Mrs. Amy Parsons was born September 29th, 1908, in Rose Blanche. At ninety-five years old, she now lives in the Mountain Hope Manor retirement facility located in Port aux Basques.
Her parents, Sara and John Hatcher lived in Rose Blanche all their lives. Her father, John worked as a fisherman, and her mother Sara was a homemaker, who raised Amy and her four siblings. Her father fished cod and owned his own fishing equipment.
Amy tells us she has been going to church all her life and is still a member of the St. James Anglican Church in Port Aux Basques. She attended school until grade four then came out to help around the house. She had many household chores when she was young as well as after she married. She had to cook, scrub mats and help with the cleaning of the house. She remembers doing laundry with a big tub and washboard. Her sister would make the clothes. For Christmas as a child she would get a doll.
Amy lived in nice, two-story home, heated by a woodstove with three bedrooms upstairs. They used kerosene lamps, until 1945 when electricity came in.
As a child Amy remembers that her parents raised their own cattle. They made their own milk, cream and butter. They also used to grow their own potatoes and turnips, which would be harvested in the fall. Amy never had to do any work on the farm; her mom did most of it. Her father fished and owned all his own equipment, so they ate all kinds of fish but the most common was salmon and cod. They would usually either boil it or fry it in pork.
Amy cannot remember telephones in Rose Blanche when she grew up, but she does remember that her brother had the first radio in Rose Blanche. Amy would get under the window and listen to the music. They would get their mail at the post office in Rose Blanche.
At the age of nineteen she married Richard Blackmore who worked as a shopkeeper in Port aux Basques. Amy has raised a family of nine children herself all of which were born at home with a doctor and a nurse present. She had a lot of work because her husband, Richard died when all the children were young. She kept the house and made sure all the children were fed, she said you would cook whatever you could get to cook.
Amy has seen many changes in her life and has had many experiences. She has traveled to North Sydney and to Washington DC. She now resides with her second husband, Jim Parsons at Mountain Hope Manner retirement facility in Port Aux Basques.
Julia Strickland, date of birth: August 2, 1901
24 June 2003
Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Julia Strickland was born to Elizabeth and James McDonald on August 2, 1901. She was born in East Point, on the South coast of Newfoundland. When she was five years old she moved to a community called Burnt Islands located on the Southwest coast of Newfoundland. She lived there most of her life until she moved to Clarenville, Newfoundland for twenty years then she moved to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland to Gilbert's place [apartments for senior citizens] in 1982.
James and Elizabeth, Julia's parents, had ten children (seven girls, and three boys). James worked as a fisherman and Elizabeth was a homemaker. Elizabeth had to do the housework and take care of the children while James fished. They grew vegetables and raised sheep. The vegetables that they grew were carrots, turnip, and cabbage; all the garden work was done by hand. The sheep was used for the fleece. They had to shear the sheep, card it, spin it into wool, and use it to make items such as sweaters and socks.
They lived in a two-story house with a sharp roof. There was no electricity so lamps were used for lights and coal stoves and wood stoves were use to heat the home. They used a slop pail for a toilet and a washtub was used as a bathtub. Everyone had their own well so the water was brought from that because there was no running water. There were no telephones but there was a mail service, the mail was delivered to the homes by the mailman.
As a child, Julia didn't have much fun. The only fun she had was to play a few games. Besides that there was work to be done. Julia would have to scrub the floors with a brush, and wash the clothing on a washboard. Julia attended Anglican Church service in Burnt Islands held by the local minister. She also attended school in Burnt Islands until grade four. She went to one school on the island and one on the mainland. She only got as far as grade four in school then she came out. School was considered important but a lot of people had to come out to go to work.
Christmas was a joyful time of the year for Julia when she was a child. She would get things like candy apples, or other items of that sort. The Christmas dinner would consist of meat such as mutton and some vegetables. Julia took part in the famous Newfoundland tradition of mummering. Mummering was done by most people back in those days and it was enjoyed.
Julia started to work at the age of thirteen. Julia was twenty years old when she went to work as a serving girl in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. Her duties consisted of mostly housework, which included washing, cooking, scrubbing, etc. Julia did not make a lot of money doing this.
