The Kickapoos Are Coming - Texas Charlie Magazine (5989 views) While patent medicine makers have always advertised and promoted their products heavily, the most colourful promotions were the travelling medicine shows. The most successful of the medicine show business was the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, which was founded in the fall of ... click to read moreWhile patent medicine makers have always advertised and promoted their products heavily, the most colourful promotions were the travelling medicine shows. The most successful of the medicine show business was the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, which was founded in the fall of 1881 in New Haven, Connecticut, by John E. Healy, sometimes known as "Doc Healy," and Col. Charles H. Bigelow, better known as "Texas Charlie." They sent out as many as 75 complete shows to provide entertainment and therapy, not only to local villages and hamlets, but to many cities of some size in the United States, Canada and abroad.
Healy, a second-generation Irishman, born in New Haven, had been a Civil War drummer boy who took a liniment down to Savannah in Reconstruction days. Temporarily sidetracked with a troop of Irish minstrels in 1879, Healy had been on the road selling liver pads. When the red spot on the pad was applied to an aching area, the warmth of the body released the medicinal qualities of the herbs, which penetrated directly to the ailment, affording instant relief. The liver pads were only a cloth bag stuffed with sawdust that had been treated to smell like a drugstore. The "red spot" was red pepper and glue which was released when the body started to sweat. Doc Healy's pads came in two sizes, $1 and $1.50. The larger contained more sawdust, more red pepper and more glue than the smaller size. Healy did an enormous business before he and Bigelow joined forces to think up the Sagwa cure, then to select the Kickapoos, which were a mix including Mohawks, Iroquois, Crees, Sioux, Blackfeet and braves of the Caughnawagas from the St. Lawrence River area above Montreal. As many as 300 Indians, including women and children, were hired and cared for.
Col. Charles Bigelow was born in 1855 in Massachusetts, and was a notable figure in Western pioneer times. In his earlier life he had been a warm friend to Col. William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and was with him in many tours of the Western Wild Shows. Col. Bigelow had one of the most extensive collections of Indian relics in the United States. He witnessed many Indian fights and lived through the stirring scenes that go to make up the history of the romantic Southwest.
In quick time the Healy and Bigelow shows gained a reputation for all-round reliability. Several licensed shows, equal to small circuses in size, went abroad to Europe and Australia. In March, 1890, they were playing Rome, Italy. In the United States and Canada, the outfits played during summer months under their own canvas, and in winter booked into town halls and opera houses.
On August 17th, 1891, it was announced that the Kickapoos were coming to St. John's as a contract was signed by agent J.H. West for the use of the Star of the Sea Association Hall. Part of the troupe that was touring Europe arrived from Liverpool, England on August 27th under the management of John E. Healy. The well-known Mr. Healy, who was so favourably known to the people of St. John's as a caterer of the drama, had put on a show back in 1879.
It was advertised as the Kickapoo Indian and Wild West Show. The famous travelling troupe exhibited life on the great western plains of the United States. Four of their Indian chiefs, in full warpath costume of headdress of feathers, and tunic and trousers with coloured fringes, created a sensation as they passed up Duckworth Street on the morning they landed, followed by the gaze of the curious. Buffalo Bill's famous entertainments would be seen in miniature, and the manners and characteristics of the American Indians, such as heretofore had never been known, but only through books, would be seen and heard with painful whoops and brandishing their scalping knives. Nothing like it had ever been seen here. During the day, they gave no show, but their Museum of Indian curiosities and relics were exhibited free. Shows were held at 8 p.m. with a Saturday afternoon matinee for ladies and children. Admission was 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adults.
