On July 4, 2022, around 1:30 p.m., driving east on Highway 3 at Broxburn stop light. Our handicap van stopped running. “What do I do!?” After a minute or so, an RCMP officer was knocking on my window. “What’s the problem?” he asked. “I think my battery is dead,” I replied.
“Put it in neutral, I’ll push you to the road side.” Physically he did. A few moments later, more RCMP officers arrived — two male and one female. They tried boosting battery, but it wouldn’t keep running for more than a minute! The tow truck was called. My wife, in her wheelchair, got unloaded from the van. Fortunately, the ramp had enough power to come out so she could get out. Safely out, they said I should ride with the town truck, they would load my wife in their car, the wheel chair in the truck.
Approximately an hour later, we dropped the vehicle off at a repair shop, went to our house, my wife and wheelchair, and the RCMP officers were there.
Thanks to all RCMP that helped us. Next year, the RCMP in Canada is going to be 150 years old. Wow, the RCMP is Canada. What they have done and still are doing for Canada is absolutely great! Keep it going for another 150 years. We have the greatest respect and admiration for the RCMP.
My family first came to Alberta as immigrants to do sugar beet work. During the years between 1954 and 1960, my family moved about frequently from town to town and farm to farm in search for work and accommodation. Fate and circumstance brought us to the Taber area. We stayed not too far from town, up the Range Road, south of the sugar factory, on Norman Harding’s farm where we hoed beets until we left the area altogether. After an absence of more than 60 years, to say that I was amazed at the monumental changes in town and the surrounding area would be understating it. Suffice it to say, that I had, on occasion, great difficulty orientating myself. As one would expect, the dichotomy between what one remembers and what is real is sometimes shocking and often releases a myriad of conflicting emotions…sadness, regret, wonder amazement. I was certainly not immune to those. Then, I was a young teenager. My world was the area in town contained by 50th St., 50th Ave., and 47th Ave. 48th Ave. didn’t look as sanitized as it does today. I went to the movie theatre on 48th and met my buddies at the corner. I bought day old bread at Gordy’s store, and dried up polish sausage ends at the butcher shop across the street from the Palace. I came to town on my bike which I hid between the first and second elevators so that it wouldn’t be vandalized by a gang of older kids who were pursuing me in those days. The day liner still rumbled and swayed on the track towards Medicine Hat and the old train station was still in its original place. Highway 3 was narrow then and the area leading to Range road was dark with open fields on the right hand side. I pedaled that stretch of road on my way to the Harding Farm many times at night. I spent a lot of time down by the river. When I skipped school, I hightailed across the north side of town (it was still prairie then) to the breaks of the river, crossed the old iron bridge on the run and hid in the old range shack (still standing at that time) near the bridge. From there I went down river, around the bend to what is today Woodpecker Island. The Old Man River was my haven then. I spent many a solitary hour following game trails and chasing rabbits. When I got one, I roasted it on an open fire. I was certainly wild then although I don’t know if I preserved anything. Myself, if guess. I went to Grades 7 and 8 at the Old Central School under the constant admonition that I had to “buckle up if I wanted to get across the street to the high school.” Well…unbelievably, I got there for Grades 9 and 10. Life had gotten difficult by then for the Neumann family. I was frequently away from school for farm work (and skipping) and barely passed. Grade 10 was no different. If it hadn’t been for the perseverance and dedication of Principal Selinger, I suppose I would not have made it and my life would have taken a different turn. He surprised us (my brother and myself) on the beet field one day and offered that we should at least come in to write the finals. “I can’t make you come to class at this late date, but it would give you the year”, he said. Good things do happen in life. We must learn to embrace them when they happen. As it happened, I finished my Master’s degree in French and German literature and philosophy at Waterloo, and eventually became high school teacher of German and French. I have never forgotten that day. I would like to dedicate this letter to Brenda, curator and archivist at the Irrigation Impact Museum in Taber. I had occasion to come to Taber just recently to do research for the book that I am writing. I cannot express my appreciation enough for Brenda’s exhaustive participation, her understanding, her listening and the empathy she has demonstrated in my endeavour. Thank you Brenda. In conclusion, I must say that I enjoyed my visit to Taber very much, although the experience was, at times, bitter sweet.
I spent as much time as I could revisiting places I remembered and meeting and talking to people my age (as far as I could tell) to glean a little information about life then. It was interesting and rewarding.