Tape 1 of 2 Side A
ALUMNI- IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
ROSS HAY, O.A.C.’45
Ontario Agricultural College, 1945
Interviewed by himself
H (Inaudible) by Ross R. Hay, Year ’45, describing some of my experiences at O.A.C. I remember arriving between Creelman Hall and what was then the Admin Building and now, Johnston Hall. My father parked his car there. I went in to register. But before I got to the Bursar’s Office, was met by sophomores, as I learned later, who sold me a tie - a green tie with the words “Frosh” printed down the front, a tam, with a two and a half by five inch card attached to this tam. Now the tam was like a sailor’s hat, so the card was attached to the rim that went around the edge of the sailor’s hat. On that card was, eventually, our name, our home town, our room number in the Admin Building (long pause) and I believe, whether we were Diploma or Degree students. This “Frosh” tie and hat were worn everywhere on campus and downtown as well.
While waiting at the Bursar’s Office to make payment of tuition fees, I saw a chap standing there with Owen Sound on his card on the hat. He turned out to be a long time friend, in the person of W.J.P. Telford – Bill as he was commonly known. Bill knew some girls that had moved from my home town to Owen Sound, and that started our friendship.
Now at this time there was hazing duties, and hazing was mainly carried out by the sophomore year. We, as freshmen, paid our meals in the basement of Creelman Hall. At our table was a fourth year student who was also a dean in the Admin Building. They changed every week. So by this method, we got to know some of the fourth year students. When we left the Ad Building, especially after the lunch meal, or dinner in the evening, there would be a line-up of senior students, waiting on each side of the walkway to pick us up, take us back to their room, have us clean the room, the dust balls or polish their shoes, or make their beds, things of that nature. Of course, in doing this, we got to know those students. I remember one time I was staying over the weekend. I had planned to do this. And at the Sunday lunch, I was corralled by a student, along with another freshman. We were taken to his room, and he gave us his laundry to wash. When it came to his dirty underwear, I rebelled, and said, “I am going home. I am not washing your dirty underwear.” Being a little larger than this chap, he readily consented to my departure. It also paid well at this time, to note some of the senior students, who would wait for you after the meal time, and pick you up and take you to their room, where you could have a smoke and shoot the breeze, as the saying goes, with them. This happened quite frequently to myself.
I well remember, standing on the curb in that same area between Creelman Hall and the Admin Building where we were caught by some students, and requested to sing this song. The song was, “Oh, the cow kicked Nelly in the belly in the barn. And her old man said it wouldn’t do her any harm.” Second verse same as the first. Third verse same as the second and so on. Finally this song would get laughable, and of course I sang it many times. And of course, I still remember it to-day.
I had already made arrangements to room with another boy who was coming to Guelph, starting his first year, the same as myself – only I was a Diploma Student and he was a Degree student. And when I met up with Dean Bromley, for my room, he suggested that I not room with this chap, but room with a Diploma student, which I did. Now one of the reasons for doing this, was the fact that on the way up Gordon Street, I saw this other student walking down Gordon Street, perhaps to one of the local pubs, and I didn’t want that kind of life at Guelph, for myself. Thus, we separated. I roomed with another student, and then I had two room mates after that, in a big room at the front of the Admin Building – now Johnston Hall. Well do I remember the meals at O.A.C. They were simply delicious. We were fed abundantly. The cream pie, banana cream and coconut cream were a real delight. Meat was passed on a platter – sliced beef and pork. On Sundays we were served a wedge of cheese to slice off what you desired. Bread was placed on the table – a half loaf on each - plate - butter - a half a pound on each plate. There was an abundance.
Of course there was the College songs and one I remember best of all is, “We’re true to you – old red and blue. We will fight for you to-day. We’re faithful still to the College on the hill, and this we’ll stay until our dying day.” And then there was another one about, “They feed us fish at dinner, that’s been six months out to sea. Then the cap - the climax boys, at dinner there’s no tea.” That’s only part of it but, it was all kind of ridiculing the meals at Creelman Hall, which I thought were delicious. And believe me, I came from a home, and still do, where the food is extraordinarily good. Another of the great things that I realized afterwards, in my first year, was meeting the other students. Any room was open house. There seemed to be a congregation every evening, at least until Christmas, in our room –every evening. We learned greatly from these “Bull Sessions”, as we called them, about the other people and how they lived and what they did on their farm.
It was interesting that in our class, the first ten people in the standings, there was only one student who was from the farm. We felt that the student, when we went to an exam, remembered what we did at home, more easily than what we were told by the Prof And most of what we were learning at home wasn’t right. So, it showed up in our examinations.