Their first performance was well-attended, considering the unusual hot weather, and consisted of Indian dances, sharpshooting, comic and sentimental duets, juggling, music, magic and a Wild West drama. Everybody went away well pleased. Over the next few days, a change of program was held, with an Indian drama called "trading fair," a medley of realistic and humorous exhibitions typical of life, in peace and war, amongst the American Indians. As the entertainment continued, the price of admission was dropped to ten cents, with a refund to all persons purchasing medicine. The show continued to draw large crowds, in spite of inclement weather and the new attraction of the drama "Nevada" held at St. Patrick's Hall.
The Kickapoo Indians went with the show usually, and stood around looking very healthy, and would say "ugh" when asked if they took their own concoctions. An Indian Chief with the manager was to be seen during the day, conferring with one or the other druggist in St. John's. This was a fine piece of public relations, as the Kickapoo remedies were not sold exclusively at the show. They could be bought from the local druggists, where the complete Kickapoo line was placed on consignment, thus making friends with the druggist, who otherwise might protest. Between the entertainments, the show would be interrupted by the Lecturer, like today's commercials, followed closely by sale in the audience of the remedies. Then suddenly, at the end of a lecture, war whoops from the Chiefs would shake the house, and down the aisles they came, each toting a basket stacked with bottles that were quickly purchased. "All sold out, Doctor!" shouted the redskin salesmen in pretty fair english, and the entertainment would resume.
The Kickapoo line of remedies was long. Sagwa was the leader, followed by Kickapoo Indian Oil, Salve, Cough Cure, Pills. Prairie Plant, Sage Hair Tonic, Soap and Worm Killer. Sagwa sold for $1 per bottle or 6 bottles for $5, Kickapoo Indian Oil sold for 25 cents per bottle, and both cures contained nearly 30% of alcohol.
In late September, the Kickapoo Company donated the night's funds to the widows and orphans of the crew of the wrecked barque Camellia, which was lost in a gale off Sydney, Nova Scotia. The company also donated a night's funds to the Star of the Sea Association. On October 3rd, the troupe again donated the night's funds of $13.50 to the widow and orphan fund. On October 5th, for their last show, the company gave a benefit entertainment to Messrs. Henry and Burton, the comedians of their troupe. These gentlemen had delighted thousands of people. On October 7th, the company left for Harbour Grace for a four-week show, and sold out many nights. Here they did as well with both medicine and entertainments as they expected. They completed their first Newfoundland tour with success.
The Kickapoo elixirs were now sold by every druggist in North America, and were available from the Trading Post on the Frontier to the fashionable drug stores of New York City.
The Kickapoo Medicine Company returned to St. John's from New York on June 17th, 1894, under the management of Mr. Will George, who also extracted teeth on the platform, free of charge, and could also drive rheumatism away in quick style. They pitched their camp on a vacant piece of land on Scott Street off Cook Street along the Freshwater Road. They gave a series of al fresco entertainments such as songs, dancing, magic, ventriloquism, and, of course, the Indian agent would lecture on life among the Indians, their medicines, etc. All persons suffering from rheumatism, sciatica, lumbago, neuralgia, earache, etc. were encouraged to give their names to the manager, in order to show the properties of the Kickapoo Indian remedies. One case was taken every night and cured free of charge, proving that when rightly used, the Kickapoo Indian remedies were the best. For their first night, they offered free entertainment; afterwards, 10 cents was charged.
