We Are the Champions!

The time: Winter 1980-81
The Place: Burin Peninsula
The Event: Regional C Varsity Basketball tournament.

(Apologies about the heads cut off, will try to resolve later! Picture from 1980-81 Yearbook. Adding again here:)


In the fall of 1980, in grade 10, I tried out for the varsity basketball team. I really had no expectation I’d ever be selected, I’m not overly athletic or coordinated, but I was, for the time, tall.  I was in reasonably decent fitness I guess, as were most of us at the time, because we were always running, or walking, or outside, as it was really all we had to do.

I did have reasonably good reflexes, and have been told I played decently as a street hockey goalie, but I, by no means, thought of myself as having much athletic ability.  I mainly tried out to show I was interested, and for “something to do”.

Imagine my surprise, and I’m sure most of the school’s, when I made it.  I have no idea yet how it happened. Only Rid Nichol can answer that, if he even knows now, 30 years later.

In any event, I warmed the benches in many local games at our school, hosting others from around the area, Musgravetown, Clarenville, and I’m not sure which others, and travelled to a few as well.

I was lucky enough to play with some very talented players though, Kevin Martin, Rick Verge, Chris Laite, Charles March, Brian Wilcox, Derek Burt, Mario Vary, David Bowering, and Faron Turley.

Our tournaments were broken into 3 levels, if I remember correctly, the first remains unnamed in my mind unfortunately, maybe zone?, but was at the Clarenville High School.  I really don’t recall much about it to be honest, but we did win the tournament.

The next step was to play in the regional tournament, which was held in the town of Burin.  I have three main memories of that tournament.

One: The gym we played in had a lot of condensation, and the floor was damp a lot. The referee of one or more of our games, was a former teacher at our school, Jim Pittman, and we seemed to be getting called for an inordinate amount of travelling calls from slipping in the dampness.

Two: We were playing some team, and were up by a substantial amount, and I got to play for a bit.  I remember keep missing my shots, and the team kept feeding me the ball to try again.  I finally made a basket, and the whole team cheered, which felt really good for the guy who was mostly known as the school’s nerd.

Three: We won the tournament! And thats where the title comes in.  I remember riding the bus back home, fairly late at night I believe, and all of us singing along loudly to this song when it came on the radio.

Photo courtesy Faron Turley

This also meant we moved on to play in the provincial championship, which was held in Grand Bank. I remember I was billeted with Chris Laite at some person’s home, and that, if memory serves, we missed out on the playoffs by total points scored, being 4 shy of making the “cross over”.
I’m sure a horrible disappointment at the time, but fondly remembered now.

At the end of that school year, our jerseys were “retired” – these used to be used year after year. And we got to keep them.  I think mine finally gave up the ghost only a couple years ago, and shredded into dust.


Music Class

The item in the image above, if you don’t remember, was used to draw music staves on the chalkboard (though it was also co-opted to use for cursive writing and maybe, just maybe, to make writing “I will not chew gum in class”100 times easier).

I posted it a couple days ago on twitter, and it seemed to blow up, my most interacted tweet ever, so I guess there’s a lot of nostalgia for it!

Balbo Elementary (shared on facebook, if this is yours, let me know and will credit)

As I write this, I’m sitting in the old shoal harbour school, Balbo Elementary, upstairs (oh what fun Hughie Reid and I used to have playing on those stairs), grade 2, and Dorothy Guillam (I probably am totally botching that spelling) is using a device like it to draw staves on the board.

Brings back memories of terms I’d forgotten, treble clef, bass clef, etc. To be honest, I had totally forgotten that until a user on twitter mentioned the old mnemonic to remember notes “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”. I’m sure she drilled that into us too, or similar, though to be totally honest all I really remember was, that to a 7 year old brat like me, she seemed ancient, and totally “prim” especially as she was from the UK and had an accent, which made her seem upper crust and “proper” to me.

I am not sure the truth of this, but I’ve heard that she was somehow involved with the community of Weybridge on Random Island changing to this name, from its former name of Foster’s Point.  If you have any details, please leave a comment and let me know, would love to learn more.

Music class kept on going to about grade 6 I think, with lots trying to learn an instrument.  I even had a guitar back in the day, but if I’m not tone deaf, I’m at least tone dumb, and, as dad used to say, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Laura Rogers was the last music teacher I had, and one thing I do remember from my time with her, and I’m sure every parent does too, with a sense of dread, was this hideous screeching thing.  They call it a recorder, and say it’s a music instrument, but I personally think it was some sort of practical joke, or mild form of torture from music teachers everywhere to parents.