When you get a group of fellows together, in one residence, things are bound to happen. At that time, study hour was from eight p.m. until ten p.m. No noise was allowed in any room during that period, at least for the first two or three months
that we were there. (long pause) No alcoholic beverages were allowed. If you were caught with alcoholic beverages in your room, it meant immediate dismissal, so I was told, anyway, although there was alcoholic beverages there at this time. (long pause)
To end off this epistle, next subject I would like to talk about is the Discipline Board. The Discipline Board at O.A.C was composed of fourth year students. I do not believe that (long pause) there was any set group. It was just all of the year, and they met at Mills Hall Common Room or Lounge with the guilty students. How did I come to be before the Discipline Board? My friend from Owen Sound and another chap, James Knox, (long pause) decided to go to Hamilton. And the reason we decided to go to Hamilton was that Jim wanted to go there to pick up a car. Now I didn’t realize that his reason for going to Hamilton was to rent a car, to take a girl to a dance. This was something new to me. In any case, I had a detention that evening, for making a noise the night before. And so, the evening that we were going, I contacted the fourth year student, a chap by the name of Pat Cooligan, who was the one who gave me the detention, and asked him if I might be excused for that evening, because the three of us were going to Hamilton, and pick up a car. He readily agreed to this and said it would be OK if I came in the next evening. So Jim, Bill and I went out on Gordon Street and hitch-hiked a ride to Hamilton. Of course the reason Bill and I went, was to go somewhere and have a few beers while Jim picked up his car. And this we did in what was then the “Royal Connaught Hotel” with our frosh tie on and our frosh tams – sailor hats – whatever you want to call them. But those we stuffed inside our jackets, when we were in the hotel. Jim eventually came to pick us up, and Bill said that he didn’t feel anything at all. So we decided to go back into Hamilton and pick up a bottle of liquor. Well, the liquor stores were closed. So, we found a wine store. We bought three bottles of wine for four dollars and fifty cents. On the way back to Guelph, we drank one bottle, that is, Bill and I, because Jim did not drink alcohol. Then we parked somewhere in the city to consume the rest, and as we talked, we got a little concerned that the Guelph Police Force might pick us up. So we had better go back to the residence. However, I knew that this man Cooligan would be prowling around, and maybe catch up with me. So, we arrived at the residence, at the side door – one closest to Creelman Hall. We went up to the second flight of stairs, and who should come out, but Cooligan, who said, “Hey, you’re supposed to be in two thirty-five.” I said, “I was there, but you excused me.” “Well, I know I excused you, but now you’re back, so you might just as well come and you won’t have to take two nights’ detention.” That was kind of funny, he told me I could come back the one night. So, I said, “Well, I’ll take the two nights, and I won’t bother.” He said, “No, you won’t. You’ll come to-night.” I said, “OK sir, but I have to get my books, so I can study.” He said, “Go up to your room and get the books, and come down to two thirty-five.” “Yes, sir.” So when I got to the third floor, I thought, “Hey, I’m going to go and see those fellows from Sarnia – Frank Stird and Jim Smith and Jimmy O’Connor.” And so, I went down to one of their rooms and had a chin wag with them, for I don’t know how long. When I came out, I get
into the stairwell again, to go up to my room, and who should be there, but Mr. Cooligan. He really gave me a lecture then. I said, “Sir, I’m going up to get my books. I’ll be right down.” “Where you been?” “Talking to some friends that I know on the third floor.” “Get those books and get down here.” And so I did. I got my books. I had another couple of slugs of wine, and went down to see two thirty-five. When I arrived at two thirty-five, the wall around the room was lined with students, so I sat down over in a corner – at the far corner. Of course, I wasn’t there long, until I found it necessary to go to the washroom. So I said, “Sir, may I go to the washroom?” His answer was a blunt, “No.” I waited a few minutes more, and this time I really had to go, so I said, “Sir, if you don’t let me go to the washroom and make water, I’m afraid I’ll have to make it here.” And of course, the whole room erupted in laughter. And Mr. Cooligan – Pat – said, “Go – go.” So away I took off for the washroom – relieved myself, and came walking back. And Pat Cooligan was waiting for me outside, sitting on the cement (long pause) railing that comes up from the main entrance to the Admin Building, which is now Johnston Hall. He said, “Hey, come here.” “Sir?” He said, “You’re drunk.” I said, “No sir, I am not drunk, but I just don’t give a damn.” “You’ve been drinking.” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “Don’t you know that you can be – if Dean Bromley catches you, you will be evicted from this university? You won’t be able to come back.” I said, “Well sir, I came here to get a – Agricultural Education. I didn’t come here to drink. I didn’t realize that it was that serious.” He said, “Well it is.” By this time I’m a little concerned. And he said, “You get over there, in that place where you’re sitting, and you go in there, and you keep your mouth shut. If you don’t, and he comes in, you know what will happen.” “Yes, sir.” So I went in, and I sat down. Course I tried to open my books, but in my condition, I wasn’t interested in that, so I just put my head down- pretended that I was asleep. When I heard somebody rattling at my books, I looked up into the eyes of the fourth year student, the Dean, who lived next door to our room – a wonderful chap by the name of Nick Saunders, and Nick said, “Hey, you’re a disgrace to my alley.” I remember the words that I said. “Well, Nick, that’s just too damn bad, isn’t it?” And then they told me that they had found my accomplice. I said, “Oh, who’s the accomplice?” He said, “You know who he is –Telford.” He said, “He’s lying up there on his bed, with his feet and arms wide apart and his eyes wide open, and he can’t say a word. He might die.” I said, “Let the bugger die. Who cares.” Of course, Bill was out cold from our drinking. So anyway, that night ended, when ten o’clock came and we all went out and up to our room. Nothing more was thought of the episode until…
We came back, I believe it was after Thanksgiving. Here was a note – a little note – letter in our mailbox. Each one of us received one – to report to Mills Hall Common Room before the Discipline Board a ten o’clock on such and such an evening. Wow! Now, we are in trouble and we’re really scared. It was my good luck to know two or three of the fellows in fourth year, and they explained what could happen. But, they didn’t explain everything. We went over. We were placed in a corner, with desks in front of us. On top of those desks were goose-necked lamps at every desk. Every student’s desk had a goose-necked lamp for
