Un­cle Gus turns 100

Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dent be­comes province’s latest cen­tene­r­ian

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

By the time his birth­day open house ended, Au­gus­tus Men­chions was prob­a­bly tired of shak­ing hands and hav­ing pic­tures taken.

With each new per­son walk­ing up to him, Men­chions smiled warmly, took their hand and pre­pared for the in­evitable flash of a nearby cam­era. He made jokes with the dozens of friends and fam­ily who walked through the door of his Spa­niard’s Bay home.

Men­chions, or ‘Un­cle Gus,’ as he was com­monly re­ferred, was cel­e­brat­ing a spe­cial oc­ca­sion last Mon­day. He was in the midst of be­com­ing this province’s latest cen­te­nar­ian, hav­ing reached the age of 100.

How­ever, tak­ing a quick glance at the way he holds him­self and car­ries a con­ver­sa­tion, it’d be hard to guess that.

“I don’t feel any dif­fer­ent than I was when I was 16,” he said.

Wear­ing a bright blue birth­day but­ton and a shirt that read, “Who knew turn­ing 100 could look this good?” Men­chions chat­ted am­i­ca­bly with who­ever wanted a minute to con­grat­u­late him on reach­ing the mile­stone. In be­tween mouth­fuls of vanilla birth­day cake and fruit, he told The Com­pass about his time work­ing on the Cape Spear Light­house with friend Ted Sparkes. To­gether, they poured the con­crete for the base and con­structed the rest of the new light­house in 1955.

Even now as the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the crew that worked on the well-known light­house, Men­chions still smiles at the thought of light­ing the bea­con at the top.

“When we lit the bea­con, you could see it for 36 miles away,” he said, a small tear es­cap­ing from one of his eyes.

For his ad­vanced age, Men­chions is in good health. He only started walk­ing with a cane a week prior to his birth­day, and its only been five years since he stopped driv­ing him­self around town.

Even then, he did so be­cause he didn’t want to hurt any­one.

The com­mon no­tion around the food ta­ble is that Men­chions still has an im­mense ap­petite. One visi­tor re­marked she was bring­ing up a pot of soup the fol­low­ing day.

Quickly, Men­chions re­ply.

“You won’t have very much to carry home,” he laughed.

The east end

of­fers

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Men­chions and his sib­lings grew up in the east end of Bay Roberts. He was raised on Men­chions Lane and moved to Spa­niard’s Bay 18 years ago.

While in the east end, Un­cle Gus fished, hunted and per­formed the other du­ties of the day.

He re­counts a story of head­ing out for a day of par­tridge hunt­ing when on the way back he and a friend got caught in a tor­ren­tial down­pour of rain.

“We were nearly drowned,” said Men­chions.

Just up the road from his child­hood home, Men­chions and his bud­dies would find the time to strap on a pair of blades and play hockey on Men­chions Pond in the win­ter­time.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

Spa­niard’s Bay res­i­dent Au­gus­tus Men­chions (right) turned 100 last week. Here he is pic­tured with Port de Grave MHA Glenn Littlejohn, who gave the new cen­tene­r­ian a framed cer­tifi­cate.

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