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I Did It

Story ID:10980
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Sambro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:1972
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In 2014, I watched a video about my hometown of Sambro, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The gentleman who created the film lived across the street from me. In the video, he
looked down from the roof of his house to my home.

I looked at the tiny house I grew up in. It had four rooms. There was a bedroom
for my two brothers and me. We had a tiny living room, a smaller kitchen and our
parent’s bedroom. Out back was another house. It was very small. It was our outhouse.
It was where we had to go to do our business in all seasons. Winter was brutal …the
seat freezing cold.

I continued to stare at the video, realized how poor we were, and wanted to cry.

How did my mum live like this? How did she raise us in such poverty?

I know very well; my uncles and grandfather helped. They were fishermen. They
gave us a constant supply of fresh fish.

I remember this and am grateful for their generosity.

In the spring, the fishermen caught mackerel.

The small boats tied up, side-by-side, at the wharf, and waited for their turn
to unload their catch.

I was ten years old. The workers traded jokes and worked around me. The
mackerel were lifted from the boats, hauled into the plant. They were split for salting.
The heads and insides were tossed into crates to be dragged out to sea and disposed of.

In the spring, the female mackerel were full of eggs – roe – like caviar. They had
two sacks of eggs. They were about six inches long and an inch around.

The workers pulled crates out onto the wharf, where I waited.

As soon as they turned away, I dug into the bloody mess and found the roe.
Slowly, I filled my bread bag.

“Look what I got, Mum?” I proudly displayed my treasure, when I arrived home.
“Can we have them tonight?” My arms were coated in blood up to my elbows.

“Oh, Michael! Thank you!” Mum took the bag from me. “We sure can.”

Dinner was a success.

I think back to those times and realize, I basically rooted through garbage to
help feed my family.

This memory will make me to never judge someone going through a dumpster
for food.

I did it.

Michael T. Smith