June 26, 2007

So the question about childhood illnesses, accidents and home remedies brought some general discussion... We keep trying here…


“Polio.  I was in Grade X in Gander, when the shots were making their rounds. We were housed in a cubby hole somewhere in HMA as something must have been going on in the classroom and they put us there. I do believe our class was originally in the gymnasium. Long way to get to the polio story eh! 

“Anyway…when it was our class's turn to line up for the shot, I was terrified, and they couldn't pry me from my seat. I remember the teacher trying to coax and coax me. I don't remember the teacher, but it might have been Gil Wells.

There was absolutely no way anyone was giving me a needle, and in the end, no pun intended, they didn't succeed.  I kicked up such a fuss.  However, a few years later when we had to take it orally, I was more than glad to corporate.


Joyce Noel O’Doherty. Class of 1959

“One thought I had when I read your E-Mail is that I could hear my mother tell me that I was such a sickly child that Doctor Paton told her once, ‘that if a man had a wooden leg in Gambo, Joyce would catch it.’ 

“Glad to know that my immune system has improved with age.”


Jack Pinsent, Class of 1960

 I’m not quite sure of the year but it was the summer the Polio epidemic was raging across North America. That was the first summer I was permitted to leave home accompanied by an adult to visit my grandparents in Ladle Cove. The journey encompassed a train ride to Lewisport followed by an eight hour boat trip. That was an adventure in itself however shortly after I arrived at my grandparents I became ill, to the extent where I was bed ridden. Looking back at it now, I must have been sick for me to stay in a bed. I cannot remember any pain just plain wanting to sleep a lot.

Now we are talking the early 50’s where communication was limited to a telegram where each word had a cost figure. After some days passed and there wasn’t any improvement in my condition, my grandfather telegraphed my father in Gander. The first thought was I had Polio. No one knew the symptoms but Polio was as good as any to blame for my condition. For those unfamiliar with the geography of the area, as the crow flies, Gander is about 80KM away if I was a crow. Unfortunately transportation was via a boat and a train.

 I was informed by my grandfather later, after my father came up with a solution to the problem, that I was going for an airplane ride. He had chartered an EPA Beaver aircraft on floats, to fly to Ladle Cove, land in the harbour and take me back to Gander for medical treatment. It was a day to be remembered in Ladle Cove. The first airplane most people had ever seen. The first airplane to land in the harbour. The first and only medevac flight from Ladle Cove to this very day. And best of all, my very first airplane ride.

 When I arrived in Gander my mother was just about out of her mind about my condition. I was too excited to be sick after that ride. Anyway, they took me too the hospital for an examination. I didn’t have Polio so they determined. The doctors were stymied as to a diagnosis however. Some sort of a fever they said. But I got better so it couldn’t have been that serious even if they didn’t know what was wrong.

Later in life, I asked my father how he could have afforded such an endeavor, to charter an airplane at his own expense. He told me he called Marsh Jones, chief pilot for EPA who he knew quite well and told him of the situation. Marsh flew out himself, in one of their Beavers for the price of the gas. Cost: $12.


Rowena Lehr, Class of 1961

I remember the cod liver oil in the bottle.  Our dad did us the favour of drinking that---yuk.
I also remember when I had the mumps - mom thought my face was going to blow up - can't remember the year.


Faye Lewis Raynard, Class of 1959

“I never got sick in Gander, that I recall, but my first bout with childhood illness came when I blossomed with the mumps while on a cross country train trip at age 3. My parents were going to Calgary, it was war time and dad was going out there for ‘wireless operator training’. Anyway, before we got to Guelph, Ontario, my father came down with them. We stopped to visit my aunt and uncle, and my cousin caught them. I guess, all in all it was a great time.

“I also remember lining up at school to meet the doctor with a 50-cent piece clutched in my sweaty paws to pay for the needle or booster shot that was supposed to keep us well. I didn’t think much of that trade-off either.”


Alright, alright, already…so nobody else got sick as a kid. Here’s a new topic to ponder and reply with any  info you can share:

I asked earlier for Nfld recipes and received a couple of good replies. But there must be something more lurking in those ‘memory banks’.

How about berry picking, or garden plots in the old Gander? I know Morley Smith talked about ‘borrowing turnips’ from one plot, here and there. And R.G. Pelley conversed briefly about potato battles from another garden that they ‘harvested’. So what else grew in that Gander climate?

I know of ‘bakeapples’ but never tasted them. Where do they, or did they grow? Blueberries, I saw being picked along the sides of TCH enroute to Gander in ‘05, so I know that they grow there…

I seem to remember in the little fishing village where I first spent summers in Nova Scotia, that we enjoyed a couple or three late evening ‘corn boils’ up on the beach at night. There was even a little seafood thrown in. All of it was gathered by eager teens with big appetites. I’ve heard about others who went on ‘cucumber raids’ with a saltshaker in hand (not in Gander). Does any of this spark any recollections from fellow classmates? I think maybe…please respond to me via email: faye@villagereporter.com. And thanks for joining us on these pages.

- Faye Lewis Raynard