Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Speech for Toastmasters

In response to Quilly's request... I am sharing with you the speech I gave at Toastmasters this evening. Thanks for the interest, Quilly.

I would like to point out that the names have largely been changed here... after all, this is the internet and one has to consider the whole identity theft problem... something I want nothing to do with. The bold, underlined words are to catch my eye if/when I need to glance at my notes... makes for good use of notes without being obvious... just glance over and see key words that stick out and remind me what I want to say.

A speech for Toastmasters April 21, 2009

The Story of Jesse John Peel

Born in a sod hut

On the prairie flat,

Part of his parents’ new life,

Was a young fellow

Named Jesse John,

Never gave his Mama no strife.


One of his jobs

As a young boy

Was to make pesky gophers dead,

So he fashioned a scoop

With it’s handle long,

And poison from horseback he fed.


He lived through winter

Storms so bad

You would’ve lost your way,

If not for a rope,

From barn to house,

Strung on a better day.


Kids held on tight

To a lariat rope

Behind Jesse’s horse at a run.

“Flat land skiing”

On a winter’s day

Was the ultimate way to have fun.


As luck would have it,

The day did come…

Jesse turned a little too short.

A big gate post

And a girl’s broken arm

Put an end to this “Olympic Sport”.


As a young man

In “depression” times,

Jesse found a way to live.

To full grown horses

Who’d never seen man,

“Riding lessons” Jesse did give.


They’d rope ‘em

And hog tie ‘em

Strap on the appropriate saddle.

Rip off the ropes…

The horse was up,

With Jesse already astraddle.


As years went by

Jesse headed west,

Left the “bald-headed prairie” behind.

He crossed over mountains,

Then headed north,

His future adventures to find.


In a small café,

In a northern town,

Jesse found his future wife.

She was his waitress,

Who became his friend,

Then Sally became Jesse’s life.


In later years

A girl of eight

Saw Jesse ride a rearing horse.

From that moment on

He was her hero.

She knew not of his past, of course.


He told her stories

About teams of horses,

Matched in looks, size and strength,

Of harnesses fancy

Decorated with red tufts,

He entertained her at great length.


In his elder years,

Jesse was heard to joke,

That the best job he and Annie had done

Was, as expert gardeners,

They’d raised five Blooming Idiots,

And he was proud of every last one!

Madame Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, Welcome Guests

Abigail Ann Olive Bird cooked for the Royal Family during Queen Victoria’s rein.

Joshua James Peel was a sailor in the Queen’s Royal Navy.

In 1906 Josh & Abigail became husband and wife. In 1910, along with one year old Iris, they joined Abigail’s father and some of her siblings, immigrating to Canada where they took up farming, and took up residence in a sod hut on the bald headed prairie of Saskatchewan. Can you imagine coming from the life they must have had in England to live in a Soddy…and miles from the nearest town??

Abigail gave birth to 5 more children, all right there in that Soddy. On August 16th, 1915, she gave birth to her fourth child, a son who they named after Josh’s 2 brothers… Jesse & John. In the early days, he went by Jess, later by Jon. I knew him simply as Dad.

Dad only completed Grade 4, largely due to his poor eyesight and the family not having the money to buy him glasses. He took on many odd jobs, including the killing of gofers for farmers in the area. Anything to help put food on the table.

In 1930 he decided he could no longer eat the food his siblings needed, so he left home. He went to live with ­­Herb & Hat Johnstone where the 14 year old boy took on the work of a man on their 320 acres. Herb & Hat were very good to Jess, and they treated him like a son.

One of the jobs he did while there was breaking horses. They brought in horses that were as much as 5 or 6 years old and had never seen man. The horses would be roped and hog tied, the saddle & halter put on, then the ropes would be removed from the legs. By the time the horse was up on its feet, the cowboy, in this case Dad, would already be in the saddle. That’s the way it was done in those days. From what Dad told Mom, there were many days he’d be bleeding from both ends from the hard pounding of riding the bucking horses. It was a hard way to make a living… and it was the ‘Dirty 30s’.

Around the end of the ‘Great Depression’ often called the “Dirty 30s”, Jess left the prairies and headed west to BC where he lived around the Pritchard/ Kamloops area for a time, working on the Trans Canada Highway hauling gravel. From there he moved to Vanderhoof where his older brother Al was living. They both worked in the Powerhouse!

In 1947, Jesse John Peel went to Smitherton to work in the Powerhouse there. He met Sally Lapus in a café where she was working as a waitress. Jon & Sally were married July 13, 1948 with her brother Jack & her dear friend Marcy standing up with them.

In ’52, they moved onto a 97 acre farm 1½ miles west of town, which they had purchased for $4,000! That same year, Dad went to work for the CN Railroad, & in September, Marcy Bonita was born. By this time they had buried their son, Gerald William, who had only lived 1½ years. 195_ saw the birth of Terry Joshua, I was born in ’5_, and Bernie Roger in ’5_.

To this day, I think they made a big mistake in 1967, though that is just my opinion and maybe they did do the right thing. They sold the farm!! That fall, riding horses and herding cattle, we moved to a rented farm on the other side of Smithers.

Spring 1968 they bought the Marra Coffee Shop (with gas pumps and a small store) and we moved to Marra to run it. A living could not be made there, so Dad had to go work on the railroad in Lillooet during the summers, relieving men on vacation. We were only there for 2 years, then rented in Grinrod for the summer until the purchase of a home in Cashton Creek.

We had brought Bernie’s horse down from Smitherton with us so had him as well as one I’d gotten while in Marra. When my parents sold the Cashton Creek home, those last 2 horses were sold as well and we moved again.

We rented at Springs Bent, just out of Hooterville, for a few months then moved into our new home in town. I was married, divorced, and living in Vermont before they sold that one.

A few more homes and moves took Mom & Dad to a condo in Hooterville. They were there when I taught Dad to sign “I Love You” which turned out to be a wonderful idea. He was often able to tell me with sign language what he had found so difficult to put into words.

At 85 years of age, Mom still lives in that condo, though Dad passed away January 18, 1999.

In a very small nut shell, that is the Story of Jesse John…. Peel.

Madame Toastmaster

Edit: Wow, that was a lot of work. Copy/pasting it from Word doesn't work really well with Blogger, so a lot of work has to be done before it can be posted. Hope you like it.



quilly said...

Before you copy/paste from Word, save the document as a plain text file. It cleans out all the code Word puts in, then there's lots less work when you transfer over -- except you have to put all your bolding back in.

This is a great story. It is easy to tell that your dad was your hero. Very nicely done.

Nessa said...

Very interesting and a great tribute to your father.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful Alice...this was awesome :)