Our Jubilee Year

What is 50 years?  In Latin the word is jubilar, which literally means to make sounds of joy.  That is the purpose of a Jubilee, joy to all concerned, a time for celebrating, an occasion to look back with satisfaction and pride.  It is a time to reflect on the hard times and the grand times.  It is the opportunity to remind ourselves of all the people along the journey who helped us, the sacrifices our wives and family, our partners and team members made to survive in this fanatically competitive world.

The summer of 1955 in Hinton was interesting.   There was a whole lot of activity on the mill site, with the contractors cats and buggies running all over, leveling the site for the mill. Another group were building the bunk houses for the construction workers.  Roy Morton, the engineer who initiated the pulp mill’s move from Tollerton to Hinton, was having a house built on the site.  The Hinton Hotel, Skogg’s Store, Fuller’s Garage and Fred Hanson’s Bulk Fuel were the established businesses. The upstarts Clarke’s Menswear, Jack and Mary Swityk’s Hinton Dry Goods, Merv’s Shoe Repair, Alex Maystrom’s Campsite Grocery, Bud and Nel Ford’s Bakery, Clarence Rempel’s Hardware Store, Nellie’s handicraft shop and her husband John the barber, recent immigrants,  trying to get a start in life.

In this milieu Freson Market set up its shop between Maystrom and Swityk on skids and we were all joined by Montemurro’s Theater and a pool hall that doubled as a flop house after midnight.  If perchance you didn’t have a place to sleep after midnight and you had two bucks,  you could sleep on the pool tables, at times sharing it with three or four guys. They always said it was better than sleeping outside on a bench.  All but Clarke’s were marshaled by Eric Potter a provincial employee, to a make-shift campsite.  There was no electricity, no gas, no water except for a well about a hundred meters from our campsite.  It was like the pictures you see of present day Africa where women and kids line up for water with pails and jugs.  Pat O’Hara of O’Hara Electric chose to squat on land near highway 16.

Things were going great until freeze up, then all the workers went home, except us business people who were committed to business survival.  We had no place to go.  In late December there was a great celebration, Calgary Power hooked Hinton up to their transmission lines and we had secure no fuss no muss electric power.  Being the only full time employee of Fresons, I was especially pleased that I no longer had to service and gas up the generator at the back of the store. Business was very slow for the winter months.  With the arrival of spring and the warm weather the construction workers and our customers started coming back to Hinton. Business got better by the month.

Time of course stops for no one and I recognize that people retire and pass on.  On occasions like this, I remember with great respect and admiration my parents, my first partners Frank and Leo Resek who are all now deceased.  I remember the challenges and good times we had with our managing partners who have all retired. Although my brother Dan and I still watch with a critical eye, the torch has been passed to the next generation of shareholders.

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