Veteran Stories:
Donald Powers

Air Force

  • Donald Powers and his wife Majorie Louise.

    Donald Powers
  • Photo of a bookend half from Mr. Powers station, 1944.

    Donald Powers
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"And you know, for a period of three years, not one soul ever asked me what I was doing there."

Transcript

During my service, I signed a lot of planes out and I took a lot of flights. And I also did some flying. The test pilots, oh, this got boring for them; that’s all they did, every day, umpteen flights. And when I went of course, he would take the plane off and take it out over the lake, which was right close by. And he’d say, take it over. And I’d do, we had so much time that we had to fly, 20 minutes or something like that, and I would do a circle and then cut back to the station and then he would take it over and land. And then he would sign it out as being okay to send someplace else. And you know, it’s an opportunity that you know, not many people got. I think it’s only air frame mechanics that had the opportunity. And I enjoyed it. There’s one thing I did a bit in, sort of as a secondary job. We had a building on a piece of land and we grew a lot of vegetables for the station. And we had a bit of a greenhouse and I spent some time there, quite a bit, it was probably on Saturdays. We grew the bulk of the vegetables for the station. We grew tomatoes and carrots and broccoli and you know - all the green vegetables. I wanted to study on my accounting course to get my degrees in accounting, so I started going over, oh, about seven o’clock to the mess hall. And I got, got a table right in the very corner, away from everybody. I did my studying there for maybe two hours. And maybe after an hour, I’d get up and get a coffee. Occasionally I might have had a desert. And you know, for a period of three years, not one soul ever asked me what I was doing there. Technically, I was not supposed to be there but no one ever questioned. They saw I was studying and they figured I think that that was no problem because they knew I couldn’t do it in the block where I resided; there was too much noise and stuff going on. So I studied and then after the war, I carried on and in 1951, I got my degree. It was a lot of studying. But that was what helped me the rest of my working life. And there were a number of women on the station but the men, they kept away from the men and they ate in a separate section in the mess hall. And they had their own barracks. When I went to the station, there were no ladies there but within the, I think within the first year, they were building a new building for their barracks and it was a two-storey building, different than the men’s. And she worked in the, she worked doing parachute rigging. She would, once they’d been used, they were taken apart and examined and repaired, then put together. And then she also was involved in rigging; they would take a parachute and put weight on it and take it up and drop it and see how it stood up. So that was her trade all during the war, about two and a half years. In 1944, I would say sometime in the spring or early summer, I went down to visit my father and mother down near Thamesville [Ontario], on the farm. They took me into Chatham to the CP [Canadian Pacific Railway] station to get my ride back to Trenton. I always went down there on a 72 [hour pass] which is, that means you have a Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. She was from Chatham and she went home on the same weekend to visit her sister. And her sister brought her to the station, the same CP station of course, to go back too. So here the two of us were there going back to Trenton and then we got on the train eventually and sat together and talked different things, you know, I don’t know what it was. But anyhow, that was my first chance, first introduction to her. And she seemed to be my type. And so I kept up, I kept contact with her and I told her that I already had a girlfriend, another girlfriend, a civilian in Trenton. And she said, well, it’s either her or me. So I dropped the other one and kept up with, with Marjorie, her name. And by October, we had decided we were going to get married.
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