Hoisted Up! (3143 views) I can still remember the sound of motorboat engines as they slowly steamed up and down the shore off Cape Bonavista. This was very busy and very rich fishing ground during that period from the early 1900s to the time of the ... click to read moreI can still remember the sound of motorboat engines as they slowly steamed up and down the shore off Cape Bonavista. This was very busy and very rich fishing ground during that period from the early 1900s to the time of the fishery closure for both codfish and salmon.
The picture depicts the way it was in that era. The fishing stage shown still stands today. It was built in 1952 or 1953, and tourists can visit it at Cape Shore Restaurant, Bonavista. The property at that time belonged to John and Charles Mifflin, my uncles.
Mifflin's Cove was a very busy place, but then, so were the other places on the Cape Shore Road in the summertime between May and September of each year. The way of life then was not as we know it today - no electricity, only kerosene lamps. They say hard work never hurt anyone, but I myself think my mom and dad worked as hard as anyone did. They never got rich from the fishery, that's for sure, but they loved doing what they did.
The picture is of my dad, Mark Mifflin, hoisted up to the stage. This was done every day after the fish was cleared away, and lowered into the water the following morning.
After my brother Eugene and I got older, we abandoned the fishery. So did my sisters Edith and Lillian, to settle for a better way of life, or so we thought at the time. Anyway, it's all over now; only the memories remain, but it was good "the way it was."
Smallwood, Diefenbaker and the Queen of England In the late 1920s, cars and radios began to appear in our town of Grand Bank. Our family's first radio was equipped with earphones and only one person at a time could listen to it. It was powered by a pack of large, round screw terminal batteries. Later, when main line electric power came along, we became proud owners of a Philco cabinet radio with a loud speaker. It was on this radio that we ... click to read moreIn the late 1920s, cars and radios began to appear in our town of Grand Bank. Our family's first radio was equipped with earphones and only one person at a time could listen to it. It was powered by a pack of large, round screw terminal batteries. Later, when main line electric power came along, we became proud owners of a Philco cabinet radio with a loud speaker. It was on this radio that we kids first heard Big Ben and the voice of the King on Christmas Day. We also owned a 1928 (second hand) Studebaker sedan. It was referred to by (envious?) non-owners as the "Frazer Hall" on wheels because it allegedly resembled that ugly church meeting hall.
Short-wave radio reception from the U.K. was good, while standard AM broadcasts from Sydney, Nova Scotia, and Newark, New Jersey, were the only two stations we could be sure to be able to tune in. And this was in the early 1930s! By some lucky freak of radio wave propagation, we were unable to receive VON St. John's!
Later on we were privileged to be able to tune in the St. John's station, but disappointed that the "Barrelman" show, sponsored by Gerald S. Doyle Cod-liver OIl and starring Joey Smallwood telling tall tales, was a large part of the main bill of fare. There was little else of much interest outside the environs of St. John's being aired. For example, we had to tune in New Jersey to listen to things like the Joe Lewis boxing matches, but not much besides Joey's wisdom and the St. John's weather was heard when we tuned in VON.
This same Joey Smallwood's gift of gab and twisty oratory propelled him to much greater heights and achievement including the bringing of Britain's oldest colony into Canadian Federation.
Without Joey, the completion of the Canadian Federation might not have happened. He modestly referred to himself as "The Only Living Father of Confederation." He believed, though, that only a Liberal government in Ottawa made any sense and at every opportunity he made clear how little he admired the PCs led by Diefenbaker when they came to power. He willfully left the impression with the less sophisticated populous of the outports that were he and his Liberals not to be reelected at any time in the future, such Confederation benefits as Old Age Pensions and Child Allowances could be lost!
On one occasion, in 1959, to ensure his omnipotent image was justified, I witnessed Joey use his position to make sure he, and nobody from Ottawa, would be seen to be first to greet the Queen when her aircraft anded at Torbay airport on the first stop in her upcoming Canadian Royal Tour. I was there as Captain of the C5 VIP aircraft which we would use.
The official printed program for her arrival by BOAC Comet jet indicated that Prime Minister Diefenbaker would officially greet Her Majesty as she deplaned. However, the PM's aircraft from Ottawa was late and his appearance was further delayed by the fact that his aircraft had been (craftily?) diverted to a remote, supposedly secure, parking spot on the airfield.