Julia remembers the First World War was a lonely time. "We used to knit for the war, socks and things." Julia can remember during the depression you could only get so much of things like sugar and flour. Her family did not receive any form of assistance. Julia also tells us she can remember the sinking of the old Caribou in 1942. Julia tells us she had a cousin on the Caribou that day.
Julia married her husband, William Strickland, at the age of twenty-five years old. The minister from Burnt Islands married them. William was a fisherman who caught mostly codfish. They would not get money for the fish at that time. All they got was a piece of paper (ticket) that they used to get a certain amount of items at the store. William was shipwrecked three times. This made Julia nervous because she had a brother that was lost on a ship. "One time he went out and the wind took his sails, he was around Francois then." Julia was a homemaker, she had to do things around the house such as clean, cook, make clothing, wash clothing, etc. Also in the summertime she had to take the fish, wash it and spread it out in the morning and evening. There was no hospital in Burnt Islands, just a nurse. Julia can remember she had to get operations done by the nurse. There is no medical care in Burnt Islands today; they have to travel to Port aux Basques.
Julia thinks it is easier for women growing up today than it was for women years ago. "They don't have to do the thing we had to do, like gardening, spreading fish, or the same housework." Julia really enjoyed her life and would not change anything about it.
Mary Katherine Gale
Mary Katherine Gale was born on July 3, 1900 in the community of Searston in the Codroy Valley on the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland. Her parents were Lucious and Esther O'Quinn. The family had six children including Mary made up of three boys and three girls. Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a framer. Mary lived on the Southwest coast of Newfoundland except for five years after she was married that she lived in Deer Lake.
Her father grew his own vegetables and kept his own animals. The family lived off the land and sold off some of the produce. Her father grew carrots, turnips, potatoes and cabbages. Her father also kept cows, pigs, hens and sheep. Her father fertilized the fields with kelp. The family did not use pesticides except for a little bit to spray for bugs. The family ate a lot of salted meats, codfish, herring and turbot. Her father would trade vegetables for fish with local fishermen. The family ate moose, rabbits and ducks. There was no set seasons so people could get wild game whenever they wanted. People made their own bread almost everyday. People picked their own berries for pies and other sweets.
Mary says that her family was not well off by the standards of today. Esther did the work around the family home while her husband farmed. She washed clothes on a scrub board, dusted, scrubbed the floor, looked after the children and carried in the wood.
Mary had to help her mother with chores around the house. She used to sweep the floor, scrub the floor, make bread, and dig vegetables. In the fall of the year she helped in the fields digging potatoes, cutting cabbages and turnips. The home that Mary grew up in was a two-story house with four bedrooms upstairs, a kitchen, a hallway, a bathroom, a porch and a pantry. There was a bedroom for the boys and one for the girls. There were no telephones in the area when Mary was growing up. They did not come to the region until after Mary was married.
Mary and her family attended the local Roman Catholic Church in Searston. Mary attended Mass every Sunday and attended all other events at the church throughout the week. Her family would walk between two and two and one-half miles to get to the church. There was a priest stationed there so there was Mass every Sunday. She attended the local school in Searston until she finished grade seven. Mary had to leave school because her mother passed away and had to stay home and look after her family. Mary felt that her education was not the average for that time because people could finish school there. The school in Searston was divided into a low school from grades one to five and a high school from grade six up. The students in Searston wrote on a scribbler and a slate. Mary feels that school was important when she was growing up and she wanted to go to school.
When asked if there was much to do for fun, Mary replied there was not much to do except play ball. There was not much leisure time when she was a child. If her parents saw her with nothing to do they soon found some chore to fill up her time. There was a lot of work to do on the farm when Mary was a child. She can remember working from seven a.m. in the morning to ten p.m., at night. The local people had dances at the local school with local fiddlers.
Christmas was an extremely fun time when Mary was a child. There were no Christmas trees like today. The men would have all their work done so there were no chores to use during Christmas. There were concerts and dances during Christmas. Mary would expect to get things like apples, oranges or a pencil box at Christmas. Mary went mummering at Christmas but she did not go often.