him to study by. And I guess not to bother other students that might be in his room. Anyway, these were behind the desks with the lamp shining in our face. And we went in there for the questioning that was to follow. Well, for a while you couldn't see anything. You were blinded by these lights. And the questions started fast and furious. And the one I remember most, was a fellow by the name of, Harry Copple. I can't spell his name, but Harry came from the Chatham area, and he was the lawyer. In my opinion, he should have been a lawyer, instead of going to Guelph, because he could really fire the questions. Well, we were called everything. The profanity was profound. I don't think they used words that I hadn't heard before. But what they called us, to make us humble, I guess - everything under the sun. And some of the things at times, I couldn't keep from laughing. And I would - my lips were - inside of my cheeks were sore from biting myself, to try and keep myself - keep a straight face. And when I couldn't keep a straight face, I put my hand over my mouth, and this Copple would yell, "You big fat tub of... Get your hand off your mouth." And then they'd light into me and I'd be freed for a little while. Well, some of the things I remember. The charge was read to each one of us. Of course ours was being inebriated on campus. And there was another freshman, as the charge was read to him, he said he didn't know why he was there. And so he was informed, “You went into your room and locked the door and you wouldn't open up, for the sophomore who wanted to get in. And finally you said, ‘If you want in here, grease your ass and slide under.’" Well at that of course, I burst out laughing out loud - much to my regret. Then, one of the other things I remember that I was pushing the rubber or peanut on the floor with my nose -and this other fellow was to whack me in the rear. Of course he was just tapping me, being very gentle with me. So, Copple says, "Get down there, and I'll show you how it's done." So this fellow gets down pushing (chuckle) the rubber and he hit him a whollop in the rear end, and knocked him flat on his face. Now I don't remember those fellows, but I'll bet anything, his rear was black and blue from that whack. Another thing somebody brought in one of those soda glasses - the old style soda glass – filled with a mixture. It was warm water and liniment. I had been told by my friends, if I was given anything like this, to just pretend I was swallowing, and don't swallow. Luckily they told me that. I sold this glass to Bill for ten cents. Copple said, "Give me the ten cents. That will buy me a beer at the Royal" - meaning the Royal Hotel. And he took this ten cents and he kept it. Bill, took a couple of real swallows of this mixture, and of course he couldn't hold it down and he brought it up on the floor. Then to make matters worse, somebody went out and got rags and brought them in and had him get down and clean it up off the floor. What a terrible thing to have to do. Anyway, the last thing that I remember, was "duck-walking" around Mills Hall. You know that's squatting down with your knees bent, and your rear end near the floor, and walking - and then they said, "Away you go. Duck walk back to Admin." I said to myself, "I'll never make it. If these guys come along with us - I'll never make it." When I got to the door, somebody tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Bub". He said, "Bub, you stay here." And I thought, "Oh, oh. Now I'm really in for it, for that laughing - covering up my face and so on." He said, "So" - this chap said, "You come in here." So I went in to the common room and was told, "Take those lamps and take
them back where they belong." I said, "Where do they belong, sir?" He said, "I don't know. Just knock on every door, until you find it. "So, away I went - knockin' on a door. Somebody came to the door. "What - 'H' are you doing here, frosh.? Get outta here. "That was the answer for about four doors. And finally I came, knocked on a door. It was open. “Come on in Ross, come on in. Would you like a drink of beer. Have a smoke.” I said, "Freshmen aren't allowed to do those things, in Mills Hall." "You are in our room. Help yourself, whatever you like." So, I sat down with them and had a smoke. They wanted to know about my life and told me what a great - how well I'd taken this - and what a great guy I was and so on. Well, I didn't know -1didn't know much about that. I didn't think I was much of a fellow, for what I had done. Anyway, we got to know the fourth year students, by being on the Discipline Board. I met Copple the next day, on campus, and he said, "Well big fellow, how's your guts?" And I thought that was about it. My guts were fine, I told him. But the story didn't end here. The next time, we were in a judging competition. Just our class of An. Hub students were at this judging competition, in what is now the - the "Bull Ring" as they call it. We'd a class there, and Professor Frank Wolf - the late Frank Wolf was the professor in charge. And he wanted to know if "Hay" was there? And I said, "Here, sir."
Then he wanted to know if a chap by the name of Connerty was there. Connerty wasn't there. And this Connergy, I had heard some things that I didn't appreciate about him. So, I thought, "Boy, am I being classed with him?" Anyway the Prof. said, "I would like to see you in my office, immediately after this class" "Yes, sir." So the class went on. At the end of the class, he said, "Hay, don't forget - you, in my office." "Yes, sir." So I followed him into his office. He left for about fifteen minutes, I guess. It seemed like a half an hour to me. I was just ready to get up and leave, when he came back in. He asked me how I was getting along. (Taping noises) I said, "Well, I'm uh, having difficulty getting any studying done, because students keep coming into our room - and staying until mid-night and - just shooting the bull." "And so, you go to classes, quite tired." The Prof stated, "Well, that's part of coming to 0.A.C. That's part of your education here, and you should be happy that you are mingling like that. That is good." Then he dropped the 'bombshell'. "You're not cutting up are you?" And I'll never, ever forget those words - "cutting up". I was astounded. And he said, "You know what I mean." I said, "You mean, being before the Discipline Board?" "Yes. That's what I mean. I want to tell you, the Head of every Department on this campus knows about you being before the Discipline Board. And if you think, you can come to this institution - and have wine, women and song, you're going to find out differently. And if you're not failed, in the Christmas Exams, I guarantee you will fail in the Spring Exams. And I don't care if you make a hundred in every exam, you will still fail. It won't be this Department that will fail you." And I thought, "Wow!” And I said, "Sir, I didn't come to this institution to drink and carouse and just have a good time. I came here to get an Agricultural Education. And if that's the way it is, I'm through with the booze." Prof. Wolf said, "That is entirely up to you. I leave it in your hands, but I've warned you."
In later years, in fact, when we were close to - what we hoped to be graduation – that same Professor Wolf asked in a class if any of us would like to go with him
for a short ride, while he inseminated a cow? I'd never seen this done before, so, I put up my hand, that I would like to go. And so, two or three of us, went with Prof. Wolf to inseminate this cow on a farm - which is now, the "Canadian General Electric". On the way there, I said, "Sir, do you remember talking to me in my first year, after I'd been before the Discipline Board?" And he said, "Yes. I do. And I'll tell you how that came about, Ross. When you started at Guelph - before you started - that year - we were down at the Exhibition. All the Faculty of the Animal Hub Department were at the Exhibition. You were there with Edwards Brothers, showing cattle. Everyone came back, with the same story - that someone had taken them by the arm, pointed you out to them, and said, "That young fellow is going to 0.A.C. And if you don't ride herd on him, he'll give you a real time, but if you get him going straight, he'll make a good student." And I said, "That couldn't be so." He said, "Yes. When everyone in our Department at a Faculty Meeting said, ‘so- and- so had taken them to show him this young fellow that was going to Guelph, So-and-so and So-and -so and so on,’ he said. We said ‘Well, we'll have to watch this fellow’. And so, within three weeks of you being here, it happened. At the next Faculty Meeting, someone was asked to speak to this fellow, and put him straight. And so, I said I would do it. That's how I came to talk to you, and lay down the law, as it were." I thanked him very much. So it's a long story, but that was the Discipline Board.