Dr. Will George, the genial and clever manager, quoted that the first night's crowd "beats my wildest explanations." There was a centre platform, of a good height from the ground, from which Dr. George addressed his large audience, relieved his patients and entertained them right royally in the bargain. On either side were two small tents, one used as an office for consultations, and the other for a dressing room. Dr. George was possessed of a resonant voice, which was clearly heard on the very edge of the crowd,and being of pleasing address, besides possessing the happy knack of soon "gripping" his audience, his interesting speech detailed the ills of mankind, and the benefits from the use of his company's specifics, and was listened to by the crowd with the greatest attention. A most laughable sketch opened the evening's entertainment, entitled "The Baby Hospital," and evoked shouts and roars of laughter. Dr. George then invited any who were suffering from that blissful and fashionable complaint of toothache, to step right up and be relieved. Immediately there was a raid on the platform, and operation on the molars commenced. Quick as thought, the Doctor relieved the first applicant of five teeth, before he called "enough!" Two from the second, two from the next, and so on, right through the whole crowd of sufferers he went, until there were no more. Then he began to talk to them, and those who had been the witness of this effectual mode of obtaining relief. After this, Professor Alfred Walter, the well-known Magician and Ventriloquist, who was the possessor of a beautiful gold medal, which everyone had the opportunity of looking at and admiring, gave a really clever exhibition of his ventriloquial powers, assisted by two little wooden friends of his, a lady and a gentleman, much like Punch and Judy, which kept the audience in perpetual smiles. The Professor was also a remarkably clever magician and conjurer. Dr. George, after this, again addressed the crowd, stating that he could be seen every morning at the office for private consultation, and for the sale of the Kickapoo remedies, inviting all who were suffering to call on him. Another sketch, by the Professor and Mr. Charles Fox, concluded the evening's entertainment, and after a few closing words from the Doctor, in which he thanked his audience for their attendance, and stated his intention to remain at least a fortnight in the city, the large crowd, who had listened during the whole time with interest and enjoyment, gradually dispersed to talk over the Kickapoo remedies and the fun they had witnessed.
The company soon rented the West End Amusement Hall on Hamilton Street, with an admission of only 10 cents. On their last night, every lady in the hall was presented with a copy of the "Kickapoo Dream Book." There was a pretty full house, the quarter part of the audience being composed of young boys and females of various ages. There was a pie-eating match for the boys, that kept the audience in continual laughter while it was going on. There were prizes of money, lamps and bottles of Sagwa. After the performance, two large balloons were set up. Due to being one of the best shows ever in St. John's, they decided to stay an extra week.
However, not everybody had a good time that night; one irate citizen had written the editor of the local newspaper on how vile the performance was. He complained that the performance was of the loudest and most vulgar kind, and some of the jokes, songs and explanations were of such a gross and indelicate character that no one would use on a public platform but in the company of men only. He felt that the language of the gutter, though it might do for the Kickapoos, was not suitable for the inhabitants of a civilized city like St. John's.
On July 14th, the company gave their last performance for the benefit of the West End Amusement Club. It consisted of fancy sketches, songs, dances, feats in ventriloquism and magic by Professor Walters, and recitations. A Mr. Eagan sang "One leg longer than the Other." The entertainment closed with the sketch, "He wouldn't let me Marry," which kept the audience in continual laughter.
In early 1895, the firm of Healy & Bigelow, which now ranked as the fifth largest in the world engaged in the manufacture of proprietary medicines, was dissolved. John E. Healy sold his interest to F. N. Davis and J.W. Averhill of New York City, and they, with Charles Bigelow, who retained a controlling interest, organized a stock company with a capitol of $200,000. Healy moved to Australia.
In early 1901, the company spent thousands of dollars to create a demand for their goods and to bring customers into retail stores, supplying free books, paper dolls, trade cards and other printed matter for distribution to all druggists who would send for it.
In June, 1901, the company expanded into new, larger quarters in Clintonville, Connecticut, with a new and well-equipped laboratory. Chas. Bigelow then went out west in quest of Indians for the various shows.
In 1902, Col. Bigelow retired from active business and devoted his time to travel, visiting every civilized nation of the globe.
On Saturday July 2nd, 1904, the Kickapoo troupe returned for the last time, but this time they featured a grand show under the management of Col. Charles Bigelow himself, who promised to give a fine, high-class entertainment, free from coarseness or vulgarity.
