Angus Munro has roots that run deep. His farming ancestors came from Scotland in 1830 and his relatives still reside on the same farmlands in Southern Ontario, Canada. His grandfather left Ontario and took his family to Saskatchewan in 1905 and became a prosperous wheat farmer. When Angus’ father married, the grandfather leased other farmlands to get his son established. Angus’ father lost the total proceeds of his first wheat crop in a wild poker game at the local grain elevator. The grandfather was none too happy and decided to relocate to Vancouver, B.C.
The Depression deepened and sadly Angus’ grandfather passed away – leaving his entire estate to his second son. Angus’ father traveled to see his brother to seek financial assistance and received nothing. He returned to Vancouver unexpectedly one evening and found his wife in bed with someone else. Thus, his father became a single parent to three children – Laura 6, Angus 3, and Marjorie and infant. The following day, Angus became very ill with appendicitis and spent seven weeks in the Vancouver General Hospital. The author vividly covers his early childhood years and living with another family – similar circumstances, a father with five children, coping with the Depression and, thereafter, addressing their dual basic family needs.
Angus’ new memoir, A Full House – But Empty, is the gripping story of young Angus’ life growing up in the Depression years based on the positive lessons he had learned from his father during their somewhat traumatic and hectic years together.
About the Book:
Filled with anecdotes, lessons learned, and an inspirational message for everyone who believes that hard work breeds success, this moving autobiography shares the remarkable story of Angus Munro.
Munro is just three when he suffers from appendicitis and spends several weeks in a Vancouver hospital as his family struggles to survive the Great Depression. After finally arriving home, Munro asks his sister, “Where is Mummy?” and is promptly told his mother doesn’t live there anymore. It is this traumatic event that changes the course of Munro’s life forever. His father is suddenly a single parent while simultaneously turning into Munro’s mentor and hero. He teaches Munro the motto, “Always do the right thing,” while raising his children in an environment that is at the very least hectic, and more often completely chaotic.
Through a potpourri of chronological and heartfelt tales, Munro reveals how he learned to view incidents in life in terms of responsibility, recognition, personal conduct, and consideration of others. Despite dropping out of school at a young age, Munro perseveres, eventually attaining professional success.
Munro’s memoir is a wonderful tribute to his father’s legacy and the greatest lesson of all – whatever you do, follow through.
What prompted you to write your book?
I initially wanted to write my childhood story for my great nephews. When reading the draft, their father suggested I continue writing a complete story.
Tell us a little of your family background.
I was born in Vancouver, Canada. My family came from Scotland in 1830 and settled in Southern Ontario. Our family is still farming the original property. In 1905 my grandfather moved their family to Saskatchewan via covered wagon. My father was 5 years old and remembered the long journey. My grandfather prospered and had a wheat farm of seven square miles.
When my father married, his father leased farmland for him to get established. When he received payment for his first wheat crop he entered a wild poker game at the grain elevator and lost it all. My father left home and moved his family to Vancouver. My grandfather died shortly thereafter leaving his estate to his younger son.
In 1934 in the heart of the Depression, my father visited his brother for financial assistance. He received nothing and returned to Vancouver unexpectedly finding another man in his bed. The cheater jumped out of a window, and my father told my mother to leave. My father was now a single-parent to Laura who was 6, me 3 and Marjorie an infant.
The following day I was rushed to the hospital with acute appendicitis and remained there for seven weeks. When I returned home, I soon learned that we now had a housekeeper – paid by the provincial government.
Describe living with a single parent and your ‘Waltonesque’ years.
At age seven, we moved with the Inglehart family. A single father with five children and similar circumstances. We rented a large house with a vacant adjacent lot overlooking vast meadows of railway property. The Ingleharts had two goats and chickens and we constructed a goat shed and a chicken coup on the vacant lot. We cultivated kitchen gardens on both properties. We had a wonderful life. It was near the end of the Depression and the beginning of WWII. Unfortunately, four years later the house was sold and sadly, our families parted.
Tell us about your life after leaving the Inglehart family.
My father rented an old two-story apartment. My older sister went to live with a wealthy family, leaving me at age eleven, as chief cook and bottle washer, and partially responsible for my younger sister. Our home immediately became a mini Grand Central Station with weekend parties or poker games lasting all night. I was relegated to clean up the mess. As a basically quiet and neat person – I hated that environment.
