Downhome magazine only has space for a mere fraction of the great stories sent to us by readers. Luckily, they're all available here. You'll find fond reminiscences about the past and personal experiences to which we can all relate.
On July 1st -- Canada Day -- 2012, the tiny outport of Grates Cove, Newfoundland saw its population nearly double as guests from as far away as Palo Alto, California arrived for the wedding of "come-from-aways" Jennilee Harley and Kyle McConnell-Sedore. Jennilee, ... click to read moreOn July 1st -- Canada Day -- 2012, the tiny outport of Grates Cove, Newfoundland saw its population nearly double as guests from as far away as Palo Alto, California arrived for the wedding of "come-from-aways" Jennilee Harley and Kyle McConnell-Sedore. Jennilee, originally from Ontario and a recent graduate of the Faculty of Pharmacy at MUN, and Kyle, her high-school sweetheart from Ontario, fell in love with Grates Cove after Jennilee's parents purchased a summer home there in 2006. The residents of Grates Cove opened their doors and hearts for the young couple, providing accommodations for guests in their homes, a church hall, an old schoolhouse and the Fishermen's Recreation Centre.
The weather, in true Newfoundland style, showed us how interesting it can be. Saturday night found us without power after a rare and spectacular thunderstorm swept over Grates Cove, forcing a planned outdoor rehearsal to be held inside by candlelight. The day of the wedding started out with cloud and rain but soon transformed into the best kind of day Newfoundland can offer. Brilliant sunshine and a cloudless sky left unsuspecting guests smiling but sunburned. The wedding took place on a rocky hillside overlooking the Flat Rocks and Trinity Bay. Local resident and artist Terrence Howell and his four-wheeler chauffeured both the bride and her 97 year old grandfather, Ralph Harley, from Woodstock, New Brunswick, to the wedding site. After the ceremony, Terrence toured the bride and groom throughout the village where they were greeted with cheers and a shotgun salute, as is the tradition in Grates Cove. Even the whales arrived in time for the wedding with a humpback surfacing close-by while the vows were being spoken.
Beyond Baccalieu Café was the site for a pot-luck reception after the wedding and it was a feast, as both local residents and guests from away arrived with their arms brimming over with dishes such as moose pie, fresh lobster, crab, fish and brewis, cod au gratin, fish cakes, salmon, turkey, salads and desserts too numerous to mention. After the supper, the whole community gathered at The Fishermen's Recreation Centre for a wedding dance celebration. Even the bride, who is the trumpet player for the popular St. John's band, Funky Dory, joined in on the musical fun as she performed with her brother and best man, Trevor Harley on drums, her parents and fellow musicians who travelled from Ontario to provide an evening of old time rock and roll dancing.
Everyone in Grates Cove made a special effort to ensure that the town was ready for this event. Signs were painted, picnic tables and fences were freshly stained, grass was cut, gardens were blooming and fishermen provided boat tours. Meadus' Take-Out accomplished what must be a record for a chip truck when they served eighty fish and chip dinners in a two hour period the night before the wedding. Words cannot express the gratitude and joy felt by the bride and groom and their families for the hospitality, generosity, friendship and unbeatable fun that springs from the people of Grates Cove, Newfoundland.
Christmas Skates Buzz! The school bell rang. Carter watched as the other kids ran home excited for the holidays. A few of the hockey boys pushed Carter as they ran past, nearly knocking him off his feet. Luckily he caught himself and mumbled under his breath "sick of being bullied by the boys all the time," and continued his lonely walk home.
Carter stopped outside his front door and braced himself for the attack of their massive ... click to read moreBuzz! The school bell rang. Carter watched as the other kids ran home excited for the holidays. A few of the hockey boys pushed Carter as they ran past, nearly knocking him off his feet. Luckily he caught himself and mumbled under his breath "sick of being bullied by the boys all the time," and continued his lonely walk home.
Carter stopped outside his front door and braced himself for the attack of their massive Siberian husky, Shadow. Once he managed to push the dog off of him and clean himself of the slobber he noticed his mother decorating their tree. Upset from earlier, he slowly snuck upstairs to his room and began writing a letter to Santa.
