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THIS IS A TRUE STORY THAT HAPPENED IN MY LIFE BACK IN 1954. IT IS ONE OF MANY THAT WILL HOPEFULLY THIS YEAR COMPLETE MY MEMOIR - ENTITLED: A JOURNEY OF ROSES AND THORNS.
GUNSHOT WOUND TO THE HEART
From a two-room schoolhouse high on a hill over the Fundy Bay, I sat at an old wooden desk daydreaming. The ink stains and etchings which were dug deep into its surface had captured my imagination as they had so many times before.
It was a breeze that came through the open window that finally brought me back to reality. Outside, I could hear the birds singing, and the buoy-bells in the bay ringing, drowning out the teacher's voice. I longed to be there---as free as those birds---and found myself, day-dreaming again. This habit had never been a problem until I started school. Fortunately for me, this school day was almost over.
Finally, it ended, and the boys began leaving through the open windows. Janie Galbraith was the only girl to exit the same way. I didn't want to tear my new dress, so I left through the door. Because my desk was at one end of the room and the door was at the other, I was nearly the last one to leave.
I could see my house across the bay from the schoolhouse, but to get to it, I had to walk a long and winding road. The sun felt so warm on my face as I ran down the hill to the bridge to catch up with Janie. She was on the highest railings of the bridge, balancing herself like a trapeze artist as she made her way across the inlet. Defiant and fearless was this girl whom I was drawn to like a moth to a flame much to everyone's dismay.
Upon my arrival, she dared me to join her, but no amount of coaxing could persuade me on this day. Being grounded for a week was too high a price to pay for a torn dress. Finally climbing down, she joined me on the trek up the hill after throwing her homework assignment over the bridge. She thought this was the funniest thing ever, but I thought I detected a trace of doubt in that laugh.
We parted ways at the foot of the laneway to her house with promises to walk to school together in the morning. All the way up the hill, I could hear the rocks from her sling-shot pelting the trunks of every tree in her path. That sound mingled with her shrill voice in a guttural rendition of, 'Buffalo Girl' made me laugh. Oh! how I loved that girl
At the top of the hill, I turned left onto the Point road and immediately stepped on a tar-filled crack in the road. The tar after basking in the sun all day had turned into a gooey, sticky mess that now clung to one of my new white sandals. I tried scraping it off with a twig, but that only made it worse. Oh, was I in trouble now! How I wish I had climbed the bridge with Janie.
Wild roses were all in bloom, growing in perfusion on the sides of the road. I decided to pick some in hopes they would appease Mum. I was to meet her at Grandma's house, as she would be there to see Aunt Gladys who was visiting.
Aunt Gladys was older than Mum by twenty-three years. She was strikingly beautiful, and I was in awe of her. She had black hair and ebony colored eyes like Great-Grandma Causseys. Her skin was the color of milk. She wore straight, black skirts,( just below the knees), and silk blouses in vivid, solid colors. She always wore shoes with high heels as she was barely 5 feet tall.
She had many talents: She made hats and chocolate for everyone in the family. She saved all her dimes in empty baking powder tins, which when filled, were given as gifts to each of the nieces and nephews in the family. The money in mine paid for the white sandals and pink dress I was wearing this 8th day of June in the year of 1954.
Aunt Gladys married Harry Cartwright when she was twenty years of age. Harry was thirty. He had been born in Birmingham, England, but later migrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where he met Gladys who was there visiting relatives. After a short courtship, they married and returned to Saint John. Harry soon found employment and bought a parcel of land in Lorneville, where they built a house at the end of the Lorneville road.
Whenever my brother and I saw Harry's car coming down the road, we would jump in the ditches. We were terrified of him. It was our parents and grandparents who instilled this fear in us. Apparently, there were many reasons to fear Harry, but we knew only of two.
The first event was shocking. It took place at Grandma's house. Harry had come to fix an electrical problem. My mother who was only 6-years-old at the time wanted to help. Harry, for the most part, a mean-spirited man, decided to have a little fun, so when he asked my mother to hold the live wires, she did. He found her high pitched squeal hilarious and didn't understand why no one else did. For the sake of Gladys, Grandma decided to give him a second chance.
FOR THE CONCLUSION - GO TO PART TWO
Copyright © Elaine George | Year Posted 2018