"By the time that I got over to Cornwallis I had stiff white hair, and white rings on my black stockings. I never forgot that trip. At least I wasn’t sick."
The first leave I took, of course, we went home to Claremont [Ontario]. My sister and I were able to get leave at the same time and we went to home, Claremont. While we were on our leave we also went down to Detroit, Michigan to visit an aunt for a short while, a couple of days.
The train ride from Galt [Ontario] to Saint John [New Brunswick] was something new for me because I had never slept on a train before. They packed us in well. There were two of us in an upper bunk. If you know anything about a train and how big upper bunk is. When we landed in Saint John we were on the “Princess”, a ferry that ran between Saint John, New Brunswick and Digby, Nova Scotia. When we got to Digby I remember I had never been at a shore and in Digby all the fish we are all hanging to dry and the smell is what we all complained about first of all! Coming across on the “Princess” a few of the girls were seasick and it was a nasty, windy, wet day. Some of us stayed up on the top deck so we wouldn’t be sick. By the time that I got over to Cornwallis I had stiff white hair, and white rings on my black stockings. I never forgot that trip. At least I wasn’t sick.
We had different shifts. Sometimes we had to be on board at 5 o’clock in the morning. We would prepare breakfast then if we were on that shift. In those times, of course, all we had to work with was powdered milk, powdered eggs, and so it was mostly scrambled eggs. You didn’t get a fresh egg, poached or anything like that. We did have bacon sometimes and toast, of course, and jam. That would be breakfast. If you still were on the shift for dinner time you had to get the vegetables ready, cook the meat, and roast the meat in the big ovens. We had huge ovens and huge boiler pots that we cooked things in. The potatoes were peeled in a machine that just rubbed the skins off them and then we had to cut out any spots or eyes. I think our shift ended after we had cleaned up after dinner. But if we were on an evening shift then we came on in time to prepare supper. I’m not sure what we had for supper. We made desserts and we made soups. Then we were on all night and we prepared some things ready for the group coming on, ready for breakfast, to clean things up and got the tables set, ready for the next day.
I often think of the time some of us had a weekend leave and we went down to Yarmouth. We booked in at the YWCA and then we went out to see the town but we didn’t manage to get back that night. I often think of that. We just wandered around. There were about six of us, I think. In Yarmouth there is quite a hill and you could look down over it so we put the night up there, just talking and visiting and watching the ships coming and going. I always remember that because I thought we were kind of bad. We did get called up the next day and were confined to barracks for a while because of it.
Reverend Todd was his name. He married us. We had had an interview with him before. He said “I will send a car for you to bring you down to the dockyard that day.” My sister and I were all ready waiting and nothing was happening. We were out at the front door, waiting; I finally phoned and he had forgotten all about it. A car eventually came and the girls from the galley they all went down there, got special passes, and were at the chapel with us. My husband’s brother was in the Navy, too, and he was in Halifax at the time, so the four of us went out to have dinner after. We managed to get a room. We went down the day before the wedding and the lady said she could not rent a room and we said “Well, we are getting married tomorrow and we would like a room.” “Oh, you’re getting married. Well, that’s all right then” she said. So we had the room just for the one night because my husband was supposed to ship out at 3 o’clock in the morning. So of course we stayed together as long as we could. We missed every street car going back to the barracks so we started out walking and the police stopped us and wanted to know what we were doing on the street at that hour of the night because the shore patrol kept pretty good tabs on us if you were out after hours. We told them what happened and they said “You’d better get in” so we were driven back to the barracks in a police cruiser! They let me off at [HMCS] Stadacona and then they took Harvey down to the dock.