Major McKinnel wanted me to be part of the salvation army core cadets. They were younger kids my age who could take part in some of the activities of the Salvation Army Program. It was meant for youth and I had some good times with them. I tried my hand at learning the cornet but my musical talents were far and few between. The whole idea was to meet once a week at night for youth activities and go to worship service on Sunday. I tried my hand at it for the Majors sake but it just wasn't a way for me to go. One time they called on anyone who wanted to be saved to come up to the front of the church and kneel at the alter with a counselor who would pray with you. Then you would take Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Four or five of us kids were daring each other to go up and take the plunge. The conversations went something like this. You go up! I'm not going up you go up. I"ll go up if you go up. Lets all go up together. Eventually we all went up and it was done and we were now saved from our sins. I was part of the program for about a year and then got the opportunity to go to Fresh Air Camp. There was a huge lake named Lake Winnipeg that was big enough to have storms and a fishing industry off of it. Well the fresh air camp was on the shores of part of that lake front. It was a week of fun, worship and standing in line at night to drink an egg nog. I couldn't stand the stuff but drank it down in one swallow almost and then headed for the bunkhouse The Major was the den mother for some of us kids and she had her own room and the rest of us slept in bunkbeds lined up in the bunk house. One afternoon when we had all gone back to the Bunkhouse to get ready to play volleyball at the playfield; one of the big mouths was making fun of Major Mckinnel. He called her names and started to say some unkind things. I stopped him right in the middle of it and said to let it go. He got mouthy and started in again. I warned him and he kept it up so I slugged him. The fight was on.
Meanwhile the Major had slipped in at the start of it and was watching from her room while we went at it. I remember saying you or no one else can say anything like that about the Major when I"m around. Well the Major let it go on as long as she dared and then got in the middle of it and broke it up. She never said what started this or asked any questions. She made her point about getting along and being good to each other. That was it. Later on just before bed call she called me into her room to talk to me. She said I heard the whole thing Digby and I could have stopped the fight sooner. I should have but that other boy needed a lesson I couldn't teach him. When I saw that you had got some good licks in I broke up the fight. She gave me a hug shooed me out the door and said.Thanks lad for standing your ground and sticking up for me. I went to bed that night feeling just about as fine as I could ever remember. Through the years we kept in touch and I was twenty nine years old working in the area and about to get married in less than a year when I found out Major McKinnel was living in Burnaby, BC. Canada. I went to see her and ended up renting a room from her where I stayed until I went to the United states to get married. Well she was pretty set on her ways and things had to be just so. She liked to read the scriptures with me at night and she would have me sing a hymn with her once in a while. It was sort of weird but I loved her and went along. If we had any visitors she had the same routine with them. I want to pause and relate a story I was told by the major; it will give you an idea of her resourcefullness and her driven desire to serve the Lord. In the province she was raised in she had quite a reputatiion for shooting a pistol and won some championships for her skill with the weapon. I don't remember the type of hand gun but she knew what to do with it. Well , one of her assignments in Alaska was to raise money for the Sally Anne. She ventured forth among the populace and began knocking on doors. She went into a popular tavern in town and started to make the rounds. The folks in there started chiding her a bit and saying were not just going to hand over our money you have to work for it. As I understood it at that time some of the fellows had just come from a pistol range and she got to talking shop with them. One of them challenged her to a bullseye contest and said they would all contribute something to the Sally Anne if she could beat them at the firing range. She readily agreed and off they went. On looking around when they got there the Major spotted her style of gun and asked to borrrow it, than asked for a few minutes to get used to the weapon. They agreed and the Major stepped up to the spot she was to fire from. Now the folks gathered there were hunters and there were also some law enforcement officers who agreed to make sure everything was on the up and up. Well the major fired off several rounds was generally on the target but nothing spectacular. She announced she was ready and then winked at her companion officer of the Sally Anne. The shooters were all taking their turns and some of them were doing quite well. Others were darn good and they kidded her and said your up Major we'll try not to show you up too bad. Then it began. The Major kept firing into the center of the bullseye with precision accuracy and befor the match was done had skunked the lot of them. By then they were realizing they had been royally duped but were good sports and handed over their money as the Major smiled broadly and announced. Oh by the way fellows. I won a marksmanship trophy as the the best shot with a pistol in my home town. They scratched their heads and laughed and one of them said. Shooting is not the only thing your good at. She laughed heartily, talked to them a while and went on her way.
Well that brings me back to reading the scriptures and singing with Major Mckinnel. One of the fellows I homesteaded with in the back woods of British Columbia was coming by to pick me up. He had some real laughs at my expense over the years when we were homesteading. One time branding was going on and they were heating up the irons and I was to keep the fire stoked and to generally be a roustabout for the ranch hands. I was greener than grass and so always good for a laugh. On one occasion Barry roped a steer and gave it some slack as it was running by me. He yelled grab the rope Dig which I prompltly did and before I knew it was being pulled along with that steer ballowing while I tried to untangle myself from the whole thing. The guys were having a real chuckle and so years later here I am with Barry who is walking up the steps to meet Major Mckinnel. Barry was all man, stocky of build with a flare for being amongst the all guy group. Knowing her habits I kept quiet while Barry and her had a great talk about ranching, guns etc. Then came the moment. She had Barry read a scripture and he was not to uncomfortable until the time came to sing a song. Rightly named "Bringing in the Sheaves" He went along for my sake but he was turning two shades of red and I was doing my level best to sing with gusto all the time watching him squirm. It was all I could do to keep a straight face. We left and when we got into the car I started laughing and could not stop. Barry finally threatened to leave me along side the road if I didn't quit; every once in a while while we drove together I would chuckle and Barry would say "Shut up Granger" and that would make me laugh some more. I finally said I never heard you sing better especially the part about "we will stand rejoicing bringing in the sheaves." How sweet it is!