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Write a letter to the editor and send us your thoughts on down-home living, share news from your hometown, or comment on the stories you've read in Downhome. All will be considered for inclusion in the "Notes from Home" section of the magazine.
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Happy 65th Birthday
My Dad, Austin Aylward, born in Bonavista Bay, raised in Knight's Cove, now resided in Moncton, NB, celebrated his 65th birthday June 15; unfortunately he was not able to return to celebrate with family and friends so I sent "Home" to him...and what a fitting issue as it includes an article on King's Cove "Athens of the North" the community in which Dad went to school.
Jesus Took the Wheel
Here is my story. In March 2014, I suffered a heart attack. I recovered and all was well. I had my checkups, my follow up appointments and faithfully took my medication. On the weekend of November 20, 2015, I drove from my home in Wasaga, ON to Waterloo ON, a two and a half hour drive to spend the weekend visiting my son and his family and my daughter and her family in Kitchener. On Monday, November 23, I got up and went out xmas shopping with my daughter-in-law. At noon we got back to her house and we had our coffee before I left her place at 12:30. It was a beautiful day and I told her that I was going up the back way, but for whatever reason I changed my mind and went a different way. I stopped for coffee and continued on my way. I recall pulling into my driveway at 3:15 and brought in my suitcase and overnight bag. That's where my memory shuts off. Apparently I brought in two more items after that but I have no recollection of it. I got into my vehicle, I closed the garage door and I drove 25 minutes to Collingwood. I don't recall doing that. I drove by my doctor's office and I drove by the hospital and drove to a building where my cardiologist used to work out of. I had no idea that he had moved eight months prior, to another building in Collingwood. I parked perfectly between the lines, so I was told later, and got out of my vehicle and headed into the building. As I did, there were two people coming out. They went on and the lady heard something. That was my head hitting the concrete step. She came back and decided that she was going to do CPR on me. She told her coworker to call 911. He did and she continued CPR until the paramedics arrived. At one point I was not breathing and my pulse was very weak. I was put on board the ambulance and taken to the hospital where the two doctors in emergency didn't hold out much hope for my survival. I was put into an induced coma and was sent to Mississauga Trillium Hospital where I had two stints put in. When I woke up I had no idea where I was or how I got there or what had happened. I recovered and was out of hospital within five days. My son tracked down the lady who gave my CPR and I met her twice since. The local paper, The Wasaga Sun, did an article and a picture on the front page. My cardiologist told me that this lady had doubled my chance of survival and my doctor says "she saved your life, as simple as that." I feel very luck to be alive. If I had come up the way I first planned I would have been here a half hour sooner. I could have gone to Collingwood without coming home. My Nitroglycerin was found in my coat pocket instead of in my purse where it has been for over a year. The driving part really scared me when I was told what I did. Anything could have happened. I was wearing my medical alert bracelet and the police got all my family contacts form them. I had my cell phone, but that was locked and needed a passcode. I don't recall feeling any pain or feeling sick. I don't know what to make of it. I tell my friends that "Jesus Took the Wheel."
Proud New Subscriber
As a new subscriber I want to thank you for your great magazine. The articles on Newfoundland and Labrador's rich culture and family life are all extremely important and interesting. I have received the first two issues as a gift, and it is a gift I could not be more proud to receive as both issues have been read cover to cover. As a long-term member of the military who has served with many Newfoundlanders, it is now easy for me to understand such proud and resourceful people with a great deal of down home common sense and logic. I look forward to receiving the next issue and I also want to thank your fine editorial staff for the excellent work. As an afterthought, maybe Canada should have joined Newfoundland!
Surprised to See Me
What a shock when I came to page 121 of April's Downhome magazine and saw myself and my brother, George, on the steps of the Old Staff House School. That is where we both started school. I remember all the students in the picture and know that some have passed away. The teacher at the very back by the open door is Miss Lodge. I am in the third row on the right side - the girl with the white angora hat that my Gram knit for me. My brother, George, is at the very top left corner. I would like to say "hello" to any of the students that read this and wish them well.
Thinking of Fort Mac Folks
I am writing to give you my thoughts on the Fort McMurray, Alberta fire. I watched with horror and shock as the devastation unfolded. It brought back all the horror of the Slave Lake fire five years ago when our home was destroyed. We had a long road ahead of us and resettled in Grande Prairie. I can only imagine what those people have to face as they try to pick up the pieces and rebuild. My prayers are with them all. The premier, the staff, the RCMP, the firefighters, the media, also the evacuation centres' volunteers, the Red Cross, the people who donated money etc., they all deserve a big hug. God bless them.