(Tape turned off).
Tape 1 of 2-Side B
ALUMNI-IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
ROSS HAY, O.A.C. 1945
Ontario Agricultural College, 1945
Interviewed by himself
R This episode all started with our room-mate dressing to go to our year party, and finding when he put his coat on, that there were no buttons on it. They had all been snipped off, we presumed by the sophomores. We wondered how we would get back at them. And this is the story of the water. We heard our - this commotion outside our window. Got outside, looked to see and we noticed students carrying chairs it seemed like it, back and forth over to Creelman Hall. And so we ran down the hall, from our end to the back of the Admin Building, and here were students walking across there, carrying whatever they were. We didn't know whether they were students or who they were - but it looked like students. And they were carrying chairs, too – from cafeteria, which is now Der Keller - carrying the chairs from there over to Creelman Hall. They had been taken there for their banquet, and now they were taking them out of there - out of the cafeteria, in order that they could dance. So, Jim and I decided this was our opportunity. We took one of the cans – waste cans - that is metal waste cans from our room, dumped the paper out of it, filled it with water. Jim carried the can and I ran ahead of him, opened the window, and looked out - and here is a pair of them, walking along. I pulled my head in and I
said, "Look Jim." Jim looked out and up went the water, and I head for our room, and Jim ran for our room, too. On the way, we met one chap - I can't tell you his name now. I know he was in the Air Force. I don't know whether he returned from overseas or not. But, he was the only one that saw us. And I said to him, "If this gets out, it will be on your shirt-front, because you're the only one that's seen us." So we into our room. Thank goodness we had enough sense to take some garbage out of one can and put it in this other can, or we would have had it. We changed our clothes. One sat at the desk. I was in bed – I remember quite well, and pretended we were studying.
In just a few minutes, the place erupted, in the hallways. People milling about. We didn't even open our door, we just stayed there - and a knock came to the door. "Open up. Open up". So we unlocked the door - Jim got up and unlocked the door, and here was one of the Deans - a fourth year student - Pat Cooligan. And he looked around our room, and he said, " You fellows been in here all night?" "Why certainly, we're studying for a test to-morrow. What's goin' on Pat? What's all the noise about, out there?" "Never mind. You been in here all night?" And we could see him looking at our garbage tins. He didn't come in to check them out - he just looked, and when he saw paper in all of them, I guess that was fine. We said, "Yes. We been in here all night. Yes we have." "Well never mind, what's going on - just get back to your study." So, we locked the door again and we weren't bothered again. The next week-end, the sophomores came up. What they didn't do. They painted the skull and cross-bones at the centre landing across the front of the building on our floor, which is fourth floor. They greased toilet seats, they poured paint on students that they found their room open. They greased door handles, but, they were caught.
The result of that, they were ejected from residence for two weeks. We kept 'mum', and that episode was never found out - until... Nick Saunders, the Dean, who resided beside us. I met him at the Canadian National Exhibition. He had graduated and gone into the Air Force, and he was there in an Air Force uniform, and stationed at the Ex. So, we sat down on a bale of hay, behind the cattle, and Nick" uh, I said, "There are things that you didn't know about that went on there." "Oh," he said, "Ross, we knew a lot of things that went on, but we just never did anything about it." I said, "You never knew about the water." "How did you get out of that one?" he said. So I told him about what we had done. "You were lucky", he said. (long pause - tape recorder noises)
Well, a number of years later - I can't tell you how many - I would say, perhaps twenty, after graduation, my wife and I were at an Alumni Day, in June, on the campus. And it was the year that they opened the Lounge in Macdonald Institute. The day was very, very warm, and chairs had been lined up in front of Macdonald Institute for people to sit in. And so some of us picked up some chairs and moved them to the right under the shade of a tree, and sat in them. Beside me was an empty chair. And this good-looking young lady, came out of Macdonald Institute, and started to walk and she walked right up to me and sat down in that chair. And so we got talking. This lady turned out to be Mrs. Steve Chivas - and Steve was one of the fellows who received our water. And so I asked her if he was one who was doused with the water. And she replied, "Yes. He was." And I said "Well, my goodness,
imagine you walking over here and sitting beside me - 'cause I'm one of the fellows who was in on that prank." Well, she told me, "The boys only had one suit of clothes. They had to go and get another suit of clothes from somebody. And Steve being such a husky fellow - it was difficult for him to find a suit that fit him." Anyway, they were gone for about an hour and a half, before he came back to the dance. Mrs. Chivas said, - and she wasn't Mrs. Chivas at this time - and she said, "I have never seen him so - angry, before or since in our life-time". The water, apparently, hit them squarely and soaked them completely. Steve was kicked out for the performance the next weekend - kicked out for two weeks. And his wife said she remembered taking extra grub from Creelman Hall, the dining room, to make sure that they had lots to eat, although they did have to pay rent for rooms. From what I heard, we would have been pulp, if they had ever caught us.
I'm sure my partner, Jim and I for one regret doing this, now. And we did right afterwards, but it was done. And that is the story of the water. End off...
We were studying, living on the fourth floor, for our Christmas exams. About three o'clock in the morning, we were awakened by this sound. As we listened, a group were singing Christmas Carols. Wondering what was going on, we opened the door. And lo, here was a lighted Christmas tree, with perhaps a half a dozen fellows around it, - enjoying the Christmas season with their Carol singing.
