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GROWING UP IN GLENWOOD AND APPLETON, NEWFOUNDLAND, WAS AN INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE. WE WERE SURROUNDED BY BOUNTIFUL FORESTS, BROOKS, RIVERS, LAKES AND PONDS. IT WAS YEAR ROUND FREEDOM FOR ANYONE WHO ENJOYED AND LOVED THE OUTDOORS.
A COMMON WINTER ACTIVITY WAS ICE FISHING ON ONE OF THE MANY PONDS NEAR OUR HOME. SHAWN AND PHONSE WERE A COUPLE OF MY BUDDIES AND WE PLANNED SUCH A TRIP ONE WINTER. WE WERE AT THE AGE OF 11 OR 12, STILL YOUNG ENOUGH TO NEED PERMISSION AND A BOX OF MATCHES FROM OUR PARENTS. SO OFF WE GO TO AN AREA JUST EAST OF APPLETON WITH EASY ACCESS FROM THE HIGHWAY, WHERE A FEW PONDS WERE FAIRLY CLOSE TOGETHER TO INCREASE OUR ODDS OF FILLING OUR KNAPSACKS RIGHT FULL OF THE BIGGEST KIND OF TROUT.
IT WAS A PERFECT WINTER DAY. EVERYWHERE WE STOPPED TO CHOP A HOLE AND DROP A HOOK WE WOULD LIGHT A FIRE AND DIG INTO OUR KNAPSACKS FOR A BITE TO EAT. WE CHOPPED HOLES ALL AROUND THE FIRST POND BUT DIDN'T CATCH A THING. ON OUR WAY ALONG A TRAIL TO THE SECOND POND WE SPOTTED SOMETHING RED, GLISTENING IN THE SUNSHINE AND SNOW. A PACK OF CIGARETTES.
THE THREE OF US STOOD HOVERING OVER IT FOR THE LONGEST TIME WONDERING WHAT TO DO WITH IT. WE WERE FORBIDDEN TO TOUCH IT, THAT WAS FOR SURE. WE WOULD BE CRUCIFIED TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH A CIGARETTE; IF WE WERE CAUGHT. WHEN I REACHED DOWN TO PICK IT UP PHONSE GASPED AND SHAWN COULDN'T HELP BUT SMILE. EXCELLENT. CIGARETTES AND MATCHES HE SAID. WE SPENT THE REST OF THE DAY SMOKING KING SIZE DU MAURIER AROUND A LITTLE FIRE AND TALKING ABOUT THE OLD TIMES. WHAT A DAY WE HAD PRETENDING TO BE ALL GROWN UP. EVENTUALLY THE SUN STARTED TO SET SO WE GRABBED OUR EMPTY KNAPSACKS AND MADE OUR WAY BACK TO OUR PICKUP POINT ON THE TCH. PHONSE'S MOTHER WAS THERE WAITING LIKE SHE SAID SHE WOULD.
AS I GREW UP I SLOWLY BECAME AWARE OF HOW BEAUTIFUL A PERSON PHONSE'S MOTHER WAS AND STILL IS, BUT IN THOSE DAYS I FEARED HER IMPRESSION WITH GREAT INTENSITY. SHE WAS A STAUNCH CATHOLIC WHO RAISED HER GOD FEARING FAMILY OF EIGHT WITHOUT DOUBT OR MISCONCEPTION THE LINE WAS IN CLEAR VIEW, DO NOT CROSS IT. YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO BELONG TO HER. HER CHILDREN AND EVERY KID IN HER CARE COULD SEE THAT LINE AND NO ONE WAS PROTECTED FROM THE HELL BORN FURY THAT WOULD SHOOT FROM HER TALL, STERN, TOUGH AS BULL BODY IF THEY DARE CROSS IT. OR AT LEAST I WAS CONVINCED SO.
