Nickels on the train track

The Bonavista Branch line stopped running in 1986 from what I can see, though had been reduced in service prior to that.  Most of the young people now can’t remember the joys (some sarcasm may be included here) of stopping for the train at the bar hill, in Shoal Harbour, up by Newfoundland Hardwoods, down at the crossing, up by Best’s store…..Yes, there were a lot of crossings back in those days!

As a kid, I didn’t mind the waits as much, especially the one up by Newfoundland Hardwoods. You’d be sitting in the car, with the tracks just to the side of you, watching the train go by.  After a while it felt like you were the one moving and the train was standing still.  I can imagine it got frustrating as a driver though. At least Clarenville wasn’t a high traffic town, though as a service centre it did get more than its size would indicate.

When I was a kid at school at Balbo Elementary in Shoal Harbour, the tracks ran right behind the building.  This was in the early 70’s and since I finished going to that school, and moved to Random Island school in 73-74, I can’t say I recall lots, but one recollection does stand out.  The train ran daily then, and if I remember correctly,  sometime between morning recess and lunch time.  I remember kids used to (I’m sure I was guilty too) take nickels down at recess time and put them on the tracks.  At lunch time they’d go back and pick them up, after having been flattened by the train.

That in and of itself was kind of cool, but it didn’t end there!  Just up the road from the school, there was a little store in someone’s basement.  I may be wrong, but I think it was owned by a Pardy family.  The owners were elderly, and we kids would take those flattened nickels up to the store and spend them as quarters.  Nowadays doesn’t sound like much, but back then you could get a pack of chips, a bar, and a pop all for a quarter and have a few pennies left for candy.

I wonder though, did the owners really not know? Seems kind of hard to believe now that they’d not have caught on.  I’m thinking they just liked the kids.