February 14, 2007  

Well look who we found this time? Eric Smith, older brother of Morley and Kevin. And thanks for sharing those great pictures too, Eric. Just when we thought we had tapped everyone’s memory, someone else joins the fray. Keep it up…. send photos and recollections to Faye Lewis Raynard faye@villagereporter.com


My first recollection of Gander was seeing the runway all alight as we arrived by train around 4 a.m.  During the third week of September 1947 my Mother and her four kids had taken a taxi from the little outport of Spreadeagle in Trinity Bay to Whitbourne where we boarded the train for Gander.   For an eight year old boy coming from an outport with no electricity, the runway lights were unbelievably impressive.

 Married accommodations in Gander were at a premium so our first apartment was at the former McNamara's camp which were tar paper shacks.  The camp was close to the end of runway 3 and I used to enjoy climbing to the top of a huge pile of sand just off the runway and watching the planes land, one after the other.   Great entertainment.

 I should tell you of Morley and my first day at school after arriving at Gander.  The school mini-bus had dropped us off at school.  My Mother had warned me to take care of Morley, so after school I went looking for him and consequently we missed the bus.   We started to walk home and made it as far as hangar 13, where you would normally wait for the green light to cross runway number 1 (now called runway 14-31).  By this time we were totally lost and scared so we sat down on the concrete outside the hangar and cried. Fortunately, a guy who worked for my Father drove by, recognized us and gave us a lift home.

After 18 months we moved to Hull Street on the American side (where the terminal building is now located).   These were newly refurbished quarters complete with all conveniences.  Shortly after moving there, my parents gave me a brand new bike.   The very first day, I was carrying Morley on the crossbars, lost my balance and he landed on the pavement with his foot jammed in the spokes.  Although Morley was in a excruciating pain, my only concern was the badly bent front wheel.

 By the time I had graduated high school, our family had lived in four areas on Gander airport;  McNamara's,  American Side, Army Side and Canadian side. Growing up 'on the Gander' was an experience that I have never regretted or forgotten.  Although Gander Amalgamated School did not have a gym, we played many a basket ball game in the old  military drill hall until it was converted to a hockey arena.   In fact we took grades seven and eight in the drill hall.   A lot of the friends that graduated with me, I had known since grade 3.


(click for enlargements)

Skating on the Gullies

A photo taken during a skating expedition at the 'gullies' during the winter of 1953.   From left to right is me, Bill Noel, Jim Simmons, Peter Blackie and John Smallwood. Photo courtesy Eric Smith

Looking at your photo of guys putting on skates, there is a bowl by you? What's that, had to run out to skate with the porridge? Huh? Or did they have pondside catering?

You're very observant. It must be from your newspaper experience. I have never noticed that bowl before. I suspect that the guy sitting next to me (Rev Bill Noel) must have had spaghetti for lunch. Mother would generally put 'potted meat' sandwiches into my backpack.


AYPA outing

A picture I 'snapped' while we were on an A.Y.P.A. outing in the spring of 1956.   Standing L to R are Gar Pardy, Clarence Lehr, Junior Bishop and Calvin Pretty.   Squatting are Joyce Mingo and Jim Garland. Photo courtesy Eric Smith

    Eric Smith -Class of 1956

Maybe it is just history playing tricks on us... But it seems to me that these pictures are of a simpler time, no atomic bomb, no Al-Kaida, no SIDA.  Didn’t need brand name shoes for tennis, more brand name shoes for jogging, different ones for workout, all with brand name shirts and shorts. We actually played outdoors with whatever we could find to put on our feet and still had fun.

    Bob Pelley - Class of 1962


Here's why you haven't heard or seen much of me: I hated school from day 1 to the last. I still have nightmares about school, there is nothing pleasant that I remember from it. That might sound harsh, but my first day at school, I ran away at recess time. We lived on the American Side, and I ran across runway 32/14 and hid in one of those bunkers for drainage, by the runway till school was out, and it just gets worse from there.

 My favourite teacher was John Lundrigan, he challenged me, and it seemed to work. We became friends later in life. Mr. Case was a gentleman, and I respected him. Trixie Hemeon, well, let's just say that was the best year I enjoyed of the lot.

 That's about it. I spend as much time as I can with my wife and the camera in the Rockies, and I do a lot of walking in the parks.

    Dennis Pritchett - Class of  1963


I have another little tidbit but I don't know if Clarence would appreciate it or not but I remember on my first day of school we had an assembly. I started to cry because I didn't want to learn how to sing.  Clarence had to take me home on the bus. He was not pleased!  funny how some things just stick in your mind.

   Rowena Lehr - Class of 1961


Hey, remember this poem from school.

     Submitted by Dennis Pritchett…


The Twa Corbies/Anonymous/1700's

“As I was walking all alane,

I heard twa corbies makin a mane;

The tane unto the ither say,

"Whar sall we gang and dine the-day?"


"In ahint yon auld fail dyke,

I wot there lies a new slain knight;

And nane do ken that he lies there,

But his hawk, his hound an his lady fair."


"His hound is tae the huntin gane,

His hawk tae fetch the wild-fowl hame,

His lady's tain anither mate,

So we may mak oor dinner swate."


"Ye'll sit on his white hause-bane,

And I'll pike oot his bonny blue een;

Wi ae lock o his gowden hair

We'll theek oor nest whan it grows bare."


"Mony a one for him makes mane,

But nane sall ken whar he is gane;

Oer his white banes, whan they are bare,

The wind sall blaw for evermair."


Comment: No wonder Dennis thought school was on ‘another planet’. FR