AS THE THREE OF US PILED IN THE BACK SEAT OF THE BIG OLD PLYMOUTH IT DAWNED ON ME WE'VE BEEN SMOKING ALL DAY. SURELY, A WOMAN CLEANER THAN A WHISTLE FROM HEAVEN WILL PICK UP ON THE STENCH. IF WE ARE STILL ALIVE BY THE TIME WE CROSSED BACK OVER THE GANDER RIVER SHE'LL THROW US IN FOR SURE, I THOUGHT.
SHAWN WAS QUICK TO BE THE FIRST ONE IN THE CAR AND HE SAT IN THE BACK SEAT RIGHT BEHIND HER. GREAT, I THOUGHT, HE'S BEEN SMOKING MORE THAN ANY OF US AND HE'S BREATHING RIGHT ON HER. PHONSE WAS IN THE MIDDLE. IT DIDN'T MATTER, WE WERE ABOUT TO DIE ANYWAY.
WE HAD NOT BEEN MOVING DOWN THE HIGHWAY FOR TEN SECONDS WHEN SHE CRIED OUT SWEET JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH, WHAT A WICKED REEK OF SMOKE FROM YOU LITTLE BUGGERS DEATH WAS SECONDS AWAY. WE COULDN'T SPEAK IF WE TRIED. OUR SHORT LITTLE LIVES FLASHED BEFORE US. I LOOKED OVER AND SHAWN'S EYES WERE AS BIG AS DINNER PLATES. PHONSE'S BOTTOM LIP WAS A QUIVER AND A TEAR WAS ALREADY ROLLING DOWN HIS CHEEK. HE HAD EACH HAND CLAMPED DOWN HARD ON BOTH MINE AND SHAWN'S LAP TRYING TO BRACE HIMSELF FOR WHAT WAS COMING. BUT, BEING NEXT TO THE DOOR ALONG THE DITCH AND AWAY FROM TRAFFIC I QUICKLY REALIZED THE FORTUNATE POSITION I WAS IN. IF I JUMPED FAR ENOUGH FROM THE CAR I JUST MIGHT MAKE IT TO THE SNOWBANK ALONG THE SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY, AND THE SNOW AND ICE JUST MIGHT SOFTEN THE IMPACT ENOUGH TO SURVIVE. BUT IT WOULD MEAN LEAVING MY BUDDIES BEHIND TO ABSORB THE ALMIGHTY WRATH ALL ON THEIR OWN. OH WELL. I GLANCED AT THE SPEEDOMETER TO QUICKLY CALCULATE MY CHANCES FOR SURVIVAL. WE WERE NOT QUITE UP TO HIGHWAY SPEEDS YET SO I TOOK A DEEP BREATH AND REACHED FOR THE DOOR HANDLE WHEN SHE SAID YOU CAN'T BEAT THE SMELL OF AN OUTDOOR FIRE ON A COLD WINTER DAY
Resettlement And The Spiralling Deficit
There is general agreement that the Resettlement Program carried out by the Smallwood government was a failure. Yet, in our present dire economic times it has again raised its ugly head. At the Smallwood Interpretation Center in Gambo recently, the CBC increased the hysteria and rhetoric by orchestrating and airing a Town Hall session on the subject. The main focus was the cost to the taxpayer of providing a ferry service to communities such as St. Brendan's. The Deputy Mayor of that community was constantly placed on the defensive, trying to respond repeatedly to the same question. Many took the 'throw out the baby with the bathwater' approach. Tie up the ferry and let them arrange their own transportation, or the typical Mainland solution - move them all to greater Toronto. That's just what we all wish to be - 'homogenized Canadians.' Resettlement has always been with us. The early settlers to our shores resettled from Europe, mainly England and Ireland. The trend to urbanization has been proceeding for at least a century. In 1911 about 45 percent of Canadians were living in Urban centers (over 1000 people), today the number is over 80 percent. The first family of eight arrived in Gambo from Braggs Island in 1929, to be followed seven years later by three additional families preceding the twenty families that arrived under the Resettlement Program in 1954. So resettlement is a natural process, eighty percent of the people in one of the communities of concern have already relocated. Ironically, those same small, deadbeat surrounding communities are major contributors to the economic thrust of the larger towns, with the latter winning both ways, outside consumer spending and collecting business tax. The constant factor in the equation is always dollars per capita - the cost per person of operating the ferry service. Why, all of a sudden, has this become the main focus; is it some kind of charade to masquerade the main problems? Why does a massive project have not just a slight cost overrun, but double? Why is the labour productivity of Canadian workers so low? One public enquiry cost the taxpayers three million dollars, How much will public sector unions contracts cost? My point being: getting rid of the few families in St. Brendans won't result in a balanced budget. Our main resettlement problem is our youth emigration to the Mainland and United