Their first show was held July 4th at thee Temperance Association Hall with a special feature with Col. Bigelow giving illustrated Lectures on Egypt, China, Yellowstone Park, Mexico and the Indians, all finely illustrated by a powerful stereopticon and appropriate motion pictures. Col. Bigelow had a wonderful way of describing scenes and places, making his audience almost feel they were there, instead of listening to a lecture and gazing at the magnificent, dissolving views. The company also brought 30,000 feet of new, up-to-date moving pictures, which received great applause, including "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Attack on a Stage Coach," "The Royal George," "Driving Lucy," "Daylight Burglar," "The Queen's Musketeers," "Battle Scenes" and "The Great Train Robbery," which was very popular and requested often at the shows. Admission was 20 cents for the pit area, 30 cents for the gallery area, and 40 cents for the orchestra area.
With Col. Bigelow was 33-year-old Charles F. Endor, the famed magician and Irish comedian, and his beautiful wife Minnie, whose illustrated songs were among the special attractions. The Endors started in New England, from a little factory in which the medicine was made, and stayed with the company's shows for its 35-year run. Charles, a magician, chose the stage name, Endor, from the Bible of the Witch of Endor. His real last name was Knapton. When the curtain went up, Minnie would begin by playing the piano as an introductory for "Endor the Magician," "who learned his magic from the Witch of Endor's secret formulae booklet." Then Minnie would step to the stage; she was a licensed Doctor of Medicine, with a certificate to show, and began spreading the gospel of Kickapoo. She talked and sold until Charles returned as a blackface comedian, or a cowboy, or a German immigrant, or one of his various disguises. They both could sing and play a bit. They brought along a couple of actors, and would stage small playlets. In short, the Endors put on a show of some two hours; a highly entertaining show it was, too, and sold Kickapoo.
The shows attracted large audiences, and an entire change of program was held each night. The moving pictures exhibition was well-received, as were the performances of the Endors. Mrs. Endor's illustrated songs on finely coloured slides included "The Gilded Cage" and "Where the Sweet Magnolias Bloom," that often brought down the house. The Endors also performed a laughable comedy called "The Baby."
On July 6th, while coming from the Hall at 10:30 p.m., Col. Bigelow and Charles Endor came to the aid of a West End gentleman who was taken suddenly ill on Duckworth Street, near the foot of Bell Street, and fell heavily to the ground. The good Samaritans helped raise the man from the ground, and assisted him on his way home till he had completely recovered.
On July 8th, the company gave a free concert to a crowded hall, and then reduced their admission prices. A new feature was a biograph illustrating, in a very lifelike way, the working of a fire brigade in a large city. The Indian herb and root cures found ready sales. The audiences got so large that people were turned away at the door. The company had made many friends in St. John's by their first-class entertainments and excellent business methods.
On July 14th, Minnie gave a lecture to ladies only on the treatment of children, etc.
On July 22nd, a benefit program was given for Mrs. Endor on the occasion of her birthday, and she received the entire proceeds. The last show was held in St. John's the following day. At this show, the Kickapoos exhibited a tapeworm measuring 47 feet long, which was taken from a resident of Circular Road during the week. The medication was taken by the person at night, and the next morning, the worm was gotten rid of.
Col. Bigelow was so impressed with Newfoundland that he prepared a lecture on Newfoundland, and collected interesting pictures for illustration. This he proposed to use later in his travels elsewhere, for a future talk among his collection of exotic and interesting places.
The company then moved to Torbay for a few nights, where they had very successful concerts, and a special entertainment was given for the benefit of the Sisters at the Convent there. They then did a few shows at Wabana, then Holyrood, then Harbour Grace. At Harbour Grace, crowded audiences greeted the performers in St. Paul's Hall, and the residents were very pleased. The company then moved on to Carbonear, then Heart's Content, then Placentia, and Brigus. At Conception Harbour, they gave a benefit entertainment for Father Veitch's parish, but the next day, on November 22nd, there was a miniature riot at the R.C. Hall. A committee was in charge of the hall, and there was a plot to shut down the show. When the entertainment was in full swing, two men named Gushue walked up to the stage and demanded whiskey from a man named Costello. The constable, M. Sullivan, was asked to put the men out, but was powerless, and he was assaulted and badly beaten. With the help of some men, the disturbers were ejected, but outside these were again assaulted and badly beaten. The Gushues were fined $96 dollars and costs, or six months imprisonment, and five others were fined $2.50 for being drunk and disorderly, another was fined $10 for assault, and another $5. The fines were paid by most, but the Gushues were brought to St. John's and taken to the Penitentiary.
