|Title:||Charlie [?], Ontario to “Dear Jim”|
|Collection||Irish Emigration Database|
|Sender Occupation||works for General Motors|
|Origin||Windsor, Ontario, Canada|
|Destination||Co. Tyrone, N.Ireland|
|Recipient||Smyth, James A.|
|Source||Copyright Retained by Mr & Mrs J Smyth, Castledamph, Plumbridge, Co Tyrone, Castledamph@btinternet.com|
|Archive||Mr & Mrs J Smyth, Castledamph, Plumbridge|
|Doc. Type||EMG Log|
1280 Lincoln Rd
Well Jim I've owed you a letter for quite a
while now and there is no excuse for it except
carelessness; writing letters is something I put
off until tomorrow.
It hardly seems possible that it is a
little over five months since we said good bye in
Belfast but by the calendar it is although it
seems but that many weeks to me. Tempus
I enjoyed our visit to Belfast and am
sorry we couldn't have seen more of Ireland
together but that had to be postponed till
another year. I couldn't afford to do all
the things I wished to tours cost plenty of money
and I wanted to see all I could of England
and Scotland. I missed you in Dublin –
there is lots of interest there but couldn't
enjoy it so well alone. Crossed back to
England from there instead of going on to
Rosslaire [Rosslare?] as planned. Finance was the
reason I wasn't very enthusiastic about
touring much in Ireland. I thoroughly enjoyed
myself while there and it was good to see
you and Aunt Sara again also, all the rest.
In fact of all the trip the part I enjoyed the
most was my visit with you folks there.
And the longer I stay here with all the strikes
floods riots unemployment and general unrest
the more I wish I was back sitting over there
on your hill with you away from all this.
Had I returned six weeks sooner than
I did it would have been possible for me to
go back this year but as it is there isn't
much hope of that unless some unforeseen
good fortune comes to me. Sometime I'd
like to spend a whole summer in Ireland.
Couldn't do it last summer of course because
my friend and I had planned our trips together
except for me to spend a week or ten days
in Ireland while he went to Bristol. As
you know it didn't work out that way. I
stayed four weeks in Ireland and hated to
leave then although it was on my mind
all the time that it wasn't quite the
right thing to do by my friend Bill.
We had a grand trip through England
Wales and Scotland (parts of them anyway)
I was sorry we couldn't get to Ayr for the dog
trials. Did you go over?
Bill intended to stay in England but came
back to Canada three weeks after I did.
I hope you're well Jim, also all the rest of
the folks over there. Haven't heard from Aunt Sara
since I got back but had a letter from her
just before leaving England in which she
said she had been under the weather for a
couple of weeks. Hope she has been well
since that. She's a fine old girl - I like her
I can never think of you and Aunt Sara
as being anything but visitors over there like
I was. Thats only natural I suppose since
it was here I first knew you, and you also
look at things a little differently than the
other folks there (a whole lot in some cases)
Anyone who has spent much time in America
is never quite the same again. There is a
whole lot to be said for both sides of the ocean.
I've been sending you the papers the last
few weeks (Saturday's). Hope you get them OK
and find something of interest in them.
Anyway there's more news in them than I can
Right now things aren't so good over
here We haven’t anything to crow about
unless it would be trouble. Of course by
over here I mean the States too. We in Canada
and particularly in Windsor are affected
by conditions there. No doubt you've heard about
the flood they had down Ohio and Mississippi
and the hundreds of millions of dollars worth
of damage it caused and its not all finished
Their most serious trouble is with labour
strikes in all parts of the country. For every
one that's settled about two or three more
break out. General Motors are the hardest hit
now. They have settled the strike, temporarily at
least in their automobile factories but other
branches of their organization are still
"sitting down" such as the Kelvinator in
Detroit and the Guide lamp and Delco-[Remy?]
in Anderson Ind.[Indiana?] And there are also other
minor strikes throughout the country too numerous
to mention. And there is trouble threatened in
the steel industry and coal mines. That will
Where your sympathy lies Jim I don’t
know, but after working for eight years for
General Motors, one of the largest organizations
in the world, and having had first hand
knowledge of the changes that have taken
place in industry during that time, my
sympathy is all with the men.
It is unfortunate that such a relatively
small percentage of the people understand the
situation and the underlying causes of the trouble.
Unless a person does understand it he should
not judge and condemn without a fair trial
a man who says, "this thing is wrong and
I'm going to try and right it."
Most people depend on newspaper
editorials for their opinions on subjects they're
not familiar with, or else just jump at
conclusions, - in either case they may not
get the true picture. They are almost certain
to get the wrong impression of the situation
that we have to-day. And it is most
decidedly necessary that people should
know the truth and be able to think straight.
It is going to be even more necessary in
the future than now because the trouble
is only just getting nicely started.
Of course if they could all see straight now
there wouldn't be any trouble in the future –
but they cant.
