do you remember

May 23, 2012

The scene here is ‘would be’ get together of Gander “kids” who grew up in town, some in oldtown Gander…the setting is a PMQ (airforce housing) on Elizabeth Drive in Gander…circa 1959…

The gathering resembles a typical party where you have folks gathered around and several conversations crop up. (Have you ever found yourself in on one conversation and overhear a snippet from someone next to you….and wish you could hear more details of that? Well such is the case in this crowded room). 

Of course these are conversations sent back and forth by email some 50 years later…so if we are off a bit with details, and the timeframe doesn’t fit, forgive us…

 (Sorry no music this time folks…hopefully we can get the musicians together again soon for one of those Kitchen Parties that Bob McKinnon and Dave Naish put together at Christmas time…hint, hint)

David Naish (GA Class of 1960) and Faye Lewis Raynard (GA Class of 1959) are remembering (or trying to) the time when they first arrived in Gander…

Faye: My first day in Gander was Sept. 26, 1958.  I cannot remember the actual arrival on the train the night before. I think that somebody must have picked us up and driven us to the PMQ on Elizabeth Drive. However,   I am drawing a blank on that memory.  

I also recall my first impressions of our new home--it  was all comfortably furnished and ready to go, right down to the dishes in the cupboard.

And we were exhausted when we arrived. It had been a long ride across the province, passing some rugged scenery and beautiful blue waters of the lakes and ponds.   On the train, we had our own little compartment, complete with washroom facilities. 

The rest is so vivid to me, walking into the class and Gertie Price introducing me around to everyone.  My classmates were so welcoming and friendly, I knew I was going to love Gander.

David: We also arrived by train. It was 2:00 a.m. and we took a taxi into the new town to our new home for the next 2 years. I remember my parents not being too enthusiastic about making small talk with the taxi driver at that hour of the morning.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Port Aux Basque when we boarded the train (the narrow gauge "bullet") and it stayed that way until the sun went down. That was the only sunny day we saw for a while. The weather in Gander at that time averaged one partial sunny day every 3 weeks. Depressing at first, but one got used to it. We arrived in early July so I had a couple of months before school started to explore the town and meet a few people.

I vividly remember the first day of class and the first class was algebra with Clyde Taite. It was his first day at the new school as well, so we sort of had that in common.  

Yeah, when I think about it, we were there in 1951. Dad was part of the wave of civil servants who came to Gander from the mainland after Confederation. We stayed in Fred Mercer's apartment on Foss Ave for about two weeks while we waited for our apartment in the Met building to be available. Do I feel like a pioneer kid. You bet.          Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961


Overheard Leo Lannon, (SJ Class of 1957), who had this to say:


I remember skating at the old Rink on Foss Ave. with Edna, and lots of other girls like Gwen, Joan, Kit and others, They were fun times, for me at least.

Dee Dee is my first cousin. She is the daughter of my uncle Clarence, who is my Father's brother. (Thomas). I have a brother Tom, and two sisters Marie, and Jeannette.

I finished school in Gander in 1957 (grade -11) at St. Joseph’s, which was on the old American side, in the old Hospital Bldg. Then I had a Year as a boarder at St. Bonaventure’s College in St. John's where I got grade -12.

My Dad was here as a mechanic in the early days of Gander, and he built a small house by the railway tracks (right behind where the new Dentist bldg. on Rowe Ave. is right now). It was in the wilderness then. On Aug.-6, 1940 when I was a month old , he brought my Mother, my sister Marie  and me to live there.  He worked in the RAF. Hanger at that time and we moved to a bldg. opposite that hangar a couple of years later.

Then in 1945 (end of war) we moved to 14-Well Rd. on the Canadian side. I think it was 1959 when we moved to Memorial Dr. in the new town, and 1960 when we moved to 150-Sullivan Ave. where Mom and Dad lived out the rest of their years.

That’s just a little bit of info.  on my early life in Gander, and yes, I was at the (2010) reunion, and I enjoyed it very much. It was so well organized and I commend each person on the committee for a job well done. 