This completed the company's tour of Newfoundland, and they left for Halifax on November 26th. The company ran a series of 14 different advertisements in the Evening Telegram over the next year, praising the virtues of their cure-alls.
During their four-month tour of Newfoundland, many of the Kickapoo influences were adopted into the local dialect. People who were before the court under the influence of alcohol were often referred to as "having too much Sagwa." Drunks yelling and people upset were using "warhoops."
The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company was sold in 1912 to a new corporation for more than $250,000. The travelling shows continued for just a few more years afterwards.
Much of the success of the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company over its 35-year campaign was due to fine organization, superior showmanship, and what amounted to ethical standards in a business notorious for cynical con men and fly-by-night troupes.
Col. Bigelow married in 1910 at the age of 55, but had no children. He settled down in Liverpool, England in 1911, died December 30th, 1917 at Houston, Texas, and was buried in New Haven, Connecticut.
The Endors had a son that went by the name of Chick Endor, and became a famous nightclub entertainer and singer, with several records produced. He once said that he never touched the Kickapoo cures, as his mother believed in castor oil.
The last sales of Kickapoo products were though drug and general stores, and the company went out of business in the 1920's.
The name Kickapoo was immortalized by Al Capp when he introduced Kickapoo Joy Juice in his comic "L'il Abner" in 1934. Kickapoo Joy Juice was also a soft drink based on this comic and was introduced in 1965.
Occasionally a bottle that once contained Sagwa, Kickapoo Oil, or Kickapoo Cough Cure is found in the recesses of an old house or basement that once contained the famous cure-alls.
Riding the Bullet As I write this story I am dating myself, but write it I must. It is not the kind of story to be kept to oneself. Having taken a taxi from Terrenceville, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland I connected with the west-bound train in Goobies. It was the holiday season, so the train was filled, except for one seat at the rear of the car. It was one of the locations where the last two seats faced ... click to read moreAs I write this story I am dating myself, but write it I must. It is not the kind of story to be kept to oneself. Having taken a taxi from Terrenceville, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland I connected with the west-bound train in Goobies. It was the holiday season, so the train was filled, except for one seat at the rear of the car. It was one of the locations where the last two seats faced each other. The attendant said, "You're lucky son, there's only one seat left." I thought, being lucky to ride the "Newfie Bullet" at any time, was a matter of opinion, but I kept it to myself.
I sat next to a fully uniformed Salvation Army cadet. She was impeccable, with that scrubbed, neat look, and that hard bonnet perched perfectly on her head. Across from us sat an elderly lady with her granddaughter. The click-clack of her knitting needles did not cease, as we all exchanged greetings. With a jolt, the train started its move from the station and westward along the track.
The cadet had apparently joined the train in St. John's. She told how they had partied late through the night, and didn't get much sleep. Apparently she and her colleagues were headed to their prospective posts, and wanted to savour the moment until departure from each other.
The conversation went well until she asked what kind of work I did. When I told her I was a United Church minister things turned sour. Apparently there was some dispute in her community, between the Salvation Army and the United Church of Canada. From that point on her rudeness shocked both me and the elderly lady. Silence followed, that is if such is possible on the Newfie Bullet.
