I minds when

The Compass - - ORTHTE - Bur­ton K. Janes bur­tonj@nfld.net

Bill Wil­liams lives in re­tire­ment in Con­cep­tion Bay South, but he hasn’t for­got­ten his roots. He was born in New Har­bour and ed­u­cated in Green’s Har­bour.

“When I re­turn to my home com­mu­nity,” he says, “I be­come more aware that the sights and sounds in ev­ery har­bour, cove and in­let around our shores change in ev­ery gen­er­a­tion.”

As a pro­fes­sional, Bill worked as a teacher, mill­wright, main­te­nance su­per­vi­sor and, lat­terly, United Church min­is­ter.

His first book, “Re­flec­tions,” is a com­pi­la­tion of his med­i­ta­tions, re­flec­tions and prayers.

“I hope that as you read and reread through the pages,” he states, “you will be lifted up when you are down, re­laxed when you are tensed, feel joy when you are sad, be com­forted when you mourn, have a pur­pose when you feel re­jected, and feel the pres­ence of God when you are alone.”

In his lat­est book, “I Minds When,” he writes: “It is a fore­gone con­clu­sion that if some­one from that era starts to tell a story, it will al­ways be­gin with ‘I minds when.’ The story will hardly ever be­gin with ‘I re­mem­ber when’ which, of course, means the same thing.” The sub­ti­tle reads, “Con­nect­ing With the Past Through Sto­ries, Po­etry, Re­flec­tions, Wit and Hu­mour.”

He owes the in­spi­ra­tion for “I Minds When” to his chats “with older per­sons who loved to tell sto­ries of their past, back to where the ac­tion was. In their sto­ries, I sense a need for older peo­ple to say, ‘I was not al­ways old, so here’s my story of who I really am.’”

The sto­ries de­pict “a way of life that is no more.”

He pro­vides a word por­trait of, among other things, the Ger­ald S. Doyle news bul­letin on ra­dio, his grand­mother’s re­ports on the day’s events through the bed­room win­dow, chil­dren get­ting coast­ers and sleighs for Christ­mas, his first box-

Bill is also a poet, find­ing “it en­ter­tain­ing to put words to rhyme when mak­ing up a ditty, so that the au­di­ence can par­tic­i­pate.” He in­cludes such orig­i­nal creations as “My Bath­room Flows Into the Ocean” and “When I Was Three.”

His short sto­ries in­clude “A Bruised Ego,” “Max Dawe’s Slaugh­ter­house and Puddin’ Shack” and “Squid-jig­ging.”

As an in­di­ca­tion of the “re­li­gious for­ma­tion” in com­mu­ni­ties in ear­lier days, Bill in­cludes such re­flec­tions as “By the Light of the Moon,” “We Re­mem­ber Kind­ness” and “Share the Light.”

Hav­ing grown up in the 1950s, he can per­son­ally “con­nect with the sto­ries … I’ve no­ticed that those aged sto­ries are gen­er­ally al­ways told in a hu­mourous way. We some­times think that the per­ceived dif­fi­cult past was mostly doom and gloom. That is not the case, as older peo­ple will tell you that times were hard, but there was a lot of fun and hu­mour which was a big part of their lives. For that rea­son, I be­lieve if their sto­ries are told with hu­mour they ought to be writ­ten in a hu­mourous way and read in a hu­mourous way.”

He’s spe­cific about what he hopes read­ers will take away from his writ­ing which, he says, “con- cart ride, his con­sump­tion of codliver oil, and out­door toi­lets over the har­bour.

He writes about events as mun­dane as Aunt Sarah’s goat and Aunt Jane’s hen. An­other story con­cerns the day a boy lost his hel­met.

“Sir,” the lad said, “can I kneel down by the (church) bell and pray?”

“Yes, of course you can pray,” Bill replied. “Is there some­thing on your mind that you want to pray about?”

“Yes, sir. I lost me new bike hel­met, so I wants to ask God to help me find it. If I goes home with­out me new hel­met, me mud­der will knock the head off me.”

Words to rhyme

nects them with their own sto­ries, in­spir­ing them to re­call sto­ries of their past and shar­ing them with their fam­ily and friends.”

The cover of “I Minds When” is a re­pro­duc­tion of an orig­i­nal acrylic paint­ing, a hobby he ac­quired in 1991 on his first pas­toral charge.

“I could al­ways sketch,” he re­calls, “and I re­mem­ber my chil­dren coming home from school and ask­ing me to draw a cover sheet for their as­sign­ments.” Now, he con­sid­ers his paint­ings to be “a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to tell a story of New- found­land and Labrador her­itage, beauty and cul­ture.”

With his sec­ond book in print, he’s not about to “rust on his lau­rels.” An­other one “will fo­cus on grow­ing up in the ’fifties as a child, remembering my grow­ing up in a ru­ral com­mu­nity.”

Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts. His col­umn ap­pears in The Com­pass ev­ery week. He can be reached at bur­tonj@nfld.net

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