dad worked with a gal named Shirley. She had a crush on him, but he was a tad young for her, but perfect for her best friend, also named Shirley. Our Mom. She introduced them!
They fell madly in love, and Dad proposed. He sold his motorcycle for Mom’s engagement ring. That was romantic… but romantic wasn’t all he had to be to marry Grandma’s daughter! They had to save $500, which was tough to do when he made $111 a month. The second stipulation was, they couldn’t start their marriage living in one of the wartime houses that were so often shared; they had to have their own apartment.
No challenge was too great for them. They worked hard, and save they did! After a small nest egg had been achieved, their dear friend Shirley announced the love of her life, Lock, was going East with the Navy, they desperately wanted to marry. Dad and Mom lent them all the money they had saved. $200. They stood up with them as Best Man and Maid of Honour and started saving again. When Grandma’s criteria had been met, our parents married. Mom, the most beautiful bride ever, came down the staircase while Grandma accompanied her on the piano, in the quaintness of her childhood home, surrounded by the ones they loved.
For seven more years, they saved their money. By then, Dad was earning about $200 per month. It was worth the sacrifice they made, by not having a car all those years, because they managed to save enough to build their first house. The year was 1955, and the new address was 1911 Monroe Avenue.
That house on Monroe became the first of many.
My sister Barb and I both lived in that house, and then we were off, like Army kids… to Yorkton, Regina, Winnipeg, Mississauga and finally in 1980, to Calgary.
Dad started with Massey Harris in 1944, and left Massey Ferguson in 1983.
39 years of service, and five sick days. Mr. Burns knew what he was doing when he hired our Dad.
Dad is a man we admire and always wanted to be just like when we grew up! He taught us to golf, that was his life long passion. He taught us how to hook a worm on the end of a line to catch a fish. (Granted, that wasn’t our thing, although it worked, I caught a sucker.) He taught us to play catch; that was our thing. We brought the ball and gloves with us everywhere we went. We couldn’t wait till he came home from work to play catch. I didn’t know, until this year, he used to coach a ball team in Saskatoon. It’s funny what you don’t know about your parents, until you ask.
Dad taught us how to slide down a snow covered hill on cardboard, how to cut the grass so we could make some money. He taught me how to hunt years later, and we’d have a week of together time, going up and down the cut lines in Northern Alberta. Yes, we got skunked every year, but it was the time we had, the talks, the laughs; the target practice. We’d sit on top of a hill, sipping coffee, eating a sandwich, while watching the sun come up.
“Lynda, when your hunting, always make sure you look behind you… they are usually on to you and you need to turn around periodically.”
Dad taught us how to work hard, by showing us. He taught us how to love, and to always put our best foot forward, no matter what kind of shoes we had on. When we would tag on to him, doing yard work, stuff in the garage, stuff in the basement, he never made us feel like we were in his way. He never told us to go play, he’d pass a hammer, or a cord to hold, anything to have us there to be a part of what he was doing. He made us feel like the job simply wouldn’t get done, if we weren’t by his side, helping him.
“Remember, always measure twice and cut once.”
Dad, we don’t remember everything you have said to us over our lifetimes. We will always remember what you showed us.
You’re fair, you love unconditionally, you’re funny, in fact, you do things, that if we hadn’t seen the pictures of with our own eyes, we’d never have believed them… like your 53rd Birthday party Sandy and Vince threw for you. Now that’s a whole other story in itself, but we know you remember that party, even though it was 31 years ago, and that memory will bring a sly smile to your face now and to Mom’s also.
We admire you Dad. You’re a man of your word. You’re a ‘git er done’ type of guy, which is why we are who we are. Not a day goes by we don’t think of you. I find myself telling others, “My Dad always said… “ And then I smile, because I’m thinking of you, and I’m sharing you with others.
We were the most blessed kids on the block, having you for our Dad.
You’re always in our heart Dad, and we’ll always be your little girls.