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The Winnipeg Tribune from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada • Page 33

The Winnipeg Tribune from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada • Page 33

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

MAGAZINE SECTION mm feiratg wmm WtMWill Her UpAs this month of June never shoot into a ground hog hole. There may be a farmer in it hiding from the census man. Every car that drives to a farm house door Is mlatakcn for the cen sus car. The result Is that thpsc days It Is difficult to find the male head of a farm household at home. I have spent a few days trying to learn something of the rural reac tion to the government's derennlal curiosity.

In most place as I turned In from the road I could see a small rloud of dust streaking like a min iature cyclone across the plowed fields In the direction of the bush. And the lady of the house would say. "My husband was around here just a minute ago. I don't know where he can have got to." Of course she couldn't tell. On minute he was behind the bnrn, and ten seconds later he was In the pasture amongst the scrub, moving! like a Jack rabbit Into the next I township.

I do not doubt that It Is the same way everywhere. All over Canada at present, the agriculturists are taking cover wherever they can find it In woodchuck caves, storm cel lars and root cellars. In the deep swamps and the tall timbers. They would take to the tall corn, too, if it weren't too early In the season for tall corn. They are hiding In the vegetable patches behind lettuce leaves and clumps of flowering rhubarb.

They are burrowing In the haymow and i straw stacks and crouching behind I woodpiles. And some whose line of retreat has been loo quickly cut off are under the bed. Hard on Farmer If you city dwellers had so mucn to hide from and run from, you (. would hide and run, too You have only a dozen or a score of questions to answer, and thry are easy ones your age, sex, birthplace, the number of your children, the amount of your Income, just a few vital statistics. Your hardest task.

If you are a Canadian of six or seven generations, Is to determine whether you are a Swede pr a Zulu. To solve the puzzle you have only to write the nationality of half a dozen of your remote ancestors on slips of paper, put these In a hat and draw as If for a Derby prize. The ethnological result may he amazing, but of course anything Is better than being labelled a Canadian. But the farmer cannot solve his census puz.zles by any hat but. a thinking cap.

He has all your questions to answer and 254 In addition under the general farm schedule. He has to ransack his memory, dig deeper Into the furrows of his brain than a tractor towing ten plows can dig Into any field. He hss to count his chickens, both before and after they were hatched. He has to give the number of his eggs and bees, the number of potato, turnips, beets and carrots he dug up, the number of asparagus stalks, heads of celery and lettuce, cobs of sweet corn, sticks of rhubarb, onion shoots, strings of beans, cans of tomatoes, pecks of parsnips, pints of peas, bushels of cucumbers he pulled or plucked. He will get little comfort taking to the bush.

That will only remind him that he must count his bushes, his raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, currants, "all kinds." loganberries, gooseberries, and so forth. Indecent Financial Curiosity As If that were not difficult enough, the government adds to hla complexities by commanding him, "Do not Include wild fruits." So he has to determine by what est other than eating, I do not know, whether his strawberries and raspberries are tame or savage. He has to count all his trr s( whether In the orchard or huh. And he has to give a census or ln year's orchard fruits, apples, cr apples, peaches, pears, plums and cherries. It Is left to his own of statistical honor whether he confines himself to what he took from tha bought or Include what fell A 4s AGO wvr TSV XrYiCl JX 1 am ih WHAT tec a sm the geese or pigs.

The government has a curiosity about the dead trees as well as the live ones. He must record the number of fence posts, fence rails, railway ties, telegraph and telephone poles and airship masts he cut, the cords of poplar, beech and pine he split for the stove, The government, however, aparea hliu one thing under the heading of trees. It does not ask how many acorns, chestnuts, hszel nuts, wal nuts and beechnuts he gathered. He perhaps wants to forget how many hired men came and went. ate three square meals and loafed twelve hours a day, went to roost I with the chickens and slept to four I in the morning as If they had the sleeping sickness.

But the government won't let him forget them. It Insists on knowing "How many persons were hired temporarily on this farm In 1930?" Further, It pries into an Intimate and delicate matter between farmer and hired man. How much did pay them? Perhaps It Is that Indecent financial curiosity that mora than anything else Is apt to make a farmer hide In a ground hog hole. Not content with demanding a list of his tractors, combines, binders, milking machines, cream separators, as if compiling an Inventory to help the auctioneer sell him' out, the census people want to know where every cent he handled came from and where It went to. Butter and Egg Money Worse than that, they are curious about a secret the farmer's wife guards more jealously than her age her butter and egg money.

