March 24, 2007

Gwen (Greene) Boyd recalls her arrival in Gander. 

“My First Impressions: I was quite young when we moved from Bishop Falls to Gander.  I am sure that I have forgotten many things over the years, but my brain cells did capture some images that I will never forget.

“It was 1947 when we all climbed aboard the “Newfie Bullet” with our suitcases, trunks, Solo butter boxes and a few bags for that trip to the unknown.  As you know, the distance from Bishop Falls to Gander is only about 50 miles, but I am sure that a trip on the “Orient Express” from Paris to Istanbul would have been shorter. We made several stops along the way…. Norris Arm, Notre Dame Junction and Glenwood.  Nevertheless, after a period of time we arrived at Gander.

Barb, Gwen, Joan, & Vera

“On arrival at Gander, we were met at the station by Mr. Tom Rice and taken to 56 Hull Street on the American Side where we lived for a number of years. Our phone number  was 936 and my cousin (Jane Dempsey) was 315. Our source of heat was a wood stove in the kitchen and an oil stove in the living room.  The indoor plumbing and unlimited supply of hot and cold water was a big change for us girls. Some of our clothing came from Bill Toyman who went from door to door with a suitcase before setting up a store in the new townsite. During the early days in Gander, accommodations were hard to fine so many people took boarders.  We had an American couple living with us on Hull Street…..Aaron and Marilyn Sugar. Aaron worked with one of the airlines and I will always remember the green gum he gave us. Many years had passed and shortly after 911, Aaron and Marilyn while watching TV about Gander, called my mother through our Mayor Claude Elliott.

“While living on the American Side, we attended school on Chestnut Road.  We always took a short cut to school, (not like Jack Pinsent, who took the long way) and sometimes ended up late. Our route would take us in front of the big hangers, which were located near the side of the runway. Inside one of the hangers was a large plane that had decapitated someone while making a landing sometime earlier. We were always a little afraid passing this hangers. This short cut then led to the road which crossed the runway and if a plane was on approach the bells would start ringing and everyone would wait until the plane had landed and then it would be safe to cross. I remember a couple of times and we were almost across and then the bells started ringing….you guessed it, we ran like Hell!!!

“In 1951 we moved to building 108 on Foss Avenue which later became a school. I will always remember the  big window in the kitchen and after climbing two or three steps from the outside we would enter the house through the window. We didn't know it at the time, but I think we may have invented  the “Patio Doors”  It was a big change from Hull Street, we now had the big freestanding cast iron clawfoot tub and those  bulky cast iron steam radiators which made it very comfortable and a great place to dry those wet ski pants and the “blue bloomers” which I will never forget!!! Many times those steam radiators did keep us awake with the banging, cracking and other unknown noises.

“We like to travel, but it is always nice to come home to the place called GANDER.

- Gwen (Greene) Boyd, Class of 1960

“I did follow Jack’s instructions and in the “shoebox” I did find a few old snaps which are attached.”

(see Gwen's Collection)

 

Can anyone recall those nights when we used to sit around in the evening, before there was any television? As kids we would listen to many of the same stories being told,  over and over, and often there were some enhanced versions of an original tale. Nevertheless, we enjoyed hearing them. Some were passed down a couple of generations. I wonder if our kids or grandkids will carry on that same oral tradition?

Nevermind....

Last time we asked if anyone remembered traveling aboard the Newfie Bullet, or other train trips in Nfld. And here’s something  from Bob Pelley to start things off:

 

“Memories of the Newfy Bullet...guess it must have been the summers when I was a boy coming home on train from visiting grandparents out around Clarenville or Bonavista--there was always somebody with a guitar and/or accordion trying to cheer uo the fellows playing poker, usually on a large suitcase turned on its side, held on the players’ knees.

Of course, these days that would all be illegal, ­ we would be disturbing someone or other and end up in the Supreme Court arguing the Bill of Rights.

