"And I joined the air force when I was through high school and all my friends, you know, especially the boys, all joined at that time too, so, the place was just empty of young people."
My full name is Ella Rosalie Mountain Curtis. I was born February the 22nd, 1923 at Blackville, New Brunswick, at home. I was brought up on a small farm in the country. I had three brothers, I was the oldest of the family, the only girl. My mother was a school teacher and my father was a scaler for a lumber company. And I guess we just had a normal family life growing up during, well, the 1920s were quite prosperous but then the 1930s, the Depression. And times were hard, and then the war broke out.
And I was only about 15 or 16, so all through my teens and school, that’s all we heard. Around here, the windows were blacked out and there were rations, everything was rationed. So it was kind of dreary in a way, because all we heard was war but we had no television or anything but the newspapers and a few had radios. You know, war was all I grew up with.
And I joined the air force when I was through high school and all my friends, you know, especially the boys, all joined at that time too, so, the place was just empty of young people. When I was stationed in Toronto, Her Royal Highness, Princess Alice, came, and inspected the troops. Well, we were so excited we’d never seen a princess. Royalty come to Canada then, not very often. I never saw any royalty until the King and Queen, until 1939. And you just got a glimpse of them, so being a girl, I always remembered the princess and prince charming and all that. So when Princess Alice, we heard that she was coming, we learned to curtsy. And we spent weeks curtsying.
So she came and anyway, I remember we had a little games room and we had a machine in there where you’d get pop, you bought and you put money in and your bottle come out, your pop came out. She had never seen anything like that. And she was just fascinated, that somebody would put money in and well, when the bottle came out, she was just amazed. That was kind of you know, a high point of my career.
The hobby house had also a carpenter shop, and the men who came back from overseas would be there, would have to wait, oh, a month, maybe six weeks or more, before they would get their discharge, waiting for their papers. So they had to do something, they couldn’t, you know, wait around doing nothing. You’d be bored right to death. They weren’t working or anything. No, they weren’t injured because if they were, they’d be in the hospital. But they had to put in time until their papers withdraw and they got their discharge. So they would come to the hobby house. If they wanted to make something like, some of them were married and they were, they’d maybe make a cradle or coffee table or high chair. And they would make it and then dismantle it and take it home. And that was separate, I had nothing to do with that, that was another airman that would look after the hobby shop, because there were saws and you know, everything to work with, and woodworking.
And then there was a photographer, darkroom and everything, so anybody interested in photography could work there. Also, in what I looked after, the main shop, they would buy leather for slippers or moccasins or belts or purses or wallets, anything like that, they could make something, take it home to their wives or children or whatever. So they’d spend hours there. The men loved that, they made all kinds of things. Some of them were real good at it, others weren’t.