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Rock For My Bed
As you may recall, I told you earlier in one of my stories, our house had no central heating, no furnace or electric heaters. Back then, parents would never go to bed and leave fire in their kitchen stove, some would throw water into the stove at night to make sure. There was always a fear that you might be burned in your bed while you slept. Every winter somewhere in NL, this happened. Mom would put beach rocks in the oven (some people used bricks or other things) after supper to warm so we could put them in our beds to keep our feet warm. Everyone knows when your feet are warm, you are warm. Mom would wrap the rocks in small pieces of cloth, old towels, remnants of old bed sheets. Her favourite was the legs of old winter underwear which were fleece-lined. We would take them upstairs to our own beds. We each had our own rock and we would watch as mom wrapped them so we could grab our own when she was finished. This way you made sure you had your own. If you waited until they were wrapped you wouldn't be able to tell which was yours. My brothers and sisters would put the rocks underneath the covers and push them down to the foot of the bed. I would leave mine near the top and move it down in steps, to heat the whole bed. Smart, don'tcha think? All of the rocks came from the little cove. I would search for the most unique looking bed-rock while I was helping Nan find her firewood in the summer. Beach rocks were the best because they were smooth all around with no sharp edges. Sometimes mom would pick them out when she was visiting the cove in summer, sometimes Nan did. Din Kelly would drop off a box of rocks at our house. The rocks had to be replaced now and then because they would crack after being heated so many times and then cooled down. Cyril Griffin New Perlican, NL
Quilt For My Bed
When we were young, my brothers and sisters and I, winters were long. The weather was really cold and there was always lots of snow on the ground. We did not have central heating in our house, only a wood and coal stove in the kitchen. Most houses around were the same. My mother would make quilts from pieces of material salvaged from old curtains, dresses, or worn out bed sheets and flour sacks. Sometimes she would dye the white flour sacks a different colour - blue and green were he favourite colours. She had a quilting frame which she would set up in our back kitchen. There were four bedrooms in our house. The two girls slept in a double bed together. Likewise mom and dad - when dad was home. My oldest brother had a room of his own. Me and my other two brothers shared a room but we each had our own bed. That meant six beds, three of them doubles, to make quilts for. You didn't have to make all six the same winter, but there were always two or three that needed replacing. You must remember the quilts were made from things that had already seen a lot of wear. I remember one of the quilts on my bed when I was small had a picture of Robin Hood on it. He was dressed in a green outfit with a funny green cap on his head with a feather in it. He had a bow an arrow in his hand, the string of the bow was drawn back as if he was about to shoot the arrow. The picture was printed into the sack. The quilts were heavy, designed to keep the body heat in the bed. You might have more than one on your bed during the really cold nights. There were many in those days. When it was time to wake up in the morning it took a mighty effort to throw those quilts aside so you could get out of bed. Cyril Griffin New Perlican, NL
I Remember Princess Elizabeth
"The King has died. Long live the Queen." Those were the words of my father at our evening meal on Feb. 6, 1952, in St. John's just two weeks before my thirteenth birthday. Word had just been received that our beloved King George VI had passed away at age 56. He had unexpectedly become King upon the abdication of his older brother Edward VIII, who chose to marry an American Divorcee - Wallis Simpson. This prohibited him from continuing as King of England and head of the Church of England. In 1947 Princess Elizabeth married Philip, Prince of Greece and Denmark. While he was from the house of Glucksborg, upon his marriage to Princess Elizabeth he became a naturalized British subject, and adopted Mountbatten - his mother's maiden name - as his surname. He was created Duke of Edinburgh on the eve of their marriage on Nov. 20th. Princess Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen and crowned on June 2nd, 1953. It was a day of great celebration in Newfoundland, where local spruce boughs were used to constructed arches along the route of a parade where residents could celebrate and local business could join in by displaying their best products as a contribution to life in Canada's newest province. As a British Colony, before joining Canada in 1949, we were intensely loyal British Subjects. We contributed troops to help England during WWII, played soccer rather than American style Football, and loved our many British traditions. So the death of King George was felt as a personal sorrow for many of us. I remember one of the most difficult adjustments for everyone was becoming familiar with singing the new National Anthem God Save the Queen after singing God Save the Kingfor so many years. In those days the National Anthem was part of our lives. It was even played in movie theatres, while some stood silently before the start of each show. To celebrate the Coronation, small tins of individually wrapped candies were distributed to all school children in June. These tins were quite elegant, with a lovely picture of Princess Elizabeth -now Queen - on the tin's cover. Many years later these little tins could still be found in Newfoundland homes where they were used to collect old coins or other knickknacks, long after their candy contents had disappeared. While each of us remembers were we were when sudden - sometimes cataclysmic - events occurred such as the collapse of the World Trade Towers in New York, the day of our marriage, or our first child's birth. So it is that the memories of long forgotten events came rushing back as if it were yesterday, as we watched the Queen Elizabeth's recent funeral procession in England. Thank You, Your Majesty, for sparking such memories; and by your example - giving us courage to face the future. Respectfully remembered, Jim Mercer - 21/09/2022
Green is the Colour of Smoke
In the 40s and 50s there was not much information on the dangers of smoking. Advertising was everywhere and most of the movie stars smoked and so did many of our parents. We started quite young and continued mainly I think because our parents told us not to. There was no money to buy tailor-made cigarettes or even to buy tobacco and roll your own. Besides, all the storekeepers knew your parents and you knew they would tell on you. But we certainly learned to scrounge. We would watch where cars parked. Once in a while they would empty their ashtrays. There were no filters at that time, which meant there was always a butt from every cigarette. Break open four or five butts, roll the tobacco in brown paper and you had your own cigarette. The brown paper gave it a stronger taste. (Wondering about brown paper? That was the paper used by shopkeepers to wrap groceries. Imagine, we didn't even have shopping bags.) Sometimes you managed to get tobacco from your parents or grandparents. You had to be careful not to get caught. You waited until the pack of tobacco was partly used before taking enough for one cigarette. If you got greedy and took too much they would notice. Everyone guarded their tobacco well. Pap smoked black Beaver in his pipe. This was tobacco pressed into a small block about the size of a chocolate bar but more that twice as thick. It had to be cut off in small pieces and Pap would often rub it between his hands to crush it a little more before filling his pipe. I would sometimes take enough for a cigarette and roll it in brown paper. This was not easy because the cut up Beaver was granular and would fall out of the rolled paper. Smoking hard Beaver in brown paper provided a harsh taste which almost stripped the skin from the inside of your mouth. I'm not sure how old I was when dad discovered I had been smoking. Maybe twelve or thirteen. He didn't say much right away, but the look in his eyes said he was not finished with me yet. After supper he said, "I see you like to smoke. In that case, I guess you might as well have a good one." I was told to get on Pap's settle or couch. Dad then proceeded to take grandfather's old pipe and fill it with black Beaver. Now, Beaver was strong enough, but in Pap's pipe it was even more so. He had used the same pipe for years and not having any teeth, the juices in the pipe had certainly matured. The sound when you began to draw in on the smoke was the sound of an old boat pump trying to suck up the last bit of water. The scene in the kitchen that evening was