The Exploits Of Daniel James Reese


Steven K. Ash

Certain men were made to be workers while other men wereborn to be lazy. Jesus was one man who worked hard teaching God's ways throughouthis lifetime. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln wereall devoted workers who served their country well. But Daniel James Reesewas equally as good a worker and yet he is virtually unheard of within hisrespective country. He is a firm believer in the saying "Never putoff until tomorrow what you can do today." If Daniel Reese didn't doany work in a day he would have considered that day wasted.

Mr. Reese had to get his stamina somewhere and that justhappened to be from his father. Daniel's father, Edward Henry Reese, wasborn on May 27, 1879 at Frontenac, Goodhue County, Minnesota. He left theplace of his birth when 10 months old and with his family he settled inthe Pembina neighborhood, near Fort Pembina. Later on they moved out tothe Caribou area. Daniel Reese's mother was born in Prince Edward Island.

Edward Henry Reese had three sons and three daughtersin his family. They are Allan, Florence, Susan, Herbert, Marie, end Raymond.

Mr. Dan Reese's brothers and sisters have accomplishedsomething in their lives also. Allan started out as a farmer, did some workwith the railroad, and was in the construction work doing cement work andother numerous jobs. Florence was the Dean of Women at the University ofNorth Dakota at Grand Forks, North Dakota, for a few years. She took nursestraining at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and afterwards she married.Susan was raised by a minister in Humboldt, Minnesota and she also tooknurses training and is currently a nurse. Herbert started out as a sectionhand on the railroad and then he bought a farm from his earnings on therailroad. He is presently a toll bridge collector. Marie worked in a printingpress in Warroad, Minnesota. Raymond was also working at construction workand he worked at construction work in Guam during World War II.

Daniel Reese encountered an adventure even before he reachedschool age. This incident happened before Dan was five years old. His motherwas told that the frozen cranberries were delicious. So she took Allan withher and off they went to pick them. They were on their way back and 3 1/2miles from home, and they lost their way. Then Allan lost his shoe in thesnow and his foot got very cold. Dan and his brothers and sisters who wereat home became very worried because they had never been at home alone beforefor that long a time. But finally Allan and his mother found their way butit was near dark when they returned. This long wait taught them a lessonon how nice it was to have mother close beside them.

Dan started first grade in a little house close by Caribou.The schoolroom was formerly a bachelor's house made of logs. Building paperwas draped over the logs. The only means of heat in the schoolroom was anairtight heater which got hot frequently because the tin was so thin. Dansometimes found out how hot the heater could get when he accidentally bumpedinto it while playing indoor games. The blackboards were homemade. Theywere made out of wood painted over with black paint. They used individualslates in those days instead of the paper tablets which we use. Each childdid all of his assignments on the slate. After it was checked, he washedit and used it again. There were more inhabitants in the schoolhouse sometimesthan there were kids, for you see there were many mice occupying the schoolhousealso. They made quite a commotion sometimes. Sometimes if a boy was naughtyhe would have to sit in the corner where he might get quite friendly witha few of them.

His first teacher at this school was a Swedish lady. Onthe first day of school she asked Dan "What is your name?" Hereplied, "D - A - N, Dan." The first two years she didn't botherto teach him much of anything. He only went up to grade three in the 3 R'sin the United States.

School lunches which he brought from home consisted ofa bottle of milk and maybe a piece of dry bread. A few times there weredelicacies such as stuffed partridge. This had to be split up amongst hisbrothers and sisters, however. The partridge wasn't always tempting unlessyou like eating it cold.

At recess the children played games such as Anti-Over,Pom-pom Pull-Away, London Bridge Is Falling Down, Fox and Goose, StealingSticks, and of course Hide and Go Seek. They played no football or baseballgames such as kid's play today.

Dan's father knew that it wouldn't be easy for a six yearold boy to find his way through the woods to school. Dan had to walk twoand one-half miles to the Caribou schools - both of which were bachelor'sshacks (one room houses). His father blazed a trail through the woods tothe schoolhouses for him. Walking to school wasn't as easy as you mightthink, however. There just happened to be a lynx in the woods and many atime Dan was scared half to death when he heard that lynch cry nearby.

Dan was eight years old when a monstrous fire started inthe forest in the Caribou area. The fire proceeded to jump across the RoseauRiver. Surrounding the Reese home were many big spruce trees. Their fatherwas away at the time attending to some business in St. Vincent. But he couldsee the huge smoke clouds from the burning trees. He rushed back to hisfarm. He and several other men rapidly cut some of those big spruces backfrom the house and piled them. All of the children were gathered togetheron a one acre plot of plowed land. There was bush on all sides, and thereforethere was fire on all sides of them. All of the children stayed under theblanket in order for them to breathe because the fire was so intense. Theycouldn't tell day from night because the fire just kept on burning. Theydidn't have anything to eat for a few days until the fire receded. Thismust have been quite an experience.