We noticed that she began to nod with drowsiness, and barely kept herself from falling asleep. I had settled myself to reading. The knitting needles continued to blur in the hands of a professional at her craft. The little girl busied herself with what most little girls do, playing with her doll. Someone must have been smoking, because the whiff of pipe tobacco drifted through the car. Then it happened. The cadet finally succumbed to her needed slumber. Worse yet, she collapsed across my lap. The impact sent my book flying. She lay there with her hard bonnet askew, like some lifeless corpse.
I was about to wake her and remove her from my lap, but the elderly lady, with finger at her lips, signaled silence. She whispered, "Leave her be, she deserves it." So I thought, who am I to go against my elders, and I left her be. The little girl giggled, but was chastised into silence by her grandmother. The lady looked across at me, as a wizened, satisfactory smile beamed from her wrinkled face. It was clear she was immensely enjoying this moment, especially as I fought the decision of what to do with my hands.
We rode like this for many miles, until that infamous narrow-gauged monstrosity, true to its nature, performed one of its fitful jolts. The cadet immediately awakened with a start. Upon realizing her circumstance, she up-righted herself and, looking away from us, rearranged her dignity. The little girl put her hand over her mouth to stifle a smile. The elderly lady stopped her knitting, smiled at the cadet, and whispered, "Well dear, did you have a good nap?"
I left the train at South Brook, and continued on my journey to Pelley's Island and Triton to visit my parents. I have often wondered about that cadet, who was headed somewhere in the White Bay district to perform her duties. What did she take with her from this experience? Was it continued resentment, or did she learn something of value, to help in the performance of her duties? God truly does work in mysterious ways.
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Memories of Summer Camp One of my favourite memories of Killdevil Camp happened in the summer of 2010. I was a "staff brat." A staff brat is a child or relative of a staff member. One of the many fun things that we do at Killdevil is have a staff hunt. Each staff member is worth a certain amount of points. Each cabin goes out in teams and tries to find the staff. I am never very good at ... click to read moreOne of my favourite memories of Killdevil Camp happened in the summer of 2010. I was a "staff brat." A staff brat is a child or relative of a staff member. One of the many fun things that we do at Killdevil is have a staff hunt. Each staff member is worth a certain amount of points. Each cabin goes out in teams and tries to find the staff. I am never very good at picking hiding spots. I always lose at hide and go seek but this time I really wanted to try. So I grabbed a dark green blanket and went off into the woods. I picked a small shady patch of woods and laid down. I made sure to cover myself with the blanket. I was sure that I had a perfect hiding spot. I heard the whistle blow announcing that the game had begun. Within about five minutes of the whistle blowing I had been caught. I was so disappointed. But now that I think about it, the hiding spot wasn't really that good after all. Every year that I go to Killdevil I look forward to the staff hunt. Although my cabin never wins it is always a highlight of my camp experience. This is from my daughter Rachel, age 12. ... Hide full submission
Back in the 1950s, Suzanne Warren and Barb Whelan lived in St. John's, Newfoundland. In 1955, and 1956, they both worked at Bowring Brothers department store in St. John's. They used to walk back and forth to work together. It was a ... click to read moreBack in the 1950s, Suzanne Warren and Barb Whelan lived in St. John's, Newfoundland. In 1955, and 1956, they both worked at Bowring Brothers department store in St. John's. They used to walk back and forth to work together. It was a very long and hilly walk and they quickly became friends. Barb worked in the office and Suzanne worked in the women's clothing department.
In 1956 Suzanne fell in love and married Bernard Carlisle, a Michigan man who was in the US Air Force stationed at Pepperrell Air Base. They moved to Muskegon, Michigan in late 1957.
In 1957 Barb fell in love and married Harry Seibert, also in the US Air Force. Soon after they moved to Dearborn, Michigan.
Even though Suzanne and Barb were both living in Michigan, they were still approx. 200 miles apart. Also, they both were very busy raising children. Suzanne and Bernie Carlisle had five. Barb and Harry Seibert had four. Suzanne and Barb managed to visit each other on two occasions. Their last visit was in 1963.