of a young boy smoking his grandfather's pipe full of dark Beaver with his father sitting at the end of the couch mending a pair of shoes. The father tells the son not even to spit and if he did he would jab him with the awl he was using. The mother sits in her chair across the kitchen, knitting, but anxious about what is happening. Grandmother is sitting in her chair and she too is worried. Grandfather has left the room because he finds it difficult to watch one of his boys being punished. I rather enjoyed the pipe full of tobacco. If I could smoke all that was in the pipe without getting sick then my punishment would turn out to be a blessing. With a little sense of pride I informed my father that the pipe was empty. I got ready to leave, but the awl in his hand said stay. He filled the pipe a second time, lit it, and told me to start smoking. The two ladies on the other side of the kitchen began to look more anxious. I too began to feel that way a little. The second pipeful began to have some effect on me, but I did manage to finish it without getting sick. Now surely that would be enough, especially when my mom said, "James, I think he's had enough." It was enough for me, but not for my father. He filled the pipe the third time, lit it, and told me to start smoking. I was not far into the third pipeful before my stomach started to churn. I don't know how much longer I could have continued but it soon ended when I heard my mom say, "James. That is enough - he's starting to turn green." I ran for the outdoors where I discharged everything I had eaten that day. What happened after that? Oh, I continued to have a smoke whenever I could scrounge enough tobacco. Sam Johnson St. John's, NL
Remembering Tinsmith Jake Cotter
The tinsmith trade can be traced back to the building of King Solomon's Temple, when copper and bronze were used. Working with bronze, Tobal Cain was considered the first artificer (craftsman) to apply his skills in the building of the Temple. From the 18th century on, using copper and tin, tinsmiths manufactured all types of household utensils, such as kettles, mixing pans and bread pans. Like other artisans, they learned their trade by completing an apprenticeship of several years, serving as a journeyman and then becoming a master tinsmith capable of employing and teaching others. Very often, the trade was handed down from one generation to the next with the business becoming a family business. The tinsmith I wish to write about here is my father, Jacob (Jake) Cotter of New Perlican, Trinity Bay. Born in the community in 1904, he left school at the age of fourteen to go fishing with his father. That was the normal thing to do at the time. He remained fishing until, at the age of 26 in 1930, he decided he wanted to become a tinsmith. We're not sure why he made that decision, but it may have been the result of a visit to the tinsmith shop of John S. Rowe & Sons in Heart's Content, the home of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. The story of how he achieved his goal is a fascinating one. Because we had distant cousins living in Hartford, Connecticut, in the United States, my father decided that he would go there. Then, travelling from Newfoundland, a separate country, through Canada and into the USA was quite an undertaking. The fact is he had never been any further than St. John's in his whole life. He travelled across Newfoundland by train, then across the Gulf, then by train through Nova Scotia and finally, by train again, across the US border to Hartford. It took him close to a week to complete the journey. After arriving and settling in with his two cousins, spinsters Rose and Mable Attwill, he went to work as an apprentice with a tinsmith company - a far cry from the fishing boat in New Perlican. My father worked at the trade by day and went to school at night, learning what we now call Mechanical Drafting. He did that for six years. Following his apprenticeship, he became a Master Certified Tinsmith. He worked mainly in the construction industry in Hartford, installing copper roofs, copper moldings, and eves troughs on such notable projects as the reconstruction of the Mark Twain's House (Museum) and Trinity College. One very important and skilled part of the trade was soldering all joints that needed to be watertight. These were the days before caulking, so all joints in copper roofs and flashing had to be soldered. Soldering irons were heated in small stoves using charcoal. Dad returned to New Perlican in 1938 and set up a tinsmith shop in a little store near the public wharf in Winterton. Rural Newfoundland at that time didn't afford many opportunities for him to practice the trade he had learned in the US, so he turned his skills to manufacturing household utensils. On Monday morning he would walk to Winterton (approximately 4 miles), sleep on the workbench that night and walk home Tuesday evening - a schedule he would repeat for the remainder of the week. After a year or so, however, he built his own tinsmith shop in front of the family home in New Perlican. The household items he produced included: bread pans, bread mixing pans, wedding cake pans, bun pans, the very popular woods kettles, and measuring dippers for measuring berries, kerosene oil and molasses, all of which had to be checked and stamped by a government agency for accuracy. And then there were items he made for smaller fishing boats such as gas tanks, funnels, and ventilation stacks. There were also items for outfitting schooners and large ships, such as the Kyle, which went to the ice. These required much larger household utensils such as 5-gallon kettles, bun pans that would bake four dozen buns at a time, mixing bread pans that would use almost half a sack of flour for one mixing, and baking pans to accommodate the same. Designing and producing such utensils required great skill and creativity. In addition of course there were the usual needs for smoke pipes, elbows, chimney tops, eve gutters, oil cans, and even special cans that fitted the style and size of moonshine sills. From the waste tin he would make felt tins for felt and tar roofing. I remember my father describing some of the finer things he was asked to do, like soldering broken eyeglasses and repairing stained glass windows using lead to keep the small panes in place. He was even asked to solder the reeds in musical instruments. Years after my dad repaired his cornet, Dr. Otto Tucker told me that "Jake Cotter could solder an arse in a cat." Otto, who played the cornet with the Salvation Army Band in Winterton, went on to become a well-known and highly respected professor at Memorial University. I should add that one of the most tedious jobs I myself remember doing was covering the front door of a house with copper and soldering about a hundred copper buttons on to make it look antique without the solder showing. The door still stands in the house today. In 1942 my father went to work on the construction of the United States Naval Station in Argentia as Superintendent of the sheet metal shop. He was finally back doing what he had trained for in Hartford, making and installing copper roofs and flashings. After that, he returned to New Perlican to continue the business. Always anxious to explore new opportunities however, in 1951 he opened a tinsmith shop in Windsor with the hope of moving into Grand Falls. This didn't happen, mainly because Grand Falls was a company-owned paper town. Still not content to stay home, he went to work in St. John's with the well-known sheet metal business of George Phillips & Sons. Due to back problems he was forced to leave and return home. After a year of rest, he got the urge once again to start his own business, this time in Carbonear. The business opened in 1956. The sign on the building, hand-made from copper, read as follows: J. Cotter, Tinsmith and Sheet Metal Worker. While the tinsmith part of the business continued for some time, the main component soon became the sheet metal work and the heating and ventilation trade. In 1960, I joined the business, and the sign was changed to: J. Cotter & Son, Tinsmiths and Sheet Metal Workers, and later to Cotters Sheet Metal Works. My father died in 1973. While I kept the business going until 1979, the tinsmith part had largely disappeared because of the mass production of household utensils. I still made the odd woods kettle from stainless steel, but none to sell. I'm very pleased to say that a number of tinsmiths and sheet metal workers learned the trade from my father. They all found him hard working and patient, most knowledgeable and passionate about the business, and always anxious to do the best possible job. They would agree that we were taught by one of the best whose motto was "Take pride in your work: if you can't do it right, don't do it." For twelve years we worked side by side and not once did we have a heated argument. I feel very fortunate to have been part of the tinsmith business that my father started eighty years ago.
