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Mum said to Dad, ‘we need a tin of jam.’

Dad said to me, ‘go down and get a tin of jam.’

I hotfooted off. The jam was needed to help with lunch and my stomach told me it was due.

No money was needed, everything was done ‘on tick,’ so I entered the store as bold as brass. ‘A tin of jam, please!’

A look of consternation passed over the face of the counter-jumper, busy with some bookwork. He looked to someone else in the office. After a couple of doubtful nods between them I was handed a small can. I was about to hand it back explaining that what I wanted was the usual Henry Jones pound and a half, but something of their demeanor alerted me, so I hung onto what I had.

Father asked, a trifle anxiously I thought, ‘Did you get a tin of jam?’

I answered dubiously, ‘yes, but it’s a flat tin.’

He took a look. ‘It is a flat tin too,’ he said ruefully.

The trades people had got the word about the sleepers being closed, and the sawmills were beginning to close one by one. But Father managed to keep the bills paid. It was about that time that he bought a horse and sulky and fencing materials to meet requirements of settlement on property. To ‘prove up’ as the American cow-boy books have it. I think money was still coming in for sleepers already accepted. There would have been some savings as the sleeper-cutting had been going on for some months and the family’s ambition had been to save up and buy farming and grazing land. Collapse of The Roaring Twenties had now destroyed that plan. On to Plan B.

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