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A Good Life

Time 0:03:42


There was nothing to do in Arnes so when I finished grade 11, I went to Winnipeg and I stayed with my best friend Mary Daniels family. Ruth, Mary’s mother, was a war bride and she took me round all over to find a job but nobody had any openings. When we were just about home she said why don’t you try the Wevel Cafe? We were in the Icelandic neighbourhood, and the owner hired me on the spot because I could speak Icelandic. I couldn’t sleep all night. That morning when I started, I was so nervous that I threw up at the back door.

About a year later, my landlady said she saw in the paper that they were taking any students with grade 11 to teach. So Mary Daniels and I went to the Legislative Building to get permits to work as a teacher. Mr. McDonald, the official trustee took out a big map of Manitoba and said there were only two schools left that didn’t have teachers. Bay End and Lonely Lake. Mary took Bay End and I took Lonely Lake. We packed a few things and away we went.

Lonely Lake was so horribly lonely. There was no hydro in the country and I had to use a coal oil lamp. I used to throw my lunch in the ditch because I didn’t want the landlady to know that I just couldn’t eat. After Christmas I went to live with the Johnson family. Even though she had so many kids she said she would take me because I was Icelandic. After that I wasn’t lonely anymore.

I became close friends with two of the girls, and we continued to stay in touch when I went to Normal School and started teaching in Stinson, just close to Carberry. When the girls moved to Winnipeg, I would visit them on weekends. Their brother Joseph, would visit the girls too when he was hauling cattle. One time I didn’t have a ride home, so he drove me. That’s when he started visiting me.

We decided to get married. Emily my sister was 19 and she wanted to marry her fiancé Harry too. Mom asked us to wait and get married later. I said why me I’m 25 and he’s 31? She’s only 19. They should wait. Mom gave in, and we had a double wedding.

Joseph and his brother Helgi had bought a business together. They had a store in Eddystone that was on the side of their house. It was the envy of all the little kids in the area because they figured they could have all the candy they wanted. When we got married Joseph and I lived in the house with Helgi and his sister Grace.

My first job was to fill containers with high test gas from big barrels. We dried senica root on the roofs of the store so we could sell it. The trappers would bring in fur and rabbits and the farmers would bring cowhides. People in the area would bring in big bullfrogs and we’d ship them in crates to the big hotel. They used the frog legs as a delicacy.

I worked at the store and a museum there for 30 years. I raised five children. I now have 13 grandchildren, and just very recently, one great grandchild. I had a lot of hard work, and a lot of interesting experiences. I think it was a pretty good life.

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