At My Mother's Knee
We grew up in a big house like most at the time. It wasn't fancy or anything like that. There was no central heating, no furnace, no electric heat and certainly no mini-splits. The only room in the house that had any heat in winter was the kitchen. People would let the fire in the kitchen stove - which burned wood or coal - go out before they went to bed. Some even threw water in the stove to make sure. There was always the great fear that the chimney might catch fire and we would all be burned in our beds. Almost every winter there was news on the radio of such a dreadful thing happening somewhere in the province. When supper was over we all gathered around the kitchen table to do our homework. There always seemed to be lots of it. We had a cat, Sue was her name, whose favourite game was to jump on the kitchen table and lie down on your open books. When one of us would put her on the floor she would just jump back up again and lie on someone else's open books. Mom would have to put her outside. We always had a cat, as most people did, they were good at catching mice. The female cats were best for that. Most tomcats would let the mice carry them away. Mom would sit in a chair across the room from the kitchen table. My younger sisters and I would kneel down beside her with our readers open on mom's lap. She would have a butcher knife in her hand and move it along the lines under the words as we read them. This is how we learned to read. Mom would help us with spelling words and also our arithmetic, our additions and subtractions and multiply tables. I think moms were the greatest teachers of all. So finally when the homework was done, the schoolbooks packed away in our school bags, we would pull out the chairs from our kitchen table, kneel on the floor with our elbows resting on the seat of the chairs. Mom would lead us in the Rosary. My dad was usually away working somewhere but he did join us when he was home. Sometimes he would try to escape the whole thing by visiting his mother and father across the road. "I'm going over to the old woman's," he'd always say when we started our homework. Dad couldn't help us with our schoolwork because he didn't have much education. My mom grew up in a little place about forty miles from where we lived. There were no more than thirty-five people living there at any given time. They did not have a church in this tiny place, nor a cemetery to bury their dead, only a little one-room schoolhouse with each grade having its own classroom. There were no nuns to run their school or teach religion. But the people of that little place always kept their faith alive, walked many miles winter and summer to attend church on Sunday. Their faith was simple and unrelenting, black and white with no gray areas. You do your part and God will do his. Mom would lead us in the Rosary kneeling in front of the rocking chair. She never read from any book or pamphlet, she knew it all by heart. Which mysteries to say on the different days of the week and so on. She even recited the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary - all 57 incantations - from memory. Even when one of my older brothers, I had three, would misbehave, as they often did, she would stop, correct them, then continue on from where she left off. When you say the response to the 57 incantations "Pray for us" fast, it can sound much different than it's supposed to. My second oldest brother had a real problem with this. How many times did my mom have to stop and say to him, "it's 'Pray for us'." Mom is long gone now, likewise my brother who had trouble with the responses. The precious memories are all that is left. Many times, especially during the winter months, our Rosary would end with the whole family in tears. Now, this was not from any kind of religious fervor, but simply because the splits and shavings in the oven, where they had been put to dry, caught fire and the kitchen filled with acrid wood smoke which burned your eyes and made them water. Mom would throw a wet cloth into the oven to put out the smoldering wood splits, throw them into an empty metal bucket and carry them outside. She would come back inside and continue the Rosary where she left off. Back in the days of my youth everyone went to church on Sunday, some more than once. All the different religions were the same. Everyone dressed in their best clothes, shined their shoes, combed their hair, and many carried prayer books. Most of the people walked to church and after service walked home. There were very few cars. In those days most clergy remained in the same community most of their lives. They didn't rotate every five years or so like they do now. You knew your clergy and they knew you. My education was at my mother's knee. She had her grade eleven because her father believed the only way out of poverty was education. My faith, if I possess any at all, came from the same place, my mother's knee.
The B9 Lump and Mel's Ignorant
When I was in kindergarten, we knelt down every morning before school started to say prayers. We prayed about ten minutes - the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and the Litany of the Saints. Ora Pro Nobis! (We all spoke Latin in kindergarten.) One morning, some of us were doing penance prayers. They were the prayers that we forgot to say the night before. I have to explain: Every morning, Sister asked, "Who forgot to say their prayers last night?" If you forgot to say your prayers you would never lie, cause your hand or some other part of your body would stick up from your grave when you died. I had forgotten to say my prayers the night before so I was down on my knees by the radiator in the back of the class with the few other souls bound for purgatory. Ora Pro Nanny, Granda, Mom, Dad, sisters, brothers, cousins - blah blah blah! Eyes lowered. Hands joined in prayer. Collars and cuffs. Gosh! My left knee hurt really bad! I couldn't check it out because I'd have to haul down that old brown sock and garter so I waited till lunchtime at home. Mom had a look at it and sure enough! There was a little hill growing on the top of my left knee - geez! My sins were coming out through my knee! Ora Pro me! Next day it was a visit to see Dr. Tulk who shook his head - a bad sign! The day after, it was out to Botwood to see Dr. Twomey. That night, and for a few after, the Rosary rang out right after supper. Whispers of "B9" and "Mel's Ignorant." B9 Bingo? Sure everyone knew Mel was ignorant! Another trip to Botwood. Ora pro no! no! no! White-masked bandits and big devil Twomey's mustache! Scoopin' out the sins on my wobbly knee. I screamed a litany of profanity! "Ora! Ora! Ora! Poor me!" Home again, blessed with the green scapular. Never going to Botwood again! I only had B9 on my knee. Mel's ignorant anyway. Ora pro happy day! Madonna Cooke Kelly Bishops Falls
At The Kitchen Table
March of 1970 was a busy month in the little white house in the Alley of Bay Bulls, NL. A family of seven young children was preparing for a big move to the mainland, rural Ontario to be specific. I was the oldest of the seven so it was particularly a busy time for me. Helping organize clothes and other essentials. I was just 12 years old that year. The day before the big move I was told Aunt Lulu wanted to see me. So, out the door and down the Alley to the next house I went. Helen Maloney was my Aunt Lulu; she was the kindest person I ever knew. I walked into the kitchen; she was standing by the sink with her back to me. "Come here," she said softly. I moved closer. There was a small brand-new black transistor radio on the counter. "That's for you," she said. I didn't touch it. I never received gifts except one at Christmas and one on my birthday. Today was neither of those. "Pick it up, it's for you," she said again. I did. I wasn't entirely certain what it was, "What is it?" "It's a radio." "It's mine?" "Yes, I wanted to give you something before you move away." "Thank you, I'll take good care of it." "Go on with ya now." She still had her back to me; only years later did I realize it was a very emotional moment for her. I treasured that little radio for a very long time. We didn't have much in the way of technology in that place and time. Lulu knew I loved to sing and listen to the radio. This was a little portable radio I could get a station on, where ever we lived. What I will always treasure even more is the fact that she used some of her money and bought that gift for me. That she took the time to think about what I might like. That she wanted me to know she would miss me and to have something to remember her by. She had taught me to sing Galway Bay and other songs. She taught me to be kind, gentle and caring by her example. One of the last times I saw her we were all sitting around her kitchen table on a warm dark summer's night. After hours of chatting and