Monthly Archives: September 2015

Where Are the Devil’s Jackstones?

Out along the Kelligrews beach in what is now Conception Bay South, there stands a magnificent rock close by the water’s edge. Everyone calls it the Devil’s Jackstone, or at least they did in my day eons ago in the mid-20th century. Young people, and many of their elders as well, loved to walk out to see it along the railway track, usually walking on the tracks, a balancing feat often achieved by holding hands. You just had to keep an ear out for the steam engine whistle as Newfoundland Railway trains would often come by. It was just a short walk around the corner from the Pond Road and the then very scenic Cronin’s Head.

It was always said that this huge beach rock was one of the five Devil’s Jackstones in the Kelligrews area. But I could only find one of the others. This was a considerably smaller boulder resting by the side of a house fronting on the highway near Hennessey’s Bus station, across from what we called Red Bridge Road. It was about the size of the two storey house, and was partly surrounded by trees, so that it wasn’t particularly impressive. There was a sizeable rock by the side of Ledrew’s Lane, near our summer home, and we used to climb on it to soak in the sun, but it was surely too small to rate the Devil’s attention.

None of us roused enough interest to look for the other three jackstones, but I have since learned about two of them. One, I am told, is located on Seal Cove beach, further along the shore toward Holyrood. Maybe someone has a picture of it?

Number four, apparently, nestled on property my brother Brian built a cabin on in what we used to call Lower Gullies, a few miles west of Kelligrews. I have not seen it but my niece Marie Wadden vouches for it, and she worked for CBC so she must be right! It is on wooded land behind today’s Holloway Place.

So the question remains, where is the fifth Devil’s Jackstone?

Jackstones, as perhaps not many know nowadays, was a popular game young people – mostly girls – played back when entertainment involved nothing electronic. Of apparently ancient origin, it was a one handed game played with a set of five “stones” which looked and were shaped like Xes. The trick was to toss the stones in the air, turn over your hand, and see how many of them you could catch on the back of your hand. Doing so, because of the odd shape of the stones, was harder than it looked, so it took a fair bit of skill and practice to be good at it.

Just how long these great rocks of Kelligrews had been called the Devil’s Jackstones is a bit of a mystery, but the term was so common that it must have gone back quite a few years.

Writer Susan Flanagan celebrated the Kelligrews jackstone in a Newfoundland Quarterly on-line article a year ago, and please note some interesting images found on the web by photographers Greg Noel and Craig Dwyer.11139012_10153260270262174_3625669208703146050_n jackstone cbc August_12_2011_001 Craig Dwyer pic Nfld506PW-Devils-jackstone Nfld507_jackstonePW

What’s Not To Like?

Poster - Gower Street 8W NixCartoon01SQW Images108RPcrWThat familiar question takes on a whole new meaning when you are a neophyte to so-called social media, and find yourself constantly pressed to push a button called “like.” The thing does have its uses though. It’s a lot easier to hit the ‘like’ button on something that catches your eye than having to compose some message to express your innermost views on certain topics, images or situations.
Some of us don’t really want to tell the world about our innermost thoughts. For one thing, they may not be all that edifying, or deeply felt, or meaningful to anyone else, whether close friends or merely casual acquaintances. There is such a thing, after all, as thinking they are none of anyone else’s business.
At least, that’s generally where I come from.
But, on the other hand, there is a certain amount of reassurance invested in this ‘like’ custom that has its merits, especially for those of us seeking an audience for our words and images. So, given a need to broaden one’s social horizons, is it really inevitable to swallow one’s pride, indulge in flagrant self-promotion, and beg to be liked?
Embarrassingly so, that’s how it has to be.
Having just announced that a book I have written – Gower Street: A Memoir – is about to hit the book stores, and the Indigo-Chapters etc. web sites, could I be forgiven for putting my hand out?
So, here goes my reluctant yet hopefully humble plea:
For my just updated website a hit on that Like button would be greatly appreciated. And watch for details on the new book, take a look at some new photos, and check out the Blog. A few comments would be a really welcome additional bonus.
Same goes for Facebook author page (the one with my cartoonish image) please – if you haven’t done so – press just once on that inviting Like button, and we shall be friends for ever more.
Of course, if you just don’t like what you see, fair enough – we won’t mention it again. Ta!