I can remember Dad now yelling out at me “Peter, for the love of God, stop!” when I was trying to play/practice it.

Anyway, Happy New Year! And I hope this took you down a nostalgic rest stop!

March of Dimes

Short post, but for whatever reason, was driving along somewhere today, and something jogged my memory of the March of Dimes, or more specifically, the little folder we got at school (I think).

It wasn’t exactly like the one pictured, I think it held more dimes for one thing, but also I seem to remember it being blue.  I really just remember trying and sometimes succeeding in getting dimes insert into the little slits.

I believe the charity used the dimes for Polio research, or similar to that.  Anyone else have memories and pictures of that?

Education Week

When we were kids in school back on Random Island, there was no March break (and maybe there still isn’t, no idea).  We did have some time off at Easter, but the big week I remember most was Education week.  We’d try to earn points for our classes with themed days, dress up, participation, best decorated chalk board (I really think Karen’s or more specifically, Karen, class nearly always won that, no wonder she became a designer!). We’d have read alert (at least I think thats what it was called) where when the bell rang 3 times we’d have to stop whatever we were doing and read for 10 minutes, and the grand daddy event of them all, the talent show.

This was always a huge blast, I remember in grade 6 I think it was, in our class all the boys in our class dressed as girls and vice versa, and went on stage singing what shall we do with the drunken sailor, carrying flasks filled with water and vanilla to simulate whiskey.  Maybe I’ve got two years combined together, I don’t know anymore. Then there was the year we lip synced the Rolling Stone’s Emotional Rescue.

It may not have been education week, but some other event (and I know there’s a picture in a yearbook somewhere that’ll I’ll try to find), but at one point our class, or group of some sort put off a skit where I was the narrator, sitting on a high stool on the left of the stage.  I remember parents were there, but not exactly much more, except… except… that at one point I lost my balance and went tumbling off the stool, off the stage, onto the gym floor.  Now at this point I was a little bit smaller than I am now, and I remember mom was there and thought I was killed.  But nope, i got up walked up the steps picked up the stool and sat back down to keep narrating.

Probably too stunned to know the difference I say!


30 Minutes or its Free?

Cold Plate, found on pinterest

I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone making that claim recently, but then again I don’t get much delivered.  But before there was fast food delivery, at least around home, we had delivery of another kind.

Back then, and maybe still, organizations like the UCW, Lion’s Club, and even us students raising money for our graduations would make up turkey cold plates, with turkey, ham, an assortment of salads, a piece of lettuce, dressing, and often some hideous jelly salad (apologies to anyone who makes it or likes it, but oh my god its gross!)

I remember in Grade 11 (No, I didn’t do grade 12, yes I am that old) our small class of 17 people made up a mess of these, and sold them door to door.  The work involved by our parents in the cooking and making of salads and all was tremendous, and not sure we thanked them all enough then.  I remember assembling these in the gym, adding some beet, mustard and potato salad on an assembly line. Stapling a 2nd plate on top of the bottom to hold them together, and piling into cars with parents (none of us were old enough to drive in Grade 11 I don’t think, or very few, legal driving age was (and maybe still is) 17 in Newfoundland then) and heading out to try and sell these.

I really don’t think there was much trouble, because almost everyone seemed to love them, or at least most parts of them (other than the jelly salad :D).  I know I’ve been craving one lately, and absolutely love beet and mustard salad.

Hungry yet?

Ew… Goulash Day!

When the “new” school opened up on Random Island, it had a cafeteria for hot lunches.  For those of us who had bussed it to Shoal Harbour before this was something new, we had only had the lunch can before that.  Those who had gone to school in their local one rooms, in all likelihood, went home to lunch most days, so was new to them too, though hot lunches may not have been.

