Monthly Archives: November 2016

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


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!

Driving On

I got my driver’s licence renewed not long ago. My fourth in the Enhanced Driver’s Licence category – reserved for those who have hit the four score threshold. OK, go figure!

Our class of a dozen or more all passed the not quite rigorous test – demonstrating by just drawing a clock and not dropping our h’s that we aren’t yet stymied by physical or physiological troubles. Reassuring, since all of us are keen to keep on driving.

roadpix_0101avlcrwA friend we used to skate with capped his remarkable career by passing his last test at 98. But other oldsters have done better than that. Our group education instructor told us the record licence renewal for Ontario stands at 108. So guess there’s still a long way to go.

Both of my sisters loved driving, and rued the day when advancing age led them to quit. Mary who passed away at 91 kept it up till ill health caught up with her in her mid-80s, but hated ever afterward her loss of driving ability. Helen, who is today celebrating her 92nd milestone, quit voluntarily several years ago, but still strongly laments the loss. Guess we’re a long lived breed, but we do sure love our driving.

True, driving safely isn’t guaranteed at any age, and everyone needs to be careful, especially in busy traffic, in poor weather, in the dark, or when one is not up to par one way or another. Let’s just mind ourselves, and all those other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians when we get behind the wheel.

My driving nowadays, mindful of creaky limbs, is in short spurts, so not venturing too far afield. Keeping away from heavy traffic zones and seldom going out in the dark. Being always on the watch. My Dad’s advice when I was learning stressed watching the sidewalks as well as the road to guard against the unexpected. I have driven defensively, and with my eyes wide open, ever since.