How much did she get for her butter? How much for her eggs? "That question," said a rural enumerator to me, "has caused more family trouble than any other. The butter and egg Item ought to be on a separate form so you could talk to the farm women privately about them. "One place I went to, when the husband found out what hla wife had been making out of the hen coop and the churn, he flared up and accused her of holding out on him. I had to wait two hours before they cooled down sufficiently to go on with the questionnaire." Theoretically, the rural enumerator has an easy task. In advance of his visit the general farm schedule has been mailed to the farmer.

The latter is supposed, at his leisure, to do all his memory searching and head scratching, counting and estimating, and get It all down before the enumerator arrives. The census man then, in theory, merely copies the results on his own sheet, and goes on his way rejoicing to earn 35 cents at another farm house. "But it does not always work out thst wny," an enumerator. "I was at one place three hours. They did all their memory work right In my piesence.

Many of the items caused quite a domestic argument. The farmer would say, 'As for falf wheat now, I guess I had about 2(X) His wife would maintain that he was as wrong is xtVJ about the fall wheat as about the oats and the rye. The hired man and a few of tha children would I join In the argument and after we got that settled wa would go on to the next Item. I tell you, you earn your money on this job." Beat Scar Seven a Day His best score was seven farms In one day. Another enumerator told me he had done eight and Insisted It was a record.

"An hour to a farm," said he, "is pretty good, and by the tlma you have travelled around and eaten lunch, It la a ten or twelve hour day." "And do you have to pay for your own gas and oil?" "Wa get an allowance of Ave cents each hundred names for transportation. But It Isn't that or tha 35 cents for each farm schedule which gives us a chance for a fair day's wage. It is the five cents for each name on the population sheet which is the same as in the cities." Don't pity the enumerator. Pity the farmer. He has to work for i the government for nothing.

And he would find it easier to plow 254 acres than to answer exactly and truthfully the 254 queries which are in many cases bigger brain teasers Writing For Living Is 'Wrestling With Devil' ooo ooo ooo 1 ''HE work moat like wrestling with the devil li writing for a living. So some authors even the successful ones would have ua think. A man who ought to know Mr. John Galsworthy, haa Just revealed hia own secret Here la the scene he tonjures: Forsythe study. A few characters are lying about doing nothing.

Tobacco and a pipe are on the table. The author enters; he sinks into his chair, lights his pipe and gets on with his work! Apparently Mr. Galsworthy does not generally, find his task too hard. He produces a good dal, and he does ao regularly, and his revelation that it Is done with pipe in mouth recalls other authors whose muse is moved by nicotine. To some authors tobacco is a stimulant; others find It a sedative.

Conrad used at times to smoke furiously, racked with nerves, his mind groping out tortuously aftrr an Idea, an Image. Arnold Bennett sometimes took a turn In the garden with a cigarette merely to enjoy a leisurely infrval. While never harassed so scutely by the effort of creative work as was Conrad, he often said that he hated the actual labor of his craft. Conrad and Flaubert possibly, WINNIPEG, than th riddles of tha sphinx or an Edison questionnaire. He has to do hi.

nnnald 1ob of agricultural accountancy, or rather agricultural mythology, like a slave in a Roman galley with a lash hanging over htm. For every failure to answer truthfully and faithfully "on each and every item," says the law, he Is threatened vith a fine of $100 or thirty days' imprisonment. I came to one farm hovise up a I slope that necessitated second gear, i I honked the horn outside an open door and not a dog barked, not soul came out to meet me. Entering, I saw an old farmer sitting at the kitchen table clutching the terrible farm schedule in both hands and looking the exact Image of hopeless despair. I have seen the same look on students In a university examination hall, their minds obviously, as great a blank as their copy paper.

The old man's forehead was as corrugated as a tin roof. His beard was as limp as an ostrich plume In a thunderstorm. He was In such a state of mental prostration that a stick of dynamite could not have aroused him, let alone second gear John Galsworthy Reminisces came as mar, time and again, find i ing their craft an utterly impossible one, as any men who have ever written. Yet both Conrad and Flaubert left wonderful stories behind them which will be for long a memorial not only of their genius, but of a courage that failed only In death. Dumai and the Halfpenny Authors are about the most difficult of men and women upon whom one can speik in general terms.

