Sand Beach

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Photos of Sand Beach Area
Taken Feb. 28, 2004

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Taken July 7, 2004

Looking back on Sand Beach 
by Marie
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Christmas in Sand Beach in the 1930s,
Part: |  One   |  Two  | Three ... |  Other stories  |  My 55-Ford  |    |

marie/0712031820s.jpgSaturday, July 13, 2013

The Jenkins family of Sand Beach after hearing about Theodore
Doucette’s roses, dug out a root for me to take home to PEI and
here they are! The same roses I admired as a small child at
Grandpa’s in Sand Beach. I hold the Jenkins family in my heart
for this indescribable gift from Grandpa through their kindness.


Subject: Sand Beach 1930's-Christmas stories ( Part #1 )

Submitted by Marie
Sun, 25 Nov 2012
(Thank you Marie)

"A Merry Christmas Story" that I wrote in December 2004.

Here is a collection of stories about Christmas during the Depression Era, a time that was called the "dirty thirties".

How little we all had then, and that material deprivation served to enable us to really appreciate everything. It enabled us to feel sensations and emotions more deeply too, I think.

(Now, ahead in 2004, it seems that children of today can hardly appreciate colored lights in the same way as children did in the 1920s and 1930s, and little candies, new mittens, for example, because they are everywhere.)

Christmas time again! A wonderful time of year when people everywhere seem to be filled with excitement and good cheer. People (of our age now) like to reminisce about Christmases past and share heart-warming stories. I hope you who read this story will write your own favroite Christmas memories and share them with everyone. I would really love to read every one of them! Please just write them the way you would tell a friend your memories, and send them in.

One vivid and very special memory is the pre-Christmas concert that teachers and pupils in Nova Scotia presented to the people of their community each December. For rural schools the Christmas concert was a major highlight of the school year. Much work and practise went into the overall effort. In Sand Beach, the children were from eight grades in that one-room school.

When my brother and I first started school in 1936, we were for two years (Primer and Grade One) at St Ambrose Convent school up town on Albert Street in Yarmouth, but from Grade two onward we walked down to Sand Beach public school, about a mile below the town line, until the second world war was declared in Europe in August 1939. At both these schools teachers and pupils presented an annual Christmas concert, different in many ways, but equally memorable –the Sand Beach concert being less formal and with more spontaneous fun.


st-ambrose_convent1s.jpgFirst, a few memories of our two years at St Ambrose Convent School in Yarmouth in 1936.

Our mother had a wonderful "servant girl" or "maid", as mothers’ helpers were called in those days, in the person of Edith Cavell Goodwin. We all loved her, and she is a big part of our happiest childhood memories. She made our school lunch and helped our mother get us ready every morning with our special uniforms required at the Convent. On my very first day of school ever, I had a big surprise.

My parents had bought me a wonderful navy blue wool serge uniform that had three box pleats in front and three box pleats in back, pocket on the right side and a fabric belt that was held by two small buttons at centre front. It was like a jumper, and under that I wore a long sleeved snowy-white blouse that had a peter-pan collar. Under the collar and around the neck my mother tied a long and wide red satin ribbon, made a pretty big bow at centre front under the chin. She brushed my dozen or so long dark brown ringlets into place and tied my hair to one side of the straight part she made with a comb, and there was a matching big red bow.

Oh, how pleased I was with my new clothes for starting school. I could hardly wait to show my new clothes to the teacher and to the other children from up town. I had no notion of what "uniform" meant. For me, it was just a word my mother used to describe my new school clothes.

What a big surprise -- and balloon-burst -- it was for me when I arrived at the Convent yard and saw a yard full of other little girls my size all dressed exactly the same as I was! My vanity was quashed in a flash! But eventually I began to appreciate the sameness and our growing sense of sisterhood with one another in our little class room with Sister Perpetua.

Also, for the first time I saw several religious Sisters, and they were all dressed alike, not anything like the clothing of other women. I was still age five. I didn’t know who they were or what kind of people they were. I had never seen anyone like them, even though I had a great aunt in their congregation, but I had never seen her. They wore almost all black from head to toe, except for bands of stiff white cloth or cardboard, I couldn’t tell which it was, around the face, neck and bib area.

They had full skirts with a very long rosary on the outside, and inside they had very deep pockets that could hold an amazing amount of interesting things the Sisters used. I had never seen anything like it before and nobody had explained to me what to expect in any of this. I was almost overcome with all this new strangeness, and with a wide assortment of emotions. I knew they were holy and our Daddy told us they were consecrated to God, and I knew that consecration had something to do with the altar in church. How alone I felt inside myself.

I never did tell my parents or anyone else how I felt about all those experiences of my first day at school. First of all, nobody had time to listen to my little prattling, and, more than that, I had a strong innate tendency to hold everything inside, deep inside where it remained. I even wondered how they slept with all that stiff material on, or if they slept at all. Maybe they were like angels, I puzzled in my thoughts. Did they eat and sleep, I wondered? Or were they like the statues, just ‘cases’ to hold the Spirit of God, or of the saints, but I didn’t know how to ask, or whom to ask.

(Those times were very different indeed.)


Christmas Concert at St Ambrose Convent School

In grade Primer at the Sisters’ Convent school, for the Christmas concert I remember all our class being dressed in white like Christmas angels. The Sisters had made white wands with streamers made from a shock of short white ribbons at the top. It reminded me of Aunt Therese’s little dish mop– and they had attached many little tinkle bells amongst the streamers, and these, Sister Perpetua wanted us to hold up over our heads and shake them as we sang "Hark the Herald Angels Sing!"

Well, that was the first time I had ever hard that song! At home my parents spoke French to each other, and we children were in-between in our baby language. We heard