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Ed Brought Back Memories
Ed Smith's column in the December issue "a gift to last" brought me to tears as it made me think of my own special Christmas involving skates.
I don't remember my exact age, but I was probably around 12 as well. I was using old hand me down skates. I tried on a new pair when I was at a store with Mom and Dad, but didn't get them because they were a bit pricey and Dad didn't make a lot of money fishing.
We always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, and we did that year. I don't remember what my parents had for me. I got up the next morning and went to get my stocking. There was a wrapped gift under the tree with my name on it. I opened it and it was the skates I had tried on.
These days kids get all kinds of expensive gifts and few seem to appreciate them. Well I'm telling you, I appreciated those skates more than I can say.
The Tickle Pond Cove incident
This refers to an article in your Feb 2016 publication about the incident of the horse (Kitty) going through the ice, and her rescue at Tickle Cove Pond.
In 1954 I was the relief agent/telegrapher in the Railway station at Princeton. I boarded with a family named Prince. The senior male in that family was Alf. I believe he was 81 or 82 then. He hauled the mail by horse and cart or sleigh from there to Kings Cove for years. His son John came home from Lake Louise and purchased a 1950 Fargo pick up and took over where his father left off. He told me many, many stories including reference to the incident at Tickle Cove Pond. He had passed by the spot hundreds of times and related it as if he had been there.
Incidentally he had a grandson John, whom I babysat many times and who is still a fairly renowned singer in Canada. Maybe my claim to fame.
Stories of a Small Town by Suzanne Norman Demaer "Never forgetting the treasured memories of childhood"
Dear Sir: I wrote this short story a few years back and thought I would share it with you. I would be delighted if it was printed in your book. Coal's Cove was a part of Long Harbour where I grew up. I currently live in Calgary area, in the City of Chestermere, Alberta. Thank you, Suzanne Demaer (If you do indeed wish to print it, please let me know and I'll made sure I buy that copy!) Best wishes to you all for the Christmas season.
Stories of a Small Town
by Suzanne Norman Demaer
"Never forgetting the treasured memories of childhood"
The ocean flowed into the harbour which was only a stone's throw from our home. Some days it could be quite a treacherous sea with waves splashing about. We wouldn'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. In the coldest of winter's days, big pans of ice would be beaten together by the waves, making the harbour seem like one sheet of ice. Only a few dared jump onto those ice pans, dashing from one to the other, hoping never to fall into that icy water. I never heard about anyone drowning. Then there were the beautiful summer days when the sun shined so brightly and that same water glistened. We could see the sparkles on the water and we'd listen for the motorboats coming back home from the fishing grounds. The men would bring back their catches and we'd wonder how much fish they'd have and wonder 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 - they were sure to be lifted to safety. That harbour was our haven, our home, and the little place it enveloped was called Coal's Cove. The hillside was made up of rugged rocks and stunted-looking trees. They were evergreens so they never lost that beautiful shade of green.
Everyone knew each other, maybe sometimes too well. There was never a dull day it seemed. We kept track of everyone coming and going, and it felt like the community was one big family.
The school house 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. We would go on a family day. We'd pick berries and see who could get the most in the least amount of time. We'd listen 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 days we'd go "trouting". Most people would say fishing. 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 was always a dance on Friday nite at the big hall. People would come from all the nearby small towns and there'd be a great time. The first dance I attended was when I was fourteen, just a week after my 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 2 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 embarassing that could 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 catalogue Wishbook for weeks before Christmas and we made many wishes. We each hoped that Santa would bring us something special.
Christmas mornings were stupendous. The living room floor would be covered in cars, trucks, dolls, sleighs, apples, oranges and candies as we opened our gifts. The kitchen wafted wonderfully cooked smells at our noses. It is one of my most happiest memories. 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. Our parents loved us and tried their best to give us a balanced life; one filled with laughter, song, books, discipline and well-being.
Life certainly wasn't bad in a small town. We didn't have as many choices as kids do today but I will always remember having more than a fond memory for one small town nestled close to that old ocean. As did many young people from that little town, I grew up and travelled to other places, all the while never forgetting a special place called Coal's Cove.
Keep up the good work
Just a short note to let you know how much we enjoy the Downhome. Our daughter Sharlyn Ricketts and granddaughter Alyson gave us our first subscription for a Christmas gift when they moved to NFLD from Manitoba. Love the many stories, photos, recipes and especially "Say What." NFLD is such a beautiful province and the people are too friendly. I visit every year and so enjoy your many parks, especially Bowring Park. Keep up the good work.
Some years ago when I worked in a St. John's nursing home we had a patient for whom I felt a strong bond. She was a cheerful outport woman who had spent the best part of her life caring for her family.
However her body had now become frail and weak, and her mind had gone back to the days when she was a young married woman and her children were babies.
Each day she wore her apron. It was long with a bib and made of strong white material. These aprons were worn by many women in Newfoundland at one time. They were home sewn and often made out of flour sacks.
The day came when she could no longer get out of bed and the apron was taken off, forever.
As she left this world and her work worn hands were still at last, I stood by her bedside and thought of her life, and the lives of some many like her, my own grandmothers among them. Strong, proud, resourceful, hardworking Newfoundland women, caring for their families, helping anybody who needed them and expecting nothing in return.
My glance fell on the old apron, lying on the chair, and I thought of how it had been with her through so many events in her life.
All the housework, cooking countless meals, cleaning with none of the conveniences we have today. Sewing and knitting clothes for her family, patching and mending, making do with very little.
She wore it working in her garden and on the fish flake, and tending her animals about which she often spoke with pride, especially her sheep and the warm wool they provided.
It also witnessed many happy events. The marriages, christening and "times" in her big kitchen.
It was with her through many long hours at night in the isolated place where she lived, in her own house or the house of another woman, perhaps waiting for a new life to come into the world, rejoicing in the happiness of that event.
It was with her as she witnessed others slipping away and comforting those who mourned.
I imagine the old apron being with her when she rocked her children. It was with her during the anxiety that was hers when one of them fell sick and the only medical help available was what she could provide, and it was there as well, when one of them were taken from her.
She wore it on stormy nights, watching the wild sea, and wondering if its fury would claim her men folk somewhere out there on the fishing grounds, and perhaps it was used to wipe away tears when a beloved child had to leave to find work far away from home.
after her death, her family came and as was often the case told us to dispose of her belongings as we saw fit.
I could not let the old apron go. I claimed it for my own.
Nowadays, I wear it doing many of the same things she did, although not as well as she would have done them, I'm sure, but when I take my grandson on my lap and he rests against the old apron, I can feel her loving spirit, blessing us with comfort and peace.