Dan's mother became very sick in the spring of 1916. Allanand Dan were left to take care of five head of cattle, a few horses, andsome pigs while their father took their mother to the nearest doctor. Herillness lingered on for a time. The family moved to Lancaster, Minnesotaa month before their mother died. She died of tuberculosis. The youngerset of Lancaster didn't take a liking to these newcomers and Dan had tofight off quite a few enemies.

His first job was at a sawmill which his father and EricOlson owned jointly. Dan's job was to keep the sawdust away from the underneathof a saw. It was also his job to keep the slabs of wood cut to feed intothe steam engine. He escaped death many times while working here.

From Lancaster, Dan Reese moved to Arnaud, Manitoba wherehis grandfather and uncle farmed. Arnaud is about 25 miles up the tracksfrom Emerson, Manitoba. His first school in Canada was at Langside Schoolwhich was four miles out of Arnaud. Seven children attended this school.Langside School was a typical country schoolhouse made out of lumber witha flagpole nearby. Dan went from grade 4 to grade 10 in this school.

From here he went to Dominion City in 1918 at Christmastime and it was here that he finished grade 11. He took only six monthsof grade 11 because he couldn't afford any more education.

After this he came back to Emerson for a year. He workedfor Bob Sanders on a farm at the junction in 1920 for a year He dug quitea few wells at this farm but only hit a few that produced any water.

Then Dan moved back to Arnaud in 1921 and worked on hisuncle's farm. He worked a few years on this farm as a general helper.

Then it was back to teachers college (normal school theycalled it) in Manitou, Manitoba. He remained there until the end of Marchin 1924.

The first school which Dan Reese was assigned was eastof Fort River, Manitoba. This was Ukrainian country. It was at this schoolthat he taught 62 students in a single room schoolhouse. He taught grades1 - 6. Half of the students couldn't speak a word of English. Mr. Reesenever would have taught his students anything if he hadn't had theuse of the Eaton's catalog. The Eaton's catalog had many pictures on itspages and he could communicate by showing the pictures to the students andpronouncing the word. He had 22 students in his first grade class so youcan imagine how hard it was to teach them anything. Mr. Reese also encounteredsome problems in buying supplies for his own needs, for you see a largenumber of the inhabitants couldn't speak a word of English either. If youwanted to get a loaf of bread you had to go show it to them, and then thenrepeated a word in Ukrainian for bread. He then memorized this word andknew next time what to ask for. It was the same thing with buying eggs.There was no translator in the town who could speak both English and Ukrainianso he had a hard time trying to communicate with the town folk. The teachershad a room to sleep in connected onto the schoolhouse called a teacherage.It was at this school that he saw the children walking through the snowin bare feet. The children that went to school had shoes but the pre-schoolchildren walked bare-footed through the snow. The students wore gum-rubberboots stuffed with hay to make them warm. The hay was supposed to take theplace of wearing socks. Gum-rubber boots were real heavy lined rubber bootsthat were real stiff most of the time and they were either lined with afelt sock or straw if you couldn't afford this. If they played games outsideand got to kicking their feet there was a good chance that the boot wouldfly off.

The next school Daniel Reese taught at was six miles straighteast of Arnaud. Arnaud was a small town of 50 inhabitants. He taught atthis country schoolhouse two years and 42 students attended here. Fortunatelyfor him, most of them could speak English. Grades 1 - 8 were in a one roomschool. Today the educators are trying to go back to this very same principleof the one room schoolhouse. The subjects he taught at this school werereading, writing, arithematic, history, geography, and health. Dan taughtthe 3 R's every day and grammar, health, geography, and history, had tobe worked in at some time during the week. Geography was taught with the3 R's one day while the 3 R's and health were taught together the next.

He then moved into the town of Arnaud and taught schoolhere for two years. It was here that he taught grades 1 - 10 in anotherbachelor's shack. When Mr. Reese first started teaching his salary was $75a month but it was increased to $80 a month at the Arnaud school. The schoolyear was 10 months long. The school enrollment here was 40 students. BeforeDan taught here the school only went up to grade 8. This was generally thecase in most small towns. The majority of the students quit their educationafter grade 8 and went into their occupations. If they wanted to advancetheir education through grades 9 and 10 they had to go to Winnipeg, butthere they had to pay tuition. Many parents in Arnaud couldn't afford tosend their children to Winnipeg, so Dan innovated grades 9 and 10 in hisschool as a favor to the parents.

