By Bruce Chappell
Fort McMurray, Alberta
(Formerly of Deer Lake)
I have a couple of funny stories to tell from my trips around Newfoundland with my parents when I was a boy.
One summer we were camping on the South Coast, down around Hermitage way, I do believe. A campground was not a requirement for my parents; a gravel pit would do nicely. We had found neither by nightfall, though, and fog was creeping in around us. Soon we could not even see where the road was.
Mom took the wheel while Dad got out and walked along the edge of the road with his hand on the truck's front fender. After what seemed like hours and hours (I was 12 or 13), Dad held up his hand for Mom to stop the truck. Dad disappeared into the fog for a moment, then returned to lead the camper (with Mom driving again) off the side of the road.
Supper was cooked and off to bed we went. Next morning, peeking through the curtains revealed that the fog had lifted and we were parked in a small clearing. Opening the back door showed something we had not noticed in the heavy fog the night before: a wooden shed with large red letters painted on the side. They spelled "Explosives." There was highway construction going on that summer, and this was where they kept the dynamite and the roadside signs they had taken down - like the one we found that read "Prov. Park, 1 Mile." Yes, that's right; less than one mile down the road was a provincial park.
I also remember going to Twillingate in the summer to visit Uncle Dorman and Aunt Mildred Elliott (family of Gander mayor, Claude Elliott). I liked going to Uncle Darm's because I could hang out with my cousins, Terry and Dennis.
One day, we went cod jigging. Well, Terry, Dennis and Uncle Darm began to haul in cod like you wouldn't believe. I kept hauling up and down, wearing a grove in the gunwhale, but my jigger felt just as heavy as it did when I first put it in the water. Uncle Darm reached over and pulled the line about a foot. He just smiled and said, "You have one, pull 'er in." Well, it didn't look much like a cod - it was almost ripped in half, with its insides and outsides ruined from going up and down in the water for so long. I dropped my jigger again over the side, once they had stopped laughing at the city boy (I'm from Deer Lake). I made no mistake this time; two strokes and my jigger brought up solid. Hand over hand, I brought my treasure up to the top of the water, but could not lift it in the boat. With a couple of helping hands, we were soon looking at a 42 lb beauty.
After we got back to Bluff Head Cove, both families got into our truck camper and went to Dildo Run Provincial Park, where we had cod, fresh-picked mussels and all the fixin's.
That was about 30 years ago. Not much mussel picking and cod jigging going on here where I am today.