Source: Star-Phoenix Newspaper, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Date: December 23, 1932
“INJURED IN WRECK, DIXIE BECKONS HIM
Walter H. Modesty, Who Served Canada in War, Would Go ‘Home’
ASKS SASKATOON PEOPLE TO AID HIM
SASKATOON NEGRO, NOW ON CITY RELIEF, UNABLE TO GET COMPENSATION
‘I wish I was in de land ob [sic] cotton,
Ole times dar am not forgotten,
Look-a-way! Look-a-way! Look-a-way,
‘Den I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray!
In Dixie Land I’ll take my stand
To lib and die in Dixie.’
Shivering northern Negroes inspired Daniel D. Emmett, American poet, to write the lines of one of the United States’ most popular songs in 1887, years after the Civil War and liberation of slaves, but strings that go further back than the days of new-found freedom are pulling at the heart of Walter H. Modesty, of Saskatoon, who left ‘the land ob cotton’ back in 1908.
HURT IN 1931
Injured in a passenger train wreck April 12, 1931, while a C.N.R. porter, Modesty has been unable to get work or compensation, and is at present on city relief – the lot of many like Modesty who heard the call of their adopted land and went to France during the Great War.
Modesty’s father and mother were slaves. His father is dead, but somewhere in the South his stepmother, now 82 years of age, still waits for him. Sisters and brothers are also there. Modesty came to Canada in 1908 to work as a railway porter. When war broke out he enlised [sic] in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, being attached to No.2 Construction Battalion. He had already obtained his naturalization papers in 1910.
In the 1931 wreck Modesty sustained a spine injury. He lay in a Saskatoon hospital for one month and C.N.R. doctors attended him in Winnipeg for two months. He received compensation for that time only. They urged him to return to work, thinking that his spine would improve, but the condition became worse and while he cannot get any more compensation, he has not been able to work. The dictors [sic] now say that Modesty will never be able to work again.
Sixty-eight years of age, and his boy, attending school in the city, only 14, Modesty has again turned his face to the South and hopes that he may spend the years remaining him in the warm and familiar scenes of Dixie Land. He wrote his story in a latter to The Star-Phoenix today and expressed hope that some person or association could help him solve his problem. He offered to be examined again at any time and mentioned that his own doctor is Dr. H. E. Matheson, of Saskatoon. The Canadian National Railways has supplied him with passes, but he has no funds on which to subsist for six months in the United States until he can ask for reinstatement as an American citizen.
Modesty mentioned that he ‘was once a Mason and am still an Odd Fellow but was unable to keep up the former and will likely have to leave the latter for the same reason.’
‘I always got along in this country,’ Modesty concludes, ‘and I would not be leaving it except for my health and circumstances.’ His address is given as 219 Avenue C. south, room one.”