14, Number 77, February/March 2011 The Search for Happiness by James F. McDonald
At Blossom End
Vine sat clutching his
cardboard suitcase on
the empty platform, waiting for his
new employer. The green fields of
Glengarry County, Ontario were so
unlike the ruined muddy landscape of
war-torn France. After four horrible
years as an army private in the thick of
the fighting in Europe, Stanley had
returned to England and was
discharged on February 1, 1946.
Armed now with some savings and
with no prospects for a job in England,
he answered a newspaper ad for farm
help in Canada. Two months later he
was on his way.
When the dilapidated Ford rumbled
toward the backwater station, Stanley
rose to his feet, trying to make the
most of his five foot, four inch frame.
The farmer, Alphonse Lapine, shook
his hand and scowled. “You’re a
scrawny thing,” he said as he threw
Stanley’s suitcase into the rumble seat.
On the way to his dairy farm,
Alphonse explained that he had a wife
and seven kids. “Money is tight.
You’ll get room and board. You’ll get
up at dawn for milking, and then help
me around the farm until evening
milking time again. Ten dollars a
week. Sundays off.” Stanley nodded.
He had never been on a farm in all his
life, but he took the job.
From the beginning Stanley was
treated horribly by the whole family.
They ridiculed him. They made fun of
the way he dressed, talked, and
walked. He could do nothing right.
The farmer, a humourless, driven
man, frequently lost his temper,
berating Stanley for the slightest
mistake. The oldest son, 13-year-old
Armand, played nasty tricks on him,
mocking him constantly. The harder
Stanley tried, the worse Armand
treated him. Not once did Stanley
All alone in his new country, and in
the world for that matter, Stanley
never became part of the Lapine
family. After work, they ignored him.
He spent his evenings alone in a
gloomy bedroom above the summer
kitchen. However, each evening
before retiring, he lovingly groomed
him at the crude
pasture gate. He
called them his
gentle giants. On
Saturday nights he
the nearest town
10 miles away and
spent his time
streets or enjoying
a restaurant meal before returning to
the farm late that night.
Early one November morning
Alphonse Lapine discovered that
Stanley had disappeared, after only six
months as his farmhand. The station
master in charge of the railway stop,
when questioned later that week, had
not seen any sign of him. In fact no
one in the community ever heard of
him again. That is, until one evening,
almost 20 years later, when Armand,
idly leafing through an American
sports magazine, came across a
startling headline, “Millionaire jockey,
Stanley Vine, British war veteran and
perennial thoroughbred circuit
champion, began life in North America
as a ten dollar per week farmhand in