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Irwins Road, Long Pond, and Sandpits Area - 1940's - 1950's
Irwins Road, Long Pond, and Sandpits Area - 1940's - 1950's
By: John (J.J.) Williams
Irwins Road, Long Pond, and Sandpits - An area bounded by Long Pond and Irwins Road on the north, Elizabeth Avenue on the south, Allandale Road on the East, and Newtown Road Extension on the West.
IRWINS ROAD AREA:
The predominant property in this area was the Church of England boys orphanage on Irwins Road, with large fields for cattle grazing pasture land on the north and south sides of Irwins Road and west to Newtown Road extension. The old Irwins Road was redeveloped and renamed Prince Philip Parkway, when the new memorial university was built in the 1950-1960's.
The Sandpits, between Long Pond, Irwins Road and Newtown Road extension, was an area containing fine sand, possibly ten to twelve holes over an area of two hundred by two hundred feet. Sand from this area was used for cement mixing for some houses in the area. Also, used for building the Newfoundland Constabulary and Royal Newfoundland Regiment Rifle Range located west of Kelly's Shamrock Farm which was located at the bottom of Nagels Hill (Blueberry Hill). The target (elevators) used on the rifle range were still operational until 1960 when Irwins Road and Sandpits was re-developed.
Long Pond was a favourite swimming place in the 1950's for residents and public during the summer months. The City of St. John's constructed a semi-circular pool area, about seventy five by fifty feet bounded by a walking platform and rails on both sides leading to a diving board on the outside, or pond side centre for good swimmers and divers to use.
In 1954, an accident claimed the life of a St. John's resident from Mundy Pond. When he dove off the diving board he hit his head on an under water post that was embedded on the bottom, possibly broken off when the rails were removed the previous year. This went unnoticed when the new pool enclosure was reassembled the next spring. There was no lifeguard on duty and no emergency services in the area at that time. When an attempt was made by a local resident to phone for assistance he could not get a phone line out.
Access to the Long Pond swimming pool was by Carberys Lane, a lane running from Irwins Road to Long Pond along the side of Carberys property. Half way down the lane, was a gully where locals played shinny. Next to the gully was an area called "The Green", an open area green space where those with vehicles would park, old and new lovers, for necking and schmoozing, mostly at night.
On the south side if Irwins Road in the Church of England pasture fields, was a hill going down to Burtons Pond marsh, used by the locals for sliding. On the top of the hill was a large old ships anchor about eight to ten feet long embedded in the ground. No one in the area knew where the anchor came from or where it went when the land was redeveloped. This anchor was at least two miles from the harbour of St. John's.
On the east side of the Church of England boys orphanage near the coach house on Irwins Road, was the house of the farm caretaker (Searles) . There was an avenue lined with oak trees extending south to Burtons Pond. This avenue was used by the boys in the orphanage and locals for sliding on their Rocket Racers or Champion slides, from Irwins Road to Burtons Pond. There is an old oak tree with a plaque on it commemorating a visit by Queen Victoria. Next to the orphanage, was another large property and house owned by the McGilvary family. It was later sold to the Barr family.
The north side of Irwins Road there was another pasture field for Church of England orphanage cattle. It extended from Allandale Road by Long Pond to the Hoskins property. The Hoskins lived in the back side of a large house on the property and and Reddys lived in front. The Ryan's lived in a small apartment on the left side of the house. Previous to the above living arrangement the 1940's, the Hoskins had a small confectionary store on the front of the house. The on the west side of the property, was a lane way leading to Long Pond. At the bottom of the lane, was a gravel pit. The Wheeler house was situated south of the pit. West of this lane way were several open pieces of property and a wooded area bounded by Carberys Lane.
On the front side of Carberys Lane was the Carberys house which also had a small confectionary store on the right side called Quintons Store which had a large WYNOLA sign on the side. In the back side of the house was an apartment occupied by the Kinsellas, and on the left was a bed sitting room occupied by the Sweeneys. The Carberys resided on the front side of the house and later sold to the Reardons when they moved to Field Street in St. John's. A very sad day occurred when a young child of two years wandered away. Many residents searched for hours and she was found deceased in a well at the back of the property.