laughing there was a still moment and for no reason I can remember, I started singing Galway Bay. On the second verse she chimed in. We finished the chorus and sat for awhile smiling. She said "Carol, I taught you that song when you were young." I said, "Yes, I remember and now all these years latter we get to sing it together again while sitting around this table. That's a good thing." She nodded yes. Just a few months after that visit Lulu took her long journey away from us all. She couldn't take any gifts as she left us to walk the earth without herbut she left us the memories of compassion, strength and goodness that she poured out on us all. She walked the earth gently but she left a wake of loving kindness behind her that reverberates far into the future. Like a transistor radio the hearts memory can pick up the stations of the singing days of the past and broadcast it through out time. I always feel lighter and smile when I remember Lulu. There is no greater power than to leave a legacy such as hers. A legacy of kindness. I remember my days in the Alley as days of kindness that surpassed all the hard times. Days of thoughtfulness that shored me up above the cruel times. It only takes one person to fill a child's heart with love and the smallest of gifts can leave the biggest mark for good. The singing days at an aunt's kitchen table in the Alley, can carry you far in this wide challenging world. When my grandson was born, I held him and softly sang Galway Bay. I whispered in his tiny ear, "When you're older I'll tell you about Aunt Lulu." And I kissed his tiny face. Singing days carry us forward and the heart of a loving aunt is told to generations she will never know. Who buoyed up your heart? Remember them to those who follow, keep the singing, the kindness, the goodness alive. Remember the goodness it is more powerful than all the harm. Remember the goodness. Remember the kitchen tables and the laughter, it can strengthen the weakest heart. by Carolanne Kennedy
Junior Red Cross Memories
It was the first day of my first year as a teacher. Although I was not familiar with my new job, I was certainly familiar with my surroundings. I was back as a teacher at the same school I had attended from grades eight to eleven, and I'd also done my teaching practicum there. It was home ground and I felt quite at ease. The school bell rang and as was the custom, I took my place at the door to my grade six classroom. As the pupils moved into the room, I could see at the end of the long corridor a few stragglers dawdling their way slowly along when suddenly the stentorian tones of the principal rang out from the other end. "Get into your rooms," he trumpeted loudly. Without a moment's thought, I hastily turned into the room. Years of hearing that same voice ring out daily had conditioned me (and hundreds of other pupils) to move as soon as the first word was uttered. Wait a minute, I said to myself. I don't have to hurry. I'm the teacher now! This was but the first of many memorable experiences I had that year. But without a doubt, among the most outstanding were the meetings of the Junior Red Cross (JRC) club. I was quite familiar with JRC, as it had been a regular part of the school routine when I was a student. It had been first organized in the 1920s but came into prominence in World War II when teachers saw the JRC as a socially acceptable way to involve young people in the war effort by sewing and knitting comforts for the soldiers and raising money for such things as hospital supplies. These were lofty aims for Newfoundland students living in relatively poor communities and I have no idea how widespread or effective Junior Red Cross clubs were in accomplishing these aims. But as a pupil in a St. John's school following the war, I was very aware of the JRC as a means of promoting good health, cleanliness and safety. Good habits were reinforced by large, colourful posters with such catchy rhymes as: "When you cough or sneeze or sniff/ Always use a handkerchief," or, "Stop, look and listen before you cross the street./ Use your eyes, use your ears, before you use your feet." However, over and above these aims, in my experience, JRC clubs taught children the basics of democracy - how to nominate others for positions of leadership, hold an election and work with the elected leaders. In the upper elementary grades these were president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and programme convener. Junior Red Cross club meetings were usually held on Friday afternoon and were eagerly looked forward to by pupils and teacher alike as a release from the routine of learning; a time when discipline was more relaxed and everyone could enjoy the change of pace.So here I was, a brand new grade six teacher, setting up my first JRC club. The first meeting took the form of an election of officers. It was an election the like of which I had never before witnessed. The first position to be filled was, of course, that of president. With complete confidence, I explained the proper procedure to be used and asked for nominations, inwardly hoping that at least one or two of the children would have enough courage to speak. To my surprise, I was immediately faced with a forest of waving hands and the task of choosing the pupil privileged to speak first. When the first nomination was proposed and the nominee found agreeable, I dutifully wrote the name on the blackboard and looked around. About half the hands had been lowered. The next candidate was greeted with cries of "Oh no miss! She's no good." After momentarily quelling the electorate, I wrote the second candidate's name on the board. After three nominations had been proposed I suggested that perhaps this would be sufficient, only to be corrected with, "Oh no miss. Last year we had ten!' Not wishing to subdue their unexpected ardor, I agreed to carry on with the nominations. However, when eight names had been proposed and the nominations were still coming thick and strong, I decided that enough was enough. The candidates were asked to leave the room and the voting began. "How many people voting for this first person?" I asked. A few supporters timidly raised their hands and everyone looked around the room to see who was voting for whom. I wrote the number of votes on the board after the person's name. The next candidate, a boy, was obviously popular with one section of the class, the boys. However the girls showed little or no interest. And so the voting continued. It was a large class and I conveniently overlooked the fact that several pupils were voting more than once. Changing one's mind during the voting process was obviously quite acceptable. Candidate number six was a girl who was apparently a favourite with the whole class. When it was obvious that she had received a majority of votes, the class cheered loudly and showed no interest in continuing with the rest of the voting. However, this boring necessity was soon over and the candidates entered the room amid extremely loud whispers of "You won, Jean!", "Hey Jean, you won." I suggested that perhaps they should applaud the winner which they did quite heartily. (I later discovered that this girl had been president of their JRC club the year before, and although quiet, she was a good student and well-liked by her classmates.) And so the elections continued for the positions of vice-president, secretary, treasurer and programme convener. The method used in selecting a candidate for nomination was unique. The prospective nominator would stand and look around the room, (there were 46 pupils in that class) surveying the field, as it were. Upon spotting a likely candidate (either his best friend or someone he felt indebted to), he would raise his hand and await recognition. After voicing his nomination he would once again survey the room to measure "audience reaction." If this were favourable, he resumed his seat, satisfied with his part in the affair. If unfavourable, he looked around again for a more promising subject. It was an unwritten law in the grade six class that if you were nominated by your best friend, you were duty-bound to return the compliment. Whether or not either of you were qualified for the position seemed to make no difference, and it was also immaterial if either of you were elected or not. Once social duties had been discharged the matter appeared to be forgotten. Tact was a foreign element in grade six elections. When candidates were proposed, the rest of the class frequently felt called upon to state the qualifications of the person in such colourful and enlightening terms as, "Aw, he's no good." "Hey boys, vote for John." "Jim Smith, hahaha!" "Oh no, not her again," and similar expressions of goodwill. This last candidate had been unsuccessfully nominated for two other positions and was finally elected treasurer. A suggestion that perhaps