Veteran Stories:
Velma Jean “Shorty” Arnold (née Jewell)


  • Velma Arnold, at Red Deer, Alberta, December 10, 2009.

    Historica Canada
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"I enjoyed it and I think I enjoyed all the people I met."


I asked mom, I thought maybe I should join up several years earlier, a couple I think, it was as soon as I got out of school. And she didn’t think it was a very good idea, naturally. So anyway, another girl and I finally, I guess it was two years later about, we decided we’d join and we went to Calgary and did join up. And they interviewed us and all the rest and we were accepted and they, see, I don’t know how long after that we were sent east anyway. And we stayed in Toronto.

Well, I think we’d been around the boys that were all, and a lot of our friends had joined up. And a lot of our families and things like this. And, and I think you sort of get wandering fever, that you want to see something different. Because I think I’d only been to Calgary once in my whole life by then, you see. It was quite a big undertaking and this other girl too I think was about the same. But it was good. Anyway, they sent us there and we had our basic training. We had a marvelous time, we got to know a lot of the girls, and they were really good about taking you home and showing you around their homes and their cities that we went to. And of course, this is, this was really quite a thing. We hadn’t been to a big city. And of course, these were quite big. And then we started to hitchhike and had a marvelous time. And in those days, you could, you know, and be quite safe.

So, except this one time, this girlfriend and I decided we’d go up to Montreal. So we did, we did this weekend, we got that far. Amazing how many rides you get. And we thought we’d go across the border, just across the border to see what it was like, you see. So we were headed that way the next morning and this couple stopped, these fellows stopped in the car and asked what we were doing. And we told him we were going to this certain place and he said, “No you’re not.” He said, “You’re going home.” (laughing) And what they did, they said, “We’ll get you a room, you’ll stay overnight and you go home.” So we stayed overnight and we went home. (laughs) It was an old couple of men, white haired old fellows and they got us a nice hotel room and they said, “Now you go home in the morning.” And we did. I’ll never forget that.

You know, when you’re in barracks, you really don’t have that much time for fun. They’ve usually got you busy and you’re tired. So you go to bed when you’re supposed to. But no, there really wasn’t too much entertainment put on or anything like that, and you went to the natural things, to shows and different things like that. It’s always quite interesting too, to meet the different girls from the different provinces. And they’d all be in the same place that you had visits and things, you know. But no, nothing particularly for fun, that I can remember. Not when I was down East anyway.

I went on my first merry-go-round, one of the big ones. When we were in Toronto I think it was, this girl, we went home with her this weekend. And she took us out to the fair and we went on these elaborate things that I’d never seen before. But we did go to the odd dance. Not too much though because well, you didn’t know the places to go to either and they weren’t in the barracks or anything like that. But that seemed to take up all of your time, just being in that particular time of your life too. It isn’t like you were home. But I enjoyed it and I think I enjoyed all the people I met.

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