Jour­nal a de­light­ful, in­trigu­ing read


I dropped off some books at a sec­ond­hand book­store. The owner promised to pay me, but not right then. “Come back later,” he said. I did, but re­ceived noth­ing. I could have taken back my books, but I tend to trust peo­ple un­til that trust is bro­ken. So I pa­tiently waited for a few dol­lars. One day, he said, “Take an arm­load of what­ever I got on my shelves.” I didn’t need to be told twice.

Among what I brought home that day was an 80- page, hand­writ­ten jour­nal, the di­men­sions of a le­gal size folder. I have since de­rived hours of plea­sure from read­ing what can best be de­scribed as a col­lec­tion of “this ‘n that.”

I of­ten won­der about the orig­i­nal owner of this jour­nal. Many ques­tions arise in my mind: Why did he (or she) main­tain a jour­nal? Where did the writer live? Pud­desters and Tay­lors are men­tioned. Do these names in­di­cate a Cupids con­nec­tion? I may never know the an­swers to my ques­tions.

The jour­nal in­cludes sto­ries.

There are prayers, in­clud­ing Hank Snow’s “Prayer of a Horse,” which ends this way: “And fi­nally, dear mas­ter, when my use­ful strength is gone, don’t turn me out to starve or freeze, or sell me to some cruel owner who will slowly starve and tor­ture me to death. But do thou, my mas­ter, take my life in the kindest way you can, and your God will re­ward you here and af­ter.”

For some rea­son, the year 1936 fig­ures promi­nently, with lists of deaths, events, weather, dis­as­ters and fa­tal­i­ties in New­found­land and else­where.

The reader learns how “Joyce’s sweater” and nine-year old “Car­son’s socks” were knit. There are in­struc­tions on how to make the pop­corn, block, cable and lace point stitches, in­for­ma­tion I won’t need any­time soon.

An­other en­try records the sum of $ 7 be­ing “paid to Doc­tor Cluney Macpher­son per Miss White” on May 11, 1943. I won­der about the ser­vice ren­dered.

Samuel Tay­lor, who serves with “Brother Churchill” on the Grand Lodge vis­it­ing com­mit­tee, writes a Mr. Knight on March 19, 1944: “you can see by the dates on which we vis­ited the hos­pi­tals that we didn’t have many calls, but we feel sure there were broth­ers of whom we weren’t no­ti­fied, but that’s not our fault.”

Robert E. Kel­loway of the Car­bon­ear Lodge is at the Grace Hos­pi­tal in St. John’s. From April 26 to July 3, Tay­lor and Churchill bring him three dozen oranges, cost­ing about 36 cents a dozen.

Then Tay­lor and Churchill ask “to be re­lieved of this par­tic­u­lar duty, as Brother Churchill isn’t able to get about very well and my­self like­wise.”

Fi­nally there are po­ems, plenty of them. Fully one half of the jour­nal is given over to a cor­nu­copia of po­etry.

One poem be­gins: “He came to my desk with quiv­er­ing lip; the les­son was done. ‘May I have a new sheet, dear teacher? I’ve spoiled this one.’ So I took his sheet all spoiled and blot­ted, and gave him a new one-all unspot­ted, then into his sad eyes smiled, ‘Do bet­ter now, my child.’”

Who­ever’s main­tain­ing the jour­nal ob­vi­ously has a sense of humour, as is ev­i­dent from the fol­low­ing story, “House Hunt­ing in Ire­land.”

“A cou­ple, about to be mar­ried, were look­ing for a cot­tage and, af­ter a lot of trou­ble, found one to suit them.

“On re­turn­ing home, they were very quiet for a time, then the brideto-be sud­denly asked the prospec­tive groom if he had no­ticed if there was a ‘ W.C.’ (at­tached) to the house.

“He could not say so, so it was de­cided to write and ask the land­lord.

“The land­lord did not un­der­stand the term ‘ W.C.’ and, af­ter think­ing a while, came to the con­clu­sion that ‘ W.C.’ meant ‘ Wes­ley Chapel.’ So he an­swered as fol­lows: “‘Dear Sir: Very much re­gret the de­lay in the mat­ter, but have much plea­sure in in­form­ing you that the W.C. is sit­u­ated nine miles from the house and is ca­pa­ble of seat­ing 350 per­sons. This is very un­for­tu­nate if you are in the habit of go­ing reg­u­larly, but no doubt you will be glad to know that a great num­ber of peo­ple take their lunch and make a day of it, while oth­ers, who can­not spare the time, go by car and ar­rive just in time and are gen­er­ally in too great a hurry to wait. The last time my wife and I were there was three years ago, and we had to stand all the time.

Hop­ing this in­for­ma­tion will be of in­ter­est to you. I re­main, Yours faith­fully.” So per­haps the solemn days of yes­ter­year weren’t so mirth­less af­ter all.

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