Not long after, Barb and Harry moved to Delaware. Suzanne and Bernie had also moved and somehow, they lost track of each other. Over the years, Suzanne often thought about Barb and wondered how she and her family were doing. Barb also thought about Suzanne while they were living in Delaware.
In 1992 Suzanne and Bernie Carlisle moved from Michigan to Sun City, Arizona.
In March 2013 Barb and Harry were visiting Barb's sister who wintered in Mesa, Arizona. Barb was looking online at the Downhome site and came upon an article submitted by Suzanne Carlisle of Sun City, Arizona. She immediately recognized the name of her long ago friend and went to the phone book to look her up. Suzanne was very surprised and happy to hear from her old friend. She and Bernie invited Barb and Harry over for the following Tuesday. They spent most of the day together talking about old times, families and just catching up. They hadn't seen each other in 50 years! They even talked about the four of them possibly meeting up again this summer in Newfoundland.
Parade Breakfast One of my fondest memories of the Christmas season took place in the eighties when I was a leader with the Fortune Girl Guides. We were planning to decorate a float for our Santa Claus parade. Some of the work needed to be done last minute - and the parade was 10 a.m. I thought to myself, how can I get those girls at 12-13 years of age up and on time on a Saturday ... click to read moreOne of my fondest memories of the Christmas season took place in the eighties when I was a leader with the Fortune Girl Guides. We were planning to decorate a float for our Santa Claus parade. Some of the work needed to be done last minute - and the parade was 10 a.m. I thought to myself, how can I get those girls at 12-13 years of age up and on time on a Saturday morning to decorate a float? I thought about this and decided I would invite everyone to come to my house for breakfast. Saturday morning came and they all arrived on time, 8:30. There were 19 of us all together. We had pancakes, cereal and toast. There were lots of yawns but lots of laughter. The weather that day was cold and sunny but there was lots of warmth in everyone's hearts. That breakfast was a lot of work but very rewarding, I think of it often.
The Nurse’s Kit One Christmas that stands out in my mind as very memorable was one of two small girls, my sister and I. It really wasn't what two little girls would expect. I have had many wonderful Christmases but one that keeps coming to mind was way back in the forties. I'm getting old!
Anyway, times were poor back then and we didn't have much in our house. My mom was sick in Burin Hospital; she ... click to read moreOne Christmas that stands out in my mind as very memorable was one of two small girls, my sister and I. It really wasn't what two little girls would expect. I have had many wonderful Christmases but one that keeps coming to mind was way back in the forties. I'm getting old!
Anyway, times were poor back then and we didn't have much in our house. My mom was sick in Burin Hospital; she wouldn't be home for Christmas and we couldn't go visit her because the only way to Burin back then was by boat and it was too far away. The steamer only came once a week, I think at that time it was the Petite Forte.
My sister Madonna and I were only five and six at the time and we were excited about Christmas like all children are. When we awoke on Christmas morning, Santa had not left anything at our house. We thought, "He must have forgotten us." I remember my father cutting a peppermint knob candy in two pieces and giving it to us. I don't remember being sad or anything. I guess that's the way it was then.
Dad cooked a hen from the hen house for dinner. We never heard of turkeys back then. After dinner, Dad said to us, "Why don't you go see your aunt Maude." (God rest her soul. She's gone now. We loved her dearly. Mom and Dad are gone as well.)
Anyway, we went to visit Aunt Maude. She was always happy to see us. When we got there we saw two presents on the chair wrapped in pretty Christmas paper. We looked and looked at Aunt Maude, and finally she said, "These are yours, go ahead and open them." We were so excited, one had my name and the other had my sister's name. It was presents from Aunt Jean, Mom's other sister. She was working in St. John's at the time. We were so excited as we ripped off the paper. We couldn't believe our eyes - we each had a nurse's kit. We had never seen anything like that before. A little blue case with all the things nurses would have, all plastic of course: a stethescope, a thermometer, a needle (wow!), the thing to look in ears, even candy pills. There was a plastic apron, a writing pad and a pencil. We thought we had the world. We ran home to show Dad what we had. Christmas had not passed us after all.
