The Show Must Go On

Telephone Operations

Wollaston Rural telephone system had originally been owned and built by Doctor Harding, the village doctor, so that he could keep a check on his patients. Later it was purchased by Charlie Rollins and Norman Gilroy, two town businessmen who definitely contributed to the growth of Coe Hill. Apparently it was housed in a little lean-to off the Rollins General store. The cost of the purchase was $700 but Dad paid only $350, Mr. Rollins' share. Mr. Gilroy asked simply that Dad provide a satisfactory system and that would be payment enough! When Dad bought it in 1941 there were 25 phones but only 19 of them worked. The six located in the area known as The Ridge were out of order. Because it was wartime, Dad was not able to buy more phones, but he could buy the parts, so he built some phones himself. To me, this was quite amazing when you consider that up until that time Dad had been so afraid of this new technology that he would not even use a telephone! Mom was already versed in the telephone though. She, as a young girl, had helped operate the telephone switchboard at Maple Leaf Store when her family lived in Maple Leaf. She and Dad made a good team. He understood how it worked and she had the skill and the fearlessness to operate it. She also handled the paper work - the billings, the banking, etc. and had more of a no-nonsense approach than Dad did towards customers who were late with payments.

The troublesome telephone line to the Ridge had pretty much fallen down in Doctor Harding's time …

Dear Hearts And Gentle People

All in the Name of Love

Our friends are sometimes the subjects of our best stories. Unfortunately our friend Hilda is no longer with us, but many years ago she told me this story about one summer in the early years of her marriage.

Picton Airport was built in the summer of 1940. Hilda's husband Frank had a dump truck and he was able to get work there. He tried boarding for the first week of the job but, when he came home to Hilda in Ormsby that week-end, he said that he didn't like the landlady's meals and that Hilda would have to come back with him. That meant that toddler Terry and baby Donna would also be coming.

Although love was abundant for these two in their early years of marriage, money wasn't, so Frank borrowed two tents. They packed their gas stove, some dishes and some bedding. They also took their couch that opened up into a bed and the mattress from the big crib. Frank placed some boards on the ground beside the bed and the large mattress went on those to make a bed for Terry. At the foot of their bed, they set up a smaller crib for Donna. One tent was the bedroom and the other was the kitchen, complete with gas stove, table and some folding chairs. These tents were set up in a kind farmer's yard whose property would eventually be taken over by the airport. The elderly farmer and his wife still …


Because You Asked

Divine Direction

Do you believe that those who have died make contact with us here on earth? In the last few years, events in my life have led me to believe that it is probable. Just recently, my husband Frank and I attended a memorial for Dale, Frank's cousin, who had died at the age of sixty-five. Sandra, his widow, delivered a love-filled eulogy and then, following his wishes, scattered his ashes at a site that had always been dear to him. The farmhouse there had been torn down and the yard was overgrown with wild vegetation, but Dale's ashes were scattered near the lilac bushes where he and my husband Frank had slept, canopied by the stars, on warm nights when they were young.

After this informal service, I asked if Sandra and Frank would pose together for picture-taking behind the spot where the ashes had been scattered. Later I took more family pictures at the luncheon that followed at a different location. When this film was developed and I was looking at each of the finished pictures, I stared in disbelief at the one of Frank and Sandra. Right where the ashes had been poured was a halo effect. I shivered at what I thought this could mean. Frank tried to dismiss it as light getting into the camera. "I don't think so", I countered, "I might have agreed with you had this been the first or last picture but it was well into the middle of the roll of film."

Just this week I showed the picture to another family member and made the comment that I thought Dale was making his presence known from the hallowed spot. Then I learned that Dale's father, Mackie, had spoken to his daughter and husband in a stronger way several weeks after his death many years ago.

Before Mackie had died he had instructed his daughter and son-in-law to be sure to collect his possessions from his boarding place in Trenton. They dutifully promised. But after his death, …


Sunny Side Up

Another Time, Another Place

Close your eyes and picture yourself on a horse-drawn, wooden-plank sleigh covered up with a heavy buffalo robe (yes, real buffalo hide) on a frosty winter morning. Jack and Fred, the two strong, honey-coloured Clydesdales, exhale great streams of hoary crystals from their nostrils as they work in even rhythm, heedless of their passengers nestled behind. The world is quiet except for the steady clip-clopping of their hooves. They know the trail; they have pulled this sleigh to the woodlot many times already this winter.
That scene is still vivid in the mind of my husband, Frank, who was raised on an Ontario farm in Lake St. Peter, North Hastings County. For at least ten of those boyhood years in the forties and fifties, he was his father's helper in cutting hardwood trees for family firewood or for logs to sell.

Frank's father, Buster (no one ever called him by his real name, Wilfred), stoked the wood stove in the kitchen each winter morning to rid their rustic farmhouse of its bone-chilling cold. Twice a week, after a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast, it was time to hitch up the horses and spend the day at the wood lot…


Heather's Musings & More

A Fishing Tale of a Different Kind

One thing that can alter even the most well-planned trip is the weather. Two veteran fishermen can testify to that.

In early May of 1971, two friends, Conrad (known as Connie) and Tony left Pembroke, by train, about midnight, en route to Algonquin Park for a few days of fishing in the isolated area of Radiant Lake. About five o'clock in the morning the train stopped at the abandoned Radiant Lake station. This was not a functioning station anymore but the engineer would stop there if requested.

As previously arranged, there had been a boat left for the two fishermen which they could use to take them to their campsite. By the time Tony and Connie had their gear loaded and themselves belted into their life jackets, it was nearing 6 a.m. Although they had not had much sleep on the train, all they could think about was the fishing sport that was waiting for them. There was a bit of a wind and some grey clouds, but seasoned fishermen like them had come prepared with heavy windbreakers and more than enough food for several days. They were quite confident they would soon have some fish to cook over an open fire.

It was agreed that Connie would operate the motor and he positioned himself 'at the ready' in the boat while Tony, with pant legs rolled-up while braving the early-morning cold water, gave the boat a hefty push into deeper water, prepared to jump in once Connie had the boat under control. Connie gave the starter cord a mighty pull and adjusted the throttle, pleased that the motor started. His smile soon turned upside down when he realized that the gear shift lever would not move. Try as he might, no amount of lifting up or pushing down would budge that lever into gear. He was trying every manoeuvre he knew and the minutes were adding up.

To add to the predicament, the weather was changing at an unbelievable rate. That 'bit of a wind' was building into a gale force, blowing Connie away from Tony who was still at the shore. Without motor power or oars, the boat with Connie in it was at the wind's mercy...

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