Stories of a Small Town

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Feb 17, 2017 10:00 AM

The ocean flowed into the harbour a stone's throw from our home. Some days the sea was quite treacherous, with waves splashing about. We didn't dare venture towards the "point," the place where the big rock was. If we stood on that big rock, when the waves were coming inland, we'd be drowned for sure. On the coldest winter days, the waves pounded together the big pans of ice, making the harbour seem like one solid sheet. Only a few dared jump onto those ice pans, dashing from one to another, hoping never to fall into the icy water. I never heard about anyone drowning. 

Then there were the beautiful summer days when the sun shone so brightly and that same water glistened. We could see the sparkles on the water and we’d listen for the motorboats coming back from the fishing grounds. As the men brought back their catches we wondered how much fish they had, and if Mr. Kelly would fire up the stove on the beach to feed us kids some lobster. The gulls hovered wherever the fish was taken, hoping for a fish to fall - it was sure to be lifted to safety. That harbour was our haven, our home, and the little place it enveloped was called Coal’s Cove. Part of Long Harbour, the hillside was made up of rugged rocks and stunted-looking trees. They were evergreens, so they never lost their beautiful colour.

Everyone in Coal’s Cove knew each other, maybe sometimes too well. We kept track of everyone coming and going, and it felt like the community was one big family. There was never a dull day, it seemed.

The schoolhouse and church were built close to each other and we always participated in the choir and school concerts. How I loved to sing! My friend, Angela, and I would spend a whole afternoon singing in the hot sun. We would be in our swings soaring higher and higher towards the sky. What fun it was!
The most precious memories from childhood are never forgotten: Picking berries and seeing who could get the most in the least amount of time; listening to our father tell us stories about the fairies and how they used to sneak into the woods and scare children.

We’d sing and be so happy on the days we could be with Dad, as he only got to come home on weekends. He had to go away during the week and work hard to provide for our family. Then, there would be the days we’d go trouting. We’d take our bamboo poles with the lines and hooks attached, and walk towards the best pond. Sometimes we’d walk along the train track and listen for a train, hoping one would pass by so we could wave to the people onboard. Mom would pack us a picnic most times. She’d stay at home and cook a feast to be ready upon our return. I know we all liked to fish, but cleaning it was the most dreaded task. Mom always hated the smell of fish but, boy, could she cook!

There were always dances on Friday nights at the big hall. People would come from all the nearby small towns and there’d be a great time. I attended my first dance a week after my 14th birthday. Mom had gone to the city and bought my sister, Lila, and me the same type of blouse. We got ready and I nervously followed Lila, who was two years older than me. Boy, could she dance! And before I knew it, I was out on the dance floor with all of my friends having a blast.

The Christmas concerts were the best. There was always someone on stage who could imitate someone else from a different town. They would do such a good job, you’d have to look around and hope that person wasn’t at the concert. How embarrassing that would be!

The joy in our house at Christmas time could not be compared to any other holiday. It was overwhelming. We looked in the Sears Wishbook for weeks before Christmas and made many wishes. We hoped Santa would bring each of us something special.

Christmas mornings were stupendous. The living room floor was covered in cars, trucks, dolls, sleighs, apples, oranges and candies as we opened our gifts. Wonderfully cooked smells wafted from the kitchen to our noses. Family time at Christmas was the best we could ever wish for. We didn’t ask for anything; whatever we got we enjoyed. The home-cooked meals prepared from the fixings from Dad’s garden and the ocean nearby provided us with our healthy meals. Christmases in Coal’s Cove are some of my happiest memories.

Life certainly wasn’t bad in a small town. Our parents loved us and tried their best to give us a balanced life, one filled with laughter, song, books, discipline and wellbeing. We didn’t have as many choices as kids do today, but I will always treasure my fond memories of that small town nestled by the ocean. As did many young people from that place, I grew up and moved away, all the while never forgetting a special place called Coal’s Cove. - Submitted by Suzanne Norman Demaer