Joey took matters into his own hands and while the PM was being rushed by limo from his aircraft to the terminal area where the Royal aircraft was already parked, rather than wait, Joey stepped forward and indicated to all concerned that the Queen should now deplane. She did and Joey welcomed her officially first to Newfoundland and then to Canada!
And when he finally appeared to greet the Queen, the PM's famous jowls were visibly shaking as he realized he had already been upstaged by Joey. Joey was beaming from ear to ear as he presented the PM to Her Majesty! Prime Minister Diefenbaker did not act as happily as he tried to look.
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Sounds From Millertown, Beside Red Indian Lake Church bells ringing on Sunday morning, people gathering to hear Mrs. Osmond singing as everybody listened quietly. After church a handful of us gathered for a walk to the drinking pond. Peace & tranquility. Then wind comes up, the frogs are croaking. The ducks flutter off noisily.
Grey jays being fed whiskey-soaked bread by loggers. Grey jay or whiskey Jack were known as the souls of departed loggers. Their squeals echoed through the ... click to read moreChurch bells ringing on Sunday morning, people gathering to hear Mrs. Osmond singing as everybody listened quietly. After church a handful of us gathered for a walk to the drinking pond. Peace & tranquility. Then wind comes up, the frogs are croaking. The ducks flutter off noisily.
Grey jays being fed whiskey-soaked bread by loggers. Grey jay or whiskey Jack were known as the souls of departed loggers. Their squeals echoed through the woods as we emptied our snares. The rabbits squealed back. The cawing crow joined in for his share. Tom tits flitting & cheeping in the bushes. Their real name was chickadees.
20-30 degrees below zero causing the snow & ice to crackle below your feet. Forty or 50 kids skating on Red Indian Lake on a moonlit Friday night.
Summer time a windy, sunny day. A giant ouananiche breaching on your hook. Better still flipping & flopping on the beach. Better still sizzling in the frying pan.
The sound of Black Pond emptying through a beaver dam.
A lynx hopping off through the reeds. Imaginary or real, the sound from northern lights.
Man-made or woman-made sounds. Sadie Lane whacking a softball. The sound of it missing a glove.
Hazel Maloney Nee Elliott returning home from Mary Macdonald's, whistling her way past the cemetery.
The sound of Uncle Jim Elliott's cart on his way up for a load of coal. Old scout making noise from both ends.
The early sound of our company picnics. Children's games. Giant pot cooking Jiggs' dinner, a name dropped by an American serviceman.
Bean supper noises. Men laughing at Hermy P. he was the only one that had sense enough to eat beans with a spoon.
Chainsaws, tractors, tug boats, sluice dams, chafing of booms.
Millertown moved back from the water after Exploits Dam was built. Sitting on a rock ½ mile below the dam, teaching worms how to swim. The roar of the dam & water rushing past us.
The beautiful sound of a pair of loons swimming down the lake.
A Bowl of Porridge As we hurry and scurry through our daily life, caught up in our numerous tasks, we often neglect to reach out the hand of friendship to our neighbours or complete strangers we meet along our way.
Sometimes we are just too busy to offer the companionship of a meal, often because we feel what we have is not special enough. Often when I think about this I reflect on my sister, and the ... click to read moreAs we hurry and scurry through our daily life, caught up in our numerous tasks, we often neglect to reach out the hand of friendship to our neighbours or complete strangers we meet along our way.
Sometimes we are just too busy to offer the companionship of a meal, often because we feel what we have is not special enough. Often when I think about this I reflect on my sister, and the years in her early life when some people did offer what they had - and the love that went along with it.
My sister, who left home at an early age, lives in Labrador City now and comes home periodically for visits. Although her time here is short and hectic, she always makes time to see some special friends from her childhood. Quite a few of them are girls belonging to a very large family, whose mom died while most of them were quite young.
That there's real love between them is evident from the warm hugs and embraces they exchange when they meet and the never-ending chatter of the good old days.
During her trip last summer I asked her about the friendship and how it developed and the reason for the warm feelings so evident between them. She told me she spent many hours with them playing together in the summer sun, and then off to their house for supper.
I remarked that with such a large family and no mother to prepare supper how could they find enough for one more person. "Oh it was really no problem," she non-chalantly replied, "It was mostly always porridge."
I was humbly and deeply ashamed of the many times I didn't ask someone to stay for a meal at our house because I didn't have something special.