Mary can remember the years of the Great Depression. She can remember people having to eat dark bread made with whole wheat flour because people could not afford white flour. She remembered that soldiers were stationed in St. Andrew's during the Second World. This created more money in the Codroy Valley because of the war because men went to work at the American base in Stephenville. Her brother, Gerard went to Britain as part of a forestry brigade to cut wood for the war effort.
Mary got married to Walter Gale when she was nineteen years old. He was a crane operator with the provincial Department of Highways. She was a homemaker and had four children throughout the course of their marriage. Mary said that nineteen years old was an average age for getting married. Part of the reason for this was that there was nothing else for a young woman to do in the area. Only those young women that received a really good education could go away to work. Her husband started off working in the Codroy Valley but was transferred to Deer Lake. It was a big change when Mary went to Deer Lake because Deer Lake had electricity and running water and this was not available in the Codroy Valley.
When Mary lived in the Codroy Valley first after she was married water came from a pump in the house. The bathroom was an outhouse located outside the home. The home was lit by kerosene lamps and later by propane lanterns. The home had a wood stove for heat. Her mother carded the wool from the family's sheep and spun it into yarn. The home was furnished with a mixture of homemade and store bought furniture. Mary remembered that the kitchen table was smuggled in on a local schooner to avoid customs. The family had a bath a couple of times a week in a galvanized washtub. The water had to be heated on the stove.
The family bought their groceries at one of the local stores in the area such as Frank Gale's in Searston. People paid cash if they had it. Groceries could be obtained for credit and then paid off. Some storeowners accepted produce for the bills owed in the fall of the year. People at this time bought their clothes at one of the local stores because they did sell clothes. Other items were ordered from the Sears or Eaton's catalogues.
There was a post office in Searston where mail could be sent or received. The mail was brought from the train at St. Andrew's. It was difficult moving around the Codroy Valley at this time because there were no roads only trails for a horse and cart. There was no electricity in the Codroy Valley until after she was married.
If someone became sick there was a doctor from Port aux Basques that would come on the train. There was an English district health nurse in the area to provide aid. The doctor and the nurse provided all kinds of medical aid including pulling teeth. Her grandmother would use home remedies for minor ailments. Cherry bark was boiled for a sick stomach or to increase the appetite. Black currents were used to treat a sore throat. Balsam was used to seal a cut. A poultice was made for cuts and boils. A poultice was made from bread, milk and baking powder.
Most of Mary's children were born at her home. She had one of her children at a friend's home in Port aux Basques. There was a problem and this lady lived next door to the doctor. She even traveled to the mainland to see a doctor in North Sydney. She went over on ferries that included the Caribou, the Kyle and the Cabot Strait. She remembered that her doctor had to provide a note so she could get off the boat.
When asked if it was harder growing up when she was young as compared to today Mary said, "Not because of all the work we did. We had more time then. If you were washing it would take all day. While your wash was drying you could get your baby ready. We had more time then. People would visit one another more compared to today." Mary said that the community was closer when she was younger. People would help you. I assisted the doctor with a few babies of my neighbors."
Susie Savery, date of birth: September 18, 1908
26 May 2003
Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Susie Savery was born on the 18th of September, in the year 1908. She was born in West Cul-de Sac, a Southwest coast community that has been deserted for many years. Susie's father, Stephen Hardy was a fishermen and her mother, Eleanor Hardy was a homemaker. She can remember her mother helping to make dry fish, card wool, and make kindling. However she had her share of work as well, it was the responsibility of Susie and her siblings to wash clothes on the scrub board, carry water in buckets and get the kerosene in the lamps for the night.
Growing up in Cul de Sac was in itself a memorable experience. Susie tells us her memories about going to school. "Everyone had to take a turn in the morning filling the stove with kindling to get the fire going for the day" She also told us that cleaning the school was the responsibility of all the mothers of the students. "All we used to write on was a slate and pencil" Susie recollects "But I think I was in grade five when I came out". Besides school she also went to church, which was held by the schoolmaster except for once a month when the minister came to Cul-de Sac by boat.
