Nar bit Contrary!

Dad (Willis), Hay, Mae (Litty), Lawrence, Lindo Smith

Dad (Willis), Hay, Mae (Liddie), Lawrence, Lindo Smith

Dad’s brother Lindo died in 1979, when I was 14. I don’t have a lot of fully fleshed out memories of him, but lots of little anecdotes I guess. From other people’s recollections, I’m pretty sure he was liked quite a bit, though some or all might say he was a teensy bit contrary. I really doubt that, I mean saying snow was black just to be contrary isn’t contrary right?

He was a carpenter, lastly working at Stanley’s in Clarenville. But besides that I know Aunt Vick had the post office in Snook’s Harbour (can still remember the mail slots in the old porch) and also they had a store (who didn’t?) with this huge old cash register.

Whatever he may or may not have been, I know he seemed to be good with kids, or me anyway. If Mom or Dad had to be away, we mostly always seemed to stay with Aunt Vick and Uncle Lindo, and if I was up in Snook’s Harbour playing ball or whatever, it was like a second home to me, always a place at the table.

One of my memories of Uncle Lindo was from when I was there eating. I have an odd delicacy I love. Trout tails! Yes, that’s what I meant. If you fry trout in pork fat and flour the tails become crispy and tasty, like trout bacon, and I love them. When ever I was up at Uncle Lindo’s and there were trout, he’d always cut the tails off and give them to me, remember that so vividly!

I have another memory of spending time with him down in his stage looking after the salt cod. Just me and him, I don’t recall much else, but something about it sticks with me and makes me feel…. warm.

Another was of his two dogs, Fuzzy and Fluffy, who, if I remember correctly would only eat cat food! And he’d feed it to them from a fork or spoon.

Another was his love of wrestling, he’d watch it in the dark in the living room up in Snook’s Harbour, where all I could make out on the screen was snow. We used to go to Clarenville stadium in those days to see the likes of Sailor White and Mad Dog Vachon.

Datsun 620

I also remember he had this Datsun B210 for a car, I can hear the beep beep now. Was unusual to see a Japanese car back home in those days. He also had at one point, I believe, a Datsun pickup. It was white, and seemed to have all these compartments in the side of the box, or at least I think it did.
One of the more vivid memories though was a camping trip we took at some point when I was a boy. Mom and Dad, Keith and I, Uncle Lindo and Aunt Vick. We did a lot of booting about, places I don’t recall really. I remember one spot where him and I were trouting from this little rocky point. I also remember a fire one time where we roasted flings (those curved cheesie things) – they were made with real cheddar and tasted like yummy melted cheese.

But the best, or the worst part was one night we made camp after dark. It was wet, the old canvas tents would leak easily if you touched a point of canvas, and we were all pretty miserable. After getting to sleep, at some point during the night we were wakened by the unholy racket of a train passing by a few feet away. In the dark, we had set up tents right next to the train track without noticing!

Who you longs to?

Not sure if I mentioned this one in my sayings post, but this was a common question back home, essentially asking who your parents are.

Well the sarcastic portion of me was likely to respond, I longs to me mudder bye!

My mother, like a lot of Newfoundland mothers was and is parent to many more than her own.  The door was always open, a crowd was always welcome.  We’ve been know to have to take shifts eating to make room at the table.

We never had a lot, but it was shared, and many people called my home theirs, as I did with many others.  We don’t ask for anything when at these extended mudder’s houses, we go to the fridge and take it, cause their home was ours, and ours was theirs.

So to my mudder, my sister, all my extended mudders, and to all the wunnerful mudders I’ve never met, happy mudders day!


The Barbecue Pipe

We’ve been cooking over coals back home as long as I can remember. Bonfires on the beach weren’t the same unless you threw a few potatoes on the coals.

Barbecuing was a relatively new thing when I was a kid, but became popular fast.  I think the first one I saw used was the old table top Hibachi.  Then everyone had the old orange one with the tripod legs.  You’d see this in pretty much everyone’s yard or on their step, and it remains pretty popular even now.

