My Days in Kitchener, Ontario
-started in 1969-
In early 1969 I was living and working in Toronto, Ontario. I was doing mostly wiring of new apartment buildings. My wife to be, Patricia, and I sat down in Hyde Park and looking at a map of Ontario, decided to give Kitchener a shot to live, work, and start married life. We were to be married on April 12th.
I headed to Kitchener to see if I could find a job. I was hired that same day by Electrohome. I then found a place to live. I started with Electrohome during the last weeks of March. They hired me knowing I was soon to be married and wanted time off from work for a honeymoon. They agreed and said it would be no problem.
Patricia (nee: Dalton) and I were married in a church near Parkside Drive (I don't remember the street, maybe Annette, or the name of the church) in Toronto. We headed off to the Finger Lakes area of New York State for our honeymoon.
On a Sunday afternoon, in the middle of nowhere, of course the middle of nowhere, we stopped for a stop sign (I did those things in those days, stop at stop signs that is) and the car, a Ford Fairlane, quit. Stopped, quit running, wouldn't go, right there, in the middle of nowhere, wouldn't start, refused to run. There we were, two 'kids' stranded on our honeymoon. I think only half a dozen cars went by in two hours or so. A couple of them asked if they could help, but carried on when it wouldn't start.
After spending these hours 'enjoying' the countryside at and around the stop sign, the car started. I put it in gear and started driving. I wasn't going to ask why; we were mobile. If you read about my auto mechanics in school, you'll know it's something I'm not. A mechanic.
We made it to a little one light town. No idea what it was called or where it's located. There was one service station in sight and I rolled onto the property to see a ‘Closed’ sign in the window. The car stopped, and the car stopped. Again it wouldn't start. Now what to do?
As we were sitting there contemplating our next move, the door of the station opened and out came this guy. It turns out he was the owner. He had come in to catch up some work. What was our problem? He had heard us trying to start the car in vain. I told him I had no idea and what had been happening.
I wish I remembered his name or the location, but I don't. He opened the hood and started fumbling around. Well to me it was fumbling, but he knew what he was doing. He complained the entire time about being closed, about it being Sunday, about a couple of kids out with no idea of what made a car run, he had other work to get done, of anything I think he could think of to complain about.
Eventually he said, "I think your coil is shorting out or opening circuit once it heats up. You'll need a new one."
Sure, like I knew what a ‘coil’ was.
Still complaining, he went over to another car sitting on the lot and 'stole' the coil out of it. He put the coil into our car, told us to try it, and the car started right up.
Okay. How much?
He wouldn't take a cent. He told us to go on and have a good trip. The car never gave us any more trouble on that trip. To whomever he was, Thank you.
We settled in Kitchener. I went to work for Electrohome and was there for seven years. Pat went to work for B.F. Goodrich and was still there nine years later.
After we checked out several churches to attend by going to different ones each week, we ended up going to a 'special' event at the International Gospel Center (the IGC). The pastor, Reverend Don Emmerson, had seen us previously and knew we always managed to 'sneak' out after, or just at the end of, a service. Tonight he decided was going to be different.
As we were trying to 'sneak' out the pastor headed us off. He 'made' us stay for refreshments. It was at this time we met the pastors son, Mark Emmerson. Mark and I hit it off right from the beginning.
Mark and I became the best of friends. We did many things together. We planned our vacations together. He became my official mechanic. I became his official light holder. He fixed the problem; I held the light while he did the repair. And you could always find us somewhere around the church.
The IGC had a bus ministry. They would send out buses on Sunday morning to pick up children. 'Granny' (a lady from IGC) would go visit the homes of the children and make arrangements for us to pick up the children. Mark was one of the bus drivers.
It took some doing, but Mark finally had me driving a bus. I became a regular driver. I almost never missed a Sunday once I had my license and was driving bus.
It's interesting I didn't want to drive a forty foot bus and ended up with my own bus business eighteen years later. I thought my sixteen foot Chrysler was plenty long enough. Mark and I were the best of friends. We did as I said, many things together, with the four of us (us two and our wives) even traveling together. Even today when we see each other (which is rarely), we continue on as if we saw each other yesterday. It's been a great friendship.
With me having a electronics background, Mark and I were always coming up with ideas for the church. The pastor was pretty patient with us because he let us try almost anything. At least we didn't electrocute anyone. He always checked.
Mark was, and is still, married to Laura. They have three grown children, are grandparents, and Mark is now the pastor of IGC, continuing in his dads footsteps.
Unfortunately, Patricia and I separated in 1975. We did have one daughter in October of 1973. We named her Tanya Lynn (at the time, we were Foster). Pat and I were officially divorced in 1978. Later Pat remarried and Pat and Tanya changed their name to Fox, the last name of the new husband.
My days at Electrohome were also terminated in 1975. I was fired. Electrohome and I disagreed on where the work location was. I said it was Electrohome. I considered myself to be at work on time as long as I was clocked in by seven a.m. Electrohome said I had to be at my work station. This was about a five minute walk from the punch clock. Electrohome considered me to be late. This went on for seven years.
Through a management change, I ended up with a new manager, Bob Esseltine. On almost his first day of taking over our department, he called me into his office. He informed me that I would NOT ever be late again. My 'work position' was the 'place of employment,' and not Electrohome. The next time I was late, I would be let go.
It didn't take long. I don't really remember, but I know I had a seven year habit, and it probably didn't change overnight. I also know myself well enough to know I probably just shrugged my shoulders, let him have his say, and carried on with my life (I think there might be a lesson in there somewhere). I doubt I argued with him, and I know I would not have promised him anything I didn't mean or wouldn't do.
I was late, and he was waiting for me. He escorted me to his office, gave me some paperwork, and escorted me out of Electrohome. I was let go. I now think I didn't really believe he could fire me after I had been there seven years, but he did.
Now what? Here I am with an electronics background, I'm pushing twenty-five years old, and I'm unemployed. Maybe I better go for a bicycle ride. That always helps to clean the cobwebs out of the brain.
On one of my bike rides I rode past a Greenwood's Dairy on Courtland Street in Kitchener. In the window was a sign that said, 'Route Driver Salesman Wanted.' I parked my bicycle and went in. It was a Tuesday afternoon.
I carried the sign from out of the window upstairs with me (the offices were on the second floor). I gave the sign to the receptionist and told her I was here and they didn’t need to advertise anymore. She informed me I couldn’t do that but gave me an application to fill in. I said I would do that after it was official I was hired, but first I would need to be interviewed to verify my employment. Little did I know I was being watched by the owner, Bob Greenwood.
The receptionist finally agreed to call him and he agreed to see me. After a long talk and informal interview, I was hired to drive a milk truck. Bob asked when I could start. I told him tomorrow as I’m obviously not working. He informed me milkmen don’t work on Wednesdays so it would have to be Thursday. I remained with Greenwoods dairy for three years. Mr. Greenwood was an excellent boss.
As was the practice, I was given the smallest, what you might consider the worst, route in the dairy. I had this route for six to twelve months (I don't actually remember the time frame). In the time I had the route, I had moved it up to the second largest (by sales volume) out of the (I think it was) twenty-three routes. Also, and to me this was the best thing, I had moved my start time from 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., was done every day by 16h (4:00 p.m.), and only worked a four day week, Monday, Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. Mr. Greenwood decided to make me his Effective Sales and Management Coordinator, his ESMP. I would now work out of the office.
Greenwoods Dairy was a franchise of Silverwoods Dairy, and door-to-door delivery of milk, and associated products, were discontinued. The business was closed. In 1979 I moved back to Niagara Falls.
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