A Gypsy Soul
A GYPSY SOUL
They make fortunes come true.
Don’t get on a gypsy’s bad side.
Why are they so bad?
Their clothing is colorful
Living in huge tents,
She wears sparkly, beaded flowing scarves.
Chunky jewellery and clanging bangles
Henna stained hands.
Resourceful, free spirited
Mysterious and majestic
In the way of The Gypsy.
Like Dorothy on a yellow brick road
She hopes her ruby shoes get up there quick
She left behind those she loves.
A tale of a gypsy – Gypsy Sue
How Gypsy Sue remembers Ted Burton , well he was a lovely man whom was known fro the church she attended in Halifax, it used to be called St. Phillips but has now since it has amalgamated with another Anglican church. Ted was older and was attending Kings, The theological College, which is part of the Dalhousie Campus in Halifax, to become an ordained minister( as well her Dad and Charlie Moulton studied there as well.) Ted was collecting empty pop bottles from along the roadside to pay for his classes and his books. Now this is the story that he mother would tell her. Now we all know that Mommy always tells the truth. Gypsy Sue thought no way. She had to ask her mother several times if this was in fact the truth and it was she said, she had seen him collecting sometimes but she , Sue ,thought he was just being a good citizen not knowing he was collecting the bottles to actually pay for his education. His wife was also a sweet lady who didn’t work outside the home after 1956. She was a school teacher, but didn’t work after marrying Ted, so he was the sole wage earner which made it necessary for him to do the bottle collecting to make his dream come true. He definitely followed his dream or his calling. He did continue and finish his studies to become an Anglican priest.
Now this did seem preposterous a grown man collecting empty bottles to pay for his courses to become a minister of the cloth. But not so outrageous when you knew his wife Marian. She was as thrifty as they come. They lived in a very nice house in the same area as Gypsy Sue, older house but meagre furnishings would describe their home not poor just the bare essentials. Ted Burton worked for the Nova Scotia Light and Power as a maintenance person before starting his studies in theology. Yes he did collect pop bottles to help him finance his studies and pay for his text books, that is the truth.
Gypsy Sue’s very first job was when she was about 10 years old and it was selling sunglasses to all the friends of her family when they would go camping on July long weekend in Lunenburg , Nova Scotia. This was an annual event for their family and about five other families from the St. Philips church in Halifax.
Gypsy Sue had seen an advertisement in a comic book and answered it and before she knew it there was a little cardboard box at the front door from the mail man. She came by this trade very honestly , her dear ole’ dad was a salesman for over 30 years and as the old saying goes, he could sell refrigerators to the people of the frozen north. He was a cracker jack salesperson. She had so much fun asking people in the campsites if they wanted a pair of plastic sunglasses for only 25 cents. Mrs. Burton, Ted’s wife was the first person to buy a pair and she bought a pair the next summer that sue was selling them. She made some money from the sales and used to to purchase school clothes when her family would go to Bangor , Maine in August on their annual trip there. There used to be this amazing giant shopping market called Zayre’s ,It isn’t there any more and they had the most amazing clothes and Sue would have different clothes then any of her friends at school. So you see Sue sold sunglasses three summers in a row . This was the beginning of her career as a salesperson.
When Gypsy Sue was 16 years old she applied at Dominion Stores, a grocery chain that was in the east coast of Canada in the mid to late 60’s and worked as a packer for a year and the she got on as a cashier. She started out making 80 cents an hour and later was promoted to 95 cents an hour when she was a cashier. When she tells everyone today in her retirement years or even the younger set they are aghast at the amount she was paid but that was then and this is now.
Now the thing was she always had lots of money since she had her salary from the Dominion Store job and she had the 20 dollar a month her mother would give her from the family allowance. Her Mommie should not have done that she should have put it away and made her save it. Sue was not a good saver of any money ever and neither was her husband. Knowing what she knows now she should have put the family allowance in a savings account and invested it for the future. Hind sight is always 50/50. She later left the Dominion Store job and went to Kmart.