Going west on Irwins Road was the Gollop house, Hynes house, and Lar Williams house. That house sold to an elderly British couple who later sold to the Austins. West of the Austins property was the Coady property which held a small summer shack, later used as a stable for their horses, Queen and King. At the back of the property was a large concrete block shed holding coal products and birch junks. Next to the Coady property was the Harry Williams property with a small poultry farm and large vegetable garden. In that garden they had a Christmas goose tethered who was on charge of keeping the garden free of bugs and weeds. Adjoining that property was the Kirby property. It held a small shack on the front for the Moores and on the back the Kirbys had another small shack where splits (kindling) were made by Mr. Kirby and sold in small bundles to locals.
Next to the Kirbys was Cranes vacant lot. Next to that, the Charles Williams/Snow property. They had a small goat that was brought in nightly and stood on a table to be milked. They also had a very big pig that everyone fed daily leftovers. West of there on Irwins Road was a wooded area which extended to Newtown Road extension and held the original sandpits.
NEWTOWN ROAD EXTENSION (Sandpits Road) AREA:
On the corner of Newtown Road Extension and Sandpits Road was a house owned by Brigadier Peach, a devout Salvation Army Lady. Also residing in the residence was the Read family. North of there on a lane off Sandpits Road was a small cabin housing a bachelor, Mr. Kennedy (Johnny Plum). From here the road turned left to the bridge over Learys Brook leading to the rifle range and Kelly's Shamrock Farm. Pat Kelly was a well known long distance runner and owned a 1930's Rolls Royce Car. At the bottom of the property, there was a swimming hole called Sandy Bottom on Long Pond. This was a popular camping area on the weekends during the 1940's. On Learys Brook, north of the bridge was a man made swimming pool called Twinkle Eye, serviced by the Canes. North on Sandpits Road, properties were owned by the Canes, Whittens, and Evans families.
West of Newtown Road Extension on Learys Brook was part of McPhersons farm was a small children's wading pool used by local families for picnic outings and boil-ups.
On the north side of Long Pond were two ski hills. The left hill was a very steep dog-leg for better skiers and the right hill, was straight and extended onto Long Pond. In later years, a house was built on the top of the right hill by the Newfoundland Provincial Government for its Premiers. Between the two hills at the bottom sat a cabin owned and occupied by an Eskimo man, Billy Winter. He let us, the locals, use his flat bottom boat when he was not using it to row down for provisions from Trickets Store on Allandale Road by Long Pond Bridge. The Tuffs, Giles, and English boys had a 65 horsepower Piper Cub that the local kids pulled on wheels and slides from Allandale Road to Long Pond from which they flew in the winter. When the Cub became unserviceable to fly, they mounted the engine on Billy's boat. On the first run down the pond the boat became airborne and flipped ruining the engine.
HIGGINS LINE AREA:
On Higgins Line at the place which now has a road onto the Confederation Building was a slough called Larrys Bog. Behind it there was and old shack that held the remains of an old WW2 Tiger Moth aircraft. This aircraft was later moved to Kenmount Road area, to a structure quite a ways behind Kelsey's farm.
NAGLES HILL AREA:
On the North side of Long Pond the Allandale Road/Long Pond Road branched to the left to the Nagles Hill area. A large house on the corner of Nagles Hill and Higgins Line housed the Rowe family. Up the hill on the right, a lane way went to the Squires house.
Across on Long Pond side was a large white house owned by the Horwoods. That house was known as the farm foremans house. The Bessos lived there, and when they moved, the Morrisey family (Newfoundland singer Joan Morrisey) moved in. On the same property, over a small brook the Evans family lived. They had to cross a small bridge to get to the house. The Evans and Bessos had two greenhouses on the property growing mostly flowers. The Evans had two Newfoundland dogs, Lucky and Princess which were from the purebred McPhersons Westerland farm litter, producing a pup name Sherman (big like a tank).
RENNIES RIVER AREA:
On the east side of Long Pond ran Rennies River. This river flowed south then east into Quidi Vidi Lake. From Long Pond, the river fed Silver Pool, and Sliding Rock swimming holes. South of Elizabeth Avenue was Rennies River pool, which was kept up by the city. It was later closed due to residential development in the late 1950's.
ALLANDALE ROAD AREA:
Road runs south from Long Pond Bridge. On the corner of Strawberry Marsh road and Allandale Road was the Church Of England girls orphanage. On the east side of Allandale Road was the Vallis, Halley, Benson, Tuff, Giles, and Mercer properties. Next, was the Knights Store and hang out called Knightville. It was a convenience store and soda joint with a small dance floor and tables where young people gathered to enjoy French fries and milkshakes. The Knights had a big Newfoundland dog named Bruno who was friendly and slobbery.
