Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Trip proves unforgettable

My husband, Chub, spent a winter in Newfoundland. He was a motor machinist's mate, first class, in the U.S. Coast Guard and helped build a Loran station there. In April, the job was done, but a bulldozer couldn't be shipped until new parts arrived. Chub and a driver were ordered to stay behind, repair the bulldozer and get it to the dock. Chub was able to improvise with leather so the driver could inch the thing along and the men could return with the other fellows.

In 1959, we were planning a camping trip so Nancy and Walt could explore the St. Lawrence Seaway. As we traced the route on the globe, someone said, "It's only an inch across to where Daddy was during the war!" Chub was eager to show us Newfoundland, so we booked passage from Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques. There were only two towns on that island that had more than 10,000 inhabitants.

We drove off the ferry into Port aux Basques and saw no trees, no stores, no sidewalks. The sun highlighted brightly colored houses. A dog was asleep in the street, and children played there. We stopped to visit with men working on their fishing boats. One fellow clenched a pipe stem in his teeth as he spoke with an unfamiliar accent. All of the men wanted to know why we came to Newfoundland, and we were beginning to wonder, too!

The talkative one took us to his fishing shed. We were fascinated by stacks of fishnets, by flat cod hanging, like so many diapers, on clotheslines to dry. He referred to the cod simply as "fish," as if there were no other kinds. He told us about the nets and tackle, and I asked what bait he used. "No bait!" he said with a twinkling eye.

The end of the oiled fishing line held a 7-inch lead "fish" upside down with hooks extending in two directions from its mouth. "Bump the weight on the bottom and retrieve it a fawthom," six feet, "or a fawthom and an olf," he said. "Fish nose it, curiously, and you jerk and snag 'em."

We watched rafts of logs floating toward Bowater's sawmill. They were elevated to stockpiles, and other logs fed into saws to be made into paper.

A man directed us to Albert Humber's home on Benoit's Cove; Humber agreed to take us out and let us camp nearby so we'd be on the water early the next morning. Humber and his helper dragged and retrieved the cage many times, bringing up scallops, shells, water weeds and sea urchins.

We kept enough scallops for our campfire breakfast. We often recall that breakfast of pancakes with Vermont maple syrup and fresh scallops. And we'll never forget gentle Albert Humber, the new friend we found.

Click here to return to the index

 Subscribe in your RSS reader

Copyright © 1994-2010 Sue Gerard. All Rights Reserved. No text or images on this website may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author, except small quotations to be used in reviews.