Susie recalls that Christmas was always a happy time growing up. One clear memory of Christmas when she was growing up was on Christmas Eve, when she thought her mother was filling her stocking she would crawl across the floor and peep down over the steps to see what she was putting in there. "If you got an apple or orange, you would eat a little bit of it every day until it was gone." Also she can remember when frost would form in the window she would draw shapes and make designs with her mother's thimble over her finger.
Susie also remembers there was not much in the line of medical attention in Cul de Sac. "You went to Burgeo, or did the best with what you had. My mothers' eleven children never saw a doctor." When asked what happened if someone gets sick Susie said, "There was nothing you could do. You did whatever you thought was right. I had a sister who was sick, real bad. She had TB and died from it."
However, because of the lack of medical attention there was many home remedies and over the counter products that people used. For sore throats people used to take "Miners Liniment", as well as mixing it with kerosene, this mixture was then put on the persons left stocking and wrapped around the neck. When asked why not the right stocking, Susie replied, "I don't know, but they always used the left." She doesn't even know if used to work and remembers she would not take Liniment from her mother sometimes because it tasted so bad, but was forced to when her father gave it to her. They also would take a mixture to clean their blood in the spring of the year. It was sulfur, brimstone and molasses, which they would have to drink for nine mornings. Also she can recall her parents taking different types of plants, steeping them out to make medicine to drink. Susie just remembers there were no doctors so people just did what they thought was best. "It didn't do me any harm," Susie remarks, "I'm still here."
At age of sixteen Susie moved to Port aux Basques and worked as a serving girl for Dr. Barlow. Because she worked for a doctor Susie made more than the average serving girl with a pay of seven dollars a month, a dollar of which had to be given to someone to wash her clothes. While working for Dr. Barlow she had to clean, light the stove, cook and do the housework. She also remembers that the doctor used to raise pigeons but she does not remember what they did with them. Susie and the other serving girls used to get Wednesday and Friday evenings off. This is when they would use to go out to a dance. At the dance there wasn't a lot of music just someone who would play the accordion. Susie remarks, "We would dance to that, we didn't know the difference." But, they would have to be inside by 10:00 p.m. because they had to get up at 7:00 a.m. the following morning. They would have all day Sunday off and they would go to church and then you probably would not get out until the following Wednesday again.
It was during the time she was working she met her husband, Robert Savery. " If I tell you how I met my husband you would laugh," Susie remarks. "He had a girlfriend, until I moved up. I walked the post office hill. I didn't know who he was and he didn't know who I was, but I knew the girl. She was from down the coast and she gave us an introduction. So one day I go to the dance and he is there and asks me for a dance. After that he was there waiting for me, I don't know what the girl did afterwards but anyway I don't think she liked me after that." After they were together for two years, Susie at the age of eighteen married Robert. This was when she stopped working for Dr. Barlow and became a homemaker in her own home. Susie and Robert had four children together of which two survived. All of her children were born at home with the aid of a doctor. While Robert was at work Susie would make sure the children were looked after, making sure they went to school and kept the house. During the first years of their marriage, Robert worked on the lake boats. Later in years he went to work with the railway on coal engines and he worked his way up into an office position. After forty-two years of service with the Canadian National Railway (CN) he passed away.
Susie has always been an active member of the Anglican Church Women (ACW), helping to clean the church and anything else that had to be done. She remembers during WWII knitting socks with the ACW to be sent over seas to the soldiers. A tradition that Susie still honors today, knitting socks and sending them to her great grandson, Jeremie and her grandson, Paul who are in the Navy.
Susie Savery now resides in Mountain Hope Manner, and is enjoying her days knitting and walking the halls talking to other seniors. She says, "We always made our own fun. We could get together, in somebody's house and have an old lady who would sing all night for a dollar. We had a lot of fun." As for changing anything in her life, she says she wouldn't change a thing about it; she has enjoyed her life and is still enjoying it.
Five generation of women in Susie Savery's family
Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Susie Savery and four generations of women in her family.