To The Thomas Pages homepage My Dad's Memories
  Incidents of a Life Lived
1.
During his school days in Johnstown, near Wrexham in North Wales, Joseph Reginald Thomas had worked in the family butchery each Saturday morning. His father had died when he was six, and his precious mother, a dedicated deaconess in the local Baptist church, had single-handedly raised the ten children.
2.
After leaving school he worked for a while as a bus conductor but explained that his younger brother Herbert's jealousy of his close relationship to his mother (Lydia) had made his life unpleasant and he decided to go to California in the USA and live and work with his father's brother, George Lloyd Thomas, in Jackson, Amador County. Once there, he worked in the butchery and herded cattle on his farm/ranch, rising at dawn and riding horseback until sunset.
3.
Wanting to see more of the world, he had later taken employment on a ship trading timber from the Oregon coast to Pacific islands for copra from those islands. He described how on arriving at an island they would throw the timber into the sea and then jump in to lash it together and then swim pushing it into the surf where the locals waited to drag it up the beach.
4.
The Storm:
It was during this time that he had a terrible experience. He described how their ship had been hit by such a severe storm in the Pacific that the fore and aft swing of the ship, lifting the spinning propeller from the sea, had shaken its engine mountings loose. The ship's engines had then to be shut down for new holes to be drilled during which the ship was adrift in the tempest and the crew knew that its sister-ship (built on the same plans) had turned-turtle and sunk while carrying a heavy deck-cargo of timber as they were. In this situation my father was the only crewman small enough to crawl into the space next to the engine to drill new holes to remount it. He described how he prayed with every turn of the hand drill, for he knew that, if it flipped over in the storm, he, of all the crew, was the least likely to get out. But the ship survived
5.
Oregon Home-guard:
After this he joined the Oregon Home-guard and described an incident during a training camp. He and some others had decided to go for a swim and on coming up out of the sea he recounted how an 'idiot' on top of a sand dune had fired a machine gun into the sand at their feet. All those years later when he described the incident his anger was still palpable.
6.
Vancouver:
During this time he decided to move to Vancouver, Canada, and he described how he went church on the Sunday after arriving, and his eyes met a young man in the congregation who spoke to him afterwards and he found he was looking for someone to share his apartment, which my father accepted, believing it was the Lord's provision.
 
He took employment with a log-mill and described how he wore boots with spikes so that he could walk on top of the floating logs to prevent log-jams as they floated down the river to the saw-mill below. 
7.
Canadian Prairies:
Then he heard that the Canadian government was offering free passage on the railway to those who would help bring in the wheat harvest from the Canadian prairies. He jumped on a train and at each station were farmers waiting to select workers. When he was chosen, his work was to drive the horse wagon that took the wheat from the field to the barn. One day, working late, the sun had already set as he was riding wagon back to the farmhouse. The only light he could see he thought was from the farmhouse window, but as he rode onward in that direction, it rose higher and he realized it was a star, so he gave the horse its head and it took him to the farm-house.
8.
It was after this, back on Uncle George's farm in Armador County, California, that he was working herding cattle when one night he had the dream of gold on the farm, went out that morning to dig for it but was called back to the farmhouse to return immediately to Wales where his mother was seriously ill.
9.
After her death, he took passage to Durban, South Africa, and only returned in about 1950 to introduce his wife and children to his family, where he remained for two years with the the oldest (Lloyd) at school in Marchwiel until his wife concluded that our education would be better in South Africa at that stage, and so the family took ship to Port Elizabeth and settled in rented accommodation in Lawrence Street, Grahamstown.
10.
It was in Lawrence Street, Grahamstown, that he later received the letter from his uncle in California to tell him that they had found gold on that part of the farm where they had found his boots (left behind where he had been digging to find the gold he had dreamed of, and had jumped on his horse in haste when the rider came to call him to go back to Wales where his mother was ill).

Joseph Reginald Thomas with his wife and children