I think music has pulled a lot of people through when times were tough and things were not going very good. It is great to get out there and entertain and sing songs that people really appreciate.These songs bring back memories to a lot of older people. I see tears in their eyes.
My father was a coal miner from New Brunswick. He went to Inverness on Cape Breton to work in the mines but he was blacklisted there for trying to organize an union so he came out west.
He was killed in the mine at Brule when I was two years old. My mother was left with three children so she sent me to New Brunswick to live with my grandmother. She then married a Welsh coal miner and they moved to Canmore.
I came to visit my mother in Canmore in 1935 and they talked me into staying. I've been here since I was nineteen.
One of my first jobs was working for Brewster's on their dude ranch. I used to play the guitar and sing cowboy songs. Wilf Carter had the same job before me.We outfitted the trail rides and entertained the dudes.
In 1937, I started at the mine. I worked outside. I never wanted to work in the coal mine on account of my father getting killed in a mine. I started on the picking table then went to the sawmill. From there, I went to the briquette plant. It ran mostly in the winter.When they put in the coke oven, they had me there as a foreman.
I worked for the Canmore Mines for thirty-three years and retired in 1984.
When I was young, I could hear a song once or twice and I could remember the whole thing. My first guitar in New Brunswick was a Maybell. It cost $12.95. When I came to Canmore, I bought an SS Stewart from a music store in Calgary. My first good guitar is a prewar Martin 00018 - it cost me $140.
Yeah, I write songs. I get a little bitter at times. I've had a tough time since I was a kid and I've made a lot of wrong decisions in my life.
No matter how much you agonize about the way things could have been, You can't go back and do it over again.