l

Here is a photo of the Ogden Hotel it was originally owned and operated by the Calgary Breweries Ltd. until after World War II when it was made into a convalescent hospital for the veterans returning from World War I as you can see in the picture there are patients and nurses standing in front of the building. When it wasn’t required as a hospital anymore the Calgary Breweries Ltd. took it over again until the 1930s when it was sold to the Alberta Government and made into a Single Men’s Hostel which It remained untill 1969 when a new Hostel was built in downtown Calgary. The building then ended up in private hands and was renamed Alyth Lodge and became a rooming house.

In the spring of 1966, I developed some health problems with rheumatoid arthritis; I ended up in the Calgary General Hospital for about three months. I was away from work for about five months total, and was covered by benefits from the Sun Life Insurance let the CPR provided us with as part of our collective agreement between the railway and the Sheet-Metal Workers International Association. The first few months I worked at Ogden I lived at home and road the Calgary Transit System buses to work, to do this. I had to get up at 06:00 in the morning have breakfast that my mother prepared, and walk three blocks to the bus stop on 33rd Ave. SW to catch the South Calgary bus Route 7 downtown to 1st St SW in front of the Hudson Bay Store and cross the street to catch the Ogden bus Route 24 that took me to the front gates of the Ogden shops. I learned from one of my coworkers Gary, who lived in Altadore of a carpool he rode in. Eric, who was a foreman on the Rip track, drove the car; he drove a 1959 Chevy and charged three of us a dollar a week to pay for gas. I’d tell you, this guy was really cheap, he had clear plastic seat covers to protect the upholstery, and in the cold winter weather you just about froze your butt off sitting on the seats, as he never turned the heater on. He would turn the heater on, only enough to defrost the windshield, he had some kind of perverted idea that if you used your heater the battery would wear out sooner.

I finally had enough of carpooling, and I moved to Ogden, a friend of mine John Blackstock who was a machinist apprentice lived at home in Lynnwood, and his mother and father Stanley, who worked as a machinist helper on the scrap dock, had room for a boarder. This was great way only lived about eight blocks from the shops so I could walk there in the morning in about 15 minutes. I never was a morning person, and remember going to work and being about a block away from the shop gates when the 08:00 whistle blew, also at this time the CPR’s Dominion would arrive from the East. The Dominion was the CPR’s second transcontinental train, it looked pretty sharp in it’s CPR livery of the units in their color scheme of gravy, yellow, and Tuscan red, followed by the baggage car, day coaches, dining car, and sleepers all finished in Tuscan red. Unfortunately like me, this trains days were numbered.

When I started working at Ogden Shops in 1965. I was paid $1.35 an hour, Journeyman made $2.70 an hour. Tradesmen working in construction were making about $5.00 an hour. A case of beer was $2.75; cigarettes were $.36 for a package of 20, and $.45 for a package of 25. You could throw one dollar in your gas tank and drive around all night. My first car was a 1947 Dodge four-door sedan, complete with suicide doors, when it wore out. I bought a 1955 Chevrolet, two-door sedan.

I had two years service in when it happened in November 1967, business was slow them on the CPR and this resulted in a reduction in staff. I had my two years, and I figured I would be safe from the layoffs, but I was wrong. It looked like our griever would have to work midnights in the hook shop, so he arranged it for me to get laid-off so he could stay on day shift in the locomotive shop. So in November of 1967 I left the service of the CPR due to a reduction in staff. The layoff looked like it would last for about three months and hopefully I would return then, but fate had other ideas for my future.

In closing I must add this incident that happened just before the layoff:
In early fall 1967 I came to work Friday morning with a bit of a hangover from drinking some cheap wine the night before, celebrating payday as most of us young apprentices used to do. My mate at the time was journeyman tinsmith Les Jeffries, we worked together at the bench until 9 AM when he said why don’t you go sleep it off for a while and come back at lunchtime, which I thought was not too bad an idea. I was walking around the shop when I run into two friends of mine that were labourers, Johnny Green, and Stephen Chalmers, they were being laid off that day and were not too enthusiastic about doing their job of sweeping up around the locomotive shop, so they readily agreed to accompany me for some rest. We wandered outside of the southwest corner of the locomotive shop, and went over towards the south end of the stores department, where there was a string of empty box cars south of the loading platform. We found a nice clean boxcar and found some clean cardboard, and rags for bedding, and soon drifted off to sleep. At 12 noon the steam whistle from the powerhouse blew announcing that it was lunch time. We headed back towards the locomotive shop going by the machinists washroom on the southwest corner of the building, a window opens up and my friend machinist apprentice Jimmy Hartwick called us over, and said to us where the hell it you guys been, the supervisors of been looking all over for you. With this prior warning we proceeded down along the outside of the locomotive shop towards the middle of the building, where there was a pair of double open doors that lead into the electrical shop, I looked into the doors in the darkness of the shop I could see six of our suited supervisors looking out from the smoky gloom towards us, there was Assistant Works Manager Tony Kruk, Locomotive Shop Foreman Jimmy Sumner, Electric Shop Foreman Ed Carey, Machine Shop Foreman Chuck Ogilvy, Diesel Shop Foreman Frank Olejas, and the Labour Foreman. They spotted us at the same time and the chase was on, it was right out of the Keystone cops, us young fleet of foot workers, and the portly supervisors dressed in their best suits, ties, and hats on the chase. They were no match for us and we soon outran them. I ran like hell around the east end of the locomotive shop, and into the boilermaker’s washroom on the north side, I proceeded to wash up for lunch, and went back to the tin shop to have some. We had 30 minutes for lunch, and in the middle of our lunch break I went over to the tuck shop, a caged enclosure that was opened during lunch hour where you could buy cigarettes, chocolate bars, chips, and soft drinks from a labourer, he also ran another one near the front gate that was opened in the morning providing the same services. I got in line and who was in front of me none other than Jimmy Sumner the Locomotive Shop Foreman, Jimmy always wore dark suits, and a fedora, he was slim with a pencil thin mustache, and chain-smoked cigarettes from a black cigarette holder. When he was in front of the line buying some cigarettes, Max the labourer asked him about the commotion that morning, he said that they had caught the two labourers and fired them on the spot, and it was only a matter of time before they found the third one, and looking back right at me he said I know exactly what he looks like so it shouldn’t take too long. My friends didn’t care as they were being laid off that day, and had other job prospects lined up, it just gave them Friday afternoon off. The third man was never found!

(0) Comments    Read More   
Post a Comment
Name:
Email:
Website:
Comments: