Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - April 18, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
Margaret Luckhurst Flashback 3 - Andrew Staysko The Builders Of The South TF ANYONE knows all that should be known about the network of railroads operating in early Southern Alberta, it certainly must be pioneer Andrew Staysko. He can quote to the day when spur lines opened, when narrow' gauges were replaced with standard, when and where all serious train wrecks occurred. It is logical for Mr. Staysko to be so precise and accurate, for railroading has been his life. "If it had not been for the railroad, Lethbridge would likely still be a small prairie town called Coalbanks," Mr. Staysko stated with conviction during an interview. "Indians had known about the 'fire that burned in the ground' for centuries; Nick Sheran discovered the coal but couldn't transport it. The old river boats and barges that tried to move the coal to the 'Hat ran aground on sand bars. It wasn't until the Gaits built a narrow gauge railroad from here to Dunmore that the future of the coal industry and Lethbridge really perked up." Mr. Staysko declares he's ridden everything on wheels that can run on a railway track, narrow gauge or standard, from hand-car to giant diesel. "When I first went railroading nearly sixty years ago," Mr. Staysko said, "there were a number of lines operating in the south. There was the old turkey trail as it was called, from here to Great Falls, and the St. Mary's River Railway which ran from Stirling to Cardston and a line to Haney-ville which was later abandoned. There were others of course but eventually they were either torn up of bought by the CPR. Why were there so many? Well, highways were pretty poor in those days, yet people had to travel. It wasn't hard to put a railway line down for there were lots of speculators and labor was plentiful and cheap. Nobody had cars in those days so if you wanted to go anywhere you went by train or you didn't go at all. Do you know that at one time you could get a return excursion ticket to Banff from Great Falls for only ten dollars?" If Mr. Staysko had not been keen on railroads and had the opportunity to make his career in them, he probably would have become a miner. "Like most of the early people in Lethbridge, I come from mining stock," Mr. Staysko said. "I was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1890. That's a mining town south of Pittsburgh. The people in those parts were experienced miners and Mr. Stafford, the superintendent of the mines in Lethbridge, tried to get experienced men. We moved here in 1897, and by that time the town was really booming." Mf. Staysko attended St. Aloysius School which used to be near where Beny Motors stands now. He admits somewhat ruefully that he didn't particularly like school. "I used to play hookey now and again and sneak down to watch the men loading cars with coal down at the collieries." For a time, Mr. Staysko worked in Number 3 colliery, but finally in 1907 he realized a secret life - long ambition when, at 17, he was taken on at the railway. "I guess today people wouldn't think it was much of a job, but it paid 13 cents an hour and I worked 13 hours a night, as a wiper cleaning off engines. That pay wasn't too bad for a kid in those days'!" Mr. Staysko didn't remain a wiper for long however. In a few months he was promoted to fireman. "For firing on the road I got $2.15 per hundred miles or 10 hours work, Whichever came first," he reminisced with a grin. "In 1909 I was firing for George McNabb, a real old-time engineer. Somehow, I got to thinking there must be an easier way to run a locomotive. I asked George why they couldn't be fired by oil, it seemed reasonable to me, but he didn't think that would be practical. Funny it. took so long for trained mechanics and engineers to see the value in that idea. It was a long time before diesels displaced the stea-m engine, and a lot of coal had to be shovelled in all that time." In 1912 Mr. Staysko was promoted to engineer, a position he was to hold in the Lethbridge division for 24 years. Later he was moved to Medicine Hat where he spent another 24 years on the mainline. "I was on The Canadian for 10 years, travelling between the 'Hat and Swift Current, then I was 18 months on diesels before I retired in November, 1955," he recalled, "Then I finally hung up my hat. I must admit I haven't missed work in the least! I guess I'd seen enough of trains after nearly fifty years of them." With two sons of his own, Mr. Staysko has always been interested in boys work. "I organ- ized a cub pack here in 1957," he said, "boys need to be kept busy these days, when there aren't so many chares to do. They need to get out on hikes and run off their energy. The coulees are a great place for kids to tear around. When we were young we practically lived down there. Of course you could swim and hunt then; somehow there always seemed to be lots to do, and we didn't have any leaders to plan things for us either." Once he started working on the railway, Mr. Staysko didn't have much spare time. "We worked long hours in those days," he recalled, "and when we were finished for the day we were pretty tired. However, some evenings a few of us would meet at Gait Park and have a little boxing match. Bare hands, you understand. We'd go a couple of rounds and sometimes get a black eye, but it was good exercise and we enjoyed it." In the long career of most railway men, disaster is not uncommon. Mr. Staysko however, considers himself lucky. "I think I had a watchful guardian angel," he admitted. "I had some close calls, but I always came out alive. In 1910 we ran into a dust storm at Craddock. Soil had sifted onto the track which threw the engine right off the track and through the right-of-way fence. I broke my ankle and leg that time. But when 1 became an engineer, I never took any chances. The fellows I worked with called me '100 per cent Andy' because I was careful, but it paid off. I'm still here." As in all communities, there are 'characters' who stand out in one's memory because of their eccentric behavior. Lethbridge, according to Mr. Staysko, has had its share. "There was Rattlesnake Andrew Staysko -Photo by Walter Kerber Pete," he chuckled, "an old drunk everyone was scared of because he carried snakes around under his shirt. If anyone crossed him he'd just haul out a snake and everyone around would disappear. Then there was Steamboat Bill. He used to work on steamboats on the Mississippi, but came to Canada during summers to work as a shepherd around Cardston. He was a pesky nuisance to the railroaders because he'd beg rides, and if the conductor wouldn't let him on, he and his old dog would lie down in front of the train and prevent it moving. It was easier to let him hitch a ride than argue with him. But Coyote Henry was the oddest of them all. Some folks said he wasn't quite all there, and there were times when we could believe it. He trapped coyotes and lived in a dugout in the coulee just north of the Gait hospital. He lived alone with about a dozen mangy dogs and didn't encourage visitors. However, once when I was down there as a kid, to my surprise he invited me in. I accepted, but as soon as I got into his dugout I became nervous for his door was all covered with long sharp spikes. When I asked him what they were for he explained. I put spikes in there so when mountain lions scratch my door they cut their paws." He pulled a wad of papers out of the base of the door leaving a hole, "then I shoot them through the holes!" Mountain lions, I wondered? Believe me, I got out of there fast. Coyote Henry had lived alone too long." Upon retiring, Mr. Staysko r--1 ^'s wifi returned to Lethbridge to live. "We liked the \ia^," he said, "but our sons were married and gone, and somehow we still thought of Lethbridge as home. It was a good move for me. I enjoy the work we're doing in organizing the Museum and it's good to feel I can contribute something to the community still." When asked about the locomotive in Gait Gardens Mr. Staysko explained: "We felt the kids around here needed to see a steam locomotive, it's part of our past. But they are getting very hard to get. However, I knew about number 3651, and had heard ii was to be scrapped. I felt sorry about that. It was built back in July, 1910, and I drove it in 1912. So I wrote Mr. Crump whom I knew when he was foreman of locomotives in Calgary years ago. We got the engine. I like to see it there. It reminds me of the early days of the railway and its importance in opening the west." Book Reviews Welcome Addition To Poetry Motions, Dreams, and Aberrations; by Elizabeth Gour-lay; (Sono Nis Press, 68 p., $3.25) ALTHOUGH Elizabeth Gour-lay has published in a large number of Canadian amd American magazines-an early collection of her poems was broadcast over the CBC program, Anthology - this is her first book of poems. And a welcome addition to Canadian poetry. Keats in commenting on Shakespeare's genius says that he led a life of allegory, "his works are the comment on it." The same might be said of Elizabeth G o u r 1 a y. She too seems to lead a life of allegory. But while Shakespeare is concerned with macrocosmic conflicts, with raging passions, Canadian Investments Abroad Half A Loaf: Canada's Semi-Role Among Developing Countries by Clyde Sanger (Rycr-son Press, 276p, softback, $3.95). i"1 AN ADA HAS a good reputation among developing countries because its aid has been free of crippling loan repayment terms and political strings. But much more should be done by Canada. Journalist Clyde Sanger in this book examines the various forms of assistance given by Canada and Canadians. Private investment-of which there is very little - is viewed in terms of the Brazilian Traction, light and Power Company. Volunteer agencies-such as the Unitarian Service Committee and the United Church of Canada, are looked at in terms of their work in Korea. Government participation is reviewed in several parts of the world. Even Canada's regrettable non-role in Not Up To Expectations Decent and Indecent: Our Personal and Political Behavior by Benjamin Spock, M.D. (McCall, 210p, 57.25). '"THERE is nothing particu-larly distinguished about this book by a really outstanding man of our time. It is disappointing that it lacks t h e wallop the author himself has made by his courageous opposition to what he calls the "immoral" war in Vietnam. In the book, Dr. Spock attempts to cover all the subjects that interest him. Lack of cohesiveness and continuity is the consequence. Most of the things he writes about have been covered before and would be boring if it were not that Dr. Spock was now saying them. The initial publicity concerning the book led me to expect a rather full discussion of obscenity. But there are only half a dozen pages devoted to the subject. In these pages Dr. Spock forthrightly turns his back on the civil libertarian position he previously espoused and comes out in favor of some censorship. It is logical for Dr. Spock to take this position. Objecting as he does to the brutalizing effect of war on people, he could hardly approve of the same influence being exerted through literature and art. The subject of censorship is so murky at the present time that a fuller discussion by Dr. Spock would have been welcome. Naturally the business of the Vietnam war is discussed, but strangely his trial on the charge of conspiring to aid vio-lalions of the U.S. Selective Service law is not even mentioned. His views on that law and the court case would have been interesting and would seem to have more justifiably been included in this book than his views on education, for instance. The book is worth reading, of course. I am just saying that I expected more than I found. DOUG WALKER. the crucial matter of birth control programs is emphasized in the critical situation faced by Columbia. The fact that Manitoba's former Minister of Agriculture, George Hutton gets a lot of attention for his work in Turkey and the Winnipeg Miles for Millions walks are singled out over much more successful ones elsewhere is excuseable. A book sponsored by the Manitoba Association for World Development Inc. should give some space to the efforts of the people of that province! Prime Minister Pierre Tru-deau, in an important speech in Edmonton a couple of years ago, said the world must be our constituency. Unfortunately only a few Canadians are really concerned about this. Few things have done more to make people aware of the needs of the developing nations than the Miles for Millions walks. Yet even they have not informed people as much! as is desire-able. This book would serve a valuable purpose in filling the void - if people could be persuaded to read it. The last chapter of the book is especially valuable because it covers the whole gamut of questions relating to international development and Canada's role in it. A handier reference on this subject would be hard to find. Clyde Sanger is on the staff of the Toronto Globe and Mail. Before coming to Canada in 1967 he was for five years staff correspondent in Africa for The Guardian and then for two years that paper's correspondent at the United Nations. DOUG WALKER. wars, and the dethronement of kings, Mrs. Gourlay is concerned with the grizzled dog, a seagull out of its natural habitat, the rain slashing the deut-zia, the dropping of a spoon, a knife, a fork ,the salty primal sea, and the visions of a cleaning lady. Yet everytMng has an allegorical significance-sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure and mystical. In one of her poems entitled "Stone," for example, she depicts a woman who: wore a stone about her neck for fear that harm might come to it * * when shrivelled by the dark it took on weight and dragged her down when it could absorb the light it grew more large ballooned her up Then the poet concludes: but yet to live in permanent unbalancing is bard indeed sometimes she longed for equipoise 'again wondered where for cutting cord to find the proper weapon . . . It is refreshing to read a modern poet who belongs neither to the cult of nihilistic despair nor to the "toilet bowl" school of poetry, who does not over-season her lines with the spice of excrement, but instead sees freshness, wonder, and haunting mystery in what is often mistaken for the trivial, the too-commonplace for poetic inspiration. Having met Elizabetii Gour-ley in her first volume of poetry we can justly attribute to her what she so generously attributes to another: I know a poet lyric in her verse. I dance with her,-a dance of birth, death, the stone's circling, the still slow motion of the universe. LeROY R. McKENZIE, Department of English University of Lethbridfie. Focus on the I Jniversity By J. W. FISHBOURNE Earth Day-Our Earth A PRIL 22nd is Earth Day in the United States. I do not know whether there has been any presidential proclamation about this (and rather doubt it) but it is estimated that about 3,000 high schools and over 1,000 universities and colleges will be participating in this attempt to make people aware of what we are doing to our world. The plans range all the way from the more or less traditional teach-ins and 'eco-tours' to somewhat more dramatic events such as "trash-ins" - the business of dumping garbage on the doorsteps of polluting plants or authorities too timid about enforcing the existing control Iegsi-lation. One major group is even talking about "liberating" particular streets from automobiles. Individual participants in these events include major figures from government, business, entertainment, sport and other fields, as well as a host of university people. Some of the names are household words across the continent; even we Canadians have heard of Senator Muskie, Mayor John Lindsay, Barry Commoner, Arthur Godfrey, Walter Reuther, to mention only a few. Of course it Is on these well-known names that the limelight will focus, and whose words and endeavors will be well publicized. But probably you will never hear about the thousands of students who will plan and organize these events, and whose intention and concern it is to make the rest of us realize that the destruction of our environment is serious business, not just for them, but for the whole human race. It is the scientists - principally biologists - whose studies, disclosures and warnings provide the factual base for the current anti-pollution activity. (It remains to be seen, of course, whether we will heed their warnings in time; Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' was published eight years ago, and it was only recently that we began to look seriously at DDT and its effects). But it has been the students who have lifted the warnings from the learned papers and lectures, and amplified them, through their teach-ins and protests, so that the rest of us could hear, and perhaps heed. In effect, the scientists have made the ammunition; it is students who are firing it. This is fitting, as they are the ones to whom the menace of pollution is most threatening. They are young, and It is those who are young now who may be struggling for breathable air and unpolluted water and edible food a few decades from now. And it is just that serious, my friends; make no mistake about it. Here in a small, unindustrialized city, in a wide-open part of a country that is itself sparsely populated, we still have relatively clean air to breathe, have not (yet!) polluted our water supply beyond cleansing, and are sufficiently well off to be able to afford food that, for the most part, is fit for our consumption. That's true for most of us, if not quite all. But it is not the case in other parts of the world, and it won't be that way here forever. The day will come when what we enjoy will seem just too much, to someone stronger and in a worse predicament. Either that, or with our customary discernment we will let it all be fouled up - or foul it up ourselves - for a fast buck. The young people - the first generation to have strontium 90 in their bones and DDT in their fat - seem willing and maybe able to do something about it. I hope they go all out on this one. The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORLEY Why Should We Fear To Die? A DYING Scotch farmer asked the fam-ous minister, Thomas Erskine, "What do you know about death, you have never died?" Do the dead alone then know about death? But astronomers tell of worlds they have never seen and physicists of atoms, so surely St. Paul may tell us of death. Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, had a soldier awaken him every morning with the words, "Remember Philip, you must die!" Probably it sent him into action resolved to put in a full day's work. It increases the importance of life if we like Andrew Marvell bear at our backs "time's winged chariot hurrying near." Despite what psychologists say about the "death wish," men do not like to think about it. They cover it with flowers and avoid the word, speaking of "the dear departed" who had "passed away." "Death is the .most terrible and the only evil," said Berdyaev, the Russian existentialist. Few faiths face the fact of death. Fewer still are those who can say with Francis of Assisi, "Welcome Sister Death!" Or with St. John the Evangelist, "Thou hast invited me to Thy table, Lord, and I come." The Elizabethan, Henry Vaughan. wrote of his "Departed Friends," Dear, beautous death, the jewel of the just! Shining nowhere but in the dark, What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust, Could man outlook that mark!" Is it that "nature intends to kill man and succeeds in the end?" Is life with its loves, struggles, ideals, sacrifices, vows, and visions, all a waste, the martyr, hero, knave and fool going back to the same dust? Does Shakespeare's play remain but not Shakespeare? Abandonment of hope in a future life means the doom of optimism, the loss of all hope, a senselessness in life's activity, and the verdict that everything precious and lovely in life has only a dubious archeolo-gical value. Yet is it not strange that in every race and culture one finds a longing for the infinite, a faith in immortality of some kind? "The soul is eternal and migratory, say the Egyptians," reports Laertius. The gloomy philosopher Schopenhauer wrote, "In the furthest depth of our being we are secretly conscious of our share in the inexhaustible spring of eternity, so that we can always hope to find life in it again." St. Paul lists death as one of the good things in life, a gateway which opened into a life far better than this. The only death the Bible recognizes is the death of sin. The body, of course, has a cycle of growth like all nature, but the soul of man forever grows. James Martineau at 95 deals with most abstruse problems and is capable of the clearest insights. William Gladstone, one of the world's finest minds, was most wise at the end of his life. Elihu Root at 90 performs the finest statesmanship, Einstein was brilliant in old age. So with many another. The growth of personality, that is the key to death as it is the key to life. Death is part of a process of growth, man's chance to emerge into a new existence. The old body is put aside and we are given a new body, as St. Paul says, incorruptible, sinless, and glorified1. "We know not what we shall be, but we know that ... we shall be like Him." Death gives the opportunity for the consummation of personality, for the achievement of the objective of life. Death is creative, gives history meaning, makes this a progressive world. Death is dreadful if you live on a material level. "Ah, Davy, Davy, what a dreadful thing it must be for you to die!" exclaimed Dr. Samuel Johnson looking at the luxurious apartments of David Garrick. But for the man who wishes to walk an ascending avenue, ever conscious of new truths, ever seeking higher values and insights, death leads him upwards to a higher sphere and equips him with new powers. As Sir Philip Sidney wrote on "The Fear of Death," "Since Nature's works be good, and death doth serve As Nature's work, why should we fear to die?. .. Our life is but a step in dusty way." Illiterate And Jobless From The Victoria Diaily Times QANADIANS, WHO PRIDE themselves generally on a reasonably high educa- tional standard throughout the nation, learned earlier this month that the situation is not much to be proud of. A statement in the House of Commons said: "In Canada's adult population (20 years and over) according to the 1961 Census, there were 109,904 illiterates with no schooling (1.63 per cent of the population) and 828,597 who were functionally illiterate, with one to four years of sobooling (7.93 per cent of the population)." With almost one in 10 Canadian adults in illiterate classifications at the beginning of the last decade, we have grounds for concern. The impact of that illiteracy on Canadian life is indicated in further replies to questions in the House. By the same census, 13.4 per cent of the imemployed aged 15 to 19, and 10.4 per cent of those aged 20 to 24 were functionally illiterate, having had less than five years of elementary education. Extenuating circumstances csa be suggested for the totally illiterate and functionally illiterate in a country of this size. A number of them were raised in places too remote to enjoy adequate educational advantages - some, no doubt, in the far north and' isolated areas where population did not warrant schools. The next census should show a reduction in the number and percentage of Canadians educationally deficient. Certainly this should be the case among Indians whose attraction to schools has strengthened noticeably in recent years. The latest recorded figures, however, carry their own message on poverty. In general the more highly educated workers receive the best and best-paid jobs. The corollary may have even greater force: For those with little or no education there are frequently no jobs at all - a point to be remembered as more privileged Canadians engage in sophisticated arguments over the best that can be provided in education.