On the West side of Allandale Road, going south to Elizabeth Avenue was the English property. Next were several more properties including Collins, Parrels, and Dunns.
Collins had a small skate shack backing onto Burtons Pond where the public went to change into their skating gear.
The Parrels had two properties with a change house for skaters. They built a race track like rink with lights and a music system for playing old skating songs. They also had a business supplying ice blocks (delivered in an old modified Chevrolet dog catchers truck). The blocks were cut at Long Pond and stored in saw dust in an "ice house" in the area.
On the South side of Burtons Pond on Elizabeth Avenue was the Clark property. It was one of the first properties developed in that area.
The writer had a paper route on Irwins Road, Allandale Road, Elizabeth Avenue, Whiteway Street and Pine Bud Avenue in the early 1950's. All of the above text was written based on his memories of the late 1940's and early 1950's. There are many people that lived in the area that will enjoy the trip down memory lane and have many fond memories of their own.
My dear silver-haired Grandpa was "the" Santa of our small town where I grew up. Every Christmas Eve he would proudly don his Santa suit with his borrowed bells from his faithful horse. These he would drape over his shoulder like a Miss America (or Miss Universe to me). His Santa bag was always filled with peppermint knobs (candy) and NFLD twenty cent pieces which he gave to his faithful little followers.
I remember one Christmas in particular sitting on the steps leading from our kitchen to the back porch just waiting for that magic sound; then it came, the magical horse bells. A thrill that went right to the pit of my stomach and caused tears to my eyes.
My dear precious Santa Grandpa had arrived-Christmas had officially begun!
Cigarettes $1.00 per carton.
CIGARETTES, ONLY $1.00 PER CARTON:
Can anyone besides me remember the time when a person in St. John's could buy a carton of cigarettes for one dollar. Yes I am talking $1.00 for a carton of cigarettes containing ten packs of twenty cigarettes for a total of two hundred cigarettes. Or to put it another way Â½ cent per cigarette. Of course a person could not normally buy a carton of cigarettes for $1.00 at the corner store. Unless you knew the clerk who worked there really well and the clerk didn't own the store and was willing to sell you cigarettes in an âï¿½ï¿½under the tableâï¿½ï¿½ sort of way for a dollar of less per carton. I started smoking at a very young age but never knew anyone who might be described as an âï¿½ï¿½under the tableâï¿½ï¿½ sort of person.
As such I had to find where and from whom I could buy cigarettes for $1.00 per carton and from being a âï¿½ï¿½Nosy Parkerâï¿½ï¿½ which was what I remember my mother saying I was every time I asked her a question I knew two places I could buy cigarettes for a dollar a carton. One place was by knowing someone from Peperell Air Force Base who could get them for you or you could go aboard a Portuguese or Spanish trawler, docked at Job brother's wharf, and buy them from any crew member which I did while selling "The Sunday Herald". So buying cheaply priced cigarettes was not a problem but one major obstacle remained and that was finding the dollar to pay for the cigarettes which I solved by waiting until next week when I had gotten my dollar, plus tickets to The Star Theater for selling my quota of The Sunday Herald. Oh, the joyful times of childhood by acting like an adult by smoking a Camel unfiltered.
Cherished Christmas Memory
here is my story of my most cherished holiday memory.
My cousin Carole and Muriel and myself, Mary, were put to bed Christmas Eve early. Our ages at that time were 3, 4, and 5, I was the oldest and Muriel was the youngest, We all slept in the same bed upstairs in the alcove. We noticed downstairs the Dining Room door was open. While our parents were decorating the tree we all sneaked out of bed and sat on the top of the stairs to watch our parents decorating the Christmas tree. Our parents never found out about the great time we had.
We all kept it as a secret. Our ages now are 78, 79 and 80.
Christmas on Carson Ward
Many years ago I worked as an R.N. on Carson Ward at the General Hospital. It was an open ward of twenty-one beds, male surgical, and men came there from all over the province to receive treatment.
It must be stated that at this time, transportation and communication were not what they are today. This meant that although some patients were well, they would not be able to travel to their isolated home because of weather or other circumstances, and would have to stay in hospital until conditions improved. This was often the case at Christmas time.
