I remember the year we went to the Experimental Farm at Indian Head to buy trees to act as a windbreak for the house and Grandma's garden. They were planted with care and tended with devotion, but this must have been about the beginning of the "dirty thirties" when the wind blew relentlessly, the rain never came and the water holes dried up. Those trees never had a chance.
|About this time there was an influx
of army worms. They crawled by the millions across the farmyard,
over the house and into the garden, eating every green thing in
their path. In twenty-four hours they stripped every tree and
left nothing but desolation. I have never heard of this phenomenon
before or since, though when we lived in Dunrea the salamanders
came up from the lakes at Ninette, climbed out of the valley -
motorists were forced to put chains on their tires to get up the
hill - and reached Dunrea six miles away. For days the boys chased
the girls to drop a salamander down their backs. Such excitement!
Grandma and the boys carried on with the farming during the bad years, piecing the worn machinery together with binder twine until it finally gave up the ghost. There was no feed for their beloved horses so they brought them to Carberry in Manitoba where a farmer offered to keep them, but they were so homesick they wandered up and down the fences trying to find a way to go home and refusing to eat. When Elwood came to get them in the spring, only one had survived the winter. That was a heartbreak for the whole family.
In the meantime, Mom had met my dad, William Harold McLaughlin, and they were married on Dec. 26, 1916. Dad was at that time a member of the North West Mounted Police as they were then known, so they moved to Regina where he was stationed. The following year, Nov. 6, 1917 his namesake was born. Shortly after Harold's birthday my dad was transferred to Winnipeg where I was born on April 12, 1919.