‘Get those dogs outside!’

Police have long known that mutts go for marijuana. So for a long time, their dogs have been used regularly to search baggage at airports and school lockers among other hiding places.
Only, the school authorities were not always told in advance that this would be going on along the hallways and not every principal might be notified beforehand.
So, one day probably around 20 years ago, the cops brought in their dogs to sniff around the lockers in Fort High. A new vice-principal on duty that day had no inkling of what was occuring—only that dogs were invading his school.
“Hey you with those animals! We don’t allow dogs in here so get them back outside,” this school official called out to the police. They learned he was not the principal they had spoken to before the dogs arrived.
Dogs were doing their duty again last week, but this time they had been properly introduced and were expected. Apparently their expertise as detectives is receiving more appreciation nowadays and the value of drug-sniffing dogs has gained widespread acclaim.
The same vice-principal who wondered about them years ago here, though, also was one of those people known to put his wrong foot forward! There were other incidents.
He told me after this happened: he also had tried to eject a district school superintendent from the high school cafeteria! Sternly, he informed this official, that only the students and teachers were allowed to eat there.
Everybody makes mistakes, but here was a man who made it a habit.
Yet give him credit for having a sense of humour. He can tell you other amusing stories about himself while laughing about them.
• • •
Here is one fellow to have on your telephone if you want to go into Fort Frances history (at his expense, of course, because his call came from Perth, Ont.) and he can really keep you going!
Herb Williams is a well-known local name for more than a few reasons. I wondered for a moment whether I might be talking to a ghost because Herbert Williams is remembered as an early mayor here (c. 1910). But this was a grandson of at least two generations separation.
Herb Williams Jr. rattles off facts rather rapidly. He can bring you up to date on electrical agreements between town and paper mill, including a historic 1978 court settlement when the town was using up all the power the mill could produce.
He also could refer to a small drain from the Backus mill under the original agreement of only 200 h.p.
Among the younger Herb’s memories was the Fort Frances Times bankruptcy of 1934 when the Larsons and Cummings came from Saskatchewan to take over the local newspaper. Grandpa Herb Williams became its editor after arriving from England.
I remember very little of all this myself but I knew the Williams who lived alongside the post office and I don’t forget the teacher named Margaret Stuart, who married that Williams.
Then, much later, there was a very tall high schooler named John, whom I was surprised to learn has now been dead for a year.
This Williams name can take you far back in memory and I was pleased to learn Herb is acquainted with our Pam Hawley, the curator of our local museum. They have been writing, and correspondence may have included a picture or two that changed hands between them.
• • •
An American visitor told me this story, which he claims is true. His friend’s wife threatened to leave him and said he would have to give her a million-dollar cheque to sever the relationship.
“Give me that million, and I’m gone,” she promised.
Their son heard all this and spoke up, urging his father to write that very large cheque. “Give her the million,” the son told his dad repeatedly.
The father had no such ambitions. “Even if I got the million, it would require selling everything I owned and going to the bank to borrow the rest.”
But the boy was equally firm on the idea and continued saying, “Give her the million” while his father merely continued looking distressed.
“I’ve got news for you dad,” the boy finally said. “The same oil company we dealt with before was back here this morning, so I sold them that piece of our farm that you gave me.
“The oil company gave me $20 million today, so listen to what I’m saying. If mom wants the million, just give it to her and you’ll be glad you did.”
• • • 
I don’t meet Jerry Arason of International Falls very often, but we usually have a conversation because Jerry and his brothers grew up in our East End and he always gone has deer hunting with some of our guys.
Furthermore, his older brother, Walter, and Walter’s wife, Beulah, still live in Edmonton. There, Walter accepted an important position one time with a Japanese-run railroad.
This seems to be still going because Jerry mentions Walter’s railroading career occasionally.
Walter was in high school with me. I would see Beulah in other classes as we rotated, and I would sometimes carry notes between them.
Beulah is a cousin of my wife’s family because her mother was married to Wesley Shortreed of Chapple, an uncle of my wife.
• • • 
The young Safeway girl clerk came along and I had to tell her she could never have done her job in my own Safeway days because the clerks all had to unload trucks into a back room of an old store.
There we had to stack the hundred-weight bags of flour, sugar, and potatoes. The bags were piled up to the high ceiling, using them for steps all the way up.
Another feature of our job was to watch our elderly manager, who would occasionally collapse by the telephone. This was next to the stand where we bagged our candy, raisins, and such stuff, so we had to help carry Mr. Brooks to his cot in the backroom.
Recently, I met Harvey Strain who, along with late Kelly Perlette, was one of several young Safeway butchers back then. They had to carry a beef from the trucks to their butcher blocks in those days—another good test of strength.
Working conditions have changed so much I doubt whether that little girl clerk I met could even imagine everything I told her.
• • •
I was happy to see Ed Katona honoured as the town’s “Centennial Man” last week because I appreciated Ed long before he became the town treasurer—and a good one I’m sure.
Among his teenaged labours, he worked for me as a Winnipeg Tribune counter at the CN station every morning before school. Some carriers went there for their bundles after their papers were counted and sized for their routes.
This was no easy task, either, because the Tribune usually had well over 1,200 customers in town here, plus smaller routes outside town. Then Ed had to load the bundles on the town bus to be dropped off for distant routes.
Malcolm Douglas and others also were among my Tribute counters as this employment lasted 22 years for me!

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