they should refrain from making comments on the nominees fell on deaf ears. But the other pupils didn't seem to mind, so deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, I let the matter drop. When nominees for the position of programme convener came up there was quite a bit of bargaining among the members of the class. This position had with it the added prestige of being able to select a small committee to help in arranging programmes, an integral part of all JRC club meetings. One young boy said to his neighbour, "Hey George, if I nominate you can I be on the committee?" Later I noticed this was exactly what happened. I was puzzled to know why being on the committee was such a coveted position. The answer to this question came at the very next JRC club meeting which was held on a Friday afternoon two weeks later. A few days before the meeting I notified the president and programme convener and on Friday morning I announced to the class in general that there would be a JRC club meeting that afternoon. The programme convener revealed that he had no programme ready, but appeared unconcerned about the lack of time for preparation. Wisely, as I later discovered, I said nothing, inwardly fearing that there would be no programme forthcoming that afternoon. But before the bell rang after the dinner break, the "committee" (of one) was busily at work commandeering members of the class for the afternoon's programme. When protests were made, the committee solved the situation by the time-tested method of asking the teacher. "Miss, you have to take part in the programme if you're asked, don't you?", this from the committee. "Miss, you don't have to take part if you don't want to, do you?", from the compulsory volunteer. 'Well,"I replied, hoping to avoid any hard feelings on either side, "I can't make you take part, but everyone should do what they can, don't you think?" As the two parties separated, I heard the committee say, "There. Teacher said you have to do it." And the volunteer said, equally assuredly, "See, I told you. Teacher said we didn't have to." One bright girl asked the committee "Why don't you be on it?", meaning of course the programme, "I'm on the committee," was the reply. When the minutes of the meeting had been read and the business (choosing a name for the club) was over, the president said the magic words, "the programmer convener will now take over." Everyone settled back with sighs of happy anticipation. "Raymond's going to do it," were the convener's opening and closing remarks. Raymond was the "committee". Raymond hastily consulted the back page of his exercise book and announced, "Donna and Mary will sing a duet." Amid giggles from girlfriends and frankly skeptical looks from the boys in the class, Donna and Mary came forward and after one or two false starts, sang a very acceptable duet which the whole class applauded warmly. "Sandra will now recite." Sandra came forward with her literature book in hand and read a poem from a section of the book which we had not covered in class. Once again, applause ensued, which evolved into a sort of tom-tom beat and had to be stopped by the teacher with, "that will do." The next item was a trio. "Jean, Caroline and Linda will sing." Loud cries from the back of the room caused a very hasty correction in the programme. "Jean, Barbara and Mary will sing." Although most of the programme consisted of unaccompanied singing - solos, duets and various other combinations, it was all very revealing to me. Most of the performers showed little evidence of stage fright or self-consciousness and were not in the least dismayed by one or two bad starts, having a member of the group miss a few lines here and there or having to change the song at the last minute. One pair of singers, after singing one verse of a song, declared it was no good, an opinion which their audience obviously shared, and decided to change it there and then, which they promptly did, continuing with the performance unabashed and quite self-controlled. The enthusiasm which went into the elections and meetings of the JRC club in grade six that year would put to shame many a PTA, Home and School Association or similar adult group. I often wonder if, in later years, those eager grade six pupils became like many adults, reluctant to take responsibility or show enthusiasm. I rather think that even the cares of maturity could not entirely dampen the fires of energy and enthusiasm which burned brightly in the JRC club of my first grade six class.
A ride on the Newfie Bullet
The Newfie Bullet Christmas, 1958, I was just 15 and had made it home to South Branch from the Christian Brothers boarding school in St. John's, a 22 hr bump and grind ride by train, the "Newfie Bullet." Boy was I ever glad to get home. After 4 months of hustle and bustle in the city, it was so nice to be with my mom and dad and family and friends. Pure heaven... Then came the dreaded time to go back on a Saturday, Jan 03. I had an $8 upper berth reserved in a sleeper car but opted to go a day early instead, in coach class because of a pending snow storm. I didn't want to get stuck in snow on the famous Gaff Topsail. I climbed aboard the train at 10am on Friday along with two of my sisters. One was going to nursing school and the other for a joy ride, coach class all the way. You see, we had free train rides because our old man worked with the railway. Now all went well until we got to Corner Brook. The train was losing time and filling up fast. My sisters were seated together across and just back from me while I had to share my seat with an old lady about 45 yrs old. During the night we passed by Gaff Topsail OK, then at Buchans Junction a men's hockey team barged on board, on their way to Grand Falls. What a racket, there were players, hockey sticks, hockey bags and all kinds of stuff strung on the floor along the aisles, cigarette smoke everywhere. My sisters were in heaven, all happy and giggly, while I cowered by the window next to that old lady who was all "powdered up." Grand Falls came and went, along with the hockey team, and the train losing time all the while. Our bologna sandwiches were long gone by now! During the night we stopped in the middle of nowhere, piles of snow all around. Another passenger train was stuck in snow up ahead they said. By this time there was no heat, lights or water. Not nice. A lot of people snuggled up, but not me...too much powder!!! Early in the morning a helicopter came by with some water and sandwiches for the couple of hundred of us on board. We arrived in Clarenville early Sunday morning, where food, water and fuel was loaded aboard. Then we were told we could have one free meal each, sleeping car passengers first. A lineup of about 3 coaches long was formed and I stuck close behind my sisters. When I made it to the dining car door the man said, "filled up", leaving me next in line. I thought I was doomed, but I finally got my meal... a choice of fish or bologna with two potatoes. Nothing ever tasted as good. Still stopped that evening we were told we could walk to a hotel nearby for a free meal. No such luck. But at least we could buy sandwiches. Meanwhile the train behind caught up to us, what a jumble of hungry people. Oh dear. That evening we headed east again and got as far as Goobies. Stopped again, train up ahead. A small store was close by and I watched some passengers head through the snow towards it. One fellow came back and said "lard Jesus, by time I got der, all was lef was ball point pens and pocket combs." We finally arrived in St.John's at 8am on Monday, 70 hrs by train, coach class. Believe it or not I think I was happy to be there, back to boarding school for another few months. Oh, but I just couldn't wait to get back home again on that Newfie Bullet. Ben Brake 2022
Living in Codroy Pond
A story from my dad, William Brake. My dad's family moved from St. Georges to Codroy Pond in 1925 when he was 12 years old. This was a very small railway maintenance town where his dad worked with the railway. The only way in and out of that town was by rail. All trains stopped there for about twenty minutes to take on water for the steam engines. Now he was the oldest of a large family and they took advantage of the train stopping in different ways. Daily passenger trains had people from everywhere, including tourists. My dad and others could board the train while it was stopped and try to sell different things. His mother, being of Mi'kmaq descent, taught him how to weave birch baskets. He told of weaving small birch bark baskets and filling them with whatever berries that were ripe at the time. They were a big hit. They sold rabbits in wintertime and sometimes knitted articles. Train crews looked forward to seeing them come aboard and they were always welcomed. Times are different now, the world sure has changed around us.
