BILL and SUE-ON HILLMAN:
A 60-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY
60 Years on the Road with Bill and Sue-On Hillman
https://www.hillmanweb.com/book

www.hillmanweb.com  ::  www.hillmanweb.com/book
Presents
'40s DECADE MEMORIES
www.hillmanweb.com/book/40

TRAVEL

So much of my life and family history has centered around travel.  Jerry's parents, Bert and Jane Hillman (married in 1911), had migrated in 1913 from Bracebridge, Ontario to a homestead on the  Saskatchewan open prairie in 1913. Bert opened a blacksmith shop in Hughton in 1914, and one in Wartime in 1915. They moved into Elrose in 1917 and opened a blacksmith shop there in 1922. Bert also drove a school van and was a caretaker of the school for a number of years. Jane who had originally become a teacher at age 16, now had her hands full as a homemaker, raising six sons and two daughters -- Rupert, Gordon, Donald, Gerald, Doris, Lorne, Merna, and Arthur.
https://www.hillmanweb.com/elrose/

All six Hillman boys had enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces at the start of WWII -- choosing all three services: Army, Navy and Air Force. Jerry joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1941 and was posted to Halifax.

MAP OF THE CPR TRANSCANADA ROUTES PLUS CONNECTING LINES

Click to go to page featuring this full-size map in optional sizes and detail

The Campbell farm had been homesteaded by my great grandfather, James, back in 1878. They had travelled from Ontario by train and wagon and experienced many adventures during this long journey. My grandfather, John Magnus, was just a toddler and one of the stories was that he had fallen out of the wagon on their journey across the prairies. Another event was their having to drift with their wagon and oxen across a water body on an ice flow. When they reached the designated homestead site they cleared the land of trees and stones. They lived in a sod hut for the first year and then lived in a simple stone structure while they build a larger stone house a little to the north.

My grandmother, Katie, had immigrated with her family twenty years later from Minnesota. The McKay family were lured to the Green Bluff area near Strathclair with the promise of abundant cheap farmland on which they could expand their farming operation -- the Minnesota area was becoming crowded with Swedish immigrants and they feared the many cyclones (tornadoes) in the area. They had loaded family possessions, farm equipment and livestock into boxcars and had travelled by rail to their new beginning.

John and Katie married and took over the original Campbell farm to live in the large stone house on the site. They raised three kids, Donald, Louise and William. Just after Louise's birth they had built a new red brick house in 1920 which barely escaped the fire that levelled the old stone house. The hired man and his wife were living in that house which was nearby on the east side.
Years later I wrote and recorded the Campbell story in song:

JOHN CAMPBELL PIONEER
 https://www.hillmanweb.com/songs/originals/JOHN_CAMPBELL_PIONEER.html



In 1940 my Mom had travelled to Elrose, SK, to work in a Chinese restaurant where she met and became engaged to  my Dad -- Jerry Hillman. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy and was posted to Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1941. My Mom then travelled by train later that year to join dad in Halifax where they were married. Mom became pregnant in 1942. In the latter stages of the pregancy they decided that she should travel back to Maple Grove -- the Campbell farm near Strathclair -- to be with her mom for my birth. It was this "new" brick house that Louise returned home to while waiting for my birth. Here she enjoyed the loving care of her parents -- Katie and Jack Campbell until she gave birth to me on January 11, 1943 -- the coldest day of the year.


PHOTO GALLERY OF BABY BILLIE
Web Ref: www.hillmanweb.com/bls/fam03.html

Click for full-size collage

Web Ref: www.hillmanweb.com/family/h08.html

Click for full-size collage

When I was old enough to travel, mom carried wee Billie on our trip eastward to join my father. Jerry was now stationed in St. John's, Newfoundland -- a British colony at that time and a RCN base. I wish I had been old enough to remember the trip. Normally we would have crossed the Gulf from the mainland via ferry, but a German U-boat had recently torpedoed the ship putting a temporary end to that service. Dad had to book the last leg of the journey for us via a Trans-Canada aircraft -- likely a Lockheed 14 Super Electra or Lockheed 18 Lodestar. In those early years, travel by air was a very new and novel means of transport that the travelling public were not widely familiar with, as compared to travel by train and ship.