Humor as distinct, from wit often comes from men of grave mien anj dep experience. Synge, Barrie and Mark Twain are examples. Some authors, once embarked, renew their intensive concentration again and again until a book Is finished. Balzac, Hugo. Dickens, and the heroic Scott did so.

Dumas the elder forced himself to continuous productlvenes by being locked in a room his boots and clothing left In the safe keeping of a friend until the task was done. Elder Dumas Joke But Dumas was ss good a player as he was a worker. Toward the end of his life he presented himself before hia son In a stale of penury. SATURDAY, JUNE 27, and a motor horn. He looked worried, and why should he not have been worried? He was facing bankruptcy and life Imprisonment.

If he flunked that exam paper In Its entirety he would be liable for hla 254 instances of contumacy to a fine of $25,400 and Imprisonment for 7,620 days. Beside the stove lay the collie dog with his legs in the air. Sensitive to human atmof phere, he had caught his master's bewilderment and was mentally overcome. Perhaps he feared on his own account that the government would ask him how many sheep he had killed In That was not all the nervous breakdowns In this kitchen. On a chair in the corner was the farmer's wife talking to herself about butter and eggs, and a pound of cheese, the old white hen and the brindle cow.

"Let me aee," she was saying with her hands over her eyes Did I sell Mrs. Simpkina two dozn iggs last November or was it Just a dozen and a half? It seems to me the brindle cow kind of dried up toward the end of March. Did I get seven quarts from her or was It just six? And what did I get on Hard Lot of "How is It," the younger Dumas asked, "you who have made more then a million In your time should now be without a sou?" "That Is not true." the old man answered. "When I came to Paris long ago, I had a half penny in my pocket and I have It still." And he produced this humble coin from his pocket. Balzac Is probably the most famous example of the prodigious worker.

Working through much of the day and most of the night, year after year, he drank himself to death on strong coffee. In tha Dawn Hazlitt preferred to work at night. He used to get up at midnight and work until dawn, or after. With few authors haa the task of writing been aa highly systematized or automatic as It was with Anthony Trollope. He could write chaptM a of a novel regularly in a first class railway ronipiirtmcnl on the way to anrl from London.

There sre authors who can write i only in London; others can write only in the seclusion of the coun try. Mr. If. G. Wells likes to do much of his work In London; Mr.

Bernard Shaw, a haH worker In town, likes nowadays to seek the 1931 for that flve pound pat of butter Ii sold the village store' a year ago last Tuesday?" So I tiptoed off and left the old gentleman in hia statistical trance; and the old lady swaying and counting. "Two dozen and one makes three to carry, and fifty seven at nine ccrta the dozen ought to make pretty near five dollars." There's a problem of mental hygiene that the psychiatrists recently assembled In Toronto forgot to study, the relation of the census to rural Insanity. That was the only case I came across of complete mental breakdown caused by the statistical conundrums. Elsewhere, the farm people were mentaly alert and critical, particularly with regRrd to the butter and egg calculations required of them. Throwing In Fool Questions One woman standing on her stoop throwing grain to an Indiscriminate gathering of hens, ducks, geese and sparrows, sain, "i jusi Ruin in make the best gues I can about the eggs and let It go at that.

They can fine me and put me In Jail If they want to. I can't remember every time I've heard a hen cackle. Authors quit of his country garden, where he works In a revolving sun trap house that enables him to enjoy just as much sun ss he wishes or In perverse moods, to turn his back on it altogether. Writing Too Easy Rtrlndberg. the famous Scandinavian playwright, once had an interval of four years In which he found It Impossible to do any creative work.

Then his gift came back again, and he was able to continue for a long spell with work on a high plane. Many authors find writing too, too easy. It Is their misfortune and the world's. MIRAGES BAN IDEAL DESERT RACE TRACK LONDON1 Sir Malcolm Camp hell la going out in November to Daytona, to attempt another speed record. It will br Daytona iuiIcsa he run find a track, which scms unlikely.

His ideal track for speeding he discovered In the Sahaia. I'nfor tunatelv It Is not nmi Hrnh: hp cause of the mirages, which bother driver. "It wouldn't be ao bad," she went on, "If they only asked us what eggs and butter we sold. I might come close to that from remembering what money I got. But they want to know how much we ate.

