Friday, October 24, 2008

Liveblogging My Grandfather's Tapes II

Continuing the liveblogging, because I know you're curious how that wiener thing ended up.

This "wiener deal" caused a tightening of tour restrictions...wouldn't let tourists near chicken or wiener processing, then wouldn't let them in the beef kill or the pork kill. Tours kept getting cut down, both in volume and number.

He stopped taking tours two years ago. He was "senior man" and felt that other and younger fellows might be better at it. He did the tours for thirteen years. He started at Schneider's in 1934 and was still doing tours in 1989, well over fifty years with the company. They have a retiree's travel club. A woman who started at Schneider's when he did suggested the travel club after retirement, have been doing it for twenty years...have several trips on the go.

Trips to Alexandria, New York. A ten-day trip to the Ozarks, one to Toronto, one through the Welland Canal, one to the Shaw Festival. So he's still involved with Schneider's. They used to rent their own busses but the costs were too high, now go through a travel agent.

INTERVIEWER: I know that you went to PEI during World War Two. Tell me more.

He went to London to enlist, but he and his brother were told to wait for their call. He got his call in August 1942, got into the service in November or December. He went into the Air Force, his brother was in the Army. He went to a camp near Montreal. Went to the Toronto Hunt Club for initial training, was then sent to Jarvis for further training, also LINK trainer, where he "washed out." He didn't have the physical qualities necessary.

The LINK trainer was a machine similar to flying. Just an imitation. Just barely the cockpit. There was scenery around you and you had the horizon, what it was was a simulated aircraft flight. He couldn't judge between the aircraft and the ground so they washed him out. He was finished.

So he remustered to aeroengines (ground crew), he typed wills at the Toronto manning pool for troops who were enlisting, this was at the sheep pen in the Exhibition grounds. Then he went to Galt for the aeroengine training school, in some of the old factory buildings down there. Then was shipped to St. Thomas, just a holding depot for postings, waiting for his assignment, continued marching and was held in barracks.

Then was posted to Moose Jaw for four days -- on ground crew, out on the airstrip. Would warm up planes in the morning, test everything. It was a bombing and gunnery school. An aircraft would carry two fellows, would drag a flag on a cable from behind. The fellows in another aircraft would shoot at the flag and record the results. They also dropped imitation explosives, fly over targets. A fellow in a pigeonhole would record how the bombing run went.

Then he was posted to Prince Edward Island. Two stations were there: Summerside (surveillance for submarines) and Mount Pleasant (also bombing and gunnery school). Was there from June 1944 to June 1945 with Rita (his wife). Had two rooms, four families living in one house, had a daughter (Sharon) just a year and a half old.

The armistice was signed and he was sent back to Ottawa until his discharge. Got it in Toronto in October 1945 on the Exhibition grounds. He was never sent overseas, possibly because he was married and had a child, and was also thirty. They had kids, 19, 20, "sharp as tacks, and, you might say, champing at the bit." He was on an overseas draft but they took him off. So he ended up in PEI, not in a war zone.

INTERVIEWER: Were there accidents during training?

Planes did go down, he was on guard duty on occasions when two went down. A seaplane crashed on an Ottawa roof near Hull, he was sent out to guard the plane and make sure it wasn't tampered with. At Mount Pleasant a plane went down and he guarded it for a week. To keep everybody away, civilians, air force people, until investigators could determine what happened.

Came back home in 1945. He was glad to get home. Then he went back to Schneider's. His job was held, and the plant treated the soldiers well. They made up a monthly food box that was sent to every worker in the service. The boxes contained toffee, cigarettes, canned butter, cookies, biscuits, summer sausage, canned meat. Also mailed overseas. Clarence Heller was in charge of the department that oversaw that operation.

It was a good place to work. There weren't too many people suffered, and if they did it was their own fault. J.M. (the founder) knew the old originals in the plant and he'd go out and visit them. Fred was quiet, more the businessman. Norm was everybody's friend, would ask people's opinion of things.

INTERVIEWER: Who were the old-timers you started there with?

When he started, a lot of the original employees were there. William Rohleder was the fellow that J. M. brought over as the sausage maker. "He was big, fat, German fellow." Jolly and robust. He was retired by that time. When J.M. started he only knew how to make pork sausage, so he brought in Rohleder. Wanted to branch out. Rohleder was practially a partner, probably had some money in the business when he retired.

The Radke brothers. Oscar worked in the cook room, Dutch loaf was roasted at that time. Oscar ended up in catering, making roast loaves and roast tails, had a special recipe for potato salad. Harry Radke was a "pig-sticker." "In other words, he stuck he hogs."

Gus Hagerman was head of the cook room, he might have invented the Dutch loaf. The Dutch loaf is a baked liver loaf, has a liver flavour to it. It's still made. J. M. was around. Freddy Maier worked in the office, did bookkeeping. Fred Schneider was head bookkeeper, in charge of finance. Norm Schneider was a mechanic, factory superintendent, also very quality-minded.

Edgar Gimble was cashier, one of the old originals.

INTERVIEWER: Thanks to both of you!

GRANDMA: I've heard things too, that I've never heard!


Kimber said...

Hey, did you ever tour Schneider's when you were in high school? My class went but I declined to go...I was a semi-vegetarian at the time.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Yup! And my grandfather took us through, as well. It was a pretty vile environment, but I'm sure no more vile than any other meat rendering plant.

Of particular note was the automatic chicken-gutting machine. Wow!

scott said...

I seem to recall going with you at some point. Weren't we drawing those little stick people having war games? High tech vs. Low tech?

Or perhaps I dreamt it.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Yes, Scott, we DID go...I think it was in grade eight!

I don't remember us drawing stick figures at that particular time, but would you believe I just found one of the books we did that in? Something like "The Adventures of Barhuigi." I'll have to get my scanner back online...

scott said...

Yay! It wasn't a fever dream induced by reading too many blogs!