I've been bullied for quite a while now, and honestly all I want for Christmas is to fit in and have fun.
Once he finished he found an envelope and stamp in his mothers office, sealed it and began walking to the mail box to send it off. On his way there he ran into the hockey boys who were on their way to the local outdoor hockey rink.
Jimmy, the biggest, stepped in front of Carter, looked down at him and said "What's this? Oh, a letter to Santa huh? You know Santa isn't real right?" Then he threw the letter in the snow and walked away. Carter ran over to the letter, now doubting Santa and his power to make children's dreams come true but, being desperate, dropped it in the mail box anyway and went home.
Carter spent the beginning of his break watching hockey games and organizing his hockey card collection.
When Christmas morning finally came he ran downstairs to the tree to open his presents, hoping Santa was real and that he had found a way to help him.
After he and his family had opened most of the presents, Carter noticed a fairly large one at the back, the label read "To Carter, hope this helps. From Santa".
Carter smiled and carefully but quickly opened the present. It consisted of a pair of skates, a helmet, and a hockey stick. Stunned and excited, Carter quickly got dressed and rushed to the rink to try them out.
There he once again ran into the hockey boys but, busy with practice, they could only give him a dirty look and move on.
Thankful, Carter began to skate. At first he fell a lot and even bruised his butt a little but he got back up every time. And, with a little hope and a lot of determination, he returned to the rink every day eventually becoming fairly good.
During one of his daily practices two weeks later, the hockey boys' coach noticed Carter and how good he had become, so he invited him to join the team. Carter accepted happily.
When he showed up to practice the next day the boys were furious that coach had let him join, and they bullied him everyday until the big game.
The score was 4-4 and there was only ten seconds left in the third period. Because the team was pretty large and Carter was new he hadn't been able to play yet.
With the game about to go into overtime, the coach paced back and forth a few times before finally turning to Carter and said "You, newbie. You're in. Center. GO".
Carter scrambled onto the ice and heard his teammates mumbling behind him.
The whistle blew and the puck dropped. Carter won the faceoff but was quickly knocked off his skates by the other player. Not wasting any time, he quickly got back up just in time for Jimmy to pass him the puck. With control over the puck, Carter raced down the ice and took a slap shot.
The crowd held their breath as the goalie hit the ice with a thud and the puck went in the top right corner. The light and buzzer went off signalling the goal.
That night, Carter looked out his window up at the sky and whispered "Thank you Santa for my Christmas skates." ... Hide full submission
"Downtown" (short story -- fiction) I've always hated George Street. I can't remember ever having a good time downtown. Not even when I was younger, when, in theory, one is supposed to have fun in nightclubs. You know, get out and meet people. The stuff mothers feel compelled to remind their single sons about. "You'll never meet a nice girl downtown, anyways," my buddy Derek reassured me one evening over beers. Up to this point in my life, experience had ... click to read moreI've always hated George Street. I can't remember ever having a good time downtown. Not even when I was younger, when, in theory, one is supposed to have fun in nightclubs. You know, get out and meet people. The stuff mothers feel compelled to remind their single sons about. "You'll never meet a nice girl downtown, anyways," my buddy Derek reassured me one evening over beers. Up to this point in my life, experience had proven him right.
So why did I find myself on a Saturday night in a taxi, hurtling southbound through St. John's? It was all on account of a woman, of course. But not just any woman, mind you. Laura Pearce is the kind of girl that somehow makes a guy feel lighter. She called in sick last Tuesday and my normally-breezy workday seemed like unpaid Sunday overtime. So when she asked me at lunchtime this week to go clubbing with her and her friend I just couldn't say no. After I heard her say "Two girls can't go downtown by themselves," I suppose the white knight in me just took over. So it's my own fault I found myself heading to George Street once again. I volunteered for this mission. And it was wintertime, too. I especially hate going downtown in winter.
The evening started off with the three of us having a few drinks at Laura's apartment before calling a cab around midnight. Her friend seemed nice. Pretty enough too, I guess, but no Laura.
