John is known to all as Jack and as Barney in his athletic years.
He was born in Lyndhurst, England. Jack started school at the age of
three. At the age of twelve, he was the first Salway son to do
missionary work for the, Mormon Church. Jack and mum rode their
bicycles from Dorset to Wales and went door to door tracting. Why in
Wales? Jack said he never knew.
During World War I his father was in France and mum took over the
barbershop. Jack helped her. He had a little stool beside the two
chairs in the shop. He would take the clippers and trim up the back
of the soldiers necks and lather the men’s faces and mum would shave
Christmas in England was always exciting. Some years we got the
biggest and the best. Other years things got really tough. We
couldn’t afford a Christmas tree, so they made one out of sticks
covered with tinsel and colored paper and set it up in a corner. Mum
then decorated it with small gifts, toys purchased for a penny or
half-penny each. When the time came, the kids were blindfolded and a
stick was placed in our hand. We were then twirled around and led to
the tree. Any gift we touched with the stick was ours and then the
next child tried.
It was during the war that Jack’s brother, Alf, and sister,
Millie, died of consumption.
On Sundays Dad or Mum would put a roast in a large roast pan with
potatoes and carrots. Jack would take the pan to the ovens on the way
to Church. After Church, Jack would pick up the family dinner.
Jack enjoyed sports and he played on the men’s football and
cricket teams as a young man in England. He always taught his
children a sense of fair play. He would say, “It matters not if you
win or lose, it’s how you played the game.”
The family came to Canada and settled down in a log cabin. At
the age of 17, Jack left Cardston and went to work at the Union Bank
in Irvine, Alta. He also coached the volleyball and basketball teams
at the school. His future wife was one of the students, but at the
time she was only 13 years old. Irvine was a German community and
Jack, being solid English, knew no German. One time, at a dance, he
saw a beautiful German girl and wanted to impress her by speaking
German. So he got some German boys to teach him how to say, “Will you
dance with me?” However, what he actually was taught to say was,
“Will you sleep with me?” He got his face slapped by the girl and
went looking for the German boys.
Jack again met Martha while she was working for George Wolf in
Cardston in the Hotel. Martha was very shy and their first date was a
walk by Lee Creek. When they sat on a bench Jack tried to sit by her.
She moved over and he moved closer. By the time she came to the end
of the bench, she just got up and started over. They were married in
the Salway home by Bishop Pitcher. They started their married life
with a tablecloth and a pair of sheets and pillowcases from Mr. Wolff.
It was during the depression and they used apple boxes for chairs and I
an empty telephone wire roller for a table. Their bed cost $2.00 and
their two burner stove cost $1.50. They picked up coal along the
Jack went to work in the storeroom at the Paliser Hotel in
Calgary. He sold Life Insurance, worked at the Bay and then Eatons,
where he made $18.50 per week.
Their first child was a blond haired girl. Martha was in labor a
long time. When Jack examined the baby, he counted out loud the number
of toes and fingers. He was shocked to find two thumbs on the right
hand. Martha simply passed out. The doctors removed the extra thumb
and called Millie, “The little soldier.”
Jack enjoyed fishing and playing pranks. One time when he was
fishing with a friend, they came across some couples swimming in the
nude. Jack and his friend hid their clothes and chuckled about it for
many years wondering how they got home.
Jack worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad and in the early
years the work was slow. He, therefore, supplemented their income by
digging graves. He was surprised to find the man he was working with
was an old flame of Eva’s from Bobbington Camp.
While living in Calgary, Jack’s first son was born. He was named
after Jack’s father and Martha’s father.
In 1939 Jack moved his family to Medicine Hat where he worked
full time for the railroad as a brakeman. They bought their first
home on the South Hill. Jack loved to garden and soon had a
greenhouse, a large garden and lots of flowers. His father would send
bedding plants each year from Cardston by bus. Jack would get the
whole family out planting the seedlings as soon as they arrived, rain
or shine. A second son was born and they named him John Edward. He
had black hair and brown eyes.
Jack read a lot and tried to make up for his lack of formal
schooling. Whenever his children needed a lesson taught, he would
recall something he had read. One example of this was one day Jack
sent Alf to the neighbors for something. When Alf came home Jack was
very angry and waiting. Jack commenced to sit Alf down and tell him
the story of the General who sent one of his soldiers with a letter to
Garcia. The soldier went through many trials to deliver the message.
The moral of the story was when you are asked to do something, no
matter how difficult, you find a way to do it. From then on it became
a family saying when something important needed to be done right now,
“Take a letter to Garcia.”
Jack had several accidents while working for the railroad, but
the most traumatic was when his conductor was pinned under the wheels
of a train. Jack was the first to his friend and held him in his arms
where he died before the ambulance came. Jack worked as a conductor
his last ten years on the railroad.
Jack always loved music. He played the banjo and the ukulele,
and sang for his friends. Jack was the life of a party. He also sang
to his children. Some of his favorites were. “Bye Bye Blackbird” and
“Does the old tom cat still spoon upon the mat with the neighbor cat
Jack returned to activity in the Morman Church when his wife was
baptized. He was ordained a High Priest and was sealed to Martha in
the Cardston Temple.
Jack retired from the railroad and had an import business. He
sold leather purses from Mexico and trinkets from Japan. A favorite,
which everyone loved, was Jack’s kissing dolls.