About a week before Christmas the radio broadcast of greetings was held for all the hospital patients. This took place from Carson Ward and patients could send greetings to their families via radio. This was a very emotional time as for many people, it was the only contact they would have with their loved one during the season. The ward was decorated with paper chains and bells and a real tree stood in the corner, adorned with mostly homemade ornaments. Many local entertainers came to perform and I especially remember the late Joan Morrisey, who with her great singing voice and bubbly personality did much to bring cheer to the occasion.
Very early on Christmas morning, the sweet voices of student nurses could be heard as they made their way through the corridors of the hospital singing carols.
It must be noted that there could also be some very sick patients with us at this time, and their care and comfort, as always, came before everything else.
Christmas morning passed with breakfast, fish and brewis for this special day, patients cared for and the ward tidied.
As dinner time approached a long table would be set up in the middle of the ward, covered with a white sheet. The table would be laid and at each place would be a brightly wrapped gift, a pair of gloves or socks or a bottle of after shave (times were simpler then).
Meals were prepared on site then, and we served them from a heated cart, placed in the middle of the ward.
On Christmas day there was turkey, potatoes, turnip, carrots and parsnips. Lots of dressing and gravy and plenty for second helpings.
Dishes of mustard picked and beet would be set out.
There was plum pudding for after and one year we had a man with a cooking background who expertly flamed the budding (brandy courtesy of the pharmacy) much to the delight of all. Crackers were pulled, paper hats put on, and gifts opened, a merry time for everybody.
After dinner and a rest, visitors would arrive, and as is the way of our people, the visitors would include everybody in their conversations so that nobody would feel lonely or left out.
Some lively talks took place at these times, as people told about their homes and work after finding out that they had friends or relatives in common.
So passed a happy afternoon, and then it was supper time. That Newfoundland favourite, the cold plat was served with plenty of salads and cold meat. There was trifle for dessert.
After supper we turned off the ceiling lights and with just the side lights, the place took on a cozy, almost home-like atmosphere. Somebody would get a game of cards going and sometimes there would be a patient who could sing or recite, causing much laughter and merriment.
Then it was bed time and a mug of hot strong tea and purity biscuits. Those who had received treats from their visitors shared them around, and all this made for a happy ending to the day.
As the patients settled for the night, we made our rounds to make sure everyone was comfortable, taking time to stop for a chat with a man who perhaps was sad with longing for his beloved home.
Thus passed Christmas on Carson Ward, and we were glad to know that although our patients could not be home for Christmas, perhaps we had brought a little bit of home to them.
Nature is a source of joy and it's all around us; all we have to do is embrace it. Many poets have expressed a close-knit identity with nature. Wordsworth experienced his "bliss of solitude" and lingering pleasure long after viewing the field of daffodils. Frost was enthralled with the serenity and calm as he stopped to watch the snowflakes fall on some remote wooded area. Everyone has a part of the earth that they can relate to most. Whether it be a majestic mountain, a roaring waterfall, a quiet trout stream, or the calm of the woods; these are places to get to know oneself and build bonds with family. For me, the mind has been most content, and the soul has left its print, when I have been berry-picking. For as Henry David Thoreau said, "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our head".
I was returning to Summerville after Christmas vacation in 1956, when on the radio of the taxi that had picked me up at Southern Bay,( a stop on the since abandoned Bonavista branch of the Newfie Bullet), I heard one of my favorite 50's songs Fat' Domino's Blueberry Hill. While too young to experience the romantic thrill of that song, I indeed had my first thrill of berry-picking on Hurt or (Hert) Hill a short distance from where I grew up. From childhood, I've held a close-knit identity with nature and a love or, what might be considered an obsession, with berry-picking. I can relate to John Burroughs feelings when he said, "I go to Nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put together."
Once, at an Educational conference, my former Grade 10 teacher and Principal at Russell Hall was telling everyone how he had rescued me from being a high-school dropout. During my high -school years, I lost practically the entire month of September picking blueberries to sell commercially to help get school supplies and things needed for winter. I do recall him interrupting our late afternoon baseball game enquiring when I was coming back to school, but I think he was overestimating his own importance relative to my intellectual pursuits.