The cabbie let us off on New Gower Street, directly across from City Hall. As the girls and I walked down the back lane to the main strip I could hear a second-rate cover band just blaring away. What was it Derek said that time, when those young guys drove by his place, the stereo cranked so loud their rear window was vibrating: "The worse the music, the louder they play it." The same applies to bar bands, I'm afraid. I tried recalling the name of the song as we shuffled toward our destination, the girls chatting side by side a few steps ahead of me. They looked back from time to time and grinned at each other.
The place was starting to fill up when we got there. In the coat-check line I noticed tacky Valentine's Day decorations taped along the walls, chubby cherubs meekly drawing their bows, on the lookout for targets. The girls went for drinks and I went to the men's room, where as usual it was shoulder to shoulder. I had to lean in past some wasted guy hunched over the sink just to get a handful of water to splash my face. After one final check of the nostrils in the mirror, I let out a deep breath and headed back.
It took me a while to get served at the bar. Beer in hand at last, I inched my way along the crowded corridor, straining in the dim lighting to see where the girls were, eventually catching a glimpse of them standing by a railing overlooking the dance floor. Laura was talking to some guy. He was so tall he had to bend over to hear her over the thumping music. She looked so cute trying to stand on her tippy toes. When I reached them she was stirring her White Russian with two straws and smiling up at him.
"Who do have we here?"
"Oh, you're back," Laura said. "Good, I wanted to introduce you to somebody. This is Matt." The tall guy said hey and stuck out his hand. He had an iron grip.
"Laura was telling me you two work together," he said, still gripping my hand. "You're a lucky man."
Yeah, that's me, lucky alright. After an awkward pause, I came back with a lame "So, what do you do?" For some reason I figured I had to make polite conversation. Though at this moment, I wanted nothing more than to see him disappear.
"I'm a civil engineer," he said, louder than what I thought was necessary.
"Oh? I've always wanted to meet a roads scholar."
Laura's friend was the only one in our group who laughed.
"What? A Rhodes scholar?" He looked puzzled. "That's Harvard, isn't it? No, no. I did my degree here."
"It's Oxford, actually," I corrected him. "Never mind, bad joke."
"Oh, okay," he said with a smile. He had perfect teeth, white, straight and even.
A slow song started to play. With a sideways nod and an arch of an eyebrow, the tall guy took Laura's hand and led her to the dance floor. She looked back at her friend and me with a wish-me-luck expression on her face.
"Laura's told me a lot about you," her friend said, smiling at me.
I wasn't really listening. Then I think she asked me to dance. "I'm going to head up to the deck for a minute to get some air." Was that a hint of disappointment in her face? "Don't worry," I added. "I'll be right back."
My face felt like it was on fire. To make matters worse, the congestion in the place had worsened considerably since we'd arrived. In my desperate attempt to reach the second floor and the observation deck there was at least one point where I wasn't sure I was going to make it. When I finally got to the top of the stairs I burst through the heavy doors and immediately felt tiny snowflakes melt on my cheeks.
It was getting late by this time and from my vantage point I noticed some revellers had begun filtering out of the clubs. Pent-up animals freed from their cages. I spotted a gorilla wearing a skin-tight black T-shirt. It must've been minus fifteen outside. A Styrofoam pizza tray blew into the path of three young girls wearing mini-skirts and high heels. It eventually stuck to the right heel of the middle girl, who dragged it a couple of steps before shaking it loose.
"Jesus Christ, I've got to get out of here."
I began to jostle impatiently through the crowd, eventually slithering my way back downstairs, where I retrieved my jacket and quickly made my escape out onto the street. I passed through a waft of briny steam from a corner hotdog stand and was almost up to a cab when I heard a female voice calling my name.
"Hey, wait up!"
Laura's friend was slip-sliding towards me, arms at her sides for balance, trying her damndest not to fall on the icy sidewalk. When she got closer she managed to steady her flailing right hand enough for me to catch hold of it.
"Where are you going?" she said, a little out of breath. "What's wrong? Weren't you having a good time?"
"Not really. I'm not feeling well," I said, a little sheepishly. "I'm going home, I think."
"Oh, okay." She said with a look of disappointment.
By this point we were alongside a cab. Only then did I notice that she was still holding onto my hand. I opened the back door for her. She smiled at me, got in, and I got in behind her.