Story prompts fond memories
Edna Mercer of Bay Roberts was there in 1936
When Edna Mercer of Bay Roberts read the story on Roy and Beulah Cole, a couple who were married for 73 years, in the March 24 edition of The Compass, it sparked a lot of memories.
Mrs. Mercer, 88, watched Roy and Beulah exchange their wedding vows at the Salvation Army Church in Deer Lake Nov. 26,1936. At the time she was 15 years old.
“It was a lovely story, I was so touched by it,” she said.“The story meant a lot to me because I was there on their wedding day and could remember seeing them pledge their love for each other.”
On the day of the wedding, Mrs. Mercer and a group of her teenage friends went to the church to watch the ceremony.
“We did those kinds of things for entertainment and out of curiosity as young girls back then,” says Mrs. Mercer.“If someone was getting married or an event was taking place in the town, we went to have a look.”
Mrs. Mercer says the Cole wedding was a big event.
“The church was completely filled,” she says. “I was Anglican, but that didn’t matter, there were all kinds of people from many denominations present.”
She recalls how beautiful the bride (Beulah) looked.
“Oh she was just like a wax doll, her complexion was flawless,” says Mrs. Mercer.“They both had their Salvation Army uniforms on, but she also wore a white sash that extended from one shoulder to her waist. I noticed she was much taller than the Major. When I saw their wedding picture in The Compass she was sitting down, maybe they did that because of the difference in height, not that it mattered, they were obviously perfectly matched.”
When Mrs. Mercer learned it took Major Roy Cole nearly seven years to ask Beulah out on a date, she was surprised.
“He was very outgoing and loved to talk to people. I never would have thought him to be that shy,” she says.
Over the years Mrs. Mercer and the Coles crossed paths.
“I would often see them at the supermarket, here in Bay Roberts and we would have a chat,” she says. “I had a chance to tell them I attended their wedding ceremony and we often talked about that. One time when I ended up in hospital with a fractured hip they sent me a get-well card. They also knew my husband Frank. He used to drop by the Collingwood Downs (senior citizens home) in Clarke’s Beach to visit with friends and would run into the Coles after they moved there.”
Edna Mercer, nee Goosney, was the first female stenographer to work at the Power House in Deer Lake.
“That was very different back then, having a woman working in the Power House. They even had to put in a new washroom for me to use,” she says with a laugh.“But the male workers there were all very respectful to me. I never had any problems.”
In 1942 she married Frank Mercer of Bay Roberts and gave up working.
“In those days a woman, who got married, had to give up working,” says Mrs. Mercer.“It was the proper thing to do. Her job after that was to keep the house and be a wife and mother.”
However during her time at home Mrs. Mercer’s former boss Klauss Bang, manager of the Power House died, so she was called back to work.
“He was lost on the SS Caribou (sunk by German submarine in 1942) and no one at the Power House could figure out his filing system so they asked me if I would come back and help them out,” she says.
Like the Coles, Edna and Frank led an interesting life. Frank, a member of the Newfoundland Rangers, became legendary for a 1400-mile journey he took during the winter of 1936 on the Labrador Coast transporting the body of a man suspected of being murdered. The 72-day trek along with many more of his experiences as a Newfoundland Ranger, inspired the bookProbablyWithout Equalwritten by Newfoundland author John Parsons. In 1950, after Confederation,The Newfoundland Rangers were absorbed into the RCMP and RNC and like the Coles, Frank and Edna Mercer were transferred all over the province.
During the years Frank rose through the ranks to staff sergeant and oversaw all Labrador RCMP detachments before retiring in Bay Roberts in 1969.
The couple raised four children (Frank Jr., Gordon, Diane and Barry.) Sadly on Oct.10, 2005 Frank passed away at age 91.
Mrs. Mercer currently resides with her daughter Diane and her husband Pat Foley. While she claims her daughter prefers to do all the cooking and baking herself the truth of the matter is Mrs. Mercer probably isn’t home long enough to be in the kitchen. Most likely the energetic senior is out driving around. She is still in good health and still has her driver’s licence.
GOOD MEMORIES - When Edna Mercer, 88, of Bay Roberts was reading the March 24 issue of The Compass a story on Ross and Beulah Cole, a couple married for 73 years, caught her attention. Mrs Mercer remembers being at the church in Deer Lake on Nov. 26, 1936 when the two exchanged their vows.