do you remember

June 03/11

OK folks time to go through the files and compile a column on bits and pieces of conversation. But first here is a piece submitted by one of GA's favorite teachers, Clarence Dewling. He says he had published if a few years ago. Enjoy.


There is no trouble to see the cups, saucers and milk jugs with Forget-me-Not insignias. All the memory of the donor and the community that we were supposed not to forget are long gone.

It took the war years [1939 and after] to introduce us to the general onslaught of souvenirs. The war necessitated the building of airports and the defending of this 'the Guardian of the Gulf'. And who better to do this work than our neighbours to the west - the Canadians and the Americans. Following behind them was the titter-tatter & tawdry tinsel that we mistook for culture.

Our men gave up their traditional ways of life to work for hourly wages and ready cash. From time to time they would mail or bring home souvenirs to show concern and love to 'the girl they left behind'.
The most popular was the pastel coloured rayon cushion cover. The whole thing was edged in a similar coloured frill but the cover was bordered in scenes of the colony and the war effort. In the centre was scripted a syrupy verse, like:

'Oh, the world is wide, and the world is grand
And there is little or nothing new
But the sweetest thing is the grip of a hand
Of a friend that's tried and true.'

To be a tad more personal, the rhyme might be:
"Wife of my heart it is you.
You make my life so complete,
You make my dreams all come true
So loving, so loyal, so sweet.
Sharing each smile and each tear
Faithful and true to the end.
To me you will always be there,
My sweetheart, my partner, my friend."

Good stuff, eh? Using words that no fisherman would be heard to utter might have made up for the lonely nights.

For years these cushions adorned many a front room. Have the treasure washed, and it was thereby reduced to a rumpled rag decorated with 'runned' ink.

A souvenir of the keepsake medium was the 'Airplane Ring' that was drilled and filed from some scrap of aluminium. In their off hours our men would painstakingly prepare a light-weight ring for themselves or their sons back home. A true souvenir, handicraft, and heirloom.

Clarence and Sarah Dewling, GA Teacher 1967

While I was working on a braided rug for the old cottage on Cape Cod this winter, I couldn't help but think of the many of the talents exhibited on a daily basis by our parents and those of earlier generations. How long before these crafts, or way of life will be forgotten?

I recall my grandfather sitting for hours in winter "knitting potheads" for the many lobster traps that his sons would use each season. I never learned to do that, but enjoyed watching that 'needle' fly. He would promise to "finish just one more" before stumping us grandkids in a game of Parcheesi or Checkers. How many fisherman still hand knit potheads (now that they use wire pots) although I am sure there is probably a lot of net mending that still goes on.

Pictured is the type of needle that Grampie used to do this:

But what of those other skills that will, given another generation, be only a memory, or something that you only read about.

My mother-in-law used to make butter every week, several pounds...A couple of times she allowed me to help and it was not an easy job. Using the table-top 'churn' and shed would then put the mixture into a large trough-like wooden container. A handheld paddle was then used to press out the buttermilk. I would be hard pressed to do that again on my own.

Oh and nevermind, milking cows (which I never learned to do); Are there many among us who could do that today?

Does anyone know about 'tatting' or how it is done? Quilting and crocheting are still in vogue, but I look at the intricate work of tatting and still marvel over that skill.

My father's butcher shop of the late 40's, he made mincemeat and sausages. He would have a big vat of sausage meat with all the spices and then run it through a hand-cranked machine, forcing the mixture into natural casings. As the long filled string emerged, he would tie off the appropriate sized links. I still have his mincemeat recipe but not the one for sausage.

It seems that only a generation ago, if you couldn't make it yourself or your neighbor couldn't help you do it, then you probably didn't need it.

Yes there were many people back then who could 'shoe oxen' or make a barrel that didn't leak, or build a boat, or erect a house or a barn. Generally, the hardest part was coming up with the materials to do these things. Money was in scarce supply. So they lived by the motto: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

(This question below is still open for discussion so send along your responses to me at

But what of early Gander? What type of skills were in place there that will soon be forgotten or not needed anymore? Probably many that I am unfamiliar with...what comes to mind? Share your thoughts with us, however brief, or you might think 'trivial'...examples of the things that people did that you hardly see or hear about being done anymore?

It could be anything from tying flies for fly fishing to fashioning baskets or canoe paddles...the subject is open...

My father-in-law talked about going on a hunting trip with a few friends when he was young.. After they had paddled up river for several hours using old boards, they arrived at camp for the night. The trip back home was a lot easier, because the Indian who was with them had fashioned two excellent paddles out of the boards that they had used on the way up.

Thanks everyone.
Faye Lewis Raynard,GA Class of 1959

I visited my next door neighbour yesterday. Guess what he was doing? Knitting a pothead for a new lobster pot. The same technology was being used.
Clarence Dewling

This item below was sent in by Mary Osborne Warren, GA Class of 1959. How many of us remember those Monday morning wash days…but probably more in keeping with the old wringer washers. Our grandmothers probably weren't as lucky.


"Warshing Clothes Recipe" -- imagine having a recipe for this.
Years ago an Alabama grandmother gave a new bride the following recipe: This is an exact copy as written and found in an old scrapbook - spelling errors and all.

Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water.
Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert.
Shave one whole cake of lie soap in boilin' water.
Sort things, make 3 piles
1 pile white,
1 pile colored,
1 pile work britches and rags.
To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water.
Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil,
then rub colored don't boil just wrench (rinse) and starch.
Take things out of kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.
Hang old rags on fence.
Spread tea towels on grass.
Pore wrench water in flower bed.
Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs.
Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

Paste this over your washer and dryer Next time when you think things are bleak, read it again, kiss that washing machine and dryer, and give thanks.

(Note the second installment of the Railroad Speeders is on hold for the moment but will come next time…)

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