Gunnar Laurel, Bush Pilot Ace
By Arthur A. Locke I have always had a keen interest in flying. I remember my first year or so in Roddickton (in 1948) we settled into a four apartment "company house" with three other families for that winter (we arrived in November). The building was owned by the Sanders & Howell Limited, a company of Carbonear who owned operated a large sawmill and woods operation here in Roddickton. I can still recall "keeping on" at my mother to go up to the Clem Norman's (now deceased) General Store, which was situated about 100 yards from us toward the roadside, to get large cardboard boxes from which I could make aeroplanes. Although I wasn't very old at the time (perhaps about five), I had already developed a keen interest in flying and in aircraft. I can still remember a small airplane, which had a bottom like a boat, landing in Roddickton Harbour just behind our home. It fascinated me! This interest in flying and in aeroplanes stayed with me during most of my school years (and continued into my adult years as well). I can remember making a model Cessna 180 (Super Cub I believe) from Balsa wood and tissue paper, in which was an engine with a prop (these were the days before remote controlled flying). Attached to a three-winged mechanism in the cab of the plane were two light steel cables, which exited through the tip of one wing and were attached to strong nylon line. The biggest drawback was that the plane could only fly (controlled) by the length of the line! I would start the engine with a battery. It had a glow plug that became hot and burned gas. Then it would take off! I used to fly and land this on the ice or in large open spaces. It seemed, however, that I was mostly interested in the smaller planes , not the larger ones (although I do remember in my early adult years of having plastic models of the B19 and the B29). I also recall PAL (Provincial Airlines Limited), which flew out of St. Anthony Airport, sometimes used what was known as "The Metro," which I loved. It was a very small plane; some called it "The Flying Culvert." Someone said it was so small that you had to lie down in it to get room for your legs! Well, it wasn't that small, but it was small enough for me to like and I remember flying in it several times through the years. Anyway, back to my story. I was at Memorial University in St. John's during the winter of 1960-61, and in early May my friend Austin Canning (now living in St. John's) and I got tickets to fly home. We boarded a TCA (Trans Canada Airlines was a forerunner of Air Canada) flight in St. John's and flew as far as Gander. As there didn't seemed to be any motels available at the time, we were introduced to a somewhat elderly lady who hired out rooms. This is where we stayed for about a week, from Friday to Friday because the weather was down and the snow was piling high, until Austin and I were fortunate enough to catch a ride home on a mail plane. So Austin got on board of one and I in another. They were the relatively small Beaver aircraft (made by de Havilland) owned and operated by EPA (Eastern Provincial Airways Ltd.), which had been hired by government, I assumed, to bring the mail to the smaller outports. When you got on board you sat in the right front seat opposite the pilot because the body portion of the aircraft was stuffed with mail bags. You had said your last word for a while when getting on board, as you couldn't hear anything after that because of the noise of the engine! (I wonder now sometimes what the decibels would have been?) So you just sat there and stared out the window or at the instruments all the way. Once in the air over Gander, we flew for what seemed like a long time (looking back upon it now I suspect it was for a couple of hours). Every now and then I would catch sight of the Beaver airplane in which my friend Austin Canning was riding. The sky was blue and clear, and it appeared that the week-long storm was over. However, when we got over Englee (a town about ten miles south of Roddickton) our plane ran into a snowstorm. The pilot battled it for a few minutes, trying to make Roddickton, but then I heard the engine rev up and the compass needle on the instrument panel pointed due north. I said to myself, "He's not going to Roddickton," as I knew that Roddickton was northeast from where we were. I'd say we flew for about 20 minutes to a half-hour or so, and then my pilot saw a pond he was apparently familiar with (the area where he had decided to land wasn't big enough to land a mosquito on, I thought at the time) and he put the plane down. We taxied (if you would call it that) to a stop not too far from a small wood cabin by the pond. (I found out later that this was Durnford's Pond, about 10 miles from St. Anthony.) I don't know if the pilot (who I learned later was Swedish pilot Gunnar Laurel - perhaps the best known of the bush pilots of the day) knew the people who owned the cabin or if he decided to break in. Inside we found a couple of snow shovels which we took to carry out our next task. In broken English, Gunnar Laurel (who I noticed for the first time looked rather young!) told me to follow him toward the end of the pond, to where his skis had first touched the ice when he landed. Following his lead, we shovelled up an embankment of snow about 12-18 inches high and about 12-16 feet long. We would tamp the snow, which was a little wet, down every foot or so with our boots and shovels as we piled it, so that by the time we were finished we had a fairly solid tapered pile. On Gunnar's instructions about a half-hour later, we climbed into the plane, "To go up and look at the weather," he said in his broken English. It was a good thing that I liked flying because he pointed the plane toward the embankment we had just shovelled. When the skis of the plane hit the embankment, the plane kind of popped into the air and he appeared to "catch it" just in time to clear the trees near the edge of the pond. It sounded like he revved up the motor, while the plane seemed to just skim the tops of the trees. (It probably wasn't that low, but it sure looked and felt like it!) The pilot did that a couple of times, but the weather hadn't changed, so he knew we weren't going anywhere in a plane that evening. We then walked to the highroad, which wasn't very far away and bummed a ride with a motorist to St. Anthony. I stayed there all night with my aunt (Chris Heath, now diseased), but I don't know where Gunnar stayed (perhaps with some friends). In the morning, the weather had cleared and Gunnar had arranged for a ride for both of us back to the airplane. We climbed aboard the Beaver and, after a few final checks and a grin by Gunnar, we took off for Roddickton once again using the snow embankment we had shovelled on the pond the evening before. We arrived there about half an hour later and landed on the frozen Roddickton Harbour. As I climbed out of the airplane onto the snow-covered ice, I wondered if anyone else had ever had such an experience! A year later, I was teaching school at Englee. One day while teaching we heard a roar. It seemed like a plane was about to take the roof right off the school. Everyone ran outdoors, frightened. It would be some time later before I learned it was Gunnar's plane we heard. Apparently Gunnar had come to Englee in the Beaver with a load of mail, but he couldn't land on the harbour ice because of the large crowd of people who were streaming onto it to meet the plane (the only contact with the outside world in those days and a cause for excitement). To clear a pathway through the people so that he could land, he "buzzed" the harbour by flying low and revving up his engine. Man, you should have seen the people heading for the shoreline as they heard the engine roar! They were afraid of being hit by the plane! Anyway, Gunnar was more than successful in clearing a landing strip on the harbour ice at Englee that day! Thank goodness for small blessings! (as we often say) Additional Notes: If you want to learn more about Gunnar Laurel, perhaps the most famous of the NL bush pilots, you can do this by visiting the North Atlantic Aviation Museum in Gander, where the full story of Gunnar is told. It is true that he taught other bush pilots things that possibly saved their lives and the lives of others (the snow embankment we shovelled and piled that day may be one of them!). I realized recently that I am perhaps one of a very few still alive (I am about 79 now) who flew with Gunnar as a passenger. Gunnar was born in May 1923 in Sweden. He immigrated to Canada in 1951 and passed away on December 30, 1988. His grave site is located in Gander.