But like the Ira and George Gershwim song “You can’t take that away from me”

-          Bob Pelley, Class of 1962

 

Did anyone see the article and photos on Deadman’s Pond on this website in “On the Gander” ?

Ron Mosher remembers it when he first came to Gander and when it was quite a popular spot. 

“I can remember as a kid being brought to a couple of weddings there by my parents. There were wooden walkways all up through the woods and along the beach - much like they have done now at Cobb's Pond. The fireplaces were built out of natural stone and were lovely when lit. I didn't realize it was burnt down on purpose, though. I also didn't realize it was built by Billy Clarke - that was (my wife) Ina's grandfather. 

“ Interesting aside - he was working with Atlas Construction as a civilian. He had worked down through the US for years in the 20's and 30's on big construction jobs.  He knew how to read blueprints and was actually a carpenter supervisor.  Most of the guys working on construction in Gander during the war were military related and were from the US or Canada. They were earning $2 and hour, but, because he was from NFld he was only allowed to earn $1 an hour by ruling from the Commission Gov't in Nfld at the time. They felt that if Nflders were paid more it would raise their expectations too high and cause too much of a strain on businesses elsewhere in Nfld.  The same thing occurred in Argentia where Nflder worked side by side with Americans associated with the US military and were only allowed to get half the wage of the Americans doing exactly the same work.  ‘Daddy Clarke’ (Ina's name for him) used to tell me that story over and over. It caused a lot of bitterness for the guys who got the good jobs during the war in those places.”

 - Ron Mosher, Class of 1959

 

Dennis Pritchett remembers Twin Ponds in another way.

“I played organised hockey till I was 11, then I started skiing, cross-country, and continued hockey on the pond. We used to leave before daylight on Saturday mornings, knapsack and skates on our back, a bit of food, and we would ski to Twin Ponds beside the railway track. we'd dump our gear in Mr. Warren's cabin, and go down to the pond and put on our skates and spend the day there, and ski home after dark. I'm tired just remembering it.

  -Denny Pritchett, Class of 1963

 

 

Frank Stirling made an observation on his daily treks down to Gander Lake from the Hotel Gander during the reunion.

“As a boy I used to see raw sewage spilling into the water supply of Gander Lake. Is that not why on the reunion I noticed a change from blue water to brown water for Gander Lake?”  

Frank Stirling, Class of 1961

 

Ron Mosher replied to Frank’s question: 

“Re the sewage: Actually Gander had one of the first, if not the first, sewage treatment plants in Nfld. It was put there during the war time. It was situated in that big white building half way to the RAF side just a mile or so beyond the railway station on the left hand side of the road. When the town was built later it, too, had a treatment centre over by the old Shell Oil bulk plant on the railway. 

“All water from these plants, after treatment, were filtered through the bogs to the north of Gander.  Jonathan's Pond (Johnson's) was miles to the north of any outflow, so, was not affected.  In fact, in testing for the park which was later put on the west end of the second pond on the Gander Bay highway, the water was found to be good - that's why they allowed a swimming area to be included within this park. The water from the town plant did flow toward Cobb's Pond - most people that I knew would not eat fish from that pond after the town was built. 

“With regards to Jonathan's (Johnson's) Pond, the fish were always like that there. I only used to go there in May when the summer trouting season would open. At the mouth of a brook we used to call Whitman's Brook where it used to run into Jonathan's Pond for a period of time of about one week in May you would catch trout like this as fast as you could throw a hook in the water - it was an idyllic paradise.  Most of the trout were what we used to call "mud" trout - actually speckled and rainbow. There were never any brown trout - these are not indigenous to Nfld - the people who brought them in mostly seeded the ponds and streams of eastern Nfld with them - mostly the Avalon Peninsula.”

-          Ron Mosher, Class of 1959

 

Next time, let’s go fishing, or out on the lake—Gander Lake…got any stories about that topic? Email me at faye@villagereporter.com