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.
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From a two room schoolhouse high on a hill over the Fundy Bay, I sat dead centre in the front row. Outside the open widow, I could hear the song birds singing and buoy bells in the bay ringing, drowning out the teachers voice. I longed to be there...outside...as free as those birds and found myself, as I often did, day dreaming again. This habit had never been a problem until I started school. Fortunately for me, this school day was almost over.
Most of the boys preferred to leave the school through the open windows, completely ignoring the idle threats of Mrs. Allaby. Most of the girls exited through the door with the exception of one or two: Janie Galbraith and sometimes me. But on this day I chose to the door not wanting to get in any trouble with mom for tearing my new dress. The girls in the last rows closest to the door were dilly-dalling and blocking the exit. After a few minutes of angst, I finally made it out into the schoolyard.
Although I could see my house across the bay from the school house, it was a long and winding road to get to it. The sun felt so warm on my face as I ran down the hill to the bridge that stretched over the inlet where I could see my best friend, Janie. There she was, with arms out-stretched, teetering on the railings high on the bridge, slowly making her way across the inlet by placing one foot directly in front of the other. 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 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 lane way to her house with promises to walk to school together in the morning. All the way up the hill, I could here the rocks from her sling-shot pelting the trunks of every tree in her path while her shrill voice belted out a guttural rendition of 'Buffalo Girl'.
At the top of the hill, I turned left onto the Point road immediately stepping on a tar filled crack in the road. The tar after basking in the sun all day had turned to a gooey, sticky mess that now clung to my new white sandal. No amount of scraping with a twig or wiping with grass could get it off. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, I always managed to get myself in trouble. Oh! How I wished I had have climbed that bridge with Janie and walked like a trapeze artist over the Bay. Then getting in trouble would have been worth it.
Wild roses were all in bloom, growing in perfusion on the sides of the road, their aroma a mixture of roses and salt breezes from the Bay of Fundy. I decided to pick some in hopes they would appease mom, whom I was supposed to meet at Grandma's house as aunt Gladys was visiting this day.
Aunt Gladys was mom's much older sister by twenty-three years, whom I was in awe of. She had black hair and black eyes like Great-Grandma Causseys, and skin the colour of milk. She wore straight, black skirts, just below the knee and silk blouses in vivid solid colours. She always wore shoes with high heels as she was barley 5 feet tall. She was a beautiful vision to behold.
She had many talents: She made beautiful hats for everyone in the family and for all occasions. She made chocolates that were better than the ones sold in the stores which she brought for all to share on Tuesdays. She saved all her lose change in empty baking powder tins which when filled, became gifts for all her nieces and nephews. The money in mine paid for the white sandals and the pink dress I was wearing this 8th day of June in the year of 1954.
At the age of twenty, she married thirty year old Harry Cartwright, an Englishman born in Birmingham, England, who later migrated with his family to Boston. Massachusetts. Upon marrying aunt Gladys, he found work in Saint John. Shortly thereafter they bought a parcel of land and built a house at the far end of the Lorneville Road.
My brother and I, were terrified of Harry and would literally jump in the ditch and hide when we saw his car coming down the road. This fear had been instilled in us by my Mother and Father, Grand-Parents and Aunts and Uncles. Apparently there were many reasons to fear him, but we were only told of two.
The first was a shocking event. I mean that literally. Harry being quite the handy-man agreed to fix some electrical problems in Grandma's house. Gladys being pregnant and suffering from morning sickness decided to stay home. My mother who was 6 years old at the time and her younger sister, Marie, both being of a curious nature, in short order made pests of themselves. Harry being a short-tempered, mean-spirited man decided to resolve this problem by having a little fun. Asking for their help, he coned those two little innocent girls into putting their little fingers into live electrical sockets. Their wailing gave him great satisfaction. Apparently he thought it was all quite funny and didn't understand why Grandma didn't. She being one to always see the best side of someone first, decided to give him a second chance before passing final judgement on him. It wasn't long before he got that chance.
The second incident occurred on a hot summer day when Harry offered to take those two little girls for a car ride to get ice-cream. Grandma thinking this was his way of making amends for the last incident, agreed.
FOR THE CONCLUSION TO THIS STORY, GO TO PART TWO
Copyright © Elaine George | Year Posted 2018