Surely it’s not GOO-SHOO!

Unless it has changed drastically since I lived in Newfoundland, no one today seems to know how to pronounce “Gushue.” Yes, as in Brad Gushue, yesterday’s acclaimed winner of the Brier, Canada’s prestigious curling championship.

Brier Winner Brad Gushue

Brier Winner Brad Gushue

But what did he ever do to deserve getting his surname pronounced to sound like getting something sticky on his shoe – GOO-SHOO? That’s what countless TV people call him all the time. I groan in disbelief every time I hear it.

I knew several people bearing that proud surname – among them Dr. Ray Gushue, the first President of Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Bill Gushue, a friend from those long ago university days – but it was always pronounced “GUH-ZHU” with the emphasis on the first syllable. Not rhyming with, but much like, “cashew,” with the U sound as in “cushion.”

The Gushue name which has been known in Newfoundland since the 18th century is believed to be of Breton origin.

 

Daylight Saving Centennial

Sunday’s inauguration of daylight saving time marks a notable milestone in history – the 100th anniversary of its introduction in what was then the self-governing colony of Newfoundland. When that occurred in 1917, Newfoundland became one of the first countries in the world to turn its clocks back to gain more daylight in winter working days. It followed the pioneers in Germany, Austria-Hungary and Britain who adopted it a year earlier. Canada only started it in 1918, although some cities had done so earlier. Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) made the move in 1908.

Since Newfoundland exclusively occupies its very own time zone, it is first in line in North America to ring daylight saving time in for another season. Its unique time zone exists because of the island’s location and its politically independent status when time zones were established.

My Dad never spoke of daylight saving time. He always called it, rather derisively, John Anderson’s time. That’s because it was politician Hon. John Anderson who persuaded the Government of Newfoundland to implement daylight saving. Then, as now, it wasn’t universally acclaimed, but it caught on effectively from then on.

John Murray Anderson

John Murray Anderson

A Scot who came to Newfoundland in 1875, John Anderson had one other claim to fame. He was the father of John Murray Anderson, who moved from St. John’s to New York where he won lasting fame as an entertainment impresario on Broadway. In the heyday of the American musical in the 1920s and 30s, he was second only to Florenz Ziefield as one of the great producers.

A Lady Anderson look alike

A Lady Anderson look alike

But he’s not to be confused with David Murray Anderson who served as Governor of Newfoundland in the 1930s. My Dad must have been impressed by him, or at least his family, when it came time to christen a unique facility which served our family’s needs at our summer bungalow in Kelligrews. Used for three or four seasons before he had indoor facilities installed, the sturdy wooden outhouse erected a hundred yards or so away in the back garden, was reverently dubbed, and frequently referred to as, the “Lady Anderson.”

 

TAXING PROBLEM

Bought my yearly income tax kit the other day. Figured it had to be something special because the package containing it was just huge! Fully one and a half inches deep!

But inside, merely a tiny CD probably one tenth of an inch thick! Go figure!

Intuit’s Turbo Tax software has worked fine for us for years, but why in the world does a wafer thin CD have to be encased in a box big enough to hold a pair of gold bricks?

Smarten up, and lighten up, Turbo people, please!

Escape Into Winter

Never before having voiced a grump about Trump despite all the uproar, I yield at last to the temptation as the world cringes in terror on the day of his inauguration. So many thoughts leap into one’s head. Will anyone ever again doubt H.L. Menken’s sour commentary – No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public? Will anyone but Conrad Black contend the Donald will really become a good thing? Will media social and otherwise tire at last of highlighting the twit’s torrents of tweets?P1070334PW

winter sky

winter sky

Verily, all of us deserve a prolonged hiatus of news, views and mindless gossip having anything to do with the goings on in and about the new age west wing, Trump Tower. Let’s think back to the good old days before twitter and all its cohorts were even dreamed about, and revel instead in the glories of our Canadian winter.

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upside down icicles!

upside down icicles!

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Bob Cole Tells A Good Story

9780670070121[1]WA few years ago I asked Bob Cole to help in reminiscing about our shared experience working at VOCM, Newfoundland’s pioneer private radio station in St. John’s. That was in the mid-1950s, before he began his 50 year career as Canada’s premiere hockey play by play announcer.

Harveys-News-07Edit3PW I told in my book, Yesterday’s News, about Bob’s practising hockey broadcasts on tape in between broadcasting chores – he was determined to break into the big time even then, and achieved his goal with great distinction. A picture he sent me for my book showed him, not in his hockey role, but as member of a VOCM rowing crew in the annual St. John’s Regatta.

Now it’s my turn to welcome Bob’s own lively memoir celebrating his fabulous career in hockey broadcasting. It is titled modestly enough “Now I’m Catching On”, a phrase he used to mark his progress in learning his play by play knowhow. My copy was a welcome family Christmas gift from my journalist son Ron.