Dad worked at the Department of Highways and had access to a few old discarded items.  Once corrugated steel pipes started to replace the old concrete ones, those old ones were discarded.  Dad claimed a huge one as you can see here.  I have no idea how he got it home.  I remember we rolled it up around the back of the house.  The thing was huge, its opening was about 3 feet in diameter.

This became our barbecue.  Dad drilled holes in it about half way down, and inserted some long bolts.  On these he rested a flat circular piece of iron.  On top of this we filled it to about 3/4 full with sand.  Our charcoal went on top of this.  I don’t recall what we had for a grill, it may have even been an old oven grate, but many many MANY meals were cooked over that.

Our house was a congregating place, and it wasn’t unusual to see Eric, Barry, Bernard, Elvis, Derek, Rod, and many more from time to time a

Our old back door (BBQ just to right of pine with chair behind)

ll over at once, and everyone bringing their own meats, dogs, burgers, fish, and whatever else, and cooking up one huge scoff.

Mom would make salads, keep us going in plates and things to drink, and clean up after us.  Dad would help her, and us, and be a part of everything.  I’m not sure how they had the energy to keep up with a houseful day after day but they did, and am thankful for it.  That old pipe cooked up a lot of meals for us, and represented a lot of companionship.  Food was and is more than a meal back home, its a tradition of sharing what little we had, and spreading the food, and the joy, fun and love of family around.

The Old Outhouse

All that remains of Uncle Hay's old outhouse. Thanks Eric Cooper

All that remains of Uncle Hay’s old outhouse. Thanks Eric Cooper

Last night the rain was coming down, making a soothing noise, but reminding me of many cabin trips where we’d have to brave the rain to use the facilities.  For some reason I was also reminded of The Red Green Show, and the poems Red used to recite.  I came up with my own poetic masterpiece to suit my mood….

It is raining.

An April rain, chilling and cold. Making a half frozen slush to shuffle through for a midnight outhouse run, where it plays a tap dance on the tin roof, then drips down the back of your neck.

It is raining.

You think I’ll have to turn down offers? In any event, the old outhouse was an integral part of growing up, and while many were rough and ready, especially those built for cabins in the woods, those people had for their living areas were surprisingly more than you’d expect, and as much as it can be, a pleasure to use.  Back home, “down on the land”, Uncle Hay had and kept up an outhouse out the path from his house.  It was a bit of a trek if you were short taken I’m sure, but as kids sometimes when you had to go, you had to go.  This outhouse was, for the genre, beautiful in my eyes.  It was well walled, well painted, had a window, and well maintained roof, and Uncle Hay kept a nice supply of toilet paper out there.

What made it even better was that he, or perhaps it was Brad and Paul, I’m not really sure, kept a supply of comics and reading material out there.  More time than necessary was spent in there keeping up with Archie and Jughead! In any event, I have fond memories of that old commode, and while its an odd topic to write about I guess, its a part of home that brings back fond memories.

Good Friday Trouting

Growing up back home, one of the Easter traditions was a Good Friday trouting trip.  These were sometimes a walk in the woods in back of home, or sometimes a trip in car to a roadside pond, but were often a whole family event.

The great thing about the whole trip was that you never knew from year to year what “kind” of trouting you were doing! Lots of Easter weekends it would be ice fishing, and on others you’d be fishing with a rod and reel on the shore of a completely ice free pond.

Of course one of the other memories of those days was the fact that it may not have been a rod and reel you saw people using.  A lot of people used a bamboo pole.  I’ve never actually tried it, and really haven’t seen it done in years, so now, thinking back on it, I’m a little puzzled on how people actually pulled a fish in. I assume once the hooked it, they had to pull the line in hand over hand!

The picture on the left wasn’t a Good Friday trip (at least I don’t think it was).  It was taken I believe in 1969 (making me 4 at the time) when all of my Dad’s siblings except one (Herven) had gathered together for the first time in years, and the last time too as I know I never saw Aunt Mae again.  I only have faint memories of it, but the whole family and some Aunt’s and Uncles made our way into Friggin’s (Fagan’s) Cove Pond for a family trip, so it reminds me somewhat of Good Friday fishing.