Search for Spencers
I have been working on the Spencer family tree and really need some help. I am trying to trace a member of this family so that I can take the search further. Does anyone know or have a relative named Irene Florence Spencer? She was born approximately 1932, so she would be in her 80s now if still alive. Although she was born in Ontario, her parents were from Newfoundland. I'm not sure where in Newfoundland or what their names were, only that her father was a woodworker born circa 1901. Her mother was a little older, born in 1906. Irene worked for Bell Telephone company and had two sisters. The family may have lived In Ottawa/Pembroke/Petawawa area. I would like to hear from anyone who could help me. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to me at 47 Abbey Dawn Dr., Bath, ON, K0H 1G0.
Sir Richard Squires
Dear Ms Stuckless; I read with interest the article by Ron Young, in your latest edition, about Sir Richard Squires. In the 1928 election Sir Richard ran in the Humber District. Perhaps there was a good reason to switch from east to west coast given his political history. His Conservative opponent in that election was my father John A Barrett, at that the time editor of The Western Star in Curling. It was my dad's only venture into politics. Perhaps being defeated 3011 to 632 had something to do with it. (See Smallwood's "I chose Canada," pages 176-179)
Spring Cleaning Ladies
In the April 2016 issue of the Downhome on page 120 "reminiscing flashbacks" is a photo of Spring Cleaning sent by Shirley Birmingham, St. John's, NL. This photo shows from left to right: Cecilia (Cecily) Lainey (nee Young), Julianne Harview (nee Duffenais), Margaret Young (nee Lainey). Taken in winter houses on the Port-au-Port Peninsula.
Looking for Fannie Wall
Dear Editor, I am writing looking for information on a woman who raised my mother from a young age, her maiden name was Hilda Lillyan Decker. The woman's name who raised her was Fannie Wall. Her maiden name was Sibley. She raised my mother and her brother William in Campbellton, Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland. She was married in Twillingate in 1881. I don't know what her husband's first name was. Any information from your readers of Downhome would be greatly appreciated. Send reply to Nelson Bridger, 2475 CTY. Rd. 13, Picton, ON, K0K 2T0 or email@example.com.
Dear Editor, My name is Sylvia Molloy. My sister, Lou Mayo, who lives in Toronto, Ontario, subscribes to your wonderful magazine. I, and other family members, also enjoy it monthly. The story I am enclosing was written by Lou's granddaughter, Jessie. It is a touching account of time spent and the memories made at her grandmother's house. When I visited Lou in April 2016, she showed this story to me. Immediately, I asked if I could submit it to Downhome because I could see it fitting in a couple of sections in your publication. On June 6, 2015, Lou ("Weezes," as her grandchildren and the fifty or more other children she has cared for and raised over the years call her) lost her husband, John, to cancer. Shockingly, on August 7, 2015, Lou lost her daughter, Michelle (Jessie's mom) to cancer. I honestly feel that if you could publish this story, it would do Lou, Jessie and so many others a "world of good." I had the honour of meeting Mr. Ron Young a few times over the years. I found him to be kind, approachable and genuinely concerned about our province and its people, especially the many, like my sister, "living away" but whose heart is "home in the community where they were raised." Lou's is Coot's Pond, St. Mary's Bay, NL. Thank you for reading this letter and story. I anticipate a positive response. Sincerely, Sylvia WEEZE'S HOUSE Nothing much ever changes here. I've spent countless mornings sitting at the old wooden table either wolfing down a breakfast of chocolate chip waffles or rushing to finish the last of my math homework. Table cloths made of cheap plastic mark the changing of the seasons; this one is baby blue with smiling snowmen. There are ceramic salt and pepper shakers to match. The memories made at this table bring a smile to my face as I think back to New Year's Eve celebrations, and birthday candles melting onto frosting, and long-winded conversations with my grandmother that I will never forget. Gatherings at her house always afflicted guests with "kitchen-table-itis," as the rest of the house would be empty except for the table and my poppa sitting by himself on the couch. His eyes were almost always closed but his feet tapped to whatever music was being played; I don't think he's ever fooled anyone. I can clearly hear the ticking of the clock on the wall next to the kitchen table, reminding me of how short time was when I was still a kid going to middle school. The clock is probably the most iconic item in this kitchen. It is decades old, hand-carved out of wood with a simple mechanism attached to the hands on its face. It is shaped like an open book, and on either side are faces marked with Roman numerals showing Ontario and Newfoundland time. Above it is a piece of red yarn strung along the wall held up by green wooden clothes pins. Greeting card after greeting card hang on the yarn, adding to the already cozy and love-filled atmosphere. Below the clock are small paper plates with Christmasy designs on them: a snowman, a cardinal holding a holly leaf in its beak, a seemingly hand-painted Santa Claus. A cupboard sits just too close to the table filled with box of cereal after box of cereal and, for some reason, a