Last time we asked who remembered the storms we used to have in Gander and how they were handled. Got some new people to respond. Welcome Jim Garland, Alice Taylor, and of course we are getting some good feedback on topics. Please feel free to mention anything off topic as Jim Garland does below…it’s fun to reminisce.
On another note, Carol Walsh and I have been in touch with 1951 grad Burnell Tucker. He lives in London, England, now and claims he doesn’t have too many memories to share here. Never mind, we’ll encourage him to remember those early days in Gander. Burnell, as many of you might know, went on to a career as a professional actor in the film industry and has many well known films to his credit. (Check out his bio information under his class listing on this site). After hearing from him, I called one of his best buddies in London, Ont., Wilfred Green (also of the Class of ’51). I still need to iron out his correct email address, because I keep getting a bounce back.
Alice Taylor recalls:
What I recall about snow in Gander was the fun we had climbing on our garage roof and jumping into the snow, often leaving a boot or two in a hole buried somewhere beneath the surface. I also remember snowshoeing through the woods where we lived. One Christmas storm, we stayed at home for days and my dad bringing home folks from work who were not able to travel home for Christmas. It was always a fun time as we made room at the table and made up makeshift beds.We knew the storm was over when Angus's dad made his way down Memorial Drive for a little ‘Christmas Cheer’.
I rarely recall missing school even in the worst of storms. Edgar Baird (Bill and Mickey's dad) had a snowmobile and without fail would pick all 7 or 8 kids who lived on lower Memorial Drive (then known as Beaverwood) transporting us over the banks to the school on Frazer Road. For some reason I always loved being at school on snow days. I think we all felt a little like pioneers and perhaps we were.
Alice Taylor, Class of 1960
There were so many of these storms that it's hard to pick out a particular one. Storms were great because it meant a day out of school. What does stick in my mind was the amount of shoveling that had to be done. There were no snow blowers tucked away in a garage and everything was done by hand. I remember particularly that even the aluminum shovel had not yet been invented and we used these 8&#+** square headed iron shovels to which the snow would stick like you know what sticks to a blanket! Aggghhhh....my aching back. I can still feel it!
Angus Taylor, Class of 1962
I'm really straining here to remember a particular snowstorm but I know we had a lot of snow that tended to drift. I also know that they used those big graders to clear the roads. I don't remember anybody having scoops or snow blowers, just shovels (as Angus says). We didn't have too many days off school unless the roads were impassable. Not like today, when a few flurries will shut things down. It was pretty cold which caused things to stick to metal. I lost a few pairs of mitts clinging to vehicles.
Bob McKinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961
And how did they keep those old buildings warm in winter?
We had steam on the Canadian side. There was a steam plant and a lot of raised pipes to carry it around town. Our radiators made quite a racket if they weren't bled regularly.
Bob McKinnon, Class of 1961
I remember constant snow in Gander during the winter months and I don't remember ever having to shovel. I believe Dad just got someone from work to come and plow! I don't remember school being cancelled, and if the bus couldn't make it, we would walk out to the Army Side for school. Just too much fun to miss.
Or the Dempsey girls would be having a house party on the weekend, and no buses running because of snow, so Joyce and I would walk to their place and begging, pleading with Mom and Dad to let us go. I never minded the snow in Gander, seemed it was the way it was.
I remember when I became a working girl in the city of Halifax, a Court Reporter for the Family Court, it snowed like hell and we were all storm stayed in our buildings, couldn't get home. My sister Donna was working down the hill from me for the Dept of Education, and she at that point was very handicapped with only one leg, due to cancer. So I walked down to her building, and we slept on Managers chairs, which were uncomfortable to sleep on of course, and next day we just continued on with work. Messy hair, wrinkled clothes, and no toothbrush! Dad made several attempts to come to our rescue, couldn't get close.
I should have some pictures of snow problems in Gander. will check it out.
Audrey Mingo Grantham, Class of 1958
At the risk of sounding like The Four Yorkshiremen (a skit by Monty Python--go to You Tube and you'll find it there, it's a hoot), we didn't have it easy as kids by comparison today although we never really thought it was hard. Just fun.
