July 25, 2009

Special Edition Part III

Part III and final installment of Patís growing up years in Gander. It also included visits to her great grandparents and grandparents.

 Patricia Dempsey Hiscock, Class of 1956

In the homes of our great grandparents and grandparents, pantries and shelving under the stairs (often behind locked doors depending the season or what the kids were not allowed to pilfer when parents were out) were worlds of  wonder and delight.

The lunch boxes and lunch baskets used by my grandfather were vastly different than those used today and we got great joy in being entrusted with his "fully cooked hot meal" and thermos of tea.  A meal that had to be taken by hand to the pulp mill in Bishop's Falls. 

It had to get to him "hot and ready" and we were to proceed to the mill just as instructed by our grandmother.  No dallying and orders to stay away from the Exploits River and Falls which meant no short cuts!  Lunch cans and baskets had to arrive at their destination as packed - the main meal on one plate with another plate on top and secured by tea cloths and a small table cloth all tied in a precise fashion. If the cloths were soiled enroute, we had not done our jobs as instructed. 

All the stress of the delivery was washed away just as soon as we saw the smiling face of our grandfather and were given our usual tour of the pulp mill, etc. 

When it was time for us to return from the mill to our grandparents house (after his lunch was eaten, dishes washed, dish cloths, table cloth neatly folded and plates secured against breakage) we received our long awaited payment - - a large handful of pulp from which we duly squeezed all of the water on the trek home. The pulp was made into the neatest ball that we could possibly make by the time we got home and then into the oven they went to dry out.  George Washington may have had his wooden teeth, BUT WE HAD WOODEN BALLS - the envy of our friends and neighbours when we got back home to Gander.

My maternal great grandmother was a midwife and the things in her kitchen and pantry often held the tools of her trade.  She kept a safety pin for each baby she delivered (over a thousand) and as she looked after our great grandfather, who was confined to his bed, we visited with him and helped out when asked and then, my great grandmother let me count the pins and neatly arrange them in the trunk in which they were kept.  Mundane things to most but for a young, shy and impressionable, Ganderite, these were foreign, fascinating and fun.

Maybe next time I will share the horrors of my first visit to the hairdresser.

- Patricia Dempsey Hiscock