Lockheed  14 Super Electra and Lockheed 18 Lodestar



Travel by air was quite different in the early '40s -- especially the requirements for stewardesses. To ensure an image of professionalism and safety, Trans-Canada Air Lines adopted a number of strict regulations and a military style of dress for them. To be eligible for training, applicants were required to be Registered Nurses, under 30 years old, and unmarried. Nearly every aspect of their appearance from hairstyle, cosmetics and nail length, to height and build, were strictly regulated and closely monitored.  Along with a chance to travel, these women gained instant celebrity status.

Obviously I don't remember anything about the flight. . . but the experience must have left an impression as I've experienced a love of flying ever since and in the lifetime that followed I went on to fly in a multitude of aircraft all across North America and to dozens of countries.

TRAVEL SECTION
https://www.hillmanweb.com/book/travel

1. Stewardess greeting passengers as they board the TCA Electra
2. TCA Stewardesses on a wing
3. 1940s TCA Stewardess Badge
4. 1940s TCA Baggage Label

I don't remember much about those wartime years other than the abundant hugs and love from my parents. They shared a few stories of those Newfie times: a generous and caring landlady, playful neighbour kids and the numerous music jam sessions held by my Dad and Mom in their boarding room apartment. The sounds of singing, Mom's piano & accordion, and Dad's trumpet & sax obviously instilled a love of music that I've held all through my life. Years later, in the late '60s, Sue-On and I visited all the old St. John's sites and sights including a return to those rooms we had lived in 20 years before. And the biggest thrill of all was to chat with the landlady who remembered us well and treated us to a meal.


Wartime CPR Locomotive at Brandon Station

When Dad was transferred to the RCN base at Esquimalt on Vancouver Island, Mom and I followed by train. My Campbell grandparents even paid a visit. Dad had been a chief welder for years in the navy shipyards. When he learned that one of the ships he was working on -- HMCS Prince Robert --was preparing to lead a multi-national convoy to Hong Kong, he saw it as a chance to enter the war overseas -- and to earn a promotion to Chief Petty Officer. He volunteered for the mission to serve as the ship's welder.

Mom and I returned by train to Strathclair and Dad later followed while on leave. Around this time my two-year-old-plus memories start to kick in. One early memory is of the smell of cinders and smoke while we waited to board a train. Another is of sitting on my Dad's knee while playing with a dollar bill and his farewell hugs as he was about to return to the coast . . . and of course the hugs and kisses as he returned from the mission in the Pacific many months later.


Click for full-size Collage

I have documented Dad's 1945 adventure across the Pacific in a series of scores of illustrated Webpages starting at:

https://www.hillmanweb.com/rcn

The next memory is of the day I got my first puppy. . . a collie dog that Dad named Nipper. The boy and his dog were to have many fun adventures exploring the wonderful bluffs, sloughs and pastures of our large farm. This was the start of a long relationship with members of the animal kingdom -- not hard to do on a mixed farm surrounded by cows, horses, turkeys, geese, chickens, hogs, and sheep -- I even had a pet lamb that sister Bonnie and I used a nippled beer bottle to feed him milk. It also was the start of a long history of pet cats, fish, hedgehogs, turtles and dogs -- collie, Boston terrier, and five Great Pyranees.

The morning of Christmas Eve 1947 brought a special gift. Mom had gone to Mrs. Murchie's nursing home in Strathclair to give birth to her second child. I remember Dad sitting on the kitchen chair waiting for the six short telephone rings of our party line. Finally it rang. . . Nanny took the call. It's a Girl! . . . a beautiful little red head. Dad immediately left for town to be with his two loved ones. Fearing that I might feel left out, Grampa took Nipper and me for a walk -- across the road to visit with our Robertson neighbours.

A while later it was a thrill to visit the bonnie little one. . . I had a sister and a future playmate. I remember my first reaction on seeing the newborn. . . "what a beautiful cute little one" . . . Then my attention turned to a  treat I had been given -- a 7-Up soft drink bottle. For some reason I was captivated by the scene of rising bubbles on the bottle's label. It is silly what the mind remembers from the distant past.

Living on a farm in the country meant that I didn't have a chance to mix much with kids my own age. But this had advantages as well. My grandparents lived with us and we all shared a love for music, movies, radio, and books which created close family bonding. The birth of my little sister Bonnie was an exciting event.  She was four years younger, but soon I had a little companion to play with and to join me in adventures in make-believe worlds.

