Surrounded by friends celebrating his 100th birthday at the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) Club, Floyd Trusty’s happiness was tempered by gloomier circumstances elsewhere.
© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
Floyd Trusty poses in front of the Royal Canadian Legion Club with Nancy Taylor at his 100th birthday celebration. Branch president Grant Bennett is in the background.
His 17-year-old grandson is currently in a coma after suffering a car accident. To have such adversity afflict a loved one would cast a shadow over anyone’s birthday. But just before his arrival, Trusty received his best gift that day: Positive news about his grandson.
“I just heard that he is starting to respond,” he said. “So that’s a big weight lifted … That’s the best you can hear at times like this.”
Trusty questions the ample media attention he has received this week, but his modesty is misplaced. The man has always striven to make himself useful, and at the ripe age of 100, is proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
“We have a crew that comes in Saturday mornings to peel potatoes for our Saturday supper,” RCL branch president Grant Bennett said. “He comes every Saturday. He’s also available if we need a spare man for our colour parties. He’s always available. He pitches in and volunteers wherever he can put himself to use.”
Trusty also helps out at the Herb Bassett Home every Tuesday.
“I think that’s what keeps him going,” Bennett said. “He doesn’t know enough to sit back sometimes.”
That was certainly the case in February 1941. As a young man, Trusty had spent the previous decade working at a farm near Shellbrook during the Depression. But as the shadow of the swastika fell across Europe, Trusty — like so many men of his generation — felt the need to do his part.
Despite having three children, he enlisted in the Canadian army and was shipped overseas.
“I didn’t join up as a cook,” he said. “I joined up to be a soldier. I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t know how to run a machine gun or anything like that. None of us did … But they train you.”
Early in July, Trusty volunteered to look after the fires for the kitchen stoves one night. His staff sergeant informed him it was only a single-night job, but Trusty ended up serving in that role until November.
I’m just happy to be here with all these people around that are friends. Nothing can be better. Floyd Trusty
“That was a long night,” he said wryly.
Trusty eventually tired of not being able to let loose with his fellow soldiers because of the nightly job. After a hospital stay for supposed appendicitis, he threatened to go AWL.
Army brass ended up sending Trusty on a cooking course. Food service for soldiers in wartime was an unpretentious affair.
“There’s a long line and they go down that line and you slop it in there, and that’s it,” Trusty said. “Some places we had plates, some places all they had was a mess tin. So you had your choice: You’d put your vegetables, meat and gravy, and the other one was for tea. Then you’re going to have dessert: where are you going to put the dessert — on top of this (other food item), or go without tea?
“You slapped it in, you didn’t ask questions.”
After the war, Trusty bought a farm in the Canwood area and worked there for the next three decades. At the age of 65, with his sons grown up, he decided that rather than going into debt to replace expensive machinery, he would move to Prince Albert and become a commissionaire — a job he worked for 15 years.
Since retiring, Trusty’s tireless volunteer work has made him a favourite among the community.
“I’m just happy to be here with all these people around that are friends,” he said at his birthday celebration. “Nothing can be better.”
RCL employee Roxane Taggart chimed in: “That’s because we love you, Mr. Trusty.”
“Thank you,” smiled the new centenarian. “That’s why I come over every day.”