The amusement ceased and we went back to sleep.
The next morning, at breakfast in Creelman Hall, in the basement where we ate, a Dean, by the name of Spike Reynolds, was sitting at the end of the table, and I was sitting on his right - the first student on his right. As we started eating breakfast, I told Spike about being awakened early in the morning with the fellows singing Christmas Carols around the Christmas tree. Suddenly, like a bolt of lightening he is gone. I wonder, "What's happened to him?" When I returned from breakfast, the fourth floor was alive with fourth year students. Unknown to me, these fellows had stolen the Christmas tree, the night before, off the portico at the ORTICO -I believe that's what it is, the porch at Mills Hall. How they did it, we'll never know, without wakening someone. Anyway, the fourth year students were there, looking for their tree. Of course, Spike Reynolds blamed me and said you know all about it and you're going to pay for this. I said, "Sorry, I don't know anything about it." And I didn't. However, they went around the other side of the "U", looked across, and they see - saw the Christmas tree lit up in a room on our side of the back-side of the "U", facing into the centre of the Admin Building. Well, they came around to the door and they pounded on the door, and threatened to break it down, and finally, the students in there and a couple of others gave in, and released their tree to them. I don't know how - the full story - whether they had to take the tree back and set it up again, on the portico at Mills Hall, but I presume, that the students did that.
However, what happened from this, was another meeting before the Discipline Board. I found out from fourth year students that I was - going to be asked to appear before the Discipline Board, and I told them I had nothing to do with it, so, my name was withdrawn. However, these four fellows that I can remember, and I'm not going
to mention their names, had to go before the Discipline Board at Mills Hall. From what I gathered, their experience, was much different from our experience. One of the things that they had to do - they took them into a - the toilet - into the washrooms - and some made out as though they were havin' a bolution - bowel movement, and then these fellows were asked to reach their hand down in the bowl - and of course they had that acid that smelled like you know what. They reached down in the bowl, and in the bowl they had placed bananas, and they were told to grab and squeeze it. Can you imagine what that felt like. Then they were dressed up as little kids - their pants had to be rolled up to their knees. They had signs on their back and front - "I’m a smart guy." They carried a little umbrella with them. And I think for a week, they had to do this around the campus. I forget now what all transpired with them, but I know on that sign that one of them was carrying, was, "I'm a smart guy." Kind of embarrassing but, - that is the story of the Christmas tree, as I recall it, now.
We'll title this one, "Taking the Exam". And for obvious reasons, although the other two parties are now deceased, their names must not be mentioned, as I have given them. I'm given them in this way, in order that, I won't get them mixed up if I use fictitious names, as I dictate, “Taking the Exam”. I was living, for a month, in Football Alley, with Assistant Deans. Two of the fellows came to me and wanted me to go out to a show on a Friday night. I refused. My reason - there were many notes - maybe an inch and a half of notes thick, that we had to study for the Soil Examination, which was coming up the following Monday - and of course there were other exams after Monday.
Busher said, "I was in the office to-day, of Professor Bell, and I saw where he got the key to open the filing cabinet, to give me - some of the - labs - that I had missed. Doc had a student's job to go over to the old Soils Lab, where behind it was a greenhouse, to turn off and on the lights. And so, they said, "Well, we'd think about it." So they went to the show and came back all steaming up - all ready to - go over and take an exam - take our exam on Soils. It was no problem of course, getting into the greenhouse - and from the greenhouse, up the stairs to Prof. Bell's office. Bush stayed down below, with the lights on. Doc and I went upstairs with the lights off, and a flashlight, and a bread knife. Doc knew how to open the door. And there was no time at all until he had the door open, using the bread knife, and we were inside and had the key, but we couldn't find the exam. I don't know how long we were - there, but suddenly, we hear footsteps coming up the stairs. I said, "Doc, what are we going to do?" He said, "You stand there beside the door, and when he comes in whoever it is, hit him and hit him so damned hard, that he won't wake up again." So, I'm standing there - I don't know where Doc was - prepared to hit him, and hit him so hard that he'd go to sleep. All of a sudden Bush says, "What are you guys doing?" Well, we should have known, no-body would walk up there in the dark. But that was our feeling. My knees were actually knocking. I was really afraid. But with Bush's help, we opened the files, and lo and behold, there was the exam. We took the exam. We were prepared with paper ourselves - took it down to the green house – and each one copied out so many questions. The exam was taken upstairs, by Doc and I, placed back in the file, closed, locked, keys put away, everything straightened
around, the door closed. We came down. The greenhouse lights were turned out, and we went back to the residence. We went up onto the second or third floor and into a room, because they had skeleton keys - and uh, copied out our questions, which were written in rough, so that we could understand them, and put together - three exam papers, one for each. Well, it was great, going into that exam, and lo and behold, we had the exam - to just sit down and write. But, whether we had the exam or not, the paper covered everything on the subject that - that we had taken during that term. So, we would have known enough to pass. The moral of the story is this - It was a terrible thing to do. I would never, ever recommend to anybody else that they do the same thing. I think it took ten years off my life. I'm not proud of it - of doing it. In fact I regret doing it. But, it was done, and I tell the story to you, now. Busher saw Prof. Morwick, on the campus, and asked him, how the boys had done in the Soils exam? And Prof. told him, "The An. Hub. boys did exceptionally well". Of course, the information was passed around to other students - a question at a time - or when we were studying with them, we'd say, "Well that should - you should know that." That all helped in creating the good marks, I do believe. End off...