Hot lunches in the school system didn’t last too many years, a victim of budget cuts I assume, and the cafeteria at school now likely just takes up space except for special events, but back then Nina March and Gladys Marsh cooked up food for the kids at a nominal price every day.  We had chicken and chips, fish sticks and chips, amongst other things, and it was all yummy and filling; well except the dreaded goulash…

Now to be fair, the dreaded goulash is just my opinion, lots bought it every week or second week or whenever it came up, but to me it was (and is) disgusting!  Back then we called it Hungarian Goulash, and it was something at the time I had never heard of.  So I was kind of excited in my 10 year old way to try some.  Well lets just say its not an experience I want to repeat, I’ve never been fond of any ground beef dish that’s not been “formed”, e.g.: meatloaf and burgers, so once I saw what it was and tasted, I think that may have been a lunch-less day. To this day I am still not fond of hamburger helper, sloppy joes, or any other dish of that ilk.

But while that memory stands out, there were a great many days when there was chicken and fish and other things I did enjoy, and I remember the line-ups being really long any day we had chips (fries).  I especially loved the fish sticks, it doesn’t seem the ones you get nowadays taste the same.

Its too bad kids of today can’t get those hot lunches, but I’m glad we did, and look fondly back on them.  Thanks Nine and Glad!

Its flippin September, time for flippin school, and …. flippin cards!

I think Roy Marsh and Paul George, not sure who's facing away. That may even be me, not Roy, I did have hair back then! (Photographed from RandomMemories Yearbook)

I think Roy Marsh and Paul George, not sure who’s facing away. That may even be me, not Roy, I did have hair back then! (Photographed from RandomMemories Yearbook)

In Random Island Integrated, spending my days
Classes from Randall and Loder, makin me dazed
When along came a couple of guys up to no good
Flippin their hockey cards, like bad boys would

Apologies to Will Smith for the bad interpretation!  School time is here again, and that was often met with a lot of groans and sighs from us kids, but there were some positives too, often we didn’t see our friends for the whole summer.  While Random Island doesn’t have a lot of people, its also not so easy for a kid of 10 or 12 to get the 15 miles to his best friends house unless he biked it.

Like all kids of that generation, we were also all hockey mad, and of course we all collected the o-pee-chee hockey cards.  We’d buy a pack when we could, or bug our parents to, but of course the real way to collect hockey cards is in the school hallway, flippin them! Odds! Evens! Oh man, you won my lucky checklist! I’m not flippin for that one! That’s a trophy card! I’ll give you 10 for it!

I can still hear the familiar refrain after all these years, and the pleasure of winning a stack, and the agony of losing all your cards and trying to borrow 5 from someone.  And I still swear to this day that checklists were luckier than the rest!

If you’re not gonna share…

In 1973, the “New” school on Random Island opened. Originally called Random Island Integrated, its now called Random Island Academy. In Grade 11, I was part of the drama club that put off a, in pretty much everyones opinion, great play called Riverrun, semi based on a book of the same name about the Beothuks.  I am not sure, but I think the play may have been written by our teacher, Ray Budgell, but I could be wrong, that was 1982 after all.  I have great memories of it, and while we didn’t win anything at the festival, I will always feel we won in the court of public opinion, and look back fondly on our performance.

Some of our practices broke down into some riotous laughter for sure.  There was one day I could not keep a straight face at Evan Reid’s town crier saying Hear Ye, Hear Ye.  And one other practice where Virginia Smith said “Me fell down to me knees” or something like that.

I was also proud to be a member of the Crusader Basketball team in Grade 10. I was quite good at keeping that bench warm, and got to visit quite a number of places for tournaments.

Was lucky to be a bench warmer for some great players too, we went to the provincials that year, and if memory serves, missed out on the playoffs by score differential of 2 baskets. I have no illusions about my abilities, but I am happy I got to participate, and also look back on that fondly.

Our coach, Rod Nichol, was also our gym teacher, and our Biology teacher, and this particular memory relates to the latter.

Rod had a terrific sense of humour, I remember the correct answer to a multiple choice question “An example of osmosis is…” being Mork’s finger (Mork and Mindy for all you young whippersnappers, look it up).  Another great memory relates to the title.  Like all teens, we weren’t above sneaking a snack into the classroom, which of course wasn’t allowed, a rule enforced more by some teachers than others.  Well this one Biology class in Grade 10, Jennifer Adey had a bag of candy in class, and was caught eating them by Mr. Nichol (Rod). Of course he yelled at her, and promptly confiscated the candy.

But the funny part is instead of keeping them in the desk to give back later as was normal, he took the bag around the class and shared the candy with everyone but Jen! I don’t think there was one left at the end.  Well Jen, if you’re not gonna share…. see what happens?

