Sept 1, 2007

Hi all, come on in and enjoy some chitchat (no special topics, just random thoughts in some cases) from fellow Gander classmates 1948-1963. We are missing comments from the early classmates and some from the last two classes of that era. Can anybody put us in touch with any of these people? Hope so…


Well look who just came in…nice to have you aboard Norm…

Hi Faye: Dad (Ronald Hounsell) and Mom (Statie) moved to Gander from Middle Brook, in 1947 (I was 3 years old). Dad began work in the Big Dipper at the old Airport; in his spare time he would press the  uniforms of the Armed Forces personnel to make some spare money. He worked there for 25 years. He got me started on match-box cover collecting. Eventually, he left there and worked as a supervisor in the laundry at the Hospital.

My impressions of early Gander: I remember going to Kindergarden on the "Army Side". We weren't far from the railway tracks, AND a piggery - when the wind shifted at times, the aroma was really something.

We lived by the main runway on the "American side" and you didn't realize how much noise there was from the airplanes, until you went "around the bay"; it was too quiet to sleep at nights.

I never really had a girlfriend, but I remember my first date was with Judy Pynn. I loved to dance, and because I was fairly "good", I used to dance with some of the older girls. I always lost out at the end of the evening, because they always went home with one of the older guys!

 I do remember house parties, and playing "spin the bottle"- I guess it was pretty tame by today's standards. I loved the school dances - I remember going to a "Sadie Hawkins" dance with Dorothy Baker.

 I will keep in touch!

 - Norm Hounsell, Class of 1961


Faye: If you look on the Flight under Old Photos - Eileen's Collection, the picture that is labeled 'Photo 3 Coronation Day 1952, near Hgr 13', right in the center of the giant trellis labeled ER is an apartment building. We lived in one of the 8 apartments in that building. So did the Warrens.

On the side closest to the Hgr were several houses, one belonging to Dr. Paton, and one belonged to the Airport Manager. The main road you see was Patterson Rd and it ran from the old terminal (RAF side) through the Canadian side up around the end of the runway to the American side.

Looking up the street past our apartment building on the right side was the Anglican Church, a small park, and then Foss Ave. A lot of the people we knew lived in the H-Hut type apartments on Foss Ave. There was a steam plant there to heat all the buildings and Gander Gardens, the Arena where we went to hockey games and public skating. We went to school on the American side so we caught the bus on the corner of Patterson and Foss. If we missed the last school bus home, we used to run across the runway, something that was definitely frowned upon.

If I went there today, I could locate where everything was. I heard that they left the street signs up for tours. That's why I would like to take a vacation in NF one day so I could see this stuff again and take some pictures.

- Bob McKinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961


Forgot to mention Beaverwood name came from the fact the beavers used to flood the road constantly leading from the airport to Beaverwood. Despite many trappings and blowing up of beaver huts, they lasted many years and closed the road frequently.

Beaverwood was a residential district, and probably still is, for an area of houses built fairly simultaneously, when families moved out of Gander apartments and into individual homes. I think it was the NW side of Gander.

Was unable to make reunion unfortunately but delighted to see the ongoing connectivity supplied by Jack (Pinsent) and others. Sure brought back memories to hear talk of Beaverwood. Went back about 12 years ago and Cy Rowsell showed me around. Was astonished at the extra streets. And Cy pointed out with a touch of pride where the new ATC center was, for which he was largely responsible.

- Ken Barnes, Class of 1960

So Ross, we haven’t heard much about your brother Bert Patey (Class of  1950)? Saw him at the reunion, but didn’t get a chance to talk with him…He ended up with the airline industry, I’m told…


Yes, Bert and two other guys took over all of the bush craft that EPA had when they went with Canadian Airlines. I think they called it Labrador Airways. They were in business quite a few years. From what I understand, Bert was the president, one guy was the operations manager and the other took care of the mechanical side of it.

While they had this bush craft business they also leased helicopters that took the workers to the oil rigs in the Atlantic and also had a business that serviced all of the American airplanes that landed in Goose Bay. The type of contracts that were in place, I'm not sure of but they were quite busy . Bert came up here (to Ontario) a few times to buy new aircraft and he would have someone fly it down for him and away they went.

Jack what type or remuneration is required from me to keep this site open? I go into it quite a bit just to see what new thing you have posted. I think it’s great to look at some of the things on there and bring up old memories.

-          Ross Patey, Class of 1959


And Jim Butler (class of 1959) had this to say about his friend and a favorite teacher, Clarence Dewling.


“You might remember was that he had the classroom above ours in Gander Academy. Sometimes that classroom would become quite noisy. If you remember, the windows in those classrooms opened out from the top, making a great 45 degree angle with the ground. Quite a few times some of the boys from our class (Gary Dyck, in particular) would check to see of Clarence had his windows open. They would, then, make snowballs and throw them straight up towards Clarence's classroom. The snowballs would hit the open window of the classroom above and shoot in across the room adding to the total chaos already underway in Clarence's room.

Clarence was also active in the Church in Gander and was a member of the AYPA group of which Morley (Smith) , Joy (Mercer) and I were members. You may have seen a photo of people with funny hats, he (Clarence) was in that picture.  I was friends with him mainly after leaving school, but renewed the friendship many years later when I moved into Mount Pearl and became active in the Scouting Movement there. Clarence was then teaching, with Roland Clarke, at Morris Academy there.”

- Jim Butler, Class of 1959


Oh another memory: “how about this tidbit: on  Goodyear's store , where someone soldered a screw to a 25 cent piece and screwed it into the floor near the entrance - they got a lot of people who tried to pick it up, or tried to push it farther along with their foot in order to pick it without being seen.

And not to forgot:

How about the Quonset hut garages built along Roosevelt Street, behind which were great old Model T cars, just in the right condition for running after Al Capone  - or to beat out the speedometers to get the magnets.  How about the Steam plant with its huge dirty pile of coal - and the hand operated trolley on train tracks that we played on for hours chasing who knows what crook, most likely Jesse James.

“And,  the mess hall where the cooks regularly gave us "Care packages" - in exchange of course for a few bottles of home brew?

- Robert Pelley , Class of 1962


Pelley had these thoughts to share on the 2005 Reunion Experience in Gander. Forever the artist and poet, they are most poignant…


"My "poetic" image of the reunion was that of the bubbles kids would blow, multicolored and despite appearances infinitely complex, that would float in the air, sometimes just revolving one among the other, sometime connecting together, but all the time falling slowing and inevitably to the floor.

“Sometimes an updraft would momentary give them a new movement but I knew that at around noon on the 21st, the bubbles would finally come to rest.

“So to me, the reunion will always be a mix of pleasure and sadness which I will treasure forever as each and everyone goes back to his usual preoccupations.

“I suppose that the reunion is really a metaphor for life itself.”

- R.G. Pelley, Class of 1962


So where are the gals in all of this conversation? Come’on ladies, we can’t let the guys “out-talk” us here. Next time, let’s talk (guys and gals) about ‘after school’ where we went, what we did and who we saw there? Jobs, get-togethers, scouts, sports, basement parties, air cadets, GOBC, whatever?

 We didn’t have computers then, what did we do with our free time?

Let me know…