Does anyone remember when the family allowance came into existence? Well Gypsy Sue will tell you now. The family allowance was Canada’s first universal social program. The family allowance cheques would be mailed to the mothers of the households on a monthly basis, and it was non-taxable. There were two detractors, claiming the allowance was a waste of taxpayer money since it would be distributed to the rich and poor alike. Designated as the baby bonus, some saw it as an attempt to lure votes, especially those voters with large families living in Quebec.
Over the decades , transformations cased the Family allowance program to become taxable, clawed back from the wealthier families. Eventually the system endured complex radical change in favour of Child Tax Credits. Qualifications were put into place and income caps, along with a re adjustment of amounts paid .
Dominion Stores was once a national chain of supermarkets in Canada , which was founded in 1919 in Ontario and was later acquired by the Argus corporation . It was later sold to the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P) which ultimately restricted the chain to the greater Toronto area, with stores outside Ontario sold to third parties. A&P ‘s Canadian division was later acquitted by Metro Inc. which rebranded Dominion stores to its namesake banner in 2008. While the demise is attributed to competition in the 1970’s that forced the chain to discount and ultimately led to the collapse in the 1980’s. By 1984 Dominion was closing unprofitable stores and moving them to alternative banners in an attempt to stem its losses. The reality was that Dominion Stores was Canada’s No1 grocery chain with sales more than double their closest rival, Loblaws as they entered the decade of the 80’s. If you mention Dominion Stores to anyone today they look at you with the funny stare, “ What is Dominion Stores?”
Gypsy Sue had made several great friends at the Dominion Stores when she worked there on weekends. There were many relationships formed there. There were many a Friday night we would all gather at the front door after we had all cleaned up our appropriate areas and headed up to the Reid’s diner at the top of the hill from the store. Sue recalls one night in particular. She had the use of her mother’s car on various occasions and so this night she decided to drive a few up to the restaurant from work. Well they had a great time all had milkshakes and hamburgers and whatever and then it was time to leave and head home. Sue went out to get the car and it was gone. What she didn’t know was two or three of the guys who she was close with had slipped out of the restaurant while they were eating and moved her car down the hill back by the grocery store. She was in a great panic at first then looked around and saw the car. Everyone laughed and it was never really known for sure who had taken the car but Gypsy Sue had a good idea.
After working at Dominion Stores for a few years she moved on to Kmart but the only thing available there was working in the cafeteria so she took it. She mostly just cleaned the pots, and pans and all the counters. Sue hated this job. She had to wear an ugly uniform , yellow rayon skirt and blouse with a frilly white apron. She absolutely hated the outfit. She did not last there very long. She got a dream weekend job at a dry cleaners in Saint John . It was every Friday evening and all day Saturday. This was a great after school job. Gypsy Sue got to do her homework and work at the same time. The lady who worked there full time was very sweet , her name was Arvilla and she was quite old but had to work because her husband was ill and they didn’t have much money for retirement. She lived up town in a flat , she had worked for this company for many years but it didn’t make her rich at all. The boss was a very nice man too he Came in once and awhile to chat. He was a very wealthy man, Mr. Horncastle. He always looked dapper and debonair with his top hat and his tweed coat. He was a friend of Gypsy Sue’s father so she had a connection to getting this job. She did not mind and was able to work by herself, no one was there to breath down her neck, it was the bee’s knees except for the times that people would come in who would make her feel uncomfortable. The dry-cleaning shop was in a dark part of Saint John and after a certain time of night. she knew some sketchy people who would walk by and she felt intimidated. If she had enough time she would quickly put a closed sign on the door and go to the back of the store where no one could see her at all. Once they had gone by her, would put the open sign back up.
Now remember these jobs were only weekend fillers while Sue was in high school and she says this because a friend of her years later called her Gypsy Sue because she was always moving about with her work. She liked this after school job the best.