States. Losing these highly skilled workers and consumer spenders has a devastating effect on our economy. To make the situation even worse, many adults are also leaving in order to be closer to their grand-children. In the Atlantic Provinces generally, there are more seniors than working people thus putting more pressure on the health and pension system with a smaller cohort of working age people to support it. The situation is exacerbated here because of extenuating circumstances. Goods and services are much more expensive to deliver because of our unique geography. Newfoundland and Labrador's approximately 700 communities, spread out over 405,000 square kilometres, requires a vast network of roads and ferries. By comparison, Nova Scotia has about half that number over 55,000 square kilometers. The per capita transfer of Equalization to Provincial Governments must be a flawed system for that reason and maybe others. If the Federal Government is redistributing the wealth of Canada to address fiscal disparities, why does Quebec and Nova Scotia, both having a surplus budget, receive eleven and two billion respectively, yet Newfoundland and Labrador running a deficit gets nothing and won't qualify till 2019? It reminds me of university days in 1959 when students protested with placards 'Dief the Thief' against Diefenbaker's attempt to scrap Term 29 of the Terms of Union. Under the Smallwood Resettlement Program from 1954 to 1975 it is estimated 250 villages disappeared and 30,000 were relocated or dislocated. It was an emotionally charged system with pressure put on the minority to acquiesce. Many found the promised utopia was not reality; some even went back to their communities for gainful employment. Many gave up, not only their life savings, but other intangibles that have no price tag. The execution was criminal, a part of them was left behind, the emotional and psychological scars carried to their graves. They were cut adrift by the very institutions they trusted to live a painful, bitter existence without any follow-up process, support mechanism or accountability. Bureaucrats have to realize it's not per capita, or a number, but people they are pushing around; there must be some empathy extended to those whose lives are up-rooted, especially those who were forced to leave, as Bud Davidge said "'If they're unwillingly forced to decide, they'll move without leaving and never arrive.' One point raised in the Town Hall meeting was those small towns we want to abandon are also our culture. The Dept. of Tourism advertises our rural way of life; tourists don't come here to see another Mall or Walmart. Those out there who wish to see the St. Brendan's set adrift must see there is a double standard. How can our Prime Minister welcome Syrian refugees and boot out our own Canadians. If we promote our country as one of the best in the world, then we don'r treat our own like Sri Lankan's Boat People or Cubans risking their lives on a raft, hoping to make it to Miami.
Ghostly events written by Jean Way
My mother-in-law , who is deceased now always told a story that stuck in my memory as being unexplainable and freaky. The
When she was a teenager her dad worked at the A&D company in Grand Falls. He would walk home from the mill every evening. One night when he entered the house he said he had just followed a funeral all the way from the mill and past their home. He wondered who they knew from the area who had passed away and been buried that day. Enquiries were made but it appeared no one had been buried that day, and the church bells certainly hadn't rung.
The following day her father George dropped dead suddenly. His funeral procession took the exact same route.
The Big one that didnt get away
The Big One That Didn't Get Away
If you have ever experienced the open blue ocean, in a boat, with a cod Jigger in your hand, then you know the excitement of hauling in a cod fish up over the rails. There is nothing like it. Just the thought of it brings me back to a time when I was a preteen and had a little more than that feeling one summer afternoon while cod jigging with the family. This was going to be a day that I would never forget.