We picked blueberries for thirty-five cents per gallon. The early aim was to get at least three gallons in order to get a one dollar bill. Later I would double that by carrying a blueberry wooden box with a stick reeved through two rope handles. I had one memorable experience where I learned a valuable lesson. Against my better judgement, I deferred to an older chap, who was not a regular berry-picker, to go in on bicycle. On arrival at the purchasing agent's store, with the day's work attached haphazardly to the parcel carrier, my worst fears were realized. The berries were so wet the agent had doubts about taking them. She must have sensed my disappointment and devastation and finally assumed the risk of accepting them.
The joy started to diminish a little, however, as September began to wane. It was not easy maintaining enthusiasm. especially while trudging through the early morning dew- drenched bushes and shrubbery that would probably not dry until the approaching lunch break. The one bright spot would be, on our return, sitting down to the evening meal of fresh vegetables amidst the glow of the kerosene light.
After the blueberries, we advanced to the partridge-berries, known internationally as the Lingonberry which were carried in flour sacks on our backs or over our shoulders. It was much harder on the hands than the blueberries; after a few days, the fingers became sore and bruised from the barbed, brambly underbrush. Some used a stall, a rag covering for a cut thumb or finger. I recall one year, in particular, the price was so good, our family picked eight barrels, enough to purchase our supply of coal for that Winter.
Two types of berries which we now harvest that were not very popular when we were younger, (perhaps because of their low commercial value) are wild raspberries and cranberries. Picking the former is the least delightful; foraging for them requires tenacity, adventure, and some risk-taking. One needs long sleeves and long pants to counteract thorns, poison ivy, grubs, and spiders. (good we donâï¿½ï¿½t have snakes). Thorny undergrowth ensnarls oneâï¿½ï¿½s feet; large, ripe berries dangle tantalizing over rocky ledges; swarms of mosquitoes, test one's determination to persevere when one's footing is so uncertain and precarious. Cranberries grow on coastal headlands or in and around bogs and marshes. I have picked them as I followed a brook or stream perilously close to the ocean. A friend in Cape Freels took me in on his ATV and landed me in a grassy marsh and picked me up about three hours later in the same spot. A few years ago, I spent a night in Old Perlican in October. I got up early on a Saturday morning to seek out cranberries. It was freezing cold with a strong North wind, but I decided to defy the elements and venture out. Later, my brother gave me a picture of my exploits; he had followed me and had clandestinely captured the moment.
The bakeapple, or cloudberry, is the ultimate - the most cherished among the province's wild berries. It has been suggested the name has been anglicized from the French baie qu' appelle meaning what is this berry called? It has been described as a distant cousin of the raspberry, red and hard when not ripe, golden amber, soft and juicy when ripe, with a superior, unique taste. They may fetch up to eighty dollars per gallon. I recall in the late 1940's my Dad and I were walking out by Long Pond, Old Perlican with our bucket of bakeapples just harvested from bogs where fog obscured our visibility. A car stopped, and a gentleman asked if we were going to sell our berries. I gave a barely audible no; I'm sure if prices like that had been mentioned, we would have given it more consideration. Another sublime or serendipitous moment occurred while picking bakeapples with my Uncle, under resplendent sunshine, taking a break to enjoy refreshments and reminisce.
On a number of occasions, I have gone in from Pound Cove, walked around Gull Pond and surrounding area picking bakeapples. After about seven hours bending and trudging over bogs and carrying a bucket of berries in each hand and another in a backpack, it was a relief to reach the vehicle and get a refreshing drink.
A few years later, I am also more aware of our fragility and our human limitations. "All good things must come to an end", penned by Geoffrey Chaucer in the fourteenth century is a constant reminder of the transitory nature of life. When my own life and career was still ahead of me, I recall my Dad's frustrations dealing with advanced age unsteadiness and spilling his berries. As Shakespeare said âï¿½ï¿½The wheel is come full circle, I no longer can trek the bogs. Age diminishes our strength and robs us of our pleasures; unfortunately, we have no control over our situation, the only thing we have control over is our perspective.
NANNY MOONEY'S WEDDING RING FOUND AT LAST
NANNY MOONEY'S WEDDING RING FOUND AT LAST
I will start this story by telling a little bit about my family.
