Sally Kyle Miller
Aunt Dot was, and will remain, ever special to me, Sally Kyle Miller, youngest child of Dot’s older sister, Frances.
Aunt Dot dearly loved her older sister Frances, whom she called her second mother. It was Frances to whom she ran for comfort and protection whenever a thunderstorm raged in the area.
Aunt Dot set out on an independent path at a time and in a place when such a thing was rarely done.
Dorothy went down to the Royal Canadian Army recruiting office in Sussex with her older sister, Almeda. Where Almeda was accepted, Dorothy was rejected because, as Aunt Dot expressed it, she had inherited the Chestnut varicose veins. How could she contribute to the war effort?
Sometime in 1941, Dorothy moved to Edmonston where she joined several other Sussex girls in work at a war factory in New Brunswick. Within a year, a recruiter from Victory Aircraft, located in Malton, Ontario, came to Edmonston to recruit girls to work for Victory Aircraft to build bombers for the RAF in its deadly battle against Hitler's Germany. The allure of higher pay, independence, contributing even more directly to the war effort, meeting thousands of new people (thousands of MEN!), and being close to the dynamic city of Toronto proved irresistible. Dot and several of the Sussex girls signed up and quickly found themselves living in the “Ladies’ Staff Housing” in Malton. The buildings were huge: each housed nearly 1,000 young women.
Dot became the family’s own Rosie the Riveter! They worked twelve hour shifts; two weeks they worked days, two weeks they worked nights; they worked seven days a week. The more than 9000 workers, nearly one fourth of them women, built 430 Lancaster heavy bombers for the RAF and 3197 Avro Anson bomber trainers. It was at Marlton that Dot met the love of her life, Robert Desjardin. They married at the end of war and returned to Robert’s home province of Manitoba to plant their roots.
Dot frequently timed her trips east to Sussex to connect with visits from Frances, who was then raising her family in Massachusetts. It was on these trips that I came to know and love Aunt Dot. Even after Frances had passed away in 1966 (Can it be that happened half a century ago?), those connections in Sussex between Aunt Dot and I continued. Vivid memories of tromping through old cemeteries, hearing wonderful stories of her growing up, stories she would tell about my mother are treasures I will hold forever as eternal gifts from Aunt Dot.
Saturday November 5, 2016 at 4:59 pm