What with extra hands coming in during the haying and harvesting and folks visiting from the city, how can I remember that?" The farmers seem to bear their statistical burden much more stoically than their wives. The women, though they had only to guess at two Items, milk snd egs, thought they were the harder done by and had little sympathy for the men who have to look at the teeth of colts and fillies, calves, heifers, steers, cows, bulls, lambs, ewes and rums, sows and boars, and guess their age. The Ottawa statisticians seem to Imagine that all men are as naturally calculating animals as thry are themiselves. They ask a farmer to count the number of panes of glass in his forcing frame If he has one, to estimate the weight of the hay he puts Into his barns or of ensilage he crams Into his silo. And they think that by merely looking at a drove of sheep he can tell how many pounds of wool there are on It and how many pounds of mutton chops.

1 "It's bad enough to hava so many things to answer," said one farmer, "without them throwing In fool questions. Look at this one." He put his finger on question 1B3. "Mules and Mule Colts on this farm June 1st, 11I31." "What kind of farm experts have they got at Ottawa," said he with a chuckle, "that they ask a fool question like that?" "What's wrong with It?" said I. "Why," said he laughing at me as well as Ottawa, "don't you know that a mule can't have colts?" He took up another fool question. "Brome grass," Item 66.

under the heading "hay and forage." "What's Brome grass?" said he. "I never had It. around here." I met three other farmers who felt that Brome grass was one of the futile queries with which the census dice were loaded against them. They, too, never had Brome grass. I found out from a man who had farmed in Alberta that it is the finest thing in the world to reclaim sandy soil and also make the best hay for hornes.

Still, only a fool census man would expect "a farmer to go to Alberta to find out about it. On the whole, the farmers I eaw viewed the census with alarm. It put them into a brown study or'nI hack in exchange. made them fly over the brown stub ble. The heading, "Strictly Confidential" at the top of the farm schedule did not reassure them.

"What'a the good of talking MAGAZINE SECTION confidential," said one of the tlmoi ous ones, "when the census man here also makes up the assessment. What you pour Into the same pall mixes. When he does his assessing; he ain't likely to forget what he learned from tha census. A few regard the census with, silent acorn and contempt. "One farmer," said an enumerator, "told me with some emphasis that he wasn't going to answer any of the blank blank questions, and that wild horses and county constables couldn't make him.

He said it was none of the government's business how many eggs he ate and how big a mortgage he had on his farm. He also said that everybody would know soon enough when he was foreclosed on, and the government could wait till then." I met one jovial farmer named Chris who viewed the oensus with absolute amusement "It don't worry me none," said he. "You've got the form all filled up ready to hand to the census man?" "Not a bit of It. When he eomee along I'll Just reel It off to him and he can write It down. I ain't going to give myself writer's cramps." "You must keep books If you have all the Information right st your finger tips?" "Not a book," said he, "I caa get 100 percent on the examination right out of my head." I produced a form and tried him out with an oral test Age, nationality, children, all that he rattled off at express aped.

"Here's a question," said "you can't answer. You do Vt know how many trees there are on your place." "Don't IT" said he. "Look around you. There's four pines, a poplar, a maple and a scrub osk." "You can't tell off hand how many chickens you have." 'Iok at them," said b. "There's 24 hens, 20 chickens and two roosters." "The number of egifs has got yon beaten." It hasn't.

I trad them in for tobacco at the store. IjisI year I had exactly 103 plugs of eggs." "I know there's one thing thst hss you stumped," said I. "No farmer ever knows how much money he makes. You don't." Calculating Profita "That's the easiest question of the lot." said h. "Last year I made exactly nothing." So you see that the rural census is like other things.

What Is ona man's meat Is another's poison. What Is one man's nervous breakdown Is nnother's fit of laughter. Chris was one man to whom it wns sheer comedy. "What seems to excite the women more than anything else snld an enumerator, "Is the fact of recording their age. And they are very anxious to find out othe women's ag s.

They plead wit' me, 'Do tell me how old Mrs. So end So is. I'm dying to know and I won't tell anybody." "1 t'll them It Is all strlctrv confidential and they try to peek over my shoulder to see the othir names when I add their name lu the list. I have to cover up with a piece of paper all but the las, line I'm writing on." So there is no danger of thn women flying out of the f.irni houses and hiding in ground hog burrows when the census man comes. Curiosity heeps them home.

They all hope they can make soma gossip and disclose some neighborhood secrets. But every rural enumerator I talked with assured nie that he was as dumb as an oyster In Ih matter nt professional secret. Each fain) was a filling station to which thev cam to pump out statistics, but pumped noih Even if a woman cannot keep a secret a feminine rural enum'i ator can. The most tight lipped of all the government's rural de oftcctlvej that I met was lady..

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