Miller, Mike

MR. AND MRS. MIKE MILLER

by Alice Miller

Anne and Mike Miller arrived in the Andrew district in 1909. They had four children: Lilly, Frank, Andy and Joe. Arthur was born in Andrew. Mike died in 1914. Anne married Pete Boyda.

In 1925 Frank and Andy moved to the Elk Point district and bought new land from the C.P.R. at $14.00 per acre. (NE.7.56.6.W4.) They built a frame two-roomed house. They bought a 15-30 McCormick Deering tractor, a plough and a few head of horses.

Frank had to haul lumber from St. Paul as none was available in Elk Point. As he was driving home one day with a load, a storm broke out and it got very dark. The only time the road was visible at all, was during the lightning flashes. He unhitched his team and took shelter under the wagon till morning. It was a good thing that he stopped when he did because when he awoke, at the first morning light, he discovered he was going in the wrong direction.

In 1928 Andy married Marie Poloway and in 1929 Frank married Alice Poloway.

When the depression started times got very hard. The sheriff took the tractor. They had no cattle left, only the horses. Alice got milk from Mrs. Dembicki but had to work picking roots and rocks for it. The Dembicki's were good neighbors and visited often. Mr. Dembicki had a new story almost every day and his stories made up for the lack of newspapers and radio, which no one could afford. The stories helped to take our minds off our troubles. The first person to have a radio in the district was Andy Miller and people came from miles around to listen. The favorite programs were "Lux Theatre" and "Fibber McGee and Mollie". Later Frank bought a radio. The neighbors close to us were Topilkas, Kadutskis, Hnibidas, Golicks, Borowskis, Stetskos and Twerdys.

In 1932 Frank and Andy were threshing four miles from home so Marie and Alice had to take their lunch to the field. We hitched up a fast horse named "Snap", packed the lunch and baby Grace into the buggy, and started off. The trip going was fast, but not too bad. But on the way coming home, the horse bolted. We couldn't hold him with both Marie and I pulling on the reins. We finally managed to drive him into a fence and he stopped. Mr. Farina happened to come along and untangled him from the wire and got him back on the road. On our following trips we took an old quiet team and wagon.

Frank and Alice had seven children. Grace (Bolkwill), Lillian (Shockey), Maxine (Summerville), Beatrice (Melnyk), Georgina (Neville), Lawrence and Gordon.

Most of the children went to King George School. The Christmas concert was looked forward to all year.

The ladies formed a club and had meetings and social events and a Mothers' Day concert with their daughters. We put on plays and had practices and rehearsals which the girls loved and the boys hated! When we got our play so that everyone knew their part, we took it to the surrounding districts.

Card games were held in a different place each week. Most of the people came on foot. We did a lot of walking in those days.

In 1935 Frank bought a stud colt from Irvine Hannah, a Percheron Belgian cross which grew up to be a beautiful horse. The breeding fee was five dollars. People from miles away brought their mares. When several people turned up with their mares on the same day, it meant that they would have to wait, so everyone had to be fed. Sometimes it made a whole day of company. The women would help me in the garden.

In 1935 when the depression was at its worst and Christmas looked very poor and grim, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister McKenzie King to ask if there was any help available for the children for Christmas. His secretary sent me $5.00 and a very nice letter.

We made very few trips to Elk Point in those days - perhaps twice during the summer as I had no clothes for myself or the children. I made dresses for the girls out of the back of men's pants and flour sacks.

The three older girls belonged to a grain club. The club hired a bus and planned a trip to Edmonton to take the children to see the city for the first time. I was very worried about the children getting separated from each other so I warned them that they must hold hands at all times. The children listened and people on the streets in Edmonton had to duck under their arms to get by them! On the way home, the bus broke down and they were stranded for hours; they were ravenous when they got home.

In 1940 Frank bought a quarter section of land from Courtland Smith and logged it and got enough lumber to build the barn and other outbuildings on our farm. We later sold the quarter. We still live on the original farm and are still actively farming.