After completing his school term, he went back to a normalschool in Winnipeg. He had a third class certificate previous to this. Hewanted to get his educational qualifications raised so he took more schoolingand got a second class certificate. The standards of education were risingand more qualified teachers were needed. A second class certificate wasn'tworth much more than a third class certificate but the schools were moreapt to hire the teacher with the higher degree. The main reason for gettingthis second class certificate was so that he could stay in teaching.

Time flies by quickly and he was offered a job teachingat Spearhill, Manitoba; a mining town. The quarry there was owned by theWinnipeg Fuel and Supply Company. His salary here was $1,000 for the tenmonth period. He had 46 students from grades 1 - 10. He taught here foronly one year. Limestone products came from the quarry nearby and a largepart of the town was employed here.

It was on April 21, 1930 when Dan Reese heard wedding bells.He was married to Irene Lowe. It wasn't long after this when he picked upanother job teaching at a school in East Braintree. He taught grades 1 -10 here for three years. The first year he taught here he got a salary of$100 a month for teaching. The next year they cut his salary to $70 a monthand the following year they cut it still more to $50 a month. All you hearabout nowadays is how our teachers are getting so poorly paid compared tothe rest of the working population. Now here Dan was working at a meagersalary and just like that, they cut it for two successive years. But Dandidn't complain; he took it like a man and continued teaching. Later theschool found a teacher that was willing to work for a lower salary thanthe one Dan was getting, so he lost his job. Yet, he was not discouraged.

Mr. Reese went to Ashern, Manitoba and was offered a jobteaching at a country schoolhouse named Kirkfield. This was also a one roomschoolhouse but there were only six students. This was quite a change fora person who was used to teaching 40 to 50 students. The people of the townfelt that Mr. Reese should be able to put three years of teaching into onewith such a small class but it did not turn out that way. He taught herethe school year 1933-34, (but only for 9 months instead of the usual 10).

He went from place to place after this looking for a joband couldn't find any so he returned to Emerson where he now resides andtook up grade 12 of high school in 1934-35. One lady complained that herdaughter had too much competition because of a 30-year old man being inthe same class.

Mr. Reese then returned to teaching and taught in a countryschool 50 miles east of Emerson named Sunbeam. There were 46 children ingrades 1 - 8. This was also a Ukrainian district but he didn't encounteras many problems as at Fort River because all the children could speak English.However, not all the parents could. He taught here for just one year.

Then it was on to the Arbakka School. Arbakka is Icelandicfor "river bank." The closest town was Vita, Manitoba. This wasa two room schoolhouse but he wasn't allowed to use both rooms. There were56 students at Arbakka. There had to be an enrollment of 60 kids beforehe could get grants for both of the rooms; for there had to be 30 childrenin each room. Since he had only 56 kids he could only use one room.

On the first of June in 1938, Daniel Reese was notifiedthat he could get on at the Customs on a temporary basis for a maximum of5 months during his first year. The pay wasn't as much as what he was gettingteaching, but he knew that there was a better prospect for promotion inthe Customs work. He took this job at a salary of $100 a month. When hewasn't working at the Customs, he taught school.

While he was in the Customs many people tried to smugglegoods right in front of his nose. Sometimes the people were given a listwhich they could include things which they had brought back. The value ofthe goods couldn't exceed, let us say $50. You could include only two cartonsof cigarettes on this list and only two bottles of liquor. But some peopleare greedy and wanted more than their limit. Many people hid a carton ofcigarettes in each sleeve. You see these fur coats had inside linings inthe sleeve and you could shove a carton in the sleeve and it wouldn't fallout. These coats were hung on a hanger so they weren't conspicuous.

Mr. Reese worked with the Customs until ill health causedhim to quit 27 years later. It was after 1940 that he received a salaryof more than $100 a month. He retired in 1964 but he received full pay twoyears after since he was on sick leave.

Mr. Reese made a living teaching and working in the Customsduring the years when it was hard to get an ample salary. Teachers in thosedays weren't given a comfortable salary and fringe benefits like they havetoday. He was given a meager wage and was told to make the most of it. Mostmen would have quit teaching when their salary was cut by half within twoyears, but Daniel kept right on going and survived on that small salary.Maybe now he will receive some of the rewards which a hard working, spirited,and capable man deserves.

Ash, William S., Reese, Daniel J. (interviews)ithin twoyears, but Daniel kept right on going and survived on that small salary.Maybe now he will receive some of the rewards which a hard working, spirited,and capable man deserves.

Ash, William S., Reese, Daniel J. (interviews)