Robert Hunt has some lot of memories.
Don’t we all?
But here’s the thing — Robert Hunt has the jump on most of us in that he has written and published his. As a matter of fact, he has done so three times.
Brazil Street [Flanker Press] is the third book in a trilogy of Robert Hunt’s memories.
Regarding all three books, Robert Hunt says he has written down everything he could remember, “so that my children, their children, and the next generation will know how we lived, how we survived, and how we became the people we are today.”
That’s a worthy purpose. In Brazil Street Hunt writes about his youth in St. John’s, Newfoundland, during the first decade or so after Confederation pupped.
When we read a man’s memoirs we assume he is writing about old times and, rightly so I suppose, until we realize that isn’t necessarily the case.
For instance. Once upon a Christmas, Robert wished for Beatle boots, and he explains those boots were the craze of the day because of a popular rock band called ... well, The Beatles.
Robert, b’y, that wasn’t so long ago. That was just the other day when I was young, for frig sake. Anyway ...
For many families during Hunt’s youth, grocery money was counted twice and, consequently, grub was rough. Luxury fare — such as baloney! — wasn’t always affordable: “Sausages, ham and bologna were expensive and labelled ‘special’ treats at the time.”
Robert b’y, have you checked the price of baloney lately?
Yesterday, me and Missus stopped at The Food Shop to buy something for supper. We thought, baloney, perhaps ...
... until we read the price. The cost of a chunk of baloney not much bigger than a soup can was edging towards $20. Sixteen loonies and change! Being frugal and wanting to stay within our budget, we decided to forego our feast of fried baloney — with a couple of boiled potatoes, had the supper come to pass — and opted for a cheaper cut of beef tenderloin. Would I tell a fib? Another fond (?) memory Hunt writes about is having company from around the bay. Oftentimes, kin that came to St. John’s — to see The Doctor, for example — stayed at the Hunt’s already crowded house on Brazil Street.
I don’t relate to such kinfolks’ visits but Missus — reared up among Rabbit Town’s warrens — remembers ... ? ... the pain.
Here’s what she said when I mentioned that the bay crowd used to stay over at the Hunts’: “When relatives stayed at our house, my sisters and I had to sleep on sofa chairs pushed together.”
Now in her vintage, Missus moans of a chronic crick in her back, probably the result of the sofa chairs shifting apart during the night and her double-T butt sagging in the gap.
The other day when we all were young, cash money was difficult to come by. Robert Hunt, however, was an industrious lad. He worked hard at anything that would earn him a dollar or two. He sold cod tongues; he scavenged scrap metal; he ran errands for American personnel stationed at Fort Pepperrell. With savings from his job at Woolworth’s — and from a second job at Bob Glasco’s Meats — he fulfilled a dream.
He bought a camera, a Kodak Hawkeye Flash Fun.
For a while, as a teen, I worked at a Hudson Bay Company store in a foreign province. Like Robert, I saved up enough money to fulfill a dream.
I bought a
Robert fancied he might become a famous photographer. I expected I’d one day be awarded a Nobel Prize for literature.
An aside. The most useful thing I learn in high school was portable typewriter. how to type. Immune to mockery from companions with visible abs, I weaseled my way out of phys-ed classes and enrolled in typing classes — with the girls — who ignored me completely, having eyes only for the guys with abs who foolishly risked crippling themselves jumping from springboards in the gym.
Sadly, Robert lost his camera. As far as I know, he isn’t a famous photographer.
I haven’t the foggiest notion what ever became of my typewriter but I still keep a space dusted on a display shelf for the Nobel medallion.
Last thing. As boys, Robert and his best friend, Dickie White, coined themselves a concept — Orphan Lake, a place where dreams come true.
That’s a lake we’d all like to splash in, eh b’ys?
Thank you for reading.