Leo Lannon SJ



I remember the Lannons and they were all at the reunion except Tom. I used to hang out with Tom when we lived on the Canadian side. T  here was an old Anti aircraft tower across the road from their house on Well Rd. where we played. His father worked in 13 hanger and we went there sometimes to check out the machine shop and other neat stuff.          Bob McKinnon, SJ Class of 1961


Oh, that is Bob Pelley over in the corner talking it up, something about automobiles:


“….In Nfld, I remember chains, every car had a set, at least in the trunk.  I don’t think people had block heaters until the 60s? …Horses   were not a common means of transport as I remember, but used lots for logging.          Robert Pelley, GA Class of 1962 

 (Hmmm…. I must remember to follow up with Doris on her comments here…)

Yes, I have lots of info re. the history of Gander and St. Martin,s church, now a cathedral. One of the nicest pictures of my father hangs in the Church Hall, next to the church. I have no picture of Father Mac, as he was affectionately known, but I can see him clearly in my minds eye. Both he and my father were military chaplains during WWII and this continued with the Armed Services posted in Gander, even long after the wartime, into the fifties. We greeted many Bishops and Archbishops as they passed through the Crossroads of the World, also. Maybe I can send more, later.          Doris Moss Cowley, GA Class of 1956


House parties at 3 Alcock Crescent were only by our parents.   They played the piano, the accordion, and sang a lot and ate goodies.  I never really got to see the food, or I just don't remember.  I do remember not being able to get to sleep.  We had a bungalow and so not far away from it all.   Dad built a door in the middle of the hallway to shut out the 'noise'.  It didn't really help.  But they had so much fun.  Their social life really took off while we lived there and I don't think they ever had the same fun at other places we lived.           Audrey Mingo Grantham, GA Class of 1958.


And as with any gathering, the conversation generally turns to food. It’s hard to beat the following, according to Bob Pelley who is talking with  some non-Newfoundlander at this point:

pancakes made from pieces of dough from homemade bread. Could be covered with homemade bake-apple jam or a mix of sugar and milk. Of course homemade syrup would work also - few had real maple syrup!

moose heart stuffed like turkey and covered in bacon strips. It if lasted long enough, it could be cut up in lanyards and kept as snacks in the fridge.  Also good if marinated in vinegar.

fish and brewis is not be forgotten either.  For those who may not know (tho I suppose every one does!)  Brewis is hard bread, softened in water, and cooked  in pork fat along with the cod. The best part of this dish is the scrunchions, which are small, crunchy pieces of fat-back pork. They’re extremely tasty, and they make this meal.  Scrunchions are also great when done alone and added to mashed potatoes.

And Pat Dempsey Hiscock has a vivid memory of places in old town where the kids used to play.

         I know about ammunition sites that were on the outskirts of Gander.   We used to play and cook meals in one of them when we were kids.          Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, GA Class of 1956


Audrey and Bob Pelley are reflecting on a photo published on the Web: Gander Our Town. It depicts the recent demolition of the old hospital building on the American side. Bob Pelley had this to say:


Really sad to see it go! The first time I was in that bldg was in 1954 when Simpson-Sears or Eaton’s had set up a new-fangled thing called a “TV” in one section, hoping we would all buy one.  Reception of the signal from Grand Falls was poor. It wasn’t all that popular, most figured it was cute but would probably not catch on.

The second time was when I went was as a young officer cadet and went to the Christmas levy 1962, I was under the legal drinking but got into the “moose milk” anyway!          Bob Pelley, GA Class of 1962    

…..I just remembered: Mom had an evening dress made from parachute silk.          Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, GA Class of 1956


Faye, you wanted to know about some more memories of growing up in Gander. Well, If you are interested there was the time during the Hungarian Revolution when refugees came to Gander and they were put up in the auditoriums of the schools. I remember Mom taking all the clothes that we didn't wear and giving it to them.

There was the forest fire of 1961 when we again had people sleeping in the schools--the evacuees from Benton and Glenwood.          Anne Goff Andrews, SJ Class of 1966


And speaking of times when some could get away from Gander:


Oh yes, the hay loft in a small barn our Mom's father owned was a treasure valued to its utmost. Whether we were jumping from the loft into the freshly mown hay or just hanging out around and on top of that "very itchy" hay, we were thrilled. This was a source of fun and games not accessible to many Ganderites.

Undoubtedly, all of us, at one time or another, were able to lollygag around fish stages, barns, root cellars, caves, etc., when visiting grandparents or other family members not "living on the Gander."          Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, GA Class of 1956


That’s it for this time folks. This imaginary get-together allowed me to clean up some of my files with tidbits of things that you all had to say in our wonderful emails back and forth…Thanks everyone…Keep in touch…I love hearing all of the stories that you all remember about “Growing up in Gander”.  Contact me with comments on stories, ideas, photos etc.

Thanks,          Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Class of 1959



back button