Coming of age in Hant’s Harbour
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