package of ice cream cones. The contents of that cupboard have not changed for as long as I can remember. The unchanging nature of this place speaks to me with reassurance and comfort. The speckled laminate counter tops are immaculate, almost too clean. Specks of dust do not and cannot linger. Big glass jars painted with flowers the colour of dusty rose with lids to match sit along the wall next to the spotless stainless steel double sink, each labelled with whatever their contents are: Sugar, Flour, Tea, Hot Chocolate. To stand next to the sink is to subject oneself to the heady aroma of lemon Sunlight dish soap and, somehow, dryer sheets. Dirty dishes are blasphemous. The first thought that comes to my mind when I look around is a place for everything and everything in its place. On any other day the table would be as spotless as the counters, but instead the entire space is filled with huge plastic mixing bowls covered in thick quilts and towels. Bread dough is proofing, and suddenly I'm aware of the stifling heat radiating throughout the apartment. The dehumidifier is off and all the windows are shut, the heaters behind the kitchen table turned up high so the dough is safe from any draft. Greased loaf pans lay in waiting atop the new stove, out of place as it does not show age like the other appliances. The oven timer dings, and with the opening of the door the kitchen is enveloped in the aroma of fresh baked bread, and my brain cannot help being wrapped in nostalgic euphoria. I'm salivating as I'm handed a still steaming raisin bun right out of the pan. The entire apartment is soaked in holiday spirit. A short Christmas tree sits in the corner of the living room covered from top to trunk in tinsel and old homemade ornaments. Gifts in wrapping of a hundred different colours spill out from under the boughs. Along the wall sits a huge china hutch encasing rarely used glassware and phone charging cables stuffed inside a mug. On the bottom half of the hutch there is another plastic table cloth, this one green with poinsettia flowers on it. A porcelain village is arranged on top and the tiny windows flicker softly from the tea lights inside. Across the room there is a book shelf and each level is filled with yearbooks and encyclopedias. On the top are perched several wind-up snow globes that emit lilting carols played way too often by my baby cousin when he visits. Crocheted stockings are laid over the back of the couch and plush snowmen are placed in every imaginable spot. On the coffee table a faux velvet runner is covered with candle holders and candy dishes; salt water taffy, chocolate in the shapes of bells and little Santas, red and green striped mints. A box of cordial cherries sits unopened on the bottom level of the coffee table. My poppa is the only one who likes them. They are the fruitcake of holiday chocolates. Looking up from the table there is a spherical faceted light fixture that has been there since my grandparents moved in over 40 years ago. Hung in a spoke pattern on the ceiling are coloured mylar streamers with card stock illustrations pinned to the stucco between each shiny scallop. The whimsical design of the room makes me smile. Looking down at the carpet I remember a Christmas when I was about 5 years old. The carpet was off-white, something nobody ever understood since my grandmother always had kids running around her place and covered the entire floor, not like now; an antique-looking maroon and cream coloured area rug lay on exposed hardwood flooring. My young head could not be wrapped around how charcoal boot prints appeared on the carpet Christmas morning, but I was mesmerized with wonder and the enigma of Santa Claus didn't get much more real than that for me. My grandmother's - Weezes, as everyone calls her house - will always be one of my favourite places to be. Just something about walking into a room and immediately feeling loved doesn't get much better than that. Written by Jessie Mercedes Hannah Toronto, Ontario
Sharing birthdays with family members
Myself, my cousin, and my niece share July 23 as our birthdays. 65, 70, and 45 will be the ages achieved this year. Ironically eleven years ago we three were together for the first time ever to share our day. It happened to be the day of my mother's funeral. May I say how great it is reading Downhome. I myself am not a Newfoundlander, but have friends who are. My one adventure to that province was about 44 years ago, spending time with a friend and his family in Parsons Harbour (no longer there). Not being a subscriber, each month Downhome is at the top of my list to buy. Thanks .....Noreen Dagley, Italy Cross, NS
correcting a myth
Ed Smith writes some great articles but I must point out something in his article 'by the Blessed St. Patrick in the May issue. Ed said "the great potato famine drove many young men and women to migrate across the ocean and many made their way to our island. The potato famine was around 1847 and those who left Ireland made their way to the US and to New Brunswick,Quebec,Ontario. The young Irish lads who came here boarded the British fishing ships stopping into Waterford and Cork for suppiles before heading across the Atlantic to Nfld. This started in the 1700s. Last big Irish migration was in 1825- 1831. By 1836 there were 38000 Irish living here . Roughly 50% of the island population. There was good money to be made at the fishery,better than the farming income at home in Ireland. Refer to research by John Mannion retired from MUN and the late Cyril Byrne. thank U.