Coming of age in Hant’s Har­bour

The Compass - - OPINION - Ed­i­tor’s note: this is Part 2 of a twopart se­ries. Part 1 ap­peared in the March 12, 2013 print edi­tion of The Com­pass.

From the com­fort of her re­tire­ment home in Grand Falls-Wind­sor, Lil­lian King (nee Short) con­tin­ues to re­flect on her up­bring­ing in Hant’s Har­bour, where she was born in 1927. In a re­cent let­ter to this colum­nist, she re­calls in keen de­tail her colour­ful mem­o­ries of her early life in the Trin­ity Bay com­mu­nity.

“Be­ing the daugh­ter of a fish­er­man dur­ing that time meant there was lots of work,” she says. “We helped in procur­ing the dried cod­fish, watch­ing the weather, and run­ning to cover up the fish that we had spread out on flakes. We would cover them with birch rinds that had been brought over from Hick­man’s Har­bour and other places across the bay.

“Our sum­mers were some­times dry and we had to walk quite a dis­tance for drink­ing water. We had two buck­ets and a hoop to hold them. Our sun­tans were quite nor­mal then.

“There were three churches in Hant’s Har­bour at that time. They were the Methodist, Sal­va­tion Army and Pen­te­costal. Faith in God was high in our daily liv­ing. Sun­day was a day of rest. All work was done on Satur­day for Sun­day, like pol­ish­ing shoes, iron­ing or sewing, pre­par­ing veg­eta­bles for Sun­day din­ner, and bring­ing in fire­wood. No­body worked on Sun­day; it was a day to wor­ship God.

“Some of our pas­times and hob­bies in­cluded knit­ting and hook­ing mats from rags or worn gar­ments (re­cy­cling the past, for sure). Th­ese floor mats were scrubbed at the land­wash, or beach, in the sum­mer.

“Christ­mas was en­joyed by all, although it was very prim­i­tive com­pared to to­day’s Christ­mas prepa­ra­tions. My dad would ar­rive home from cut­ting wood on Christ­mas Eve with a load of wood on a horse­drawn wooden sled. The Christ­mas tree would be on the top, along with a cou­ple of rab­bits for a meal the next week.

“Our Christ­mas din­ner was al­ready planned. It would be a roast of beef or pork, which my dad ob­tained ear­lier by help­ing to butcher th­ese an­i­mals for food. Our Christ­mas stock­ings were filled with an ap­ple, a few can­dies, some Christ- mas cake, maybe a pair of mit­tens or a cap, crayons, pen­cils, etc. We were all thank­ful and ex­cited with this and see­ing the tree on Christ­mas morn­ing. Our Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions were made from tin­sel tea packs ( foil wrap­pings from pack­ages of tea) and coloured pa­per cut in var­i­ous shapes. On Box­ing Day we would see many peo­ple hav­ing rides on horse­and-sleigh with bells ring­ing and peo­ple singing.”

As a teenager, Lil­lie left Hant’s Har­bour for St. John’s. To­day, she en­joys read­ing and writ­ing. She has writ­ten po­etry and short sto­ries of an in­spi­ra­tional na­ture.

In one of her ar­ti­cles, she says, “Self dis­ci­pline means to gain strength and con­trol. Not just of feel­ing, but to rise above to an­other level, and when things do not go our way, we need to slow down and re­lease that sense of hu­mour which is very im­por­tant as God does not ex­pect us to be sad or un­happy.”

In one of her po­ems, Lil­lie’s sense of hu­mour is read­ily ev­i­dent.

In Grandma’s day, she says, chick­ens had no fin­gers and buf­fa­los had no wings. A baby was an in­fant child. Cool was the op­po­site of hot. Hash was mashed veg­eta­bles. A drink on the rocks was drink­ing from a spring. The only thing that rocked was a rock­ing chair. The web was what the spi­der made, on­line was her moth-

This is a photo of Lil­lie’s par­ents, Frank and Vida Short.

er’s clothes on wash­day, and a mouse was what the cat brought in. Pot was for cook­ing din­ner, grass was food for an­i­mals, and get­ting high was climb­ing the lad­der. Washer was a wooden tub and el­bow grease; dryer was sun­shine and wind.

Bath­room tis­sue was the cat­a­logue. Log on meant more wood on the fire. King of rock and roll was a sailor. Speed meant how fast you were trav­el­ing, while weed was grow­ing in the garden. C(a)T scan meant you were star­ing at the cat and ul­tra­sound was a heavy blast of thun­der. Air con­di­tioner was a cool breeze. Tel- e- vi­sion was telling some­one you saw a ghost. E-mail was the Morse code. Slow cooker meant no wood for the fire; pres­sure cooker was when some­body yelled, “Where’s my din­ner?” Dough was what Mother turned into bread. Mir­a­cle grow was fer­til­izer from an­i­mals.

Now, at 85, Lil­lie says she plans to “en­joy what­ever time God gives me.” 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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