The Birthday Party

My little niece can’t seem to catch a break this year, going from pneumonia, to now a flu, or possible food poisoning, yet through it all, she’s a chipper little girl, who takes more responsibility and shows more maturity than most. My niece being sick brought this story to mind.

In 1970, I began my edumacation at Balbo Elementary in Shoal Harbour, and I was a sickly child, tiny, pale, undersized (I was 4’2″ at the start of Grade 8, for reference, my niece is that now in Grade 1). Dr. O’Mahony used to say to mom, some puny isn’t he? Many days were spent in Neta Pelly’s trailor (seen in the picture just past the school), my kindergarten teacher, while waiting for Dad to come get me.    The school was this huge or at least huge to me building full of stairs, rooms, and hallways and the usual school things.

I don’t remember a huge amount about it other than Hughie Reid and I playing on the stairs, and chasing Sharon Adams around (who I wouldn’t know today if she bit me, though I hope she doesn’t). My best friends back then were Danny Moodie (Moody?) and Gregory Steele, both of whom I also hope don’t bite me.

I was neither responsible nor mature when I was 6 or 7, (well probably not mature even now), and this lack of responsibility is at the heart of this story.  Gregory Steele invited me to his birthday party in Grade 2, which would have made me 7 at the time.  Somehow I forgot to admit this fact to my parents, or to get a gift, or to do anything one normally does for a party.  Likely I forgot all of the above, but I do remember clearly Gregory asking me the day of if I was coming.  I responded that I had no gift and so couldn’t come.  He replied that didn’t matter and that he wanted me to come anyway.

Well with that, I was off.  After school I made my way to his place (I don’t remember how) and enjoyed cake and games. My brother, who usually met me at the bus in the evenings didn’t think much of me not being there as I often was sick as noted, and Dad came and got me.

Balbo Elementary (shared on facebook, if this is yours, let me know and will credit)

Balbo Elementary (shared on facebook, if this is yours, let me know and will credit)

The party was located somewhere back up in Shoal Harbour, closer to home than the school, near where Bruce’s Marine is, or was.  Once I was done with the party, I decided it was time to leave, and with no more thought than that, I left, and started walking to where Dad worked.  Dad was working with the Department of Highways as a clerk at Shoal Harbour pit, a location where they used to make concrete pipes, and located approximately where the Shoal Harbour Softball field is now.

So I, a puny little runt, proceeded to walk, at age 7, the approximately 2 miles to Dad’s work.  I couldn’t have stayed at the party too long, because just Mom found out I wasn’t with my brother, (the bus ride took perhaps an hour or more), and called Dad in a panic, and Dad got up to leave to come look for me, there he sees me strolling into the pipe yard as unconcerned about my absence as if it was a normal thing to do.

I really don’t recall if I was punished, or if they were too relieved to even think of that, but I’m sure I did get a yelling at least.  In any event, I guess I grew out of my sickliness, even if I didn’t mature.  Its ok, makes me one more big toy for my niece to play with.  Get better soon sweetie.

Sports Day at Vardyville

Spring is coming (please please please, I’m begging!) and while its still early, it brings back to mind Sports Day at Random Island school.  Back for the first few years when we went there, every year we’d have a sports day, with races, discus, shot put, and the like.  There’d be ribbons, and prizes, and a great time.

The highlight of this was that it was held, at least early in the school’s history at Vardyville Park, also known as Reub’s Farm.  To the best of my knowledge, and I can only go from memory of conversations, Reuban Vardy had a farm on this land, which was just over the Britannia road from Hickman’s Harbour. In my day, it was a private park with a store/take out and pinball machine, and a rudimentary ball field (at least I think there was a ball field).   I remember fries and hotdogs and snacks throughout the day.

Events tend to run together over the years, and these sports days were in the mid 70’s after all, but I do recall the pinball machine.  It cost 10 cents and I’d play what felt like for hours, but of course it  wasn’t because I also remember spending a ton of time outside, racing, throwing shot put, and participating (badly) in whatever events we had.  And of course, watching Randy Baker and I think Shawn Avery playing stretch with every school boy’s crush, Miss Sargeant.

I’m not sure what became of the park, but in any event, it was a beautiful spot of land, with the rattle in the background, and we as kids had a great time there every year while it was still the host site, and it holds a special memory of my youth.

UPDATE: Added a couple pictures scanned from yearbook.sportsday1Sportsday2