I was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada just a few minutes after midnight on October 18, 1922. The town lights were shut off at midnight so mum said I started my life out in the dark.
The house we lived in was partly made out of logs which dad added onto to accommodate a still growing family. There were only three bedrooms so my two brothers, Holman and Morton, and I slept in one small room in one small bed. We used to jump up and down on the bed until it crashed onto the floor. After a while, my dad got tired of fixing it so we slept on a mattress on the floor. Our bedroom was in the log cabin part of the house and in the winter snow would blow in at the base of the floor and the window so sometimes we would wake up with trails of snow on our floor by our bed.
In my family I had five brothers and three sisters. Alfred Edward Charles was born July 4, 1901 in Southampton, England. Eva Ellen May was born February 26, 1903 in Jersey, Channel Islands. John Barlow was born May 22, 1905 in Lyndhurst Ham, England. Millicent Ada was born September 5, 1907 in Monmouthshire, England. Hope Rita Mary was born May 8, 1916 in Wool Wareham, For., England. Holman Rowe was born July 18, 1821 in Cardston, Alberta. Morton Rowe was born September 2, 1925 also in Cardston.
I was named after my mother, Eva Mary Rowe. She was born in Guernsey, Channel Islands on July 4, 1879. She had on brother, Charles Rowe. Her parents were Charles LeBoutillier Rowe and Ellen Thomas.
My father was Alfred Edward Salway. He was born at Plympton, Devonshire, England on November 4, 1880. His parents were Edward Salway and Sarah Holman. He learned to be a barber and worked at this trade for many years. He joined the army in the First World War in 1916. After the war, dad sailed to Canada and settled in Cardston, Alberta where a temple was under construction because mom wanted to live in Zion and be near a temple.
Mum took over the barber shop in England when dad went to war. But a year after dad left for Canada, she sold the business to pay for boat passage and joined dad in Cardston.
Dad owned a barber shop, pool hall, and bowling alley. When I was young, I used to do down to the pool hall when dad was cleaning and play pool. I was so small I used to drag a coke case around to stand on so I could hit the ball.
When I was older I used to set pins in the bowling alley for a penny a line for 5 pins and 2 cents a line for 10 pins. Even after dad sold the hall I would still work there after school setting pins.
My greatest joy as a child was playing in a tree house in our pasture, until one of the neighbor kids, who we wouldn’t let in our tree house, got mad and burned it down. In the summer we would hike up into the foothills and swim in our favorite swimming hold called Bulls Hole. The farmer’s field that we cut through to go swimming had a mean bull that we had to get past to go to the hole so thus the name.
In the winter we would skate and play hockey. After Lee’s creek froze over we could skate upstream for miles until we got tired and then coast back with the wind at our backs. We played hocked on a section of the creek Mr. Eishman would dam up so he could cut ice, which he sold in town.
We owned horses which we would ride to school. The last one we had was a white mare named Queeny. She would carry at least six of us kids to school. One day I tethered her to close to the creek bank and as she tried to get a drink she fell down the bank and choked. After that dad wouldn’t buy us any more horses so we had to walk to school.
We used to spend a lot of time playing with elastic clothes pin guns in Posing’s barn. It had a good attic to hide in. When Holman and I were young dad bought Holman a tricycle and a wagon for me. For some dumb reason we pulled them up onto the peak of our bard and dropped them both off and they went smashing to the ground. Why, I’ll never know but now I realize how much they must have cost dad and money was very hard to get those days.
One of my most famous escapades happened when I was about six years old. It was on a Sunday morning and Morton and I had been left home alone and we were playing with matches. I set fire to the haystack and it immediately went up in flames, spreading to the barn, burning it and the barn animals and chickens plus the neighbor’s fence. Morton was younger than I so I told dad that he burned it trying to set fire to a grasshopper. He actually thought he had done it until our first family reunion in 1960 when I confessed.
I remember going to the well to get water to fill the reservoir on our stove and bringing in wood from the shed. Each summer we had to work in the garden, which we thought was 100 acres big. It was probably only about one acre but it took a lot of work to keep it up. I milked cows before and after school also. Each fall dad would kill a pig and we would rub it down with salt peter so it would keep. I also used to feed the pigs and chickens everyday.
I used to get an allowance of a nickel a week, if dad had it. Later on I helped him in his Hot Houses and earned 25 cents a week, which was enough then to take a girlfriend to a matinee and still be able to buy some candy.
