Letters from our Readers
Mysterious Egg Identified
Ron; I'll answer the "Whose Egg is This?" question from the April 2008 Downhome. It is a Mute Swan egg. You may have had dozens of answers before now. I meant to phone it in, but I couldn't find the toll-free 24-hour submission phone number.
It's unfortunate that you didn't share your name with us, Anonymous. Thanks for writing in though; we haven't had any other responses about the mystery egg besides yours. For the record, our 24-hour submission phone line is 1-866-640-1999.
Magazine Startup Empathy
Dear Mr. Young; In reading your "Notes from Home" in the January 2008 issue about celebrating your 20 years of publication, I am constrained to thank you for your tale. Let me explain why I empathize with your experience.
In the early 1950s my father, a devoted record collector and classical music lover, was bidding on a lot of Edison diamond discs at a local auction. He was being thwarted by a very young person who kept raising the ante. Dad approached the young man and asked what his musical interests were, to which he replied, "Unusual singing, harmonica playing, whistling solos. . . musical oddities." Dad then suggested that instead of battling each other, one should bid the lot and then pick and choose based on their interests after the buy had been made. That went so well that this young college student became a fast friend of the family.
On one of his visits, the young man broached the idea of starting a small musical magazine dedicated to the record collector. They contacted interested persons and tapped these volunteers to write articles, do discographies and even book reviews. I was tapped at 19 years of age to do some front covers.
The magazine was printed, offset and assembled in our dining room by my two younger siblings and me. Six months after the first number, I joined the U.S. Army, but carried on drawing cover illustrations using my footlocker as a desk. The magazine was produced once per month, with no advertising, but well worth the US$1 purchase value.
It lasted 14 months before Dad allowed it to fold. The young man could no longer find the time to help, and editing the contributors became a nightmare for Dad, who still had to work 45 hours per week at his paying job. When it did fall apart, Dad was $75 in the red, but grateful for the experience.
Edwin C. Lotz, Jr.
Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania, USA
Thanks for your letter, Edwin. While I'm tempted by the thought that misery loves company, the truth is I wouldn't trade my Downhome experience for anything. Sounds like your Dad would agree.
Be Part of a New Book
Dear Downhome; Breakwater Books is looking for personal stories from your readers - Newfoundlanders and Labradorians both at home and abroad. In partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association (NL branch), Breakwater is publishing a new book of non-fiction essays about personal experiences with mental illness, stigma and/or recovery. Persons may write from the perspective of a consumer, client/patient, family member, service provider, or having some other relationship with a person who has mental illness.
We hope by publishing this book we are able to shed some light on mental illness in this province and the unnecessary stigma that still sometimes surrounds those who are affected.
Breakwater Books Ltd.
Sounds like a worthy project, Rebecca. Readers who have stories to share for this project may find submission information on both the Breakwater Books Web site (www.breakwaterbooks.com) and the CMHA-NL Web site (http://www.cmhanl.ca).
Alphabet Fleet Memories
I receive Downhome magazine every month and I find it very interesting. The story about the Alphabet Fleet (March 2008) was particularly good, so I thought I would write to tell you a story about my experience with the S.S. Kyle.
My husband and I were married August 10, 1943 at Newtown, Bonavista Bay. He was a wireless operator and was sent to Englee. We left Wesleyville on the Kyle and went as far as St. Anthony; it was a stormy trip, and we were both seasick. My husband went up on deck to get some fresh air, and it was blowing so hard that his hat blew away; that was the last we saw of the hat! The crew of the Kyle was really good to us. We arrived after dark in St. Anthony and of course there wasn't any electricity, so the manager came in with two lamps, but we told him we were married and only needed one room and one lamp. We had to stay there a couple of nights; then we left the Kyle and went in a small passenger boat to Englee. We lived in Englee for a couple of years and then went to live in Pelley's Island; we then moved to Millertown where we spent most of our married life of over 50 years. My husband passed away in 1998 and I moved to Mount Pearl with my daughter and her husband.
The Kyle was a good ship and had a wonderful crew.
Mount Pearl, Newfoundland
Thanks for sharing your story about the Kyle, Beatrice.
Harry Brown Remembered
Dear Ron; Congratulations on 20 years of hard work and terrific success with your popular publication. I still look forward to my monthly Downhome magazine after so many years. In reading "Letters From Our Readers" in the 20th Anniversary Collector's Issue (June 2008), I was touched by the letter from Austin Murphy as well as your kind response. I remember so well my late husband Harry's delight the first time you contacted him in Toronto. He arrived there in 1968, a big promotion with the CBC, and we were all looking forward to living in the "big" city. The unexpected happened; Harry was very homesick for Newfoundland - especially St. John's, where he knew almost everyone. He always looked forward to your visits to our home in Rexdale, Ontario - usually with your police partner and big police vehicle. You had many chats and cups of tea during those days, as well as when we moved back to Newfoundland.
Good to hear from you, Mary. Indeed those were good times, sharing stories and laughs with you and Harry. I remember how much he laughed when he saw the then-Downhomer's shipping department the first time he visited me at my house in Brampton. The shipping department was the front lawn, piled high with magazines and cardboard boxes. I miss him and remember him fondly.