Showing posts with label st. philip's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label st. philip's. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Do you remember being sent to the store as a child? #Folklorephoto

028.03.193 Four unidentified children in front of  Broad Cove with a jar of mustard pickles.
Photo courtesy of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.
The above photo shows four unidentified children in front of Broad Cove in St. Philip's, who look like they may have just come from a stop at a local store. One little girl holds a jar of mustard pickles, another has something in her hand, maybe a chocolate bar? Do you have memories of your parents sending you to the store as a child? How far did you walk? What did you have to pick up?

~ Kelly

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Some Thousand Miles Apart, and a War On." The WWII Letters of Allen Squires and Pearl Morcombe, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

Allen Squires in uniform (028.02.02).  Detail of one of the many letters he wrote to Pearl Morcombe.

In April I had the pleasure to work on a collection for the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, organizing the Allen and Pearl Squires fonds. The couple made a financial donation to the town in the 1980's to establish the community library, and with that donation came a box with some of the couples possessions, 35mm slides, war medals, and stacks of letters written during the second world war. When I first opened up the box, the stacks of beautifully handwritten letters, immediately peaked my interests.

Stacks of correspondence from the Allen and Pearl Squires Fonds, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

The letters were all sent to Pearl Morcombe of Melrose, Massachusetts during the Second World War. Pearl corresponded with fifteen different people, family and friends who talked about their own lives and life during WW2. A large portion of the correspondence is from Allen Squires of St. Philip's, who had known Pearl years before, and had reconnected as penpals when Allen's sister Edna Tucker sent Pearl his address. Pearls mother was from St. Philip's, so Pearl already had some connection with the area, and Allan often wrote about the area, telling Pearl she should visit. They wrote about the war and their homes and families. He often talks about everyday life at war, the food they ate, where they slept, and their entertainment. While stationed in England, Allen wrote in a letter on March 13th 1941:

Souvenir sent by Allen to Pearl, Sept. 15, 1940 
"If Hitler thinks he will brake the moral of the British people, he is making a big mistake. There's a little girl drives a van in every morning about 10 o'clock, with coffee and buns for the boys. The other morning she came in and told me she was up all night. I asked her what the trouble was, and she said there was about thirty fire bombs dropped in her back yard that night. So she said she worked on them all night with the men and helped to put them out, and still she was on the job at nine in the morning with her little van, with buns and coffee for the boys. I told her she ought to get a medal and she just laughed about it. I never saw people with such wonderful pluck. They are really marvelous. If there is any holes in our socks, they will take them and darn them, or if we want anything done, they are quiet willing to do it. They post all our letters. I don't think I shall ever forget them."
Through out his letters, Allen often talks about the women he meets at war, and tells Pearl she should find herself a boyfriend. As they continue to write to each other, and their relationship grows, Allen's writing becomes more romantic and he talks of their future together. On April 24th 1942 Allen wrote:
"I am living in hopes that some day I will be able to make you my little wife and we can live happy for the remainder of our life. That may sound funny. Some thousand miles apart, and a war on, but such things can happen." 
028.02.01 Allen and Emma Squires. Courtesy of
the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.
Pearl also receives letters from other people, including those related to Allen and from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's. She writes to Allen's sister Edna Tucker, and his brother Leslie Squires who moved to the USA for work. There are letters from Edna's son Jacob J. Tucker who first writes when he is 16 and a member of the 1st St. Philip's Troop Boy Scouts and leader of the Boy Scouts orchestra in St. Philip's. He eventually goes to live with Pearl in Massachusetts for his health and seeking opportunity. Allen's mother Emma Squires writes to Pearl, primarily when she has not heard from her son and to ask if Pearl has received any letters. Emma Squires emotional letters are those of a worried mother, wondering if the war will ever end, and her sadness over the death of her husband Gus Squires. Most of her letters are steeped in melancholy, including one letter from September 26th 1944:

"Just as I am writing this I look [through] my window at such a lovely sunset, I never saw before. Just like a picture as it shined on the church just by my house, its red roof and all white. It made me feel so sad. And when I see anything looking so lovely it makes me think of things very sad. Well Dear, what do you think of the dread full time is going on now. I suppose this is the finishing of most of our Dear ones. I am thinking there isn't many of them going to be left by the time it's finished. I guess they will be most all thru with it all. I was in hopes of my Dear boy coming some time, but since this hard time have started I am feeling pretty bad at it all."

In one of the last letters, a August 14th 1945 letter forwarded to Pearl from Leslie Squires, Emma Squires writes about the end of the war and news that Allen is returning home to Newfoundland. She once again describes the view out her window, but this time with the joy and relief:
"The church bell is ringing now and Bell Island is all a light guns firing." 
028.03.201 View of St. Philip's Church and Bell Island. Taken by Allen and Pearl Squires August 10th 1962
Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.
For more information on the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives, contact the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Heritage Programs and Services Coordinator Julie Pomeroy.

~ Kelly

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"We never did go hungry on Saturdays" - Interview with Clarence "Mac" Miller

Clarence (Mac) Miller Interviewed by Nataliya Bezborodova

Clarence (Mac) Miller is a lifelong resident of Portugal Cove – St. Philips, NL. He was born September 19, 1943. Mac Miller is the only son in a family of five children. As a child, he often accompanied his father who worked as a truck driver supplying goods to boats for Bell Island. He married in 1968, having growing up in the same community as his wife. He has two daughters and is “waiting for grandchildren, still waiting.” Mac Miller worked in public utilities for 35 years, and is now retired. His interest in history and geography started as a schoolchild, and he began his own research in his family genealogy which led him to become a local Heritage Committee member.

“Saturdays when there would be no school, myself and another friend of mine, we used to go with my father to Bell Island to help deliver the produce. We would be in the back of the truck. Now of course, at that time everything was sort of in, not cardboard boxes but in small wooden crates. I can remember, we would be in the back of the truck, we would be passing the stuff out to my father and he would be bringing it in but from going to one place to another if we were hungry we would open a box and have a banana, an orange, or an apple or anything. Flick the peels out of the truck so my father wouldn’t see as he was driving. We were in the back of the truck with a big tarpaulin over the truck. So, we never did go hungry on Saturdays. All the rest of the week we were hungry, waiting for Saturdays, and get paid a dollar for doing that too.”

Mac described the work associated with growing up in a family of girls:
“Otherwise there wasn’t much time for entertainment so to speak, because when my father worked on Bell Island, I had to come home from school and get all the supplies for the night, I had to get splits, small pieces of kindling for lighting the fire in the morning. I never had too much time for sports. When I did, that was mostly at school, playing baseball, soccer. Some Saturdays when my father wouldn’t be at home, when he would go to Bell Island on a Monday and wouldn’t be back until Friday night, and I being the only boy, I had to do all the work. Sometimes coming home from school I used to have to go in the woods, which was about a mile hike cut a few sticks of wood, haul them back, physically haul them back to the house about another mile, and cut them up for a day. Some Saturdays we had to cut up enough wood for the fire for the whole week, which didn’t leave much time for anything else: stealing vegetables out of the gardens or anything else like that, right? That’s about it for me.”

Mac: “I didn’t like my siblings, they were all girls. They didn’t like me either!
Nataliya : You had a hard time!
Mac: I did have hard time! [laughter] They got away from everything. That is why I had to do all this hard work, go to get firewood,and so on. Girls didn’t do that stuff. They would be stuck inside the house, while I was outside in the cold at everything else. Well, my five sisters, we all went to school here in Portugal Cove. Finished high school there. I was the only one who did, as they say, post-education. I had one year at the University, but I didn’t like that. And at about nineteen years old I went to work, and I stayed at that job for 35 years until I retired.”

Although there was a lot of hard work Mac also recalled some of the games and activities he would play as a child:
“In summer when we had holidays, we used to play soccer. we played baseball a lot. We used to grow our own vegetables too, fish every now and then. We weren’t a fishing family but every now and then you would get out with someone in a boat, jig a few codfish for the week. We used to play some games. One game we used to play is tiddly. Different places you go in Newfoundland, they call it by a different name, right. We called it tiddly; we played with a couple of sticks. I actually had a real ball to play soccer with. Can you believe that? A real ball. We went swimming. We would walk over hills from Portugal Cove about a mile hike to go swimming in the ponds. […] So, we used to hike over hills almost every day in summer or on our holidays. Go for a swim, then come back home again. We used to spend a lot of time around the rocks, we used to call them rocks, or a shoreline. Jigging connors, sometimes you would get a small codfish that used to be in around the rocks, fry that on the rocks. One thing I remember that we used to do. Do you know what conk is? Seashell that grows on a rock. We call them conk, right. They are males and females. We used to go down on the shoreline and pick those off the rocks. Pick the male ones off the rocks, because the male ones are bigger and fatter. We put them in an old tin can, and make a little fire. We boiled them and ate them. They were lovely! They were actually really lovely!”

“My friend had a horse. Of course late in spring of the year and late in fall of the year you had to cut a grass, let it dry, put it to a barn for the horse in the winter. That used to be good because once we got the barn full of hay we started jumping in the hay. If you were warm at all, if you were sweating at all, you itch like anything. It was fun, but at the end of it you almost wanted to walk another ¾ of a mile to the pond to go for a swim. We used to swim in the salt water too. Saltwater is a lot better to swim in because saltwater is heavy and fresh water is not. We used to get in saltwater, and just float. We get on our backs and float. Saltwater will keep you up. In fresh water you have to move your hands and feet just to keep in that same position. I remember one place called Claire’s beach. It used to be a beach of a family Claire's that lived there. I remember myself and this other guy were swimming once and we were out twenty feet in the water, and we saw this tail come up in the air, out of the water. It was a shark about thirty feet from us. That was closer than I’ve ever been in all the time I spent swimming in saltwater to something chasing us so to speak. Here was this shark. We got out of water pretty fast.”

“I live more in the past than in the future or the present. I always did. When I was going to school, history and geography were my two passions. Especially history. For some reason, I don’t know why you get hooked on something […] I think it was just about how the things were back that then, what they did and so on. […] I don’t know, just an interest I had… why someone becomes a hockey player, what made you become a soccer player. It was just something I was interested in, it was just in me for some reason. Then I just kept at it, and at it, and at it, it just got more and more challenging. Then I got into family history, and it was fine, doing genealogy. Not even one thing in particular, but the overall thing, history, how did this come about.”

This interview was conducted as part of a Collective Memories Mug Up project conducted by Memorial University students enrolled in FOLK 6740: Public Folklore, Winter 2017. If you would like to listen to the full interview click here

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What Do You Remember About the Community Post Office? #Folklorephoto

028.03.126 "Mrs. Dine Haynes." August 17th 1962. From the Allen and Pearl Squires fonds. Courtesy of the Portugal Cove St. Philip's Archives.  
Do you recognize the above post office? or Mrs, Dine Haynes?

The image is part of a collection of slides taken by Allen and Pearl Squires in 1962. Allen Squires grew up in St. Philip's and while home for a visit for the summer of 1962, Allen and Pearl traveled around the Avalon Peninsula taking photographs in various communities including Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Pouch Cove, Torbay, St. John's, Holyrood, Brigus and others. This slide was labeled "Mrs. Dine Haynes" August 17th 1962, though there are no other photographs from that day to give other clues to where this might be.

The left side of the photograph shows a cemetery, which appears to only be next to the Post Office because of a partial double exposure, and not part of the actual location. In the window is a Players cigarette advertisement and a Brookfield dairy ad "For a treat try a Polar [Bar]", indicating that the Post Office also served as a store. Do you know which community this Post Office was in?

What do you remember about your local post office? Was it part of a store? Was it in someone's house? Who worked there?


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Torbay Airport 1954. Do You Remember Your First Trip on an Airplane? #Folklorephoto

028.03.059 Torbay Airport.
Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.

The above image taken in 1954, shows the first terminal building for the Torbay Airport, now the St. John's International Airport. The Royal Canadian Air Force opened the location as a military airport in 1941, constructing the first terminal building in 1943. It would become a civilian operation in 1946 and was run by the Canadian Department of Transportation.   

028.03.055 Pearl Squires in front of Trans Canada Air Lines plane. 1954.
Photograph courtesy of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives.
These two photographs are part of the Allen and Pearl Squires fonds at the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives. Allen Squires was from St. Philip's and the fonds includes two sets of 35mm slides taken while visiting the area in 1954 and 1962.

For more information on the Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Archives, contact the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Heritage Programs and Services Coordinator Julie Pomeroy.

~ Kelly

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Portugal Cove-St. Philip's Memory Mug Up - Friday, February 10th

Share Your Stories at the Memory Mug Up!
Do you have knowledge of the Picco's Ridge plane crash of 1978? Can you describe the place names in the community? How about the names of the gullies and pond? What can you tell us about the Bell Island Connection? If you have answers to these questions or have memories of growing up in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, you are invited to attend the Memory Mug Up!

The Memory Mug Up is an informal story sharing session for seniors, where people gather, have a cup of tea, and share memories. The Heritage Foundation of NL will be hosting three Memory Mug Up events for seniors this February.

The goal of the program is to help participants share and preserve their stories. The town is particularly interested in information about place names, cemeteries, names of local ponds, fishing history and families, the 1978 plane crash, Bell Island connections, and ghost stories. We would love to have a chat with you about your memories of the community!

The event is free! You bring a memory of growing up, we’ll supply the tea and biscuits, and we will all have a chat. Following the sessions, those who are interested can set up a time to have their stories recorded and archived by one of our story collectors.

Portugal Cove- St. Philip’s Memory Mug Up
Friday, February 10th, 10:00am
Recreation Center (next to the Town Hall)
1119 Thorburn Road, Portugal Cove- St. Philip’s

The Memory Mug Ups are part of the Collective Memories Project, an oral history initiative which invites seniors to record their stories and memories for archiving and sharing. It is a project of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Office of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador (HFNL), the Provincial Advisory Council on Aging and Seniors, the Interdepartmental Working Group on Aging and Seniors, and is funded through the Department of Seniors Wellness and Social Development.

For more information on how you or your community organization can get involved, email Dale Jarvis at or call (709) 739-1892 x2.