Christmas was always fun when we were young. I remember dad always buying a box of apples and a box of oranges. I can still remember how they looked individually wrapped in the box. This fruit was a big treat for us in our stocking.
During the depression dad tried every way he could to make money. As kids we would peddle rhubarb, asparagus, and other vegetables door to door to try to sell them. He also bought fish in the winter and stored them in a snowbank and we could go door to door selling the fish. The second year we had a warm Chinook wind which melted all the snow so we had to dry and salt down all the fish we couldn’t sell. We ate salted fish all winter; maybe that’s why I don’t like fish to this day. One of our favorite ways to make money was collecting cans, bottles, aluminum, lead, etc. and then selling it.
One year Lord Baden Powell came to Calgary for a Scout Jamboree. In order for us to go and see him, we had to have a full scout uniform. Libby’s Canning Company gave parts of the scout uniform for so many Libby’s Can Labels. By canvassing the town and the dumps I collected enough labels to get a complete uniform. Going to Calgary, a big city, and seeing Lord Baden Powell was the highlight of my scouting experience. I spent about four years in the Boy Scouts and this was the most important experience of my life. In the summer we would hike up into the mountains. A couple of years we went on horseback as far as we could go into the mountains for seven days and then spent the last week getting back out again. We lived as much as we could on fish and game we caught and snared to pass our merit badges. I always felt that my association with the Boy Scouts kept me with the right friends and out of trouble.
We lived near two Indian Reservations and did a lot with the Reservation youth in sports and Scouts each year. The town would save all their old tires and wood and build a big fire on the north hill, between Cardston and the Reservation, and would invite the Indians to join us for food and games. It was one of the highlights of the year.
When I was 14 years old I worked with a man carrying lumber and logs out of the mountains. He taught me how to drive a truck and we would each drive one out of the mountains to the edge of town. Since I didn’t have a license, he would park mine and go unload his and then come back for my truck. I got my license when I was 16 but we never owned a car so I drove my brother Harold’s car or any other one I could. In the summers I worked on farms, in canning factories, sugar beet factories and saw mills. I even worked one summer putting cement caps and ornamental stone on graves.
I grew up during the Depression of the 1930’s. I don’t remember too much about it except how hard my dad worked to keep food on the table. There were times, as a barber, he would go to his shop all day and never have a customer. There were two other barbers in town. In the good times the other barbers would not bother with the Indian trade but my dad would so when the Depression came and the Indians would get their treaty money once a month, they would still come to dad and not the other barbers. This really helped our family. Even though the other barbers tried to get their business, the Indians were very faithful to my dad.
We used to go down to the Slaughter House and were able to get liver, kidney, tripe, bones etc. free because in those days people would not buy them. Mum had recipes to make all these taste good. They must have been because I still like them today. We used to go to the butcher and he would give us a bone for our dog but the dog never saw it until mum had boiled it and made soup with vegetables out of the garden. Even though we wore patched clothes, they were always clean and neat and I don’t once remember going hungry so I guess all our work was worth it. I also learned how to work!
I started school when I was six years old at Cardston Public School, which also housed Junior High. My favorite teacher in Junior HIgh was our principal, Nathan Eldon Tanner, even though I spent a great deal of time in his office to be disciplined for one thing or another. He was always fair and understanding.
I attended High School at Cardston High across the street until I joined the Air Force in October 1942. I also attended one year of college at Calgary after getting out of the service.
I was very active in sports at school playing soccer, football, boxing, basketball, and running track. Basketball was my favorite and I was on many basketball championship teams throughout school, in the Air Force, and in Senior Ball after getting out of the service.
I was also in Junior Rodeo in High School at the Cardston Rodeo each summer. As Juniors we would ride young steers and milk cows and rope calfs to entertain the crowd between mens events rather than competing.
On December 7th I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a mechanic. I trained in Medicine Hat, Alberta and then in St. Thomas, Ontario. I was then shipped to Debert, Nova Scotia to wait to be shipped overseas. In December 1943 I went to England on a ship called the Murtania. While in England I was posted in Bournemouth, Lincoln and Ayre, Scotland. One day when on leave in London, I was caught in a bad air raid. A bomb dropped on an entrance to a subway station which people were using for a shelter. I moved all the people out of the shelter and put them in a building nearby for safety. But a bomb fell on the building and killed all the people I had just rescued. In the process I broke an ear drum from the percussion and so in June 1944 I was shipped back to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on the Queen Mary. I then went to Claresholm, Alberta where I met Bobbie and we were married five weeks later on December 7, 1944.