Boating on the waters off eastern Newfoundland was routine for the Brooking Family of seven. My Dad, Robert Samuel Brooking, known as Bob, from Glovertown, Bonavista Bay, grew up on the waters and knew that he would one day share it with his children. He married Dorothy Bella Smith from Trinity Bay, known as Belle, and if anyone knew Belle it was her love for seafood. We would watch her in amazement as she would prepare, cook and eventually eat most anything for the sea.
We lived in Gander, which is about a 30 minute drive to Glovertown, and during our weekend visits with Nanny and Poppy we sometimes found time for a boat ride on the open 16 foot boat called "The Karen Lee". Sometime in 1967 Dad ordered a 24 Foot boat from Heath Kit.. Yep! He was going to build his own Cabin Cruise. He didn't have a garage at the time, but his Brother In Law, Job Taite, also from Glovertown, married to his sister Madge, lived just down the road and they agreed that the Boat could be built there and in 1969 she was finally launched.
There were 5 children in the family and I wonder how long it took for the name Sea LARKK to be agreed on as the name for the new boat. I always took a fancy to the name as L was for Louise, and that was me. The rest followed, A for Anthony, R for Robert Jr. and K was for Karen and Kathy. To this day I am not sure how Mom and Dad managed with all of us, to spend the 1-2 weeks at a time on the boat Out the Bay.
Each day Dad would ask "What do you kids wanna do today?" The list of things to do would be anything from heading to a cove, where you can explore the woods, beachcomb the shore lines, or grab a swim or go fishing. Other adventures were to head to the beaches, Sandy Cove, Happy Adventure or the Park. Sometimes, if the weather and the conditions were just right, he would add cod jigging to the list.
When I was around 11 years old we were headed for the cod Jigging grounds when we spotted a group of whales in a far off distance. This was not a rare site on Bonavista Bay and we always enjoyed the awe of watching them and if you got close enough you may get sprayed. To this day I'm not sure if that had anything to do with my experience but I always thought that these whales scared the cod closer to shore. Once we arrived to the fishing spot Dad did some careful maneuvering to get us into the right spot. He had to block the wind and the sea swells and tried to situate the boat so it wouldn't rock too much or move to quickly from our spot. Once he felt we were settled in he gave the word, and all jiggers went overboard.
Now for those who are not sure on how cod Jigging works let me give you a little lesson. You toss over the side of the boat the large 4- Shiny hook that is tied to a very heavy line. The line is attached and wrapped around a spool. You allow the line to run out from the spool through your hands where you have to stand back as the spool tosses, rolls , spins and bounces on the bottom of the boat as the jigger continues to move down to the bottom of the ocean. Once the spool stops, you have reached the bottom, and you have to reel back some of the line in order to get your jigger off the bottom to reach the area of the Cod. Normally 3 arm lengths of line are pulled back in. The next thing to do is to hold your line in your hand and count, 1, 2, and 3. At the same time you count 3, you give the line a quick jerk up and then release back down again. That's it! It is the rhythm of cod jigging that becomes very relaxing and calming for some. This action of jigging is continued until you feel the weight on your line change, which would indicate a fish, that you pull up with a steady flow. Sometime, if the water is deep, you will have to stop and get a feel for the line before you start to pull up. There is nothing worse than pulling up an empty jigger.
On this day there were too many people jigging at the back of the boat so I ventured to the front and tossed my jigger into the waters. I was getting ready to start jigging when I had to yell out to Dad that I think I had my jigger hooked on the bottom. You always had to tell someone that you may have hooked the bottom so Mom or Dad could help get it released. On this day, Mom came up to help me out and yelled back to Dad that I wasn't hooked on the bottom and announced that I had a fish. Normally Mom would have gone back to the back of the boat to help with the younger ones but this day she stayed with me as I pulled up my fish. It was this moment when I knew this was going to be a different day. As I pulled up my line I did noticed that it was heavy but I pulled steady and continued to reel it in.