I'll title this one, "Never Give Up". In my final year, as President of the College Royal - the Air Force had left the campus and the students went back into residence at Christmas or in the New Year - of 1945. At College Royal, we wanted to have a banquet in Creelman Hall. Dr. G. I.. Christie was President. Professor Bill Knox was uh, Honourary President of College Royal. So, I went to Dr. Christie, and asked him if we could have a banquet in Creelman Hall on College Royal Day - we called a Directors' Luncheon. His reply, "Absolutely not. It would be terrible with the rationing on, the students would be complaining about - taking some of their rations, which we would have to do, to feed other people. It would just be impossible. Impossible". I left his office rather glumly. But I - and returned to tell Professor Knox the news. Professor Knox - said quite vehemently, "This is a student organization, run entirely by the students, and we are going to have a banquet." Now, every time that you go back to see Dr. Christie, you ask him about that banquet, until he says, "Yes". I said well, I said, "That's OK, Prof., but, I want to get my degree.. (Chuckle) You s – you don't need to worry about that." "Never mind", he said. And so, every time I had a meeting with Dr. Christie, if he was on campus, every Tuesday at two p.m. So, every Tuesday, I was there, if he was on campus, and I'd ask him the same question. After about the sixth time, when I arrived there, he said, "Have you seen Miss Beck, in regards to that banquet?" "No, Sir," I replied, "but I'll go see her. I have an appointment with her immediately after seeing you." "Good. Good. But remember. No Head Table. No tablecloths. The guests will have to eat out of the tin plates the same as the students do, as anybody else." "Yes Sir." I went to see Miss Beck immediately after talking to Dr.Christie, and she informed me that in no way, would they have a banquet such as that. Suppose the Minister of Agriculture was here. No way. So she said, "We'll have flowers. We'll have tablecloths, etc." I said, "Well Miss Beck, you know what the Dr. said." Anyway uh, the morning of College Royal, I - went up to see what was going on at Creelman Hall, and Miss Beck had a Head Table set up, with uh, linen tablecloths, flowers etc. on it - real nice display, and the rest of the uh, Creelman Hall was in uh, the way it always was. Well I thought, what will happen now? So, I went back to the Judging
Pavilion uh, saw Prof. Knox, told him what was gone on. He said, "Well, somebody's been over there, sitting with the President all morning, so you better go over and ask him who it is, and uh, ask him if he'd like to be invited to lunch, to sit at the Head Table. And so, I did. Well, I was at the door of Creelman Hall, to greet the guests as they arrived. And when Dr. Christie came in and he saw this Head Table, he said, "Well, Hay, very nice, very nice, yes, yes, very nice." "Just move along there sir, and you'll see your name where to sit. He was more than pleased. And so I say, one of the things that taught me was, "Never Give Up". End off...
We'll title this one, "You've Passed". Seeing Dr. G.I.Christie from some time in January, through until the middle of March, every Tuesday, or almost every Tuesday, I got to know the man quite well, and I believe he knew me. There was a certain wealthy man in New York State, who had written to me asking me to go there to manage his farm. I replied and said that it would be almost impossible to get – obtain a Visa to go to the U.S. So, this gentleman wrote to Dr. Christie, asking him for help in getting me to U.S.A. Well, Dr. Christie wrote me a letter, saying that he wanted to see me, because of this letter he had received from someone in New York State. And that was at a time when my wife and I were leaving on a - on the train, and a friend 'nother student, brought this letter to us, as he knew we were leaving on the train for Toronto and Peterborough - talking to prospective employers. I opened the letter and saw that, at the first opportunity from Dr. Christie, that he would like to see me in his office. So upon returning to Guelph this was the morning when we went to see Dr. Christie - or no we went to see Archie Porter, to have the hand-shake from him, which told us that we would graduate, or wouldn't graduate. And, so, all of the year had gathered in the Rotunda of the Admin Building, now Johnston Hall - and I think we went in by alphabetical order - I am not sure. Anyway I went to see Dr. Christie's secretary, to ask if I could see Dr. Christie, and - she wanted to know what it was about, and I said, "Well, here's the letter.” She said, "Oh, very well." So she went in to see him, and came back and said, "Come on in, Hay." And so I -1 went in to see Dr. Christie. His first reply was, "Where is that beautiful wife of yours? Is she out there too?" And I said, "Yes, she is." "Go and get her." So, I went out and brought my wife into his office. He said, "Well, I'm not goin' to allow you two people to be standing out there waiting to go in for you to go in to see Porter eh, and learn whether you passed or not. You've passed in flying colours - I'll tell you that, right now. I've just returned from the Faculty Meeting, and that I do know." I said, "Oh, thank you very much, Sir." And he went on talking about other things and I said, "Well, I came to see you about this letter, that I received from you. I think it's concerning a position in the U.S., managing a farm there". His reply, "We need men like you in Canada. If you want to join the Army, you better join the Canadian Army, because, if you go over there, in six months you'll be in the U.S. Army." And that was that. No more was said about it, and I actually forgot about the this incident of going to work for somebody in NewYork State. However, he did tell me that now you must go out there and act concerned, as though you have no - know anything, but he said, "Deep down, you know that you passed, and Mr. Porter's going to stand up and shake your hand. I'll tell you that. "What a wonderful feeling that was, and what a wonderful thing, in
our opinion, for the President to do for us at that time. End off...
We'll title this the "Profs Who Helped". Professor Knox helped me at - in the Intermediate Year, by telling me to write a - Summer Project. He told me what Summer Project to do, and he said, "This will be added on to your total marks, but, not inc - included in an average." He said, "It may help you to get your Intermediate year.” I'm sure that it did. And I also know that he gave me eighty to eighty-five percent in that Project - which was a big help to me.