This story started on April 23rd, 1933 when my parents Reginald Mooney and Annie Critch married at Church Of The Assumption in St. Mary's, SMB. That was the day that Reginald placed this ring on his love Anne. Reginald was a Light House Keeper and Anne was a Teacher. They took up residence at the Lighthouse in Point La Haye.Their first child Anita was born January 1934, followed by Doris, Betty, John, Myrtle, Jim and Nora, all born in the Lighthouse. After they left the Lighthouse they moved into a house in the Park (Point La Haye South). Delores and Frank were born in the Park. With the family arriving at an alarming rate, a bigger house was needed, so my Father purchased a house originally used as a School House in the Gulch (Point La Haye North) the house was brought to St. Mary's on skids with the help of a lot of men from surrounding Communities, to where it now stands, the house was 100 years old in 2016.
After their move to St. Mary's the family welcomed Gert, Doug, Al, and Alicia, the family was complete, 13 children. The first grandchild to be born into the Mooney clan was Gary, and here is where the story of the lost ring began. Both my parents had great faith, and when someone was sick my Mother believed that her wedding ring which was blessed had the power to cure. So when Gary's Mom Betty was experiencing some health problems. Mom suggested she wear the ring and bless herself with it every night. While wearing the ring Betty was washing dishes and while throwing out dishwater the ring accidently came off her finger. Every effort at time was made to locate the ring, but to no avail. My Mother called upon her faith for divine intervention, and so began the prayers to St. Anthony. We even enlisted the use of a metal detector, Mom never lost hope that the ring would eventually would be found.
Reginald and Anne's Granddaughter, Maxine husband (Phonse White) and Grandson Michael Parrott wife (Tina), Nora's children, are now the proud owners of the Mooney House in St. Mary's. To celebrate the 100 anniversary of the house, a big party with family and friends was planned for August 2016. While doing some yard work to prepare for the 100th Anniversary Celebrations, Maxine turned over a sod and what she found was as amazing as winning a lottery. Her Nanny Mooney's wedding ring after 61 years. The celebration of the house was made even more special with the finding of the ring. Maxine had the ring on display for everyone to see and each person was given the opportunity to wear the ring for a little while. My Father and Mother have since passed as well as a number of my siblings. May their gentle souls rest in peace. Because my Mother's motto was "Peace" above all else. Our wish as a family is that this ring brings peace and tranquility to all who come in contact with it?
Submitted by: Alicia (Mooney) Trask
NANNY MOONEY'S WEDDING RING FOUND AT LAST
I will start this story by telling a little bit about my family. This story started on April 23rd, 1933 when my parents Reginald Mooney and Annie Critch married at Church Of The Assumption in St. Mary's, SMB. That was the day that Reginald placed this ring on his love Anne. Reginald was a Light House Keeper and Anne was a Teacher. They took up residence at the Lighthouse in Point La Haye. Their first child Anita was born January 1934, followed by Doris, Betty, John, Myrtle, Jim and Nora, all born in the Lighthouse. After they left the Lighthouse they moved into a house in the Park (Point La Haye South). Delores and Frank were born in the Park. With the family arriving at an alarming rate, a bigger house was needed, so my Father purchased a house originally used as a School House in the Gulch (Point La Haye North) the house was brought to St. Mary's on skids with the help of a lot of men from surrounding Communities, to where it now stands, the house was 100 years old in 2016. After their move to St. Mary's the family welcomed Gert, Doug, Al, and Alicia, the family was complete, 13 children. The first grandchild to be born into the Mooney clan was Gary, and here is where the story of the lost ring began. Both my parents had great faith, and when someone was sick my Mother believed that her wedding ring which was blessed had the power to cure. So when Gary's Mom Betty was experiencing some health problems. Mom suggested she wear the ring and bless herself with it every night. While wearing the ring Betty was washing dishes and while throwing out dishwater the ring accidentally came off her finger. Every effort at time was made to locate the ring, but to no avail. My Mother called upon her faith for divine intervention, and so began the prayers to St. Anthony. We even enlisted the use of a metal detector, Mom never lost hope that the ring would eventually would be found. Reginald and Anne's Granddaughter, Maxine husband (Phonse White) and Grandson Michael Parrott wife (Tina), Noraâï¿½ï¿½s children, are now the proud owners of the Mooney House in St. Mary's. To celebrate the 100 anniversary of the house, a big party with family and friends was planned for August 2016. While doing some yard work to prepare for the 100th Anniversary Celebrations, Maxine turned over a sod and what she found was as amazing as winning a lottery. Her Nanny Mooney's wedding ring after 61 years. The celebration of the house was made even more special with the finding of the ring. Maxine had the ring on display for everyone to see and each person was given the opportunity to wear the ring for a little while. My Father and Mother have since passed as well as a number of my siblings. May their gentle souls rest in peace. Because my Mother's motto was 'Peace'ï¿½ above all else. Our wish as a family is that this ring brings peace and tranquility to all who come in contact with it?