I’m not sure if the Good Friday trouting trips are as much of a tradition now as they were, I know as I got older, I always liked to go, but it became more with friends than family, but I guess that’s part of growing up.

Fishing isn’t the same in Nova Scotia for me, I don’t know where to go, and there are too many fish types to catch, and not know what to do with.  Back home we had trout and that was about it.  Still though, I think when Hayley gets a bit older, I may see if she’d like to go on a fishing trip.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tea for you, collectibles for me


Back in the 60s and 70s, Red Rose tea distributed these little cards in different sets (dinosaurs, butterflies, birds, animals, I forget them all).  At the decrepit old age of 4-6, I wasn’t much of a tea drinker, but tea was and is a hugely popular drink back home, and Aunt Ethel Cooper, god bless her, drank more than her fair share.  One of the highlights of visiting her and Uncle Will was that she collected these for me, and I had many a complete set all in their own little specially designed books.  I regret not keeping these, but like other knick knacks over the years, you never know their value, not necessarily monetary, but memorial.

Red Rose also issued these collectible figurines at a later point, and she collected those too for me.  Dad even made a little display shelf we had in the upstairs hallway back home.

tea figurines

While I can’t remember Aunt Ethel overly well, I do remember her as a kindly soul, with a meal to share and always a cookie or cake around to snack on when we visited.  Uncle Will was, lets just say colourful, but still a man well loved (And perhaps well hated by some) for all that.  I remember him well, and fondly.

Its funny how so many of my Newfoundland memories have some sort of food relation, but I think that’s one of the common features of our culture.  How many times have you heard “Come in for a cup of tea?” over the years.  Visiting neighbours was a regular occurrence  one that seems to have lessened over the years, gossiping over a cup of tea.  I guess in outport Newfoundland, in those days anyway, it was the prevalent form of entertainment.

Anyway, if you’re nearby, drop in for a cup of tea and a yarn, and we’ll recall old times and fond memories!

Out on the Sound

Random Island is separated from the Bonivsta peninsula on the island’s north side by Smith Sound.  This is about 1-3 miles across in most places if memory serves.  Sometimes in my memory we’ve had the sound freeze completely over, and can remember people ski-dooing, skating to Harcourt, hauling wood on horse and slide, and of course, fishing.

In Newfoundland you go fishing for one kind of fish only, that’s cod.  Any other type of fishing has its own name (trouting, etc).  Nowadays with the moratorium on, even if the sound did freeze over, you’d not be allowed to go fishing, but years ago you could.

One of my most vivid memories of my Uncle Hay was one day him and I went out on our old ski-doo (I think it was that far back anyway).  This was an old Alouette, we bought off Ross Smith and it weighed about 17 tons I think, and had about a 400 cubic inch motor in it ( I may have exaggerated slightly). I remember the ski-doo just because it was so ancient and yet so powerful.  In any event, Uncle Hay and I drove out to some of our fishing marks and put some holes down through.  I think we used my old ice auger, but it may have even pre-dated me having one of those, maybe Uncle Hay had one. You’d probably think that ice on such a large body of water wouldn’t be thick, but I remember there being about 2-3 feet of ice to drill through.

Salt water ice, or at least on a body that large, doesn’t respond like fresh water ice.  Its “softer”, flexible, and you can feel the lop under the ice moving it up and down, and can hear the huge cracks like thunder when a crack opens up.

It was a beautiful winter day, sunny, sun felt warm, and was awesome to be out on the ice, doing what we both loved.  I really don’t remember if we got any fish, but that really didn’t matter to me that day.  I’m not sure where Dad was to be honest, possibly it was a work day, most likely was, but after Uncle Hay had retired.  Some days just belong to certain people or groups.  This was ours, or for me anyway.  Much love to Uncle Hay, and Dad as well.  We’ll fish again together someday.