Friday, July 24, 2020

I Guess I Was a Fighter: Growing Up in Heart's Delight-Islington with Sadie Rowe

Sadie Rowe, originally of Heart's Delight-Islington, is a natural storyteller. She says she grew up in a time before smart phones and tablets, and found joy in buying candy for a penny and catching connors on the wharf, and playing hide and seek in the barrels inside Mr Aaron Rowe's cooper shop.

Here are some of her reminiscences about growing up in Heart's Delight-Islington!

When I was born, I was only a pound and a half, and they could set me in a teacup. And people came from all over to see me. There was a gentleman from Heart's Delight who was from the Southeast side and he was home from Boston, and he came to see me and to take a picture because he said, "If I tell somebody this, they won't believe it." So, he said, "I just hope the picture comes out!" When I was born the midwife said that she placed me in a dresser drawer and told mom that she would come down in the morning and bury me, because, she said, "there's no way she's going to live." So, mom said, "Well, if she dies, it won't be in a dresser drawer." And she took me and placed me inside her nightdress and kept me there for about two months, you know, off and on. Wrapped me in flannel, and she used to feed me with an eye dropper with a tiny drop of milk with a little tiny drop of cod liver oil and boiling water, and they would sterilize everything. And that's how I survived. I guess I was a fighter because I wasn't going to reach the finish line and not win the race! So mom said I just came ahead and everything was fine.

We weren't allowed to do anything on Sundays, and I remember once Sunday my mother and father had taken my younger sister and they went to visit, and Mabel and I had been in Sunday School. So, when we came home, out in our garden there was a real steep hill, and it had a really good sheet of ice. And Mabel and I thought, well, we'd take our sleighs and go out and slide. I came out over the hill flying and almost went through the fence, and I realised that Mabel was coming. She was younger than me. So, I realised she was coming down behind me. So, I said, "I have to stop her because she's going to be hurt!" Well, when she came down the hill, she slid off her sleigh, came down the hill on her belly, and the buttons off her coat came down ahead of her, and they were rolling down the hill! And I just rolled with laughter! I managed to catch her when she got to the bottom, and all the front of her coat was torn where the buttons were. Well, we knew we were in trouble. And we went into the house and waited for mom and dad to come home, and when they came home they looked at us and knew that there was something. And Mabel showed mom her coat. Well, we never ever got spanked anyway but mom took Mabel up in her arms and dad took me, and I saw both of them cry because the tears were rolling off of their face, not because her coat was torn but because they realised that we could have gotten seriously hurt that day. And we got a good talking to and we were told that we were never to do it again. And I don't think Mabel and I went out in that garden to slide after. It really sank in that what we did was wrong.

The teachers always went home to lunch, but the basement door was always left open in case it rained. When we'd come back to go to school we were allowed to go in there and wait for school to open at 2 o'clock. So, I guess one day the boys decided to play a trick on us girls and decided to lock us out and we got wet. So, me and a few more girls decided that we would tie them in the basement. So, we found some twine and we tied them in, and the teacher came, and we all went in school but a lot of the older boys was missing. The teacher kept looking and listening and finally asked, "What's going on here today?" No one said a word, so they kept asking. Then we finally had to tell him what happened. He said, "Well! We have to let them out sometime!" So, seeing it was my idea, he said, "You go and let them out." When I opened the door, of course, they looked at me and they were very sheepish and very ashamed of theirselves. So, they all walked in school, and the teacher said, "I guess a lesson was learned here today. You boys, you'll think twice before you mess with the girls again!"
Do you have memories of growing up in Heart's Delight-Islington? We'd love to hear them. Get in touch at!

1 comment:

eileen matthews said...

Excellent! I've known Sadie Rowe all my "growing up" life in Heart's Content and still keep in touch with her on occasion through her daughter (on FB) in Nova Scotia where her and her husband Alex live now. Sadie wrote a poem about St. Mary's church after it burned down, it was an awesome poem, perhaps she'd share that with you too sometime.

Eileen Matthews (Balsom)