I know there has been labour trouble
before, but today we are faced with a
situation or conditions that make the
necessity of very revolutionary change
greater that ever before.
It would be a great thing if all newspaper
editors and commentators were forced to
work, in an automobile factory for instance,
for one year. Or for that matter in a steel mill
or any modern high speed production, high
efficiency factory. They would be in such
a much better position to give an intelligent
unbiased opinion on the subject.
Modern methods of production are marvels
of efficiency. Modern genius has created
wonderful machines to increase production
and decrease manual labour. And that is
one source of the trouble. Let me give you an
example, - a true one. In a motor plant
in this city in 1929 eighteen hundred men
built 200 motors (automobile) a day. Right
now in 1937 in the same factory five hundred
men are producing 400 motors a day. And
furthermore they're working for less money
per hour than in 1929. And automobiles
are very little different in price now than
then. Today a man works almost to the
limit of his capacity on whatever small
operation of production he performs
(probably just tightened a few bolts). And he keeps
that up at extremely high speed day after
day until it is a wonder he is not driven
mad with the monotany [monotony?] of it and
the knowledge that as soon as he begins to slow
down out in [sic] street he goes and a younger
man takes his place. And he does this for between
six and nine months out of a year and the rest
of the time he goes on relief (if he is married
and has a family) or else he goes hungry - until
such time as the company needs him again.
I am not opposed to this modern method
of mass production and the machinery that
makes it possible. Its the abuse not the
use of it that is one cause of the trouble.
If we have been given a system whereby
goods can be produced in sufficient quantities
in a short time by labour saving devices,
it should be used for the benefit of us all in
giving us the leisure to enjoy the better
things of life a little more fully. Instead
of it working out that way though it has
been used to make huge monetary profits
for a very few. Man is the victim not the
beneficiary of the system.
A mans [man’s?] increase in wages has
laged [lagged?] far far behind his increase in
production. And I am taking into account the decrease
in costs that the system makes possible.
Don't get the idea Jim that I am any
communist or bolshevik, because I'm not. I only
know that unless some very radical changes
are made we're in for a lot of trouble. I know
that a great majority of factory workes [workers?]
have been driven faster and faster during the past
few years until they have reached the point
where the worm turns. I know that for every
increase in wages production is speeded up
and hours of work cut down. I know that
we have over ten million unemployed in the
U. S. and the cost of living going higher and
higher. I know that in Canada last November
there were exactly 1100025 people receiving
direct relief from the govt. [government?]
(that includes farmers and families in drougth
[drought?] areas of the west) And there are a good
many more millions who are trying to figure out
ways and means of keeping their heads above
Well Jim I'm writing on and on here in
a rather disjointed fashion and I'm afraid not
a very lucid one. But six months of writing
would not tell the whole story so I better not
try to get it in this letter.
I have not gone very thoroughly into the causes
of the labour trouble - they're numerous - and I'm
not going to offer any solution. I know that
just increasing wages won't solve the problem
and I'll give you one example of why. Last week
the General Motors increased wages all over the U.S.
and Canada five cents an hour and here in
Windsor they've cut one hour a day off the time
it takes those 500 men to build those 400 motors.
One thing the Union is fighting for is that the
men must have something to say about the speed
of production. If they don't, as the above example
shows, they have gained nothing.
Don't be mistaken by what the papers say about
a union comprising only a minority of the workers
trying to dictate the majority. At least ninety
percent of the men are in favour of an organization
but because they're afraid of loosing [losing?]
their jobs are not actively engaged in one. Most of them
have homes and families and a job is a job
even if you dont like it.
I believe both Mr Lewis and Mr Martin the
leaders of the strike in the U.S. are sincere
and conscientious men. Both are former ministers
who left the church to go into labour work
because they decided they could do more for the
people that way.
As far as sit down strikes are concerned
everybody will admit that it is legally wrong
for a group of men to take posession [possession?] of
somebody elses [else’s?] property but anybody who is
familiar with what they are up against
must admit that they are morally right. It
is the one and only weapon with which they can
win. And a very good weapon it is too providing
it isn’t used to wreck industry completely.
And that is where the danger lies. Whether it is
used for good or evil depends upon who is
swinging it. At the present time it is being used
for good - all objections to the contrary.
Well, enough of strikes and labour troubles,
ultimate good will come of it but it will
be much worse before it’s better.
On top of all their other troubles in the States
the dust storms are starting again in the
south-west. In western Canada we expect
this year to raise the bigest [biggest?] crop of
grasshoppers we've ever had yet. If it isn't one
thing its two or three more.
It seems to be rather a gloomy picture
I'm painting here Jim, and things are not any too
good, but in spite of it all we go along
enjoying ourselves as best we can and
hoping for the best.
We've had a very mild winter this year,
only a few cold days and very little snow - but
plenty of rain no doubt its something like
the weather you had over there.