That porridge, so freely given, so wonderfully enjoyed, and given with such childhood love and tons of laughter, has bonded special feelings between that family and my sister that has spanned over half a century. The love in that home was very evident and the hand of friendship was extended without an iota of thought that the meal had to be grand or special.
All those girls are married now, have wonderful husbands and children, and have made a mark on the community they live in.
I wish I could give you their names but experience bids me not. I wonder if they remember the porridge they shared with a little girl who too had lost her mother and who so needed their love and affection.
If The Lord Tarries When I was growing up, I had an aunt living next door to us who used to preface everything she intended to do by saying: "If I'm spared and the Lord tarries."
A deeply religious woman, she, along with many of her faith, fervently believed in the eminent coming of her Lord. She lived each day of her life in preparation for His return. Not with a morbid sense of dread that many of ... click to read moreWhen I was growing up, I had an aunt living next door to us who used to preface everything she intended to do by saying: "If I'm spared and the Lord tarries."
A deeply religious woman, she, along with many of her faith, fervently believed in the eminent coming of her Lord. She lived each day of her life in preparation for His return. Not with a morbid sense of dread that many of us have, but with a sense of joy and expectation of an event that she had lived all her life in readiness for.
As a young girl growing up in a small outport, how often do I remember her saying, "I think we'll go berry picking tomorrow, if we're spared and the Lord tarries." To us youngsters who dreaded the second-coming with all our youthful passions, it seems to stall the event a bit by her repeating the phrase. Here was a woman, who enjoyed life to its fullest, busy and active with two small children who genuinely longed for the coming of the Lord.
But though she walked closely with God, and prayers and mediations came first, she always had time to participate fully in this life, and was always planning parties for us children, berry-picking expeditions and just generally making our mundane lives more exciting by her creativity and zest for life.
Many a noon-hour lunch was made special in the summertime when Aunt Flora would call out to my mother and, together, they would spread a cloth on a little hill by our house and an ordinary meal would become special because we were all together eating outdoors.
Our two houses were very close together, and with both my father and my uncle away working during the spring and summer months, both the families' lives were intricately intertwined.
We always looked to Aunt Flora for advice, and her no-nonsense explanations of everything dispelled all our fears of ghosts and goblins and everything bad. Her very nature led us to believe there wasn't anything under the sun to be afraid of. I'll always remember the summer thunder storms when we would all come rushing into her house, our hearts beating wildly, thinking the sky was crashing down, or at the very worst the Lord had finally come. She would soothe away our fears with syrup and cookies, and we would sing hymns until the clouds had rolled over and the sun came out again.
One wonders how she made time for us with all her other duties. Besides her ordinary work, the ministers always stayed at her house when they came to hold service on Sundays, and the school teachers all boarded at her place, too.
Her passion for renovating is a thing that stands out in my mind and was rare in a women of her era. In the spring when my mother and the other women of the community were content to clean and dust, Aunt Flora had an overwhelming urge to move walls and doors. You'd see her up at the crack of dawn with hammer and saw moving a wall between the pantry and porch, making one large and the other smaller and back to its original position in the fall. Sometimes it was confusing to us until we got used to it, and we often went into the pantry thinking we were going outdoors. Chopping up firewood and hauling water from the well were everyday chores when the men were away for so long during the year, and her work for her church and community was equaled by no one in our community.
But it is not for all this that I remember her the most. It was for the optimistic and practical approach she took to life. No job was too arduous or too long, no problem that wouldn't be solved. Even though we didn't always appreciate it at the time, her attitude has gone on to affect the lives of all those who knew her, especially those of us whose childhoods she made so much fun.
She died a few years ago and, at her funeral, the church filled to the doors with relatives and friends. As I looked across the church at her casket, I looked back over her 80 some years and thought of all that energy and vitality stilled forever. No more berry picking, no more renovation, no more picnics on the hill. How I wished I could hear her say once more: "we're going on an outing tomorrow, if I'm spared and the Lord tarries."
Memories of Christmas Around this time of year, when the Christmas music is coming over the radio and big fat snowflakes are wafting from the sky, my mind goes back to my growing-up years in Creston and the joy and excitement that pervaded those Christmases so long ago. I know for me the magic of Christmas is as strong as ever, and all it takes is the sound of Christmas carols and I'm once again caught up in ... click to read moreAround this time of year, when the Christmas music is coming over the radio and big fat snowflakes are wafting from the sky, my mind goes back to my growing-up years in Creston and the joy and excitement that pervaded those Christmases so long ago. I know for me the magic of Christmas is as strong as ever, and all it takes is the sound of Christmas carols and I'm once again caught up in the age-old Christmas story.