I later learned that both she and I had inherited family names. The new addition to the family was named Bonnie and shared my Mom's name as her second name: Louise. I had been given my Dad's name, Gerald, and had inherited a name that had been handed down family lines for generations: William. This had been the name of Nannie's favourite brother and then Mom's younger brother who had been killed two years earlier in the closing days of WWII, when the Lancaster bomber he was piloting had crashed in England.
https://www.hillmanweb.com/rcaf/william/
Years later Sue-On and I would carry on this famly tradition in the naming of our three kids.

Quite some time later I remembered Dad and Mom, myself, and little Bonnie crowded into the cab of our Fargo truck on our way to our Hillman grandparents' home in Elrose, SK. Dad thought it was a good time for them to meet their grandkids. I remember going out to grampa's back yard blacksmith area with dad while he and grandpa were deciding on what blacksmith tools could be loaded into the truck to take back to Dad's workshop at Maple Grove -- tools, anvil, hammers, tongs, vice, hand-cranked forge, etc. Sadly, so many of these treasures have been lost or stolen through the years.

Meanwhile, on June 3, 1948, half-way around the world in South China, a baby girl was born to Jade and Soo Choy. The incredible story on how our two lives were to come togther I have shared later in these rambles in Decade 60.

My next memory was of my first day of school in September 1949. Mom dropped me off in front of the Strathclair school and I wandered into the classroom surrounded by so many faces I had never seen before. Miss Fulford taught grades 1 and 2 combined in a classroom on the main floor, SE side. I remember standing by the desk I had been assigned while the class struggled with singing O Canada and God Save the King. . . followed by the recitation of the Lord's Prayer -- all very strange. The sun shining through the huge windows filled the room with light -- rows of desks, blackboards, bulletin boards, and the Blue Boy painting on the wall. There was a tray table at the back of the room containing a large ball of aluminum foil that last year's class had collected from cigarette papers -- a reminder that postwar rationing procedures were still in play.

I was looking forward to Mom picking me up to take me home for lunch and was relieved when I recognized a tooting from our truck horn out in the lot. I stood up, quickly walked out of the room and ran down the steps to the parking lot leaving a room full of surprised faces. When I reached the truck I learned that little sister had blown the horn and the school's noon bell had not rung yet. Ahh, those rebel Hillman kids :)

BILL HILLMAN IN GRADE ONE

Click for full-size collage

Near the end of the year, Dad brought home a real treat -- a  new 1949 Meteor car.
A great way to enter into the new decade.
The '50s would bring many more adventures.



REFERENCES

Family Photos: Young Billie
www.hillmanweb.com/bls/fam03.html
www.hillmanweb.com/family/h08.html
War Years Photos
https://www.hillmanweb.com/strathclair/pioneers/2.html
 
 
 


I. HILLMAN 60-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY
Old PDF Versions

0. MUSIC CONTENTS
1. GIG NOTES 1-10
old PDF1
2. ALBUMS | NOTES
old PDF2
3. GUITAR TALES
old PDF3
4. PRAIRIE SAGA
PDF
5. ROOTS & INFLUENCES
6. PHOTOS IN COLLAGES
7. MEDIA
8. 100 SONGS
9. TRAVEL ADVENTURES
10. OLD EARLY ODYSSEY
.
II. HILLMAN MEMORIES THROUGH THE DECADES (Under Construction)
1. Early Years
2. DECADE 40
3. DECADE 50
4. DECADE 60
5. DECADE 70
6. DECADE 80
`7. DECADE 90
8. DECADE 2000
9. DECADE 2010
.
10. DECADE 2020
TRAVEL ADVENTURES
III. STRATHCLAIR YEARS
START OF A LIFELONG MUSIC AND TRAVEL ADVENTURE
1. STRATHCLAIR
HOMETOWN
2. STRATHCLAIR 
1950s SCHOOL DAZE
3. STRATHCLAIR 
PHOTO GALLERY
4. STRATHCLAIR
EVOLUTION
5. STRATHCLAIR
MEMORIES and PHOTOS
6. STRATHCLAIR
BEND THEATRE
.
7. STRATHCLAIR
MEMORIES
TRAVEL ADVENTURES.

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Copyright 2023 - Bill and Sue-On Hillman
Contact: hillmans@wcgwave.ca