Dad took us on the wood slide, the one he used to bring wood for the stove, and went over the Boat Harbour ice to visit Dad's sister Aunt Effie in Brookside. She gave us apple pie and lassie bread.
Our mom got home from the hospital two days later and we had a good Christmas after all.
Mom Downs' Healing Gift During high school in the '70s, my best friend Nora Downs from St. Lawrence had the most wonderful parents. They were funny, loving, and comical as all go get and just absolutely good people. I had a really bad case of warts on both of my hands and being a teenager, tried to hide the hideous things. Nora's Mom, Betty, who I endearingly called Mom Downs, said, "I can fix that me child. Come I ... click to read moreDuring high school in the '70s, my best friend Nora Downs from St. Lawrence had the most wonderful parents. They were funny, loving, and comical as all go get and just absolutely good people. I had a really bad case of warts on both of my hands and being a teenager, tried to hide the hideous things. Nora's Mom, Betty, who I endearingly called Mom Downs, said, "I can fix that me child. Come I shows ya." She withdrew a stick of white chalk that she had in one of her kitchen drawers, crossed all of my warts with an "x" and when finished, she marked three "x"s in her oven. She said that when the chalk in the oven was gone, so would my warts. The only thing I had to do was believe.
Of course, I'd have believed anything at this point, because I'd tried everything to get rid of them...Compound W, burned by the local doctor, cut potatoes and whatever was on the go during that time. But I believed Mom Downs. Like any teenager at this point in their life, we were busy with softball, volleyball, school, and friends and so on. You can imagine my surprise a few days later to discover all of my warts gone. Stunned was an understatement. The best part of believing was yet to come.
Life went on and years went by. Like most Newfoundlanders, I moved to the mainland, started a family and only got to visit home once in a while. My daughter Lenna was a swimmer since she was a youngster and through the years, developed planter warts on her feet - all over her feet, in between her toes, just everywhere. Poor thing suffered so much with them. Anyway, one year we decided to come home to visit and it was during that visit, I found that "Poppy Downs" had passed away. I went to visit Mom Downs just to let her know that I was thinking of her and to offer condolences. When Lenna and I knocked on her door, there wasn't any answer, and as we started to walk away, we heard a hello. Turning around was the woman I've loved always, standing in the doorway, squinting her eyes, saying "Elaine?...My God, you look the same as always." We hugged and said hellos and reminisced about Poppy as she was still grieving over her recent loss. We chatted about our shenanigans long ago and she asked me if I had any warts come back and I reassured her that no more made any appearances. I told her it must have been passed onto the children, and filling her in on Lenna's "wart story," she told me to hang on a minute. She went to the same drawer, pulled out the SAME piece of chalk (she told us that it'd been there since she last used it on me), crossed them over Lenna's feet and marked her x's in the oven. Lenna thought we were nuts! We left her with lots of hugs, and promised to keep in touch.
We had a great time on holidays that year. Lenna got to swim in a "real ocean" for the very first time. She got to meet her grandmother, aunts, uncles and lots of extended family. And of course it had to end. And warts were the last thing on her mind. So back to Ontario we went where work and school was the next big thing. We were only home for a few days in Ottawa when, like you would, we started rehashing the holiday and all the fun we had. It was then that we remembered the warts. God Lord Almighty! The bottoms of that child's feet were as smooth as glass and not a single black dot could be seen anywhere. Yep! Every single one of them was gone.
That woman with the sweetest smile and the biggest heart made our daughter a very, very happy little girl. She will always hold a special place in my heart. Bless you both Mom and Pop...hope you're clearing up the warts of angels! (You know they got big ones when the thunder's too loud and you'll need BIG sticks of chalk for that crew!)