After some time I looked over the side of the boat to see if my fish was close to the surface and that was when I saw the large white belly. "Is it a Shark?" I asked my Mom.? And with a look of excitement along with a look that I wasn't sure of, she responded. "No! it's not a shark Louise, but it's a big fish, so pull it up nice and steady!"
Once I pulled the fish was out of the water the weight was too much for me so I passed Mom my line to pull it in. I don't think I ever saw a cod fish as big as that one in my life. I was so excited that I sat on the hatch of the boat and took that fish in my arms and I began to cry. I don't remember the weight of it or the length of it but I remember holding it in my arms like I did with my baby brother Tony.
The cod jigging continued for years on that boat, and many cod, the same size, were brought in over the rails. As I watched this occur over and over I wondered in amazement, why no one ever got as excited about their catch as I did when I got mine on that day.
Written by Louise Shirley Brooking
The L in Sea LARKK
I must not complain
Just this morning, I complained that I had forgotten to empty my dishwasher the previous night. As I stared into a machine full of sparkling clean dishes, ready to be stacked into the cupboard, I was brought up suddenly by memories of growing up in Branch in the 1950s. My mother, caring for a family of nine, had no dishwasher. Heck, she didn't even have indoor plumbing. Without the convenience of electricity, every drop of hot water had to be heated in a boiler on the big wood stove. I can picture it now, the large aluminum pan of steaming water. For the life of me, I cannot remember any dishwashing liquid. It simply did not exist in our household when I was a child. Good old Sunlight Soap and a box of Rinso or Surf were the cleaning agents of choice. After a complete Sunday dinner with salt beef and cabbage, clearing it all up was no walk in the park. My sisters and I argued so much about washing dishes that sometimes we came to blows. I must try to remember this the next time I groan about an unloaded dishwasher. With an automatic washer and dryer sitting side by side in my basement, I still find myself uttering mild expletives regarding dirty towels and dishcloths and the like. If I miss a few wash days, I mutter to myself about where all the dirty clothes come from. Then I wonder to God how my poor mother kept us all clean with no running water. Every ounce of water had to be lugged from outdoors. Getting clothes clean was difficult enough, but getting them dry could be next to impossible. With the propensity for fog in St. Mary's Bay, no wonder clothes were always strung from one end of the kitchen to the other. Because there was always a baby in the house, flannel diapers and little nighties took priority over everything else. And winter time was deadly! I often wonder what I would do now if I had to face a clothesline full of laundry, frozen as stiff as a poker. The amazing thing was that no matter how frozen our article of clothing was one day, the next day it would be ready for wearing. Looking back on it now, I am filled with appreciation and awe for my mother, and I remind myself to thank God for those people who invented automatic appliances. I picture my mother on her knees, scrubbing the canvas floor, and then allowing me and a crowd of my friends to trample all over it in our boots. Here I am with sweepers and swiffers and vacuums and machines that almost clean on their own. I spend a small fortune on Mr. Clean and Pine Sol and similar products. Yet, I question why my floors are not shiny and spotless, and the answer evades me. And then there was bread, delicious, golden-crusted bread, which was a staple in every house. No matter how tired or how pregnant my mother was, there were times when twelve o'clock midnight would find her up to her elbows in dough. In the dead of winter, the precious dough would have to be wrapped tightly to prevent freezing. Baking it, the next day, meant keeping lots of dry wood to the big Findlay Oval range. With a sharp stab of conscience, I now realize how I took for granted, the enticing smell of those lovely loaves of manna. Yet, I have the audacity to grumble when the bread truck is late or the store is out of my favourite brand. Worst of all, I haven't baked my own bread in years. I have come to a reasonable conclusion, however. I will never be as good a housekeeper as the generation of women before me, and as the title indicates, I must not complain.