When I was growing up back then, there were no television sets or electric lights even, but we enjoyed Christmas every bit as much as the children of today with their electronic toys and computers.
For us, Christmas started way back in November when our schoolteacher started planning our annual Christmas concert. "Parts" would be given out in school, and we would be secretly comparing them to see if anyone else had a more important one than we did. You'd never come across a more rag-tailed bunch of budding actors anywhere! Boys in rubber boots and unkempt haircuts, girls with straggling pigtails with mismatched bows...but all with glistening faces and joy and excitement in their hearts, soon to be transformed into models of virtue and "dressed to kill."
The concert was always held in our school (now the Blue Goose Take-out Restaurant) which had a permanent stage at one end where the teacher had her desk all year and ruled over the pupils. All the bigger students took part in cleaning and preparing the school for the big event, and night after night we all showed up for practice. Soon the big day was here and the old school was filled to overflowing with our parents and family members. All those taking part in the concert huddled nervously backstage, every now and then peeping around the stage curtains to see if we had a good crowd, or more importantly, to see if any of the boys from Marystown has shown up.
As I remember, we had the usual repertoire of songs, skits and recitations, but one memorable year, we had a singing-dancing exercise called "Put Your Foot Right Down There." It was an exercise I'll never forget!
All the girls were dressed in colourful crepe-paper dresses that trailed to the floor and billowed around us as we danced and twirled, with the boys chugging along at the rear. At one particular point, just as we were singing, "Put your foot down, put your foot down," one clumsy boy did just that - put his big booted foot down on the tail of my dress, and I was literally pinned to the floor! He, paralyzed with fright no doubt, kept his foot down, and I had to stand still or lose my dress. Everyone else, dancing away, kept looking at me to see why I wasn't moving. In total desperation, I made one great jump ahead and, with a great rip, off came my dress, and I fled the stage in tears of humiliation.
When I occasionally run across that boy (man) today, I try to look at him with all the human kindness I can muster. But all the years in between will never ease the fact that he spoiled my debut and crushed all my dreams of going on to fame.
That was over 50 years ago, and it's still as fresh in my mind as the night it happened.
It's strange, but I have never ever heard that song again (for which I thank God for his tender mercies), but one morning a few years ago, while working around the kitchen, there was the tune booming over the airwaves...but to other words!
I stood still and listened, and down through the years came the memories of that long-ago night - but none of the humiliation remains, only the excitement and joy of that Christmas and all the other Christmases that shaped my life and left a never-ending love for that particular time of the year.
A Bit of Reminiscing This story is not about Christmas in general but about growing up in the 50s when things were very much different than they are now. Every occasion during the years was a celebration.
I don't know much about starting the new year off, but as a child remembering going to church at 12 o'clock midnight for our watch night service, then coming home & hanging up our new calendar from our local store, with ... click to read moreThis story is not about Christmas in general but about growing up in the 50s when things were very much different than they are now. Every occasion during the years was a celebration.
I don't know much about starting the new year off, but as a child remembering going to church at 12 o'clock midnight for our watch night service, then coming home & hanging up our new calendar from our local store, with lovely glossy pictures on it. I think we had mostly animals on ours. Then it was off to bed.
On Valentine's Day we had our party in the afternoon at the school with a box decorated with red crepe paper and white hearts. We all exchanged valentines, which sometimes were bought and cut out of a book. Some were made on paper with a heart drawed on it and coloured. We used to have lace on some. We used flour and water to make a paste to glue it on. One verse I remember was:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.
We used to have spur cola and potted meat sandwiches for our lunch (of course on homemade bread - no pizza then). We came home proud as peacocks.
Then there was Easter. We used to draw rabbits and Easter eggs, colour them and put them in the school window.
In the summer time we would play piddley sticks and hop scotch. At closing of school we would go over dusty gravel roads in the back of a truck for our outing. Those of us who had curls in our hair from the prom had awful dusty curls.
I can remember myself and my brother used to have our birthday in the summer. Mom used to have a lot of cookies made. Then we would all sit around our big brown dining room table and also have syrup and cake. Mostly we got a dollar or two in our cards. There used to be a lot of people visiting from the states and St John's who were invited. After we would go outdoors and play. Maybe throwing candy in the air to see who could find them.