Colonial Times and Cordage
Colonial Times and Cordage Long before C.J.O.N. (an acronym for Canada Jumped On Newfoundland?), Don Jamieson and Howie Meeker came to St. John's, the Rope Walk was in operation making ropes of all sorts, mostly from what I understand due to the fishing industry in Newfoundland. When I was five years old my parents moved to St. John's and bought a small house, a hundred feet or so from the Rope Walk's western property boundary, and I lived in that house until a month before my nineteenth birthday. My dad added to that house with each new addition to our family and as our neighbour once said to me, "Art has built so many wings on that house it's a wonder it doesn't take off and fly." The Rope Walk property was not enclosed by any fencing and so the young friends that I had made in my new neighborhood and I had ready access to the property where we played sand lot baseball, cowboys and Indians, hide and seek, and any number of other games that young boys used to play in that era during the two or three weeks of summer. Summers are always too short when you are still a kid. When the snow came in the winter we had the most fun, as we would find a spot where the snow had drifted almost to the top of the roof of the quarter-mile-long building where rope was spun, and then we would run along the roof and jump off into a large snow drift as a game to see who could jump the furthest. We would then climb back up on the roof and do it all over again and again, and sometimes continue to climb, run and jump until we heard our mothers calling us for supper. All the boys of course had a dog and sometimes two dogs, usually big mongrels, not little house pets, and the dogs would run and jump with us, and by the wagging of their tails I think the dogs enjoyed doing what we did more so than us guys. At the easterly end of the Rope Walk property, near Rope Walk Lane, was a bog or a swamp. I'm not sure what the correct name for it was, but in the summer it was full of water where we rafted, went swimming and sometimes just hung out as the kids say today. Again, winter was the best time as the water would freeze over, usually before Mundy Pond froze over, and we would take our shovels, brooms, homemade hockey sticks, Sears catalogs for shin pads and, of course, ice skates with us to the bog/swamp. We would then clear the snow from the ice, choose sides, the youngest kids always were the goalies, and then Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard and the rest of the NHL'ers would play for the Stanley Cup. I may get an argument from some of my friends from that long ago time, but I seem to remember that I was always on the winning team and I was always awarded the first star. The Rope Walk is long gone, as are some of my friends from a time that I remember with a fondness beyond description, but I remember it not as a different time, but as the Bucky Covington song "a different world." A world that was different than it is today but a world that will never change in my memories.
The winter that I turned ten years old my dad brought home a Newfoundland dog to replace a dog that recently died and which I believe came with our house as it was so old. Both the old dog and the new to me, Newfoundland dog, which was fully grown were outdoor pets of course. Mother would not allow us to have an indoor pet of any kind, not even a bird or a cat. I guess she must have had a bad experience with an indoor pet when she was young. Probably she was bitten by a pet lobster, lobsters at one time were plentiful in Newfoundland. Sometimes I wasn't even allowed inside by my mother no matter how cold I claimed to be or how loud and long I cried and pounded on our porch door. Sometimes it wasn't until my father came home from work on his trusty Harley-Davidson that I was able to enter the warmth up our home, still snotting and snivelling of course.
We named the Newfoundland dog Blackie because of his totally ebony black fur coat and Blackie seemed to me to be as big as a small horse or a really big pony. Not having seen a real horse or pony at that age except for the horse, or was it a donkey, that pulled Bob Tucker's grocery wagon when there was snow on the roads, which was most of the time during winters in St. John's when I was a young boy. But Blackie was really big and in my mind I was imagining ways I could saddle him and ride on his back as if he were a real pony. Oh, what I and a million others, would give to have that kind of optimism and innocence today.
One Winter day I made a harness out of salvaged material I found around our neighborhood and placed the homemade tackle on Blackie's neck and hooked it up to my sled. I tried and tried and tried to get Blackie to move ahead and pull the sled with me on it, but all he did was lie down and look back at me with extremely woeful eyes. I then put my imagination to work and tried to think of a way to get Blackie to pull my sled and take me for a ride. Ah, ha, I thought: The answer. I cut a long branch from a nearby willow or some other kind of tree and tied a hot dog to the far end of the branch which I held out in front of Blackie's nose. I was thinking that being a dumb animal Blackie would chase that morsel of food forever and take me wherever I wanted to go.