Talk about your leaving school.
At age thirteen, in the seventh grade, the boy sitting in the desk in front of me, stole another student’s pen and when things got hot – he planted it in my desk. The lad sitting behind me witnessed the incident. I denied taking the pen but said nothing more. I was devastated, played sick and never studied thereafter. I failed, repeated the grade and bowed out of school as fourteen.
Tell us of your runaway travels to other Canadian western provinces.
I immediately got a job as a busboy at a large Vancouver hotel. I stayed there for a few months. My sister Laura and her boyfriend were living in Regina, Saskatchewan and coming to Calgary, Alberta for Christmas. I quit my job, packed my bag and purchased a train ticket to Calgary. I was off to see the world with $27.00 to my name. Before leaving, I called my father and he was furious. In Calgary, we put a plan in place. I would visit several relatives during the winter and spring months. Thereafter, I would join my sister and her boyfriend to work on a carnival. He had an animal act and a popcorn concession that I ran until early fall – returning home thereafter
Talk about returning home, the Dutch uncle speech and its outcome?
My father got me a job working in a sawmill throwing log-ends off of a conveyer belt. When I was seventeen, a theological student from the University of British Columbia came to one of our parties. We became friends.
One evening he came to deliver a Dutch uncle speech. He said that I was working in a dead-end job with no future planning. I countered by saying that I was a failure, a grade-school dropout. He said he didn’t want to hear my sad circumstances – I want to discuss your potential. He said that I had above average intelligence and I needed to get me butt moving in the right direction. He suggested I get a white-collar job with growth potential and take basic evening classes in typing and accounting.
I took those classes and started working at Eaton’s a major department store. I performed well and stayed for a couple of years, and then obtained a position at the Canadian Pacific Telegraph Office. After a year, I became a relieving supervisor in their communications department with a staffing of twenty persons. I stayed there for four years. I met and married my wife there – she was one of their branch office managers.
I worked at the British American Oil Company in their credit department. I started as an assistant to a senior credit rep, and quickly moved up the ladder becoming a senior within a year.
Why did you move to Los Angeles? And tell us your work experiences.
I had a serious sinus condition and I needed a drier climate. I obtained a position at Standard Oil of California, worked successfully but I realized that their promotional considerations were limited. I left after three years.
I obtained a position at Richfield Oil Corporation and quickly moved up the ladder. I was scheduled for a junior executive position in their home office. I thought sooner or later, in considering climbing up the ladder, they would question my educational background. With that in mind, I thought I should consider another field. One of my Richfield colleagues, while obtaining his Master’s degree worked in a clerical position in a major hospital. He suggested that I should seek employment in hospital administration. He thought my business acumen and personality would blend in well in that setting.
Read the Reviews!
In his autobiography, A Full House – But Empty, author Angus Munro shares his life journey that conveys optimistic and warm messages of strength, resolve, determination, and principle.
How his experiences during his youth influence adulthood are highlighted as he draws on his experiences as hindrances and advantages to how he confronts and resolves problems in the work place. Most of his stories come from a lifetime of work experience that included the Oil Industry and Hospital Administration in California and Alaska. From each detailed account, readers will identify with positive messages about obtaining a harmonious and fulfilling life.
What is so remarkable is how the stories are so vividly described and detailed. Munro addresses the importance of education to succeed, but there are skills that textbooks cannot demonstrate. Interacting and respecting all coworkers regardless of their position, listening and acknowledging, a willingness to undertake tasks beneath your position, and interacting with staff and clients, are key elements to a successful and productive work life.
His stories are about a journey of human communication and how each person he came in contact with positively influenced his life. He embraced their positive attributes and incorporated them into his own life. Many of his anecdotes are comical, particularly the incident where he sent a Valentine card to a Nun and signed a co-worker’s name.
Through his stories, Munro shares a lifetime of experience. A fundamental message readers will take away from his stories: It is true that it is better to give than receive, but more importantly, giving without expecting to receive makes life more enjoyable and rewarding. When you do receive, the experience will be more heartfelt and gratifying. The memory will last forever.
Tracy Roberts, Write Field Services