Back in the 1950s
I grew up in the town of Windsor, NL. Windsor was the first incorporated town outside of St. John's, on November 1, 1938. Back in the 1950s, walking to school was something that every kid did. There was no such thing as a school bus, or a car ride from the parents. We all walked. Not every family had a car, so walking was it. As I left for school in the mornings mother would say "stay on the side of the road and watch out for cars." We walked in all sorts of weather - rain, sleet or snow did not stop us. It was practically unheard of that the school would be closed due to weather. School started at 9:00 am, and we were out the door at 8:15 am or 8:30 am, depending on the conditions of the day, and how long it would take you to get to your destination. You'd meet up with your pals along the way and talk about things that kids talk about. As I would leave my house the Musical Clock would be playing on CBC radio and Aubrey Mac or Harry Brown, or one of those announcers would be giving the news and sports report. Mac would say, "If you can't take part in sport, be a good one anyway." Then he would probably play a Broadway tune like "Some Enchanted Evening", or "Bali Ha'i", or "Get Me To The Church On Time", or something by Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, or Vera Lynn. Does anyone remember "The Four Aces" who made "Three Coins in a Fountain" famous, and did you know that they formed that group while being stationed in Stephenville? The tic toc of the Musical Clock (Syncopated Clock) became a stomach-churning time reminder on days when I was leaving to write the latest exam. Some schools had uniforms, while most did not. You probably wore the same shirt or pants for a week. "Breeks"for the boys and long stockings covered with warm skirts for the girls was what was worn in the winter. Boys mostly wore "Lumps" or "Logans" on their feet. I suppose the Breeks were washed at some point but I don't remember it happening during the winter months. And you only had one pair. When those were worn out, or too small to wear, you got another pair. We all appreciated the seasons as much as kids could. Most houses would burn coal for their heating source and as you trudged along to school in early October the leaves would be changing. On a really cold day the smoke from the chimneys would go straight up in the stillness of the morning. The smell of the burning coal would be mixed in with the odours coming off the land, from the dew, and the acid smell coming from the Grand Falls Paper Mill. In the winter the odours would change because of the snow and ice and extreme cold, but the coal smell and the paper mill smell never varied. I remember rushing home from school on "baking day" to get that hot crust of bread that was right out of the oven and then smother it with peanut butter. It was pure delight. The taste still lingers. As opposed to kids today, we were practically gone outdoors from dawn to dusk. There was no cell-phone, or computer games to take our attention. We made our own fun playing various games like cricket, baseball (in the sand pits) or rounders, hop scotch, kick the can, hide and seek, and spotlight. Most of us kids had bicycles and that got us quick transportation to "The Station" or downtown Grand Falls. I don't believe my mother ever knew that I regularly used to peddle in to the Grand Falls Drug Store, some two miles away, to check on the latest comics. We would often peddle down to the Station to see the Express Train come in, and see who was, getting on or off. It seemed that, for us kids, safety was not invented in the fifties, and with all the things we did, we rarely got into scrapes. In early October, there was the World Series to listen to on CBC late afternoon. It was usually the New York Yankees beating up on the Milwaukee Braves, The Brooklyn Dodgers, or the New York Giants. But on occasion these National League teams won as well. From Mickey Mantle to Pee Wee Reese, to Warren Spahn, we knew them all, and we knew their stats. Saturday nights in winter were spent near the radio to pick up the hockey game from Maple Leaf Gardens, in Toronto. "Hello Canada and hockey fans from the United States and Newfoundland. From high in the gondola over centre ice at Maple Leaf Gardens this is Foster Hewitt bringing you the game tonight between the Leafs and the Habs." We knew all of these players as well, from Rocket Richard to Jean Beliveau to Tod Slone, Harry Lumley and George Armstrong. Does anyone still remember that Dickie Moore won the NHL scoring championships in 1958 and 1959? There was only one radio station so if you didn't listen to CBC you listened to nothing. As kids we were starved for rock and roll music and when we got a program like the Saturday Morning Hit Parade, or the request show from "The San" in Corner Brook, we were practically glued to the radio. "Hawaii Calls" was a program on Saturday nights that gave me a thirst for travelling to Hawaii. Which I did in later years. I can hear it now, "From the shores of Waikiki, it's Hawaii calls." "Jonathan Thomas and his Christmas on the Moon" was aired practically every Christmas season. We all rushed home from school for the 5:00 pm episode, even though we had heard the same program for years. "The Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Program" and The Hour of St Francis" mixed in with the Salvation Army offering, "This is my Story", were programs that gave us a wide range of viewpoints on religion. In Newfoundland, we celebrated Guy Fawkes night on November 5, and some still do. But not as much today as we did back then. It was known to us as "Bonfire Night", and from the time that we were seven or eight, until we were twelve or so, a run of five years in the 1950s, my pals and I would gather materials together and cut boughs to use for our bonfires. It was usually held on some large plot of ground or bog area. This collection of materials would start after Thanksgiving, and by the time of the fire we would have amassed a large collection. We probably didn't know much about Guy Fawkes, from merry old England, and his arrest while guarding the explosives for the Gunpowder Plot on the life of King James I. We just knew it as a night when we would have our event and the fires were all over the town, driving the fire department nuts. Although, there were few, if any, serious breaches. Usually, the parents supervised and the fire did not last late into the night. Breakfast in the winter started with porridge, and followed up most likely with a slice of toast and bologna. And the bologna had to be Maple Leaf. Nothing else would do. The Maple Leaf brand was so prevalent that grocery stores would say it was a waste of time to bring in other brands - they just would not sell. The lunch hour was dinner during the week with some tasty cooked meat/fish and vegetables. It was unheard of to say that you didn't like something. You ate it all and you were thankful. Supper was what was called tea. So you might have a dish of beans, or macaroni and cheese, but it was not really a cooked dinner. Often, when father was working, the cooked meal would be ready for 5:30 pm. On Saturdays I would have chores to do and mixed in with this was a visit to Paddock's meat store. There I would usually ask for a 2 and a half pound roast, a half a pound of spiced ham, a half a pound of bologna, perhaps two pounds of salt beef, a small piece of fat back pork, and fish, both