Blackie was sitting on his haunches when I waved the hot dog laden stick in front of him and when he noticed the food he jumped up and lunged for the hot dog. His sudden movement for the hot dog caused my sled to go forward and me to fall backwards with the stick and the hot dog coming backwards as well. In the wink of an eye Blackie opened his mouth and grabbed the hot dog, still on the string, and in a second all that was left was a piece of string tied to the stick. Blackie didn't lie back down but he turned his head and looked at me with those woeful eyes of his and in my mind I felt Blackie was saying "got any more?"
By this time I gave up trying to have Blackie take me for a ride on my sled so I left him tackled in and led him out Empire Avenue to where it meets Penny-well road, just past the municipal dump. There I turned Blackie around and jumped on my sled and started the ride of my life. Blackie took off, headed West on Empire Avenue towards our house, and ran as fast as he could. With me holding onto the sled for dear life Blackie kept running and did not stop, going through two stop signs, until he reached our house and headed for our old shed (which was next door to our out-house) where he slept at night. Without a moment's hesitation he slid under the shed door and the only thing that kept him from going through the other side of the shed was my sled and me hitting the shed door and stopping Blackie cold in his paws.
Early in the spring of 1952 Blackie developed a bad habit of wandering up the road to a house where the people who lived there kept hen's for the eggs that they would lay. Blackie soon took a liking to live hen's and one day grabbed one of the hens, eating feathers and all and then came home with blood and feathers on his muzzle. And what seemed to me, at my young age, to be a satisfied smile or a smirk on his face.
When the neighbor, I can't remember his name, came to our house to complain to my dad about Blackie and the hen I was surreptitiously listening and trying my best not to laugh. I managed not to laugh until the neighbor had left then I almost peed my pant's laughing and my dad laughed along with me. That was my dad, the best dad I ever had and the best dad anyone could ever have or want.
A short while later dad went out side and I heard him calling Blackie. When dad came back inside I asked him what he did with Blackie and all he would say was âï¿½ï¿½Blackie won't kill any more chickensâï¿½ï¿½. When I persisted in my asking, dad said âï¿½ï¿½don't worry about it Randolph my sonâï¿½ï¿½, a phrase he always used whenever he was praising me or chastising me âï¿½ï¿½Blackie won't do it againâï¿½ï¿½. Whatever my dad did or said to Blackie did not work as a week or so later Blackie came home with more blood and feathers on his muzzle and that same smirk on his face which seemed to me to say âï¿½ï¿½Ha Haâï¿½ï¿½. Then no more than an hour later the neighbor paid us another visit. He spoke to my dad outside my range of hearing and when dad came back into our house he seemed upset and when mom asked him what the neighbor wanted and what was wrong he said, words to this effect âï¿½ï¿½don't worry about it it's all been taken care ofâï¿½ï¿½.
The next day when I went outdoors, the last Saturday in July, 1952, a day I remember well, I could not find Blackie and I just figured he was off somewhere looking for adventure. When dad came home later that day, a little after noon, I told him I couldnâï¿½ï¿½t find Blackie. He said, Randolph my son, come here, I want to tell you something about Blackie and the bad things dog's sometimes do that cannot be tolerated. He then told me that when Blackie killed another of the neighborâï¿½ï¿½s hens despite his warnings he had to make a choice as what to do with Blackie. He then sat me on his knee and in what I remember as a somber voice he told me that once a dog gets the taste of blood, one time is bad enough but if they get a second taste of blood, there is no cure for them. I didn't know at the time what he meant, but now I do, he also told me that sometimes that principal applies equally to people. He went on to say he could have shot Blackie and buried him in our back yard or give him to someone who would care for him and take him to a place where he wouldn't kill any more hens. So dad said âï¿½ï¿½I gave him to Ramon, a Portuguese fisherman on a trawler which was docked at Job Brother's dock and sailed that morning for the Grand Banksâï¿½ï¿½. Probably, never to be seen in St. John's again, Blackie with them.
I didn't know whether to cry or laugh when dad told me what he did with Blackie but I remember how much I loved him, Blackie that is, and I thought how much better it would be for me to remember Blackie alive at sea, rather than dead and buried in our back yard where I would see him, in my imagination, everyday.