"And of course, they said, oh, these wartime marriages, they won’t last, you know. Well, we were married 56 years minus five days, before my husband passed away."
Well, I was born out west at Carman, Manitoba and I am one of 12 kids, four boys and eight girls. And my family moved back to Ontario in 1936 and my dad was from Fisherville and my mom was from Norwich. In fact, years ago, I think my grandfather, her father, was the mayor of Norwich.
And we, as a family, grew up around Brantford then. I always liked marching and tying knots and doing Morse code and things like that because I was in Girl Guides for seven years. So that was one of the reasons that - plus the fact that I had three brothers go in the service. Anyway, when I just turned 17, I decided that - with a couple of friends - that we would join the army and we joined in Brantford. And we were sent to Toronto and we stayed there, did a little bit of marching and so on, until we had about 30, which makes up a platoon, and then we went to Kitchener for our basic training.
And did the basic training in November/December, and this was October; I joined up October the 11th, 1943. And was in for two years and I used to kid and say it was two years less a day, like a reformatory term. But I enjoyed every day in the army.
He [Ken Newton] came back up here and by Boston, they tore 27 foot off the bottom of the ship. So they had to limp into harbour at Saint John, New Brunswick, where I was stationed and they were in getting what they called a refit, getting the ship repaired. He was on the [SS] Alexandra Park and he was on the [SS] Crescent Park. And so when they came ashore in Saint John, he came to meet me with one of my roommates, whose boyfriend was on the same ship. And when I met him, I had on my khaki coveralls, my hair done up in pin curls and he had a split lip and a black eye. A couple of friends of his were going out of this establishment and they were going to fight outside and he was stupid enough to get in between the two of them and they knocked him down a flight of stairs. So he was not a very great picture when I first met him but I guess I wasn’t either. So I think it was love at first sight.
I met him in May of 1945, we got engaged by July and we both got out of the service in October because the war ended May the 8th and we had signed for Pacific but of course, when VJ- Day [Victory in Japan] came just a little ways after, so we didn’t get to go to the Pacific area. And we were discharged in October and we got married the first of December. And of course, they said, oh, these wartime marriages, they won’t last, you know. Well, we were married 56 years minus five days, before my husband passed away.
Back home, everything was rationed and I remember we had rationed books before I went in the army. And we didn’t drink coffee or like – the bunch of us kids didn’t drink coffee. So my mom used to trade the coupons for sugar and butter and tea and things like that. Gas was rationed, tires were rationed. I can remember, after we’d come back from the army, and my husband and I got married, we borrowed my mom’s car and her tires were threadbare. And of course, she’d been driving around for weeks and was fine. We took one trip downtown in Brantford and had two flat tires.
So nails after the war, when we went to build our home on VLA [Veterans’ Land Act] property, nails were very very much rationed. My husband would get really annoyed because he’d go down to the lumberyard and he’d say, I need some nails, I need some lumber, I need some chimney tile and they’d say, well, we don’t have any. And he’d come back and I’d look at him and I said, well, they must have some. So he said, well, you go try. So of course, I was a little more forceful than he was, so I would go to the lumberyard and I’d say, you must have four or five pounds of nails underneath the counter there for somebody. And I said, we need it right this weekend because we’ve got free time this weekend, and we’re going to work on our house. And by golly, I would get the nails.
And another time I went down, we needed some chimney tile and they told me they didn’t have any and I said, look, we only need three or four to get started. And you must have three or four around somewhere. And sure enough, I’d come back with the chimney tile and he said, I’m not going anymore. If you can get it, you go and get it. So that’s what happened. And of course, our first car, you had to put your name in for it. Our first refrigerator, our first stove, you put your name in and you waited until they became available because all the factories had been turned over to making shells and war equipment.