The other one that was a help and I'll call him Professor What-not- because I don't –I wouldn't want to mention his name and he may living now anyway. And this was in the Physics Department. And what I knew about Physics, - electricity, heat, light and so on was practically nil. So, before ex- exams, I went to the Physics Dep -1 called it - one of - the Prof. - went to the Physics Department to have some lectures from him. He told me that he had set five of the examinations, which would be all of the exams in the Physics Department, and he would be marking them all. So he said, "You just forget about the Physics Department exams and you spend your time studying somewhere else. I'll see that you get a seventy to seventy-five in that neighbourhood in every exam from the Physics Department. Well. Well, I still studied - tried to study for Physics, but anyway I -I finally got the year. Another one was Professor McNabb - we called him Doc McNabb in the Chemistry Department. Doc was manager of the hockey team - not when I was a student of his, but, when I came to be a student of his, he knew who I was. That particular year, our year and other years at the University had gone west on the Harvesters' Excursion, to assist in bringing in the harvest. We did not consult the Chemistry Department, only the Physics Department, because Dr.Christie had told us that's all we needed to consult, and of course Prof. Black was there, readily gave us consent to go along with him. Thus Dr. McNabb, said that no doubt Hay, you were one of the ones that got on that Harvest Excursion, when you should have been here studying Chemistry. Anyway, Doc McNabb failed me in Chemistry that year. I wrote the SUPP in September, and I - it was terrible, because I wasn't able to study during the summer months. So, my friends and I got in my bosses car and we drove down town after the exam to have a coke or something, in a pool parlour, and who should be sitting there having a shoe shine, but Dr. McNabb. Well I couldn't look him in the face, but he said, "Hay, come here." So I went over and he said, "What did you think of that exam?" And I said, "Well, Dr., it's by your good graces whether I come back here next year or not." He said, "What? It wasn't that bad." I said, "I know sir, but, I knew less about it, than when I wrote this exam - which was in September than I did when I wrote the - the final exam in April." "Well," he said, "do you need any marks, Hay?" I said, "No sir, I don't need any marks. Forty will do just fine." That's what I received – forty marks. And I was back in third year degree that fall. End off.....
In 1943, the west had a bumper crop, but they did not have the help to harvest the crop. And so they asked for students to go out to help harvest this crop. I don't know how many from OAC went, but our year, was one of those that took the trip and I think there was about twenty coaches on our train, going out there and we got off sixty miles north of Saskatoon, at a place called Fielding. We worked for a man, by the name of Charlie Keipfer - K. E. I. P. F. E. R. I remember the first day we
arrived. They met us at the train - Mr. Keipfer. We hopped in his pick-up truck - five of us - two, four, five of us - went to his farm, were fed an enormous breakfast. He said, "Now boys, go to bed, and we'll get you up at noon." So, we all went to bed, and we were fortunate, because we had sleeping quarters in the house. At noon we were called and got up. And then, Charlie asked us who could drive a team and who couldn't. One was a Guelph boy, who had never been on the farm before, so, he became our spike pitcher in the field. I received the farm team, and one boy from the city, who thought he knew about horses, received the mustang and the cow pony. Another farm boy - from over at Galt, that I knew quite well, he received a pair of black colts and he broke them, while we were there. And another boy received the son's team from another farm. We started to work......
Tape 2 of 2
ALUMNI-IN-ACTION ORAL HISTORY
ROSS HAY, O.A.C. 1945
Ontario Agricultural College, 1945
Interviewed by Himself
H ... (Inaudible). It was titled "The Harvester's Excursion in 1943" (Inaudible) saying, we were met at Fielding by a Mr. Charles Keipfer - K - E -I - P- F- E- R, who took us home to his place where we were fed breakfast and put to bed. We were called at noon and started to work at noon. We were allocated the teams according to our ability to look after them. (long pause) I know I received the farm team - Mr. Keipfer's own team - that knew what "gee" and "haw" and whoa" meant. One of the boys who was a Toronto boy, and who had said that he knew all about farming, received a cow pony and a mustang, which knew almost nothing. Another boy from Galt received the son's team - no he received a pair of colts - black colts - which he broke while we were there.
Another boy from Toronto received son's team which were bay mares. Another boy, from Guelph, who knew absolutely nothing about farming, was allowed to spike pitch in the field - that is help us put on our loads in the field. Now, when we arrived there the grain was stooked. The sheaves were put in stooks. But little if any threshing had been done. The threshing was done at that time by a threshing machine with a "put-put" tractor running the threshing machine and the land was rolling land, as I remember. You would think, when we’d finish this one acreage, with sheaves as far as you could see, that that would be it. But such wasn't the case. They would hook on to the machine with the tractor and away we'd go up and over a hill, and here would be another area, almost as far as you could see around, of sheaves. But finally, we accomplished the task and had all his grain either threshed or put into stacks close to the barn. This was an interesting experience. On that first afternoon, we worked until nine o'clock in the evening. And at that time, of course it was pitch dark. You couldn't see anything. The horses knew the way back to the - the barn. So, we thought that was terrible, because we'd never done anything like that in our area. So, we told Mr. Keipfer and his sons that we'd like to work less hours. Their reply, "Well sure, you can work less hours, but you'll get less money." Our pay was five dollars a day for thirteen working hours. Well, that didn't include feeding the horses and harnessing them either. And so, we were up at - called at four-
thirty in the morning. We went to the barn, fed our horses, then we brushed them, cleaned out the stable, harnessed them, and then went in for breakfast. We had to be in the field at six a.m. in the morning. And at that time, you couldn't see any stooks, because it was dark. So, you drove your horses until you felt one of them stumble, by pulling on the lines, and you knew there was a stook there, so you got out and hoped you would find the next one and put that on the wagon. That's the way it was. It's not an exaggeration. I couldn't figure why people would do such a thing as that. I believe we were in the west three weeks - I'm not exactly sure of the time. We worked most days. Some days it snowed. I don't recall rain, but it would snow, and as long as it was snowing and not thawing, you could thresh the grain. When it started to thaw, we had to quit, until the sheaves dried out.
