Andrishak, Mike

MIKE ANDRISHAK

Mike Andrishak, born Monday, June 10, 1918. Birthplace-Northbank, Alberta, about 10 miles Southeast of Warspite, Alberta. Son No.2.

I lived on the farm until 1926 when we moved to Warspite. I started school, first grade at Warspite School-I could hardly speak or understand any English. When we lived at Warspite in the fall of 1927, there was a prophesy that the world would come to an end (a comet was to smash into earth). All of us got into one room and waited until the hour was past-nothing happened.

I moved to Elk Point in the winter of 1927 (via Vermilion) by train, then by sleigh and a team of horses to Elk Point. This took two days. We spent the first night at Derwent, then went to Elk Point. I attended school in the country for a few years, then an old abandoned store became our classroom. When this burned down, we attended school in the church basement. I joined the Cubs about 1928.

When I was about twelve years old, I went swimming at the creek-I couldn't swim a stroke. One of the other boys pushed me into a deep hole in the creek-I went down twice and as I went down the third time-it seemed like days-my whole life passed before my eyes the third time down. Somehow Fred (my brother) hooked a branch on my third way down and pulled me out and worked over me until I came to. This was my first close call.

I then attended school when a new school house was built in Elk Point. In grade five and six my teacher was Miss K. Fenton; for grade seven and eight, Mrs. Jack Jensen. My high school teacher was Jack Jensen. I finished grade twelve in 1938.

I helped on the farm and sometimes the store until the spring of 1939. In April 1 took the train to Edmonton, then by bus, a one-way ticket to Hamilton, Ontario. The bus route was to Calgary, then across southern Alberta, and southern Saskatchewan. That was the year of the drought and dust storms. Fences were under piles of dust to the very top of the posts. Also houses and barns were abandoned half buried in the dust bowl - there was no sign of life! Then on to Winnipeg. I went south across the U.S. border to Fargo, North Dakota; then St. Paul, Minnestoa; across Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois; then north to Detroit, Michigan.

At Chicago, Illinois, I stayed over a few days at the YMCA. One afternoon I walked 2 blocks one way, then 1 block over, then back 2 blocks down the other street-I looked down the alley and saw the YMCA-I was taking a short cut down the alley when a man approached me and was ready to crack my skull with a blackjack, when a policeman blew his police whistle, the man took off in a hurry. The policeman said if he hadn't come at that moment, I would be lying there with my skull cracked open and robbed. He asked where I was from and I said -Canada. He warned me to never go off the main street, especially in Chicago, again. This was my second close call.

I went back to Canada, to Hamilton. I tried to find work, but there were signs all over the place saying NO HELP WANTED. I inquired at Proctor and Gamble, Frost Free, and dozens of other places. No work anywhere! While I was in Hamilton, I took a flying course at the airport and trained on Tiger Cubs and Cessnas planes. After the flying course, I bought a second hand bike-a real man killer bike! After going about five miles out with all my belongings in a suitcase tied to the back of the bike, I returned to the cycle shop that sold me the bike and gave it back and along with $125.00 more, I bought a small motorcycle called the Wonderwir (a small German make) that got 180 miles to a gallon and had cruising speed about thirty miles an hour. The cost of my trip from Hamilton to New York city was about $1.40 for gas and oil mixed. The signs on the highway said "Gas 12 gallons for $1 .00-oil changed free". Altogether my gas tank held 1 1/2 gallons. It was about 270 mile range. I crossed Niagara Falls Bridge to Buffalo, New York, then went to Albany, and on south to New York City. I travelled for two hours down Broadway to Manhattan. I arrived in downtown Manhattan, New York City, late in the afternoon of June 3, 1939 and saw a sign "Suite to rent by the week" on an old brick house. This house was over 150 years old, and had very steep stairs. I talked to the landlady about the rent. It was $3.00 a week in advance, with a hot plate for cooking. I paid her in Canadian one dollar bills-this was the first time she ever saw Canadian money. She wouldn't take it for the rent, but wanted one free for a souvenir. I met three other lads on big motorcycles looking my small machine over and they paid my $3.00 rent. They came by the next morning and took me to the First National Bank and I exchanged all my Canadian money for U.S. at 14 percent discount. I stayed in New York City for three weeks, and attended the World's Fair. I thought this was out of this world-the buildings at the fair grounds, the displays, shows, etc. On June 10, 1939 I celebrated my 21st birthday with my three new found friends. Nicest lads in the world! They took me to the Statue of Liberty, Broncs, Coney Island (there were hundreds of rides at Coney Island for 5~). These three boys took me to Coney Island and paid for my rides. When it was my turn to pay, I pulled out about thirty one dollar bills in public and some con man saw it and followed us all over the amusement park-finally we lost the gangster-the boys told me never to pull out more than $1.00 at a time! China Town was like China itself.

After this, I went back to Edmonton by motorbike. It took ten days of hard driving through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota to Regina, Saskatchewan, to Elk Point in July.

In the fall of 1939, war broke out. I was called up to serve in the army in the spring of 1940 at Camrose. I joined the army M537590 Edmonton Regiment. I went home on embarkation leave in the fall of 1941. The move to England was cancelled as there were too many troops there. In the summer of 1942 I had my flying time in my back pocket when Mustard Parade, Air Crews were badly needed. During the Battle of Britain, I joined the R.C.A.F. I was stationed at Edmonton, then Vulcan, Ensign, Penhold, Moncton, New Brunswick, Dartmouth, N.S. and then two years at Goosebay Station in the Eskimo's country. I was discharged in 1946.

I got a job travelling for Plastic Paints and went to Rycroft. I bought a home and lived there until 1947.1 got married on June 7, 1947 to Mary Polny and moved to Edmonton in the fall of 1947.1 worked for Avenue Real Estate in 1947; Home Agency in 1948; in 1949 I bought a store from Olga Fisher and was there until Easter 1952 (Elk Point). Joan, our daughter, was born 1949.1 moved to Edmonton in 1952 and worked for Hudson Bay 1954-55. Son Bill was born in 1954. I worked for Northwest Furniture in 1956; Eatons Furniture 1957-1967; Simpsons Sears furniture in 1967 and am still there.