salt and fresh. Then it was off to the post office to check the mail and then to spend my 30 cents on three comics. That could be anything from The Lone Ranger to Roy Rogers. My allowance for the week was a dollar, so I had to save some for the ten-cent show on Saturdays, and the occasional candy bar or licorice (I loved it.). All too often I would have spent my allowance early in the week and then I would bug my sister for some of hers. She sometimes gave in, or Mom relented and produced an extra quarter. Saturday lunch was rushed so that my sister and I could get to the movie theatre for the 2:00 pm showing. We went early to get a good seat. It was at the movies that I picked up a lot of my world knowledge because we saw quite a variety of movies over a ten-year span. I would look forward to Saturdays all week. After the movies my pals and I would reenact the westerns. My, my, how many bad guys did I round up with Gene Autry and Johnny Mack Brown in those days. As much as I loved Saturdays, I detested Sundays. I was sent to church by my mother. Sometimes to the Grand Falls United Church and other time to the Windsor Salvation Army. It wasn't until the late 1950s and early 60s that there was a United Church in Windsor. I suppose I gained the love of Gospel music from attending the Salvation Army. I did appreciate their musical ability, with the horns, trumpets, tubas and drums. The "saving of souls, the life everlasting, and the railway to heaven" never did make much of an impression on me. On Sundays there were unwritten rules of what we could do and couldn't do. I found it such a bore. And I usually could be found reading a Hardy Boys book, or the latest western, in these down times. Christmas was always a happy time of the year. I loved the build-up to Christmas, and my favourite day was Christmas Eve. I suppose it was in regard to the expectation of what was to come on Christmas Day. Opposed to that, Christmas day was a bit of a downer. I loved the gift giving and the turkey dinner, but there was something about Christmas Day that never quite brought it up to the expectations that I thought it should be. Go figure! I enjoyed the 12 days of Christmas and we usually did a little janneying (mummering) among friends in our neighborhood following Boxing Day. Taking a drive through the towns to see the variety of lights was an event that was a favourite of my sister and me, and also my mother. Coaxing Dad to do the drive was another story. He was usually reluctant to do any more driving than he had to. I suppose getting his license later in life would have made him a more cautious operator. But who knows! Easter was a real downer for me. Even the Easter Bunny and eggs did not help. I hated Good Friday with a passion, and still do. No pun intended! The thought of a crucifixion, and the rising from the grave after three days made absolutely no sense to me, and still doesn't. I loved various aspects of the Christian Church but the assumptions of virgin birth and resurrection, which the early church was built on, was not something I could believe. I don't know if people have more problems today that they had in the 1950s. It seemed to be a simpler time. Today, with the media so prevalent, we know things almost before they happen. I think there was a more neighbourly approach to living and dealing with situations back then. Perhaps time has coloured my glasses. However, I don't live in the past, but the past brought us to what we are today and I have fewer years in the future than I did in the past. So, here's to nostalgia!
Memories of Christmas
Raised in a small community with eleven siblings in my family, we have many fond memories of growing up. A few days before Christmas my brothers and sisters and our Dad would go into the woods to get a tree. Dad would cut it down with an axe and we would put it on a hand cat - a home built sleigh. We would all sit on the sleigh with the tree and go down the hill. What fun! We would push it on the flat. We would dry the tree overnight and the next morning we would put our decorations on it that we made the night before. Bulbs we made out of egg cartons covered with foil wrap and a piece of wool to hang them on. We cut up white paper and coloured it green and red to make a chain for the tree. Some was made for decorations on the ceiling. Next, we hung our stockings - Dad's old wool socks. Next morning, we opened our socks first - apples, oranges and some candy wrapped in brown paper, was it ever good. We opened our gifts, which were something to wear, a doll for the girls and cars for the boys. We had our Christmas dinner, which was some kind of meat or a good ol' turr with the vegetables. Also we can't forget our syrup and cake. After our dinner was eaten and our chores were done, we each got a piece of canvas from our kitchen floor that was replaced with new. We would all go sliding on the main road because there was very little traffic back then. Good old memories of days gone by. Did we ever have fun!
The Journey of Joseph Dunne
At the young age of 17 in the year 1889, Joseph Dunne secretly boarded a ship in Saint-Malo, France as a stowaway. The ship set sail for Saint Pierre. After arriving in Saint Pierre he came to realize that he was not allowed to stay there and the Gendarmes (police) would deport him back to France where he would be severely dealt with by the law. He then made a decision that would change the direction of his life forever. With the help of some people in Saint Pierre he secured food water and a row boat and rowed off in the North Atlantic, all alone in the dark in unknown waters, never to return to his homeland again. As daylight broke and the sea became rough, Green Island Rocks came into his view and he managed to land his boat upon the shore. While awaiting for the waters to calm he found shelter underneath his overturned boat. Three days later when the storm abated he headed out into the North Atlantic again hoping to find a place to call home. He eventually landed in Point Crewe, 12 Miles from Saint Pierre. My grandfather, John Crews was surprised to see this little dory off in the distance. He boarded his motor boat , went to meet this unknown man and towed him into land. (Ironically my grandfather's son Kenneth Crews (my father) in later years married this man's daughter, Charlotte Dunne.) This was a new beginning for Joseph Dunne, a 17 year boy in a foreign country unable to speak the English language. A whole new life thousands of miles from his family whom he never made contact with again. Good fortune came his way when he was connected with a man from Saint Pierre who was living in Point Crewe at the time and helped him learn the English language. In time Joseph met and married Mary Belinda Thornhill and they settled in Dantzic Cove where he built a house and lived there for approximately 50 years. They raised 3 sons and 8 daughters. Joseph became a British subject in 1904 at which time Newfoundland was a British colony. He made a living by fishing, farming and caulking the decks of banking schooners in Grand Bank and Fortune. While his sons enjoyed the luxury of using gasoline engines, he chose to continue rowing to the fishing grounds. He was never one to use a motor boat. In 1952 Joseph and his son Benjamin Dunne moved to Point Crewe and built a house. Joseph lived in Point Crewe until the year of his death. Having lived a long, healthy life he died suddenly in 1960 at age 88.