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.”

In­ter­est­ing life

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.

Photo cour­tesy of Barry Mercer

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.

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