We had some interesting happenings. One that was very interesting to me and to the other farm boy that was there - was - one of the city fellows put a collar on the horse, upside-down, and then tried to put the hames around the collar. But of course, he couldn't do that. So, he called to us to come in and tell him what to do and the one chap came out laughing, and he said, "You have to see this. You have to see this." So (chuckle) I went in and here the collar was on upside-down. So, it was an amusing incident. Other amusing incidents were breaking tongues on the wagon. Of course if you turned the wagons - got the team to turn too short, you could easily break a tongue. And the tongues on most of the wagons were made out of poles which they cut out of the low areas where they were growing. They broke very easily. And so, one fellow broke two tongues, then another day, the son, Roy, who operated the threshing machine, wouldn't tell us, “This is the last load for you. You can go up to dinner now.” He'd let you go out into the field and throw a few sheaves on and then when the next fellow came in, he'd just shut the machine down. And of course that was very frustrating if you had a few sheaves on your wagon and then had to throw them off and drive the team up to the barn, wherever that might be - a couple of miles away. So, this city boy - when that happened to him, he threw the sheaves off and he had quite a few on. And we were already up at the barn. And he allowed the team to come on the dead run up to the barn and I imagine – the – the wagon had steel tires on it. So you could just see those old boards abumping up and down, and wondered when he was going to fly to pieces. But, anyway he came up and was given a lecture by the son, put his team in the barn - we'd gone into the house for our dinner, at the sons home. After dinner we got our teams and went back to the field, and finally, this boy who had run the horses back, came back to the field. He pulled up to the machine and Jim, the boy from Galt was there, and he said to the son, "Roy, one of my lines broke. What'll I do?" Roy picked up a wrench, that he was working with the machine, it wasn't working too well - and, he picked up the wrench and he said, "Get the hell out of here, before I throw this wrench at you.” (chuckle). He was so mad. After breaking the tongues, and then breaking the lines, that he said "Brand new lines, he'd just paid six or seven dollars for, before we arrived", and here was one of them broken, by the horse tramping on the line. And of course, that was caused just by not tying the lines up well enough when he put them in the stable. We heard other stories of other fellows working there. One thing on the Saturday night - on one Saturday night anyway, we hitch-hiked to
the next town, which was larger than Fielding. Fielding consisted of a barber shop, a Chinese restaurant, and a grocery store. But we hitch-hiked further north to this other town - and I don't know the name of it and went into the beer parlour there, where we met some of our other friends. We stayed in that town over night - and the next morning we caught the passenger train back to Fielding. I believe we rode behind the engine tender rather than pay the fare back. That was bout the only time that we were away. Once a week when we went into town, on Saturday night, we would buy some cigarette papers and a can of tobacco. I did that and the rest of them who smoked bummed it off me for the rest of the week, it seemed.
The food at Keipfers was fantastic. Mrs. Keipfer was an excellent cook. And we really ate. I remember, she came out to the field the first afternoon, with tea biscuits, with jam or honey on them and tea. I was there, at the machine, unloading when they arrived, and I got my load off, I stopped to have the treat. Well, I - I could have devoured all the tea biscuits that she brought along. They seemed so good, and the tea was so welcome. But, she stopped me after three or four, I think, and said, "There needs to be some left for the others". Now, we'd have that tea in the afternoon, lunch or dinner, or whatever you wanted to call it, would be at noon. Then we had this tea break in the afternoon, and we stayed in the field until eight - thirty to nine o'clock, before we went into the barn and had dinner. Well, of course by that time, we were ravenous, hungry. And I can still see one of the fellows - this chap from Guelph, with his big dinner plate filled and it was two and a half inches high all around the plate. And I wondered how he would ever eat it, but he said, "Don't worry. I'll manage." (Chuckle)
We helped them round up their livestock down by the branch of the Saskatchewan River. That was interesting when we brought those home. And that was the day that it had snowed and melted. They had to feed us as long as we were there, but they didn't feed us unless we were working in the field. Which brings up another thought that as I said, we went to the field in the morning when it was pitch dark. So, one of the city boys was driving along the path back to the field and a son was coming with the tractor behind him, "put-putting" along. And he stayed in the track and the old tractor had no lights on it, and he ran into the back of the wagon. (Chuckle) And I guess the steam and with the water hose breaking –flew everywhere. So, that was a couple of hours that day before we got started to work. Well, it was daylight for sure before we were started to work. And of course they were paying us time, unless they told us to go to the barn. Then our time stopped. The chap from Galt and myself knew how to stop the machine if we were a bit tired. We'd just hold the belt on the table and it would go skew-gee and it would stop, so the sheaves wouldn't go into the machine anymore. And then we'd holler at Roy, who ran the outfit and tell him something was wrong. The sheaves aren't going in. He never caught on to what we were doing. And after we were well rested, we'd give the table a yank - straighten out the chain, and tell him to try it now, and see if it won't go - and away it would go. That fellow never caught on. He'd look all over the machine, but at that table chain, to see if it was crooked or not. And so, we have many, many memories of that place and working there.
They were more than pleased with our work. They got all of their grain harvested, and Mr. And Mrs. Keipfer, Sr., even took the train into Saskatoon to see our Profs who were staying there, to tell them what great boys we were. Oh, yes, we had one other bet with some of them that we would not shave as long as we were in the west. I did that. And I never shaved until I got back home, for my girl friend to see my beard. And that night I went to the barber and had him shave it off. And I gave him a dollar, although it was only fifty cents for a shave at that time - maybe it was a quarter, but I do remember giving the barber a dollar for shaving off my beard. (Long pause)
We did work for another farmer for a - a few days, because we had the time available. I think we helped him for two or three days, maybe more than that to finish harvesting his crop. But our main time was spent with the Keipfers. Mr and Mrs. Keipfer wrote to Dr. Christie. We don't know what they said, but Dr. Christie wrote to all of us who were working for them, thanking us for our good work and for saying kind things about the Ontario Agricultural College.
End of (tape clicked off) the Christmas Exams. End of..... (End of taping on this tape)