At the CPR section house in Mattawa , Dad was able to come home at lunch time whenever work kept him within a mile or two of the house . The motorcar would pull into the siding and park shortly after noon . The fellows who did not live near , used the bunk house close by as a lunch room . It held a table and chairs , a heater stove and a couple of bunks (for a short lay down). Dad and Otto went into their homes for lunch .
Work began again at 1:00pm so Dad had a routine which used his hour to full advantage. Without fail , he would walk in the door , turn on the radio to warm up (tube radio) , and sit to eat his lunch from his lunch pail . During eating time , he listened to the CBC news and various reports ( weather, farm and sports ) that were tagged on to the news . The radio was always tuned to the CBC ....
|CPR Hamilton 992B courtesy of H. Clithroe's |
At precisely 12:25 , he would lay on the floor in front of the radio , put his arms under his head and close his eyes. At half past the hour , a radio play started . Dad would listen to the program for a few minutes and fall into a deep sleep . His rumbling snore could be heard from any room in the house - and outside ,too, if the window was open .
A few seconds before 1:00pm , the CBC announcer would call attention to the listening audience for the Official Time in Canada . A series of short beeps , a period of silence then the long 'beeee-ep'. It was precisely one o'clock according to the new Atomic Clock . In earlier days , the bells of the Peace Tower in Ottawa echoed over the air waves to annouce the hour .
At the radio announcer's first words , Dad would stop snoring and sit up . He pulled out his official CPR watch that he kept tied to his pants with a shoelace- then confirm and set the hands to the precise second at the long beep .
He would then grab his work hat and head out the door with " 'Bye . See you at five o'clock ." And he was gone .
All the men , arrived back at the motorcar at the same time , climbed aboard , synchronized their watches and set off for the afternoon's work .
This was a ritual that we never interrupted . It felt like he was on 'duty' and the time was so important that we daren't steal a second of that lunch hour . It was Dad's time .