Walter Baker

Walter Baker

Birth
England
Death 25 May 1990 (aged 91)
USA
Burial Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot Lot 57, Row F, Section B
Memorial ID 37707224 · View Source
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Walter Baker was born 5 March 1899 at Tilbury, Essex, England, the fourth son of Charles and Charlotte (Chambers) Baker. His parents died in 1907 and 1908 leaving seven orphaned children: Percy Edward, Charles, Daisy, Walter, Charlotte, Jack, and Rose. They lived in The Dwellings, directly across from the Tilbury Docks. The oldest brother Percy, had a part time job on the passenger ships that came in and would bring home small leftover cakes and buns. Sparrows were caught for sparrow pie and small fish gathered, that had drifted in on the tides.

After Walter's parents died, his brother Percy joined the Merchant Marines. Walter, Charlie and Jack were taken to the Dr. Barnardo Homes orphanage. Three sisters stayed with their Chambers relatives. Many of the Barnardo Homes children were sent to Canada and Australia and were known as "Home Children". Walter and his brothers Charles and Jack were sent to Canada. They left in February 1909 on the S.S. Dominion owned by the Cunard Company. It took 14 days to cross the Atlantic. They docked at Portland, Maine, and went by train to Toronto, Canada. Walter was sent to a farm owned by Norman Swayze, in Winger, Ontario. His brother Charles was sent 8 miles away to a farm owned by Mr. Laidlaw.

The Swayzes had a 5 month old baby, Elgin, when Walter arrived. Walter was known as "their boy from the Homes". Walter attended a one room school house a mile away but was kept busy with farm work and attended school only until he was 14 years old.
It was evident that many of the Home Children were taken into homes for free labor even though families were paid a monthly stipend for their keep. Walter thought he had earned his keep many times over as the work was hard with long hours.

Walter's younger brother, Jack, was sent to the Swayzes temporarily but was young and not able to contribute much help. He ended up in a nice home in Hamilton and was treated as a son.

At age 16, Walter left the Swayzes to work six months for a farmer, earning $20 a month. His hours were from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. He then worked for the John Deere Company in Welland, Ontario, in the wood shop for 60 cents an hour. Room and board was $10 a week.

Walter had a problem with stuttering as a youth and overcame it by reading the dictionary and pronouncing each word slowly and carefully. It worked.

Walter's brother Charlie enlisted in the Canadian Army and served in France. His brother Percy enlisted in the 13th Essex Regiment in England and was killed in France in 1917 and is buried in the Louverval Military Cemetery where his name is engraved in the Cambrai Memorial. "Baker, Pte. Percy Edward 15323, 13th Bn. Essex Regt. 30th Nov., 1917."

At age 18, on June 17, 1917, Walter enlisted in the Canadian Mounted Rifles #2729312. When sent to England, the calvary became the 102nd Infantry Battalion. He was stationed at Shorncliffe, , at Rhyle, North Wales, and at Whitley Camp, Surrey. He had an opportunity to visit his sisters and Chambers grandparents while on leave in England.

Walter was on duty in France from 6 March 1918 to October 3, 1918. He was involved in front line trenches in defensive actions from German attacks. On October 3rd, they were two miles from the outskirts of Cambrai "with the town plainly in sight". Walter was setting up his gun when he was hit with some shrapnel in his arm.. He was shipped to the Norfolk England War Hospital. The war ended November 11.

Walter returned to work at the John Deere Company and then went to Saskatchewan to help with the summer wheat crop. He returned to Windsor and worked at the Ford Motor Company, Fisher Body, General Motors, and Chrysler, alternately, learning auto trimming. He worked under Walter Chrysler on the first six Chryslers that were built.
They worked long hours for six months at $2 an hour. The body frames were all wood.
When production was ready, it was announced that the workers would be paid only $1.25 an hour. All walked out and at the gate, a dozen trucks were waiting with men and policeman to escort these new workers into the factory. It had been anticipated that the current work force would not accept the reduction in pay and alternate employees had already been hired.

Walter's sisters Rose, and Daisy emigrated to Canada. Rose roomed with Dulcie Jay, whom Walter courted and married 19 August 1925 in Picton, Ontario, Canada. Dulcie was born in England 17 August 1904, daughter of Daniel and Amanda (Chatfield) Jay.

Walter found a job with the Peerless Weighing Machine Company which installed personal weighing machines (scales) on a profit-sharing basis in stores and businesses. Walter found new locations, repaired the machines when necessary and collected the money. He was assigned to Pennsylvania for $25 a week plus expenses.
During the Crash of 1929, his car was stolen. He was purchasing a piece of property but was unable to keep up the payments.

In 1932 Walter was transferred to the Boston area and worked for the same company until it was dissolved in 1953. He first lived in Wollaston, Mass., and then moved to Milton, Mass. He bought some of the Peerless scales and continued to operate them. He later started an upholstery business, using his experience from early auto upholstering.

Walter and Dulcie had a son, Robert Jay, born in Windsor, Canada in 1927 and a daughter, Barbara Ann, born in Philadelphia in 1931.

In 1981, Dulcie suffered a serious stroke and subsequently two more strokes. She died 16 June 1986, aged 82.

Walter had several illnesses and surgeries, including diverticulitis, hepatitis and sciatic nerve damage which required the use of crutches for several years, and finally a wheelchair. He managed to care for Dulcie in spite of these handicaps. He remained cheerful, independent, an excellent chess player, and keenly interested in sports and world affairs. He died 25 May 1990, aged 91.


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  • Created by: Barbara Ferdinand
  • Added: 30 May 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 37707224
  • Barbara Ferdinand
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Walter Baker (5 Mar 1899–25 May 1990), Find a Grave Memorial no. 37707224, citing Milton Cemetery, Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Barbara Ferdinand (contributor 46944036) .