Then there was our Sunday school picnic where we would have pack races to see if we could get a pencil as our prize.
The garden parties were also our highlight. The ice cream sure tasted good. My mother used to buy me a lovely nylon dress, with a satin belt tied in a bow for this occasion.
Then it was time to go berry picking to get enough money to buy our scribblers with the time tables on the back. They had lovely covers on them. I guess they cost about ten cents each.
Then it was time for back to school with all the grades in one room. When it was recess time we usually went to this little store that was a back porch of the house to get our thick slice of bologna and a bottle of keep kool drink for a quarter. Then when dinner time came we walked home. We always had cooked meals (no snacks).
Later in the fall it was Halloween. Then we would have another party in the evening. Some would have costumes on. We made pumpkins out of orange construction paper and cats out of black paper and hang them around the class room.
Then bonfire night came, and we would go out around collecting things to burn. Sometimes we did mischief taking down gates and carrying them away and going into stores and emptying caplin out of the barrels. The bonfire was always held on Wood Cat Hill.
Of course the famous time of the year was our Christmas concert, when we would have our parts to say in front of our parents. Then later Santa Claus came. Then there would be a dance for the adults. But of course we stayed and looked.
The Shiny Silver Spurs Here is a little story I often think about when I was growing up in C.B.S. I don't know if many people know of or can remember the old CN Station in Seal Cove, CBS. During the NFLD railways days people used to take the train from there to St. John's. I remember mom sending a crate of hens to her cousin in Gambo. Another time me and my brother Reg plastered it with cow ... click to read moreHere is a little story I often think about when I was growing up in C.B.S. I don't know if many people know of or can remember the old CN Station in Seal Cove, CBS. During the NFLD railways days people used to take the train from there to St. John's. I remember mom sending a crate of hens to her cousin in Gambo. Another time me and my brother Reg plastered it with cow pies and the man who looked after it came down with a hoe and tried to scrape it off. C.N.R used it as a freight shed, and finally it was closed up and torn down in the early sixties. The station stood right in front of our place so we used it as a playground & hang out.
I hope you enjoy the following story. I'll call it the shiny silver spurs. Growing up in Newfoundland in the late 40s and early 50s as everyone knows porridge was the main breakfast cereal, especially in the winter time. One time I talked mother into buying sugar corn pops, as they were called back then and there on the back of the box, in a yellow star burst was the most beautiful pair of shiny silver spurs I had even seen. They had a shiny chain that went under the boot and a leather strap that went over the instep of the boot and rowels that spun and jingled as you walked. I could picture myself all dressed in black, like hop-along Cassidy, with the silver spurs jingling on the back of my cowboy boots and a pair of six shooters strapped to my hips and tied low to my legs. I needed two box tops and 50 cents to get them. I had one box top and to my surprise mother brought the second box of sugar corn pops. The 50 cents was no problem since we used to get 50 cents a day for recess. All I had to do was save my recess money for two weeks. Finally I had the 50 cents taped to the two box tops. I stuck them in an envelope and dropped them off at the post office and waited. Every time the train stopped at the station in front of our house in Seal Cove, CBS my brother Reg and I would run out to the end of the driveway to watch as the steam hissed from the engine (we wouldn't get too close because we thought the steam would scald you like the steam from a kettle). We could see the man toss, no, fire the mail bags off the train to the ground and we could try and guess which bag my spurs were in. We would watch as the lady who ran the post office would drag the bags over the rocks and pot holes down the half mile of gravel road to the post office. After about two months of waiting I came home from school one day and there on the table was my spurs - broken. The tears ran down my eight-year-old face and through the sobs and sniffs I blamed my sister (who was six years older than me) for trying to jam them on her big feet and breaking them. "No I didn't" she bawled at me. "Day was like dat when day came, you knows how gentle they is with the mail." After the tears stopped, I picked up the spurs and sized them up. They weren't shiny at all, they were almost the colour of a cod jigger and made of white metal, the chain was the size of the chain on my grandfather's pocket watch and the leather strap was just a piece of crown oil cloth. I tried to tie them to my long rubbers but that didn't work, then I tried to tape them on and that didn't work either and as I teared up again, Mom put her arm around me (as mothers do) and told me maybe Santa Claus would bring me a pair but he never did. The shiny silver spurs disappeared but I think of them every now and then. I wish I had kept them just as a reminder of the joys and heartbreak we had as children growing up in a different time.