Alice talked about jumping off the garage roof into the snow. On the old American side, in the old apartments, we would jump from the fire escape on the 2 nd floor (above the 2nd floor when you stood on the rails), into the snow bank below practically disappearing in the process. Then...how we survived doing this I don't know...when the snow blowers occasionally came to clear the streets, we would get upon the snow bank which was quite high, ahead of the blower, lie flat, face down and let the snow blower bury us in snow when it came by. Assuming the prostrate position while being buried in projectiled snow to near suffocation was living on the edge! Second only to 'clinging' to cars!
Angus Taylor, Class of 1962
You guys jumping off a roof. I remember hearing stories about that early on. Someone, I think George Baker told me about one classmate—was it Clem Goulding who jumped off and knocked himself out? The kids were all pretty scared, because he had hit his head.
Was that who it was? Does anyone remember?
There I go again, starting rumors, somebody will straighten me out here!!! Please.
Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959
And nice to have Jim Garland aboard…
Here is an E-Mail to everyone who lived "on the Gander" from 1945-to whenever.
Does anyone remember the fake ack-ack guns that were erected by the allies in Gander at the time to fool any enemy aircraft that might have penetrated our airspace.
Does anyone remember the old barracks and leftover drugs and other poisons that could harm a human body? The following is a actual episode that happened to our family.
We moved to Gander in June 1945 and lived on the "Army Side" of the town. One day during the summer months we were (brother Gordon and sister Judy) sittting on a doorstep in front of a building the was labeled "DO NOT ENTER"
However a neighbor who did not believe in any signs found a bottle of what he thought was water decided to "cool-off" our sister by throwing the "water" over her. The water turned out to be sulfuric acid and to this day my sister and brother bear the scars of the acid which burned them., my sister Judy, suffered the most and still bears the scars to this day. My brother Gordon, still has scars on his forehead.
There are many stories of the old Gander that I would like to put into words but will have to take some time to reflect.
One of my fondest memories are of Eddie Yetman and I swinging on the old swings by the old Goodyear Humber Stores and we would singing to our hearts delight.
Jim Garland, Class of 1956
It sure was good to read Alice’s comments. Especially when it brings back so many memories. I ended up living in Beaverwood as an adult, living next door where Ken Barnes once lived. I can remember my kids whining about having to go to school during snowy weather. I would relate stories of how Ken, Alice, and Linda Collins would walk to school in all types of weather. And also walk back home for lunch. There were others I’m sure. “What, no school bus!”, my kids would exclaim. Of course Willie and Angus Taylor lived at the other end of Memorial but my kids could only relate to the area where they lived.
Schools didn’t close for snow back in those days. There were no such things as snow storms back then. Just a lot more snow and wind than normal. Besides it was easier to keep school open than notify everyone. The only closures were if the school furnace didn’t operate, which happened occasionally. You would only find out about it then after you arrived at school. Three hours of devilment before Mom found out.
If the bus couldn’t get the kids down from the American side because the streets weren’t plowed, then they just missed school. Runways were plowed first than the streets. Sometimes parents would keep the little kids home but the bigger ones went to school.
I would complain about the weather, any excuse to stay home from school but my mother would say “If it is too stormy for you to go to school, then it is too stormy for you to go out side and play” so off to school I would go. There was no way I was staying indoors all day. Besides you could even be late and not be punished. Like Alice, I actually enjoyed those days. The class would be half full so no new lessons would be taught. The teacher would dream of all sorts of things to amuse us. It would be just a fun day. It also made us feel like we were more of an adventurer than others, braving all that snowy weather. Of course the diversions with all that snow made the coming and going more enjoyable as well.
There maybe is a story here, I think.
Jack Pinsent, Class of 1960.
Topics, we need topics. Let’s try this one which I think might have been floated before. “My most embarrasing moment while growing up in Gander”.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, wishing you and yours the happiest times with friends and loved ones. All the best in the New Year.