When I was in England they were
predicting the coldest winter for over 300
years. I wonder if they got it.
I suppose everything will be humming over
there for some time to come due to the program
of re-armament. I rather agree with some
man speaking over the radio last night who
said it was the biggest step toward peace
that had been taken for a good many years.
However he also agreed that it was going to be
pretty tough on British tax-payers.
I said further back in the letter that the
biggest problem the US is facing is with labour
but there is another that is probably more
important and that is the President’s plan to
re-organize the supreme court. You have perhaps
read something about it. There is no doubt in
the world that he wishes to pass legislation
that will be for the benefit of the people. and
he doesn’t want it declared unconstitutional
by the supreme court, which in reality it is,
as was done a year or so ago. He is usurping
rights which were guaranteed to the individual
states at the time of union, by the constitution.
What he should have done at the election last
fall was to have the people vote on an
amendment to the constitution and I believe
it would have carried because a big majority
of the people were behind him.
Probably he didn’t know there were so many
They have not voted on the measure yet but if
it passes and he packs the supreme court
with men he knows will not over-rule him
he has set a precedent that can be followed
by any president after him and they might as well
throw their constitution away – it wont mean
a thing. And as far as that is concerned
I think it would be a good thing if they did get
rid of it. It certainly isn’t adequate for the
needs of to-day. The British system of not
having any is a much better one. The general
feeling of those not opposing the bill is that
the end justifies the means. A great many of
those opposing it are very much in favour of
the legislation but don’t like the idea of
packing a jury. Just what will happen
nobody knows. Anyway the States seem to be beset
by trouble from almost every angle.
The strikes are spreading too. It just came
over the radio that there are fourteen “sit-down”
or “walk out” strikes in progress in Detroit
They are also having trouble at the Gen Motors
plant over here at Oshawa over the speed-up
in production following the raise in wages
In the paper this morning there was reported
an interview with Henry Ford in which he said
that international financers [financiers?] were
behind all these strikes for the purpose of gaining
complete control of industry in America. To which I
can only say that the men who have controlled
American industry have brought the trouble on
themselves – it is their child and instead
of trying to crush it or disclaim it they
would be better to get aquainted [acquainted?]
with it and take care of it so that men and women
workers would have no reason for being
influenced by outside forces. They have many
just causes for complaint.
Well Jim I guess I’d better get busy and
finish this letter.
Everyone is well here. I see the most of them
fairly often. Have been own at Leamington
several times to see Aunt Annie and Belle
and at Kingsville to see Anna and Harold.
Howard and Lillian, Glenn Alberta and Douglas
of course are here in the city so I see them
quite often. Howard is president of the
British\Israel branch here and gives a very
fine lecture on some angle of it each week.
It means a lot of study and work for him.
Lillian was not well for quite a while but
seems much improved now. Anna was troubled
with sciatica in her hip but she is also much
There have been two deaths in the family
since I came back. Ralph Bennett died
just before Christmas of pneumonia, leaving
a wife and three small children. Cousin Ida
Collins had a stroke and died a week ago.
Perhaps you remember her – she was an
Anglican deaconess who taught among the
Indians in Northern Canada for many years
she used to come to our place once in a while
Last night’s paper reported the death of two
men you know too. Senator Jas. [James?] Hocken,
that rip-snorting Orangeman from Toronto, and Byron
Lane of the Leamington Post and News.
I have not seen Dad since stopping
there a day or so on my way through from
Montreal but had a letter from him a couple
of weeks ago saying they were OK
Haven’t heard anything of Mary lately
but I hope that no news is good news. They
were over New Year’s [sic] and were fine then.
Windsor is gong along about as usual in
a rather bankrupt state. Col Wigle as you
no doubt read was elected mayor this year
by a small majority. I doubt very much
whether he will do anything very good or very
bad. He at least will [sic] a very good toast
master at banquets.
All the houses in the city have been re-numbered
This one has been changed from 330 to 1280. Several
streets are to be re-named to do away with
duplication. Walkerville reminds me of a man
in jail saying “you can’t do this to me”. They’ve
ceased to exist but still squawk loud and
long – mostly for the scalp of Dave Croll. The
Liberals are looking for some safe place to
run Mr Croll in the next election. I’m afraid
he would loose his deposit here. However he
seems to be doing well for himself in
Toronto. Mitch Hepburn is having to take rest
cures in Arizona and the West Indies and
other places quite frequently. Since Manitoba
and Saskatchewan have gone bankrupt and are
receiving federal aid Mackenzie King is
appointing a committee to investigate the
whole financial situation of the country.
Must close now Jim. Give my best regards to
Tom and his wife Liza, Lillian, John and the
twins. I have always been very grateful to you all
for your kindness to me lat summer while
over there but I’ve been long time writing to say
so. Say hello to Aunt Sara and Archie Bob for me and
try and find time to write me a letter
Transcribed by Greg Floyd
Word count: 3223