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Work is such a fundamentally important activity for all of us
that we really need to enjoy our job. Two hundred years ago in Scotland, "their way of living and their industry have a mutual influence".
The Scots really knew how to survive in the world of work.
Please send me your stories of "work" -- here's a couple from
Scarborough. The first story is about working in the McCowan barn which stood just about
where the H.A. Halbert gymnasium is now.
Another happy memory of Papa, my grandfather, was the way in
which he would keep us busy in the hay mow when we were quite young and just starting to
help on the farm. He would have us tramping the hay so that we could get more in the mow.
He had a phrase, "put your foot on that, Mr. Britton". He would keep us working
and he always had some little thing to say that made work seem like fun.
Walter McCowan, July 13/93
Indeed, the trick to enjoying their work was to make it fun:
Bill Hobbs from Agincourt was pretty proud of his threshing machine.
He had a good outfit and took care of it. It had a Hart-Parr oil-pull gasoline engine. One
particular time he was threshing alfalfa at McKean's in the early 30's. End-drive barns
had a lot of waste space in them so it was extra important to tramp the hay down as it
came in from the field. So the McKeans had had a horse tramping in the mow to gain more
room. They had first noticed that a shoe was missing when the horse was brought down out
of the mow -- but it was just as likely that it was missing before the horse went up in
the first place. Harold Cook and I and one other young fellow were assigned to work in the
mow during the threshing. Of course, Hobbs' threshing machine would not get along at all
with a horseshoe, so the McKeans told us to keep an eye open for it. So we did -- but we
decided to have some fun with Hobbs at the same time. So we grabbed a dozen or so rusty
old horseshoes that were hanging on a rail by the stable door and took them up into the
mow. Every now and then, one of us would "find" a horseshoe in the hay and throw
it down to Hobbs. Hobbs knew we were just teasing him -- and he didn't like it!
Blake Weir, July 11/93
From Fairs and Frolics: Scottish
Communities at Work and Play