VOCM Regatta crew

VOCM Regatta crew

What I liked right from the start in his book is the artless manner in which Bob Cole described his life history, written almost exactly as he talked. Even though he credits the writing to journalist Stephen Brunt, I found the wording and phrasing much as I remember Bob’s manner of speaking. I can relate very well to much of what he described about his early life, having grown up in the same era and known many of the same people – we even played hockey against each other.

yesterdays_news[1]WI have long admired Bob’s persistence in grounding his career, despite its endless travel commitments, in his home town of St. John’s, and in his family. For all of his exciting experiences, he retained his down to earth personality which doubtless had much to do in shaping his career success.

I enjoyed every bit of reading “Now I’m Catching On” and recommend it to anyone who appreciates a truly genuine success story.

Riding the Rails

Had an enjoyable trip from Ottawa to Toronto before Christmas, travelling for a change on Via Rail. It was quite an adventure, really, as our first time on a train in decades, but it was well worthwhile. Having someone else driving had its charms, only setback being a tad too much jolting aboard the rickety old coach on the outbound route. It was a whole lot smoother in a more modern coach on the homebound leg.

20161207_140227p4capw Via staff were just fine, with special thanks due to the Ottawa station rep who booked us into the low cost but perfectly adequate Escape category. (Dealing on the spot with a live person was a distinct pleasure after a frustrating effort at booking on line.) 20161207_135809p4capwGetting needed baggage handling help on boarding was also appreciated. Sandwich fare was unexciting but quite adequate – tasting better than it looked, in fact. All in all, a comfortably hassle-free journey.

20161207_140513p3capwManaged to snag a few tolerable cell phone photos along the way, just to see if it could be done.withrow-park-01capw

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Brisk neighbourhood walks and ever-satisfying Danforth Avenue shopping filled much of a brief but thoroughly enjoyable Toronto sojourn visiting son Ron, his spouse Lee and our precious granddaughter Bridget.

 

wexford_collegiate_instituteSaw her participate in “Wonder”, a marvellous performance by students at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. Hundreds of teenage dancers, singers, actors and musicians thronged the stage in a rapid-fire succession of magnificently choreographed acts and sketches.

Helen Carter

My Sister Helen

My beloved sister Helen Carter will always be remembered for her warm and dazzling smile. She liked to smile, and did so all the time because that is how she always looked at life. She was a happy and contented person, and in her quiet and unassuming way radiated that feeling wherever she went and with whomever she met.

Helen passed away in St. John’s November 25 at age 92, leaving to mourn a devoted family and large numbers of friends and admirers.

One of my earliest memories of Helen was actually a family story of a time, long before I was born, when she was a toddler playing outdoors near our Gower Street home. Somehow, I never heard how or why, she wandered away without anyone seeing her do so, and nobody knew where she’d gone. After hours of frantic searching, police showed up to report that the young truant had been picked up several blocks away, and she’d been taken to the police station. When returned thankfully at home, she seemed quite unruffled by the experience. As was her way.

Helen chopping firewood.Friend Marg Doyle and little brother watching

Helen chopping firewood. Friend Marg Doyle and little brother watching

In her teenage years, she was a bit of a tomboy, so much so that her friends playfully christened her “George,” yet she retained close friendships with many of her school mates throughout her lifetime. Although drifting apart while she worked and lived for many decades in Gander, she renewed many of these relationships upon returning to St. John’s after her children had all grown up.

In the latter years of the Second World War, Helen took a job with the Canadian Navy after school graduation, and she’d often come home with boyfriend admirers she’d met on the job. Then in 1944 she decided on a nursing career, and enrolled at St. Mary’s Hospital in Montreal. After graduation, she joined a fellow graduate for a short jaunt to Florida. Telling about her adventures there after returning home, I remember my father’s semi-serious reaction to her admission that she had been treated to an exotic cocktail known as a Singapore Sling. Helen did not think it was any big deal.

revisiting her Montreal nursing school

revisiting her Montreal nursing school

Some years ago, during one of her periodic visits with us in Ottawa, Madeline and I had the pleasure of taking her for a nostalgic return to Montreal to visit St. Mary’s which she recalled as one of her fondest memories. She loved nursing but had to abandon it for more lucrative employment in the aviation field in Gander.

I got a glimpse of her nursing role when I stopped off at Gander during a Christmas trip home from university in Nova Scotia in the early 1950s. She lived and worked in Gander hospital. It was a busy life which she greatly enjoyed, and had many friends and co-workers.

Helen with husband Bob Carter, son Bob Jr. and daughters Cathy and Brenda

Helen with husband Bob Carter son Bob Jr. and daughters Cathy and Brenda

She took life’s adversities in stride, coping amazingly well with the burden of raising a family of five on her own after her beloved husband, Bob Carter, died suddenly in 1968 at the age of 46. Christine was born shortly after Bob died, and again Helen’s strength of character and commitment to her young children was demonstrable as she shepherded them through life.

Working for many years as a business manager with Eastern Provincial Airways, she later undertook yet another career as a vocational school business teacher and, while working full time, completed a degree in Vocational Education which was no small feat. Helen made summer sojourns to Moncton with the girls in tow to attend summer school where she earned credits towards her degree. The girls remember fondly the drive across the Island and then onto Moncton each summer.

Bob Jr and wife Jill

Bob Jr and wife Jill

Helen continued to take courses in Grand Falls, driving there to take courses. This put a lot of stress on her and she had a heart incident as a result – yet she persevered and received her degree just before she retired. A true testament to her commitment to get the degree.

Throughout her busy life as a working single mother, Helen found great enjoyment in cooking and baking, taking great delight in hosting dinner parties for family and friends. She greatly enjoyed reading until suffering vision problems, and indulged her passion for playing bridge with friends and neighbours. And by all accounts she played it very well. She was also fond of driving, and nothing frustrated her more in her latter years than having to give up driving.

Four Carter girls with cousin Barbara visiting patient Feb 2016

Four Carter girls with cousin Barbara visiting patient Feb 2016

Yet as everyone who knows her can attest, Helen’s outstanding achievement was her loving devotion to her family. This is especially evident in the remarkable personal and career achievements of her children – Bob in corporate affairs, Cathy and Brenda in hospital administration, Anne in her mother’s first love, nursing, and Christine in municipalities administration – all of whom Helen had ample cause to be highly proud of.

Helen’s whole life was all about love. We are all privileged to have known and loved her.

Signed Books Offer

Christmas is a-comin’ on, so I might as well put out a pitch for readers interested in getting signed copies of books I have written about early days in Newfoundland. Both Gower Street (2015) and Yesterday’s News (2008) were published in St. John’s.

cover-spread-gower-streetavBeing Ottawa bound, I can’t get out for book signings in distant parts, but can and will do signings at home and send them out to anyone wanting them. I have on hand a limited number of copies of both publications which I’d be happy to sign and send by mail on time for Christmas.

yesterdays_news1Costs are modest enough – $20 a copy, mailing included.

Of course, both books can be ordered on line from sources such as Chapters-Indigo or Newfoundland bookseller Tidespoint – but they won’t be signed!

More details may be found on my website http://www.nixwadden.ca/

 

Amazing Grace

My all too limited appetite for reading usually ranges no further than some favourite mystery writers and occasional dips into books about Newfoundland or by Newfoundland authors. My Newfoundlandia collection, though not particularly extensive, is still not fully explored, so every now and then I pick one up that I had not read yet, and give it my full attention.

grace-sparkes-bookExamples lately include Grace Sparkes: Blazing A Trail of Independence, by Marie-Beth Wright. I knew Grace quite well, since we worked in Newfoundland news media in the same period. She was women’s page editor of the St. John’s Daily News, and our paths often crossed over the years. She was a fervent anti-Confederate and ran for the Conservatives against Joey Smallwood’s Liberals, losing by large margins but admired for her steadfast principles. Her first campaign manager, Mary Brown Sloan, was the mother of some of my best school days friends, and when I got married, she baked our wedding cake.

grace-sparkesIt was great to read of Grace’s innumerable personal and community activities in media, politics, education, music and social activism that kept her going full tilt almost until her last breath in 2003 at age of 95. Throughout the years, she was an avid scrabble player, curler, golfer, pianist, knitter and dressmaker. Always outspoken, she wielded great influence on the manifold activities in which she engaged, serving on numerous committees and leading many of them.

Reading of Grace’s career was a real pleasure in many ways, but I only wish a sharper pen had caught a number of embarrassing gaffes which marred an otherwise absorbing narrative. Finding election ballots referred to as ballets was bad enough. Confounding also was a reference to “broadcaster Henry Brown” – Harry would not have been amused. Then the groaner about the time she “initialized” school girl curling. Sorry for carping but some defects just need to be noted. But it’s a great read anyway about a truly amazing lady.

Wedding Corner

Wedding Corner

Delighted as I was to discover Keli-Ann Pye-Beshara’s clever painting of “Crooked As Sin,” depicting my old St. John’s, Newfoundland home and its neighbours on Gower Street, I was really surprised to see that she painted the opposite side of my old street as well! This revelation came aptly enough on the cover of a mailing package used to deliver my order of her prints. Its title, Wedding Corner, sprang from a photographer’s remark that the scene often served as a colouful backdrop for neighbourhood weddings.

Telegram view

Telegram view

That same corner of Gower and Cochrane Street in the city’s east end also captured the eye of a Telegram photographer, leading to a July 2015 Travel feature highlighting the vibrant colours of these Jelly Bean facades.

My blog posting soon after, “The Other Side of the Street,” took due note of this further evidence of Gower Street’s finer qualities, and went into detail on occupants of these dwellings half a century ago.

 

 

Looking West

Looking West

A photo of that housing block which I took in the 1990s viewed it from another perspective – looking east to west. Admittedly, the Citizen’s take on it proved much more attractive.

Crooked As Sin

Crooked As Sin

Looking at Keli-Ann’s two Gower Street paintings, I can’t help envisioning that incredible moment which I described in my Gower Street memoir, when my mother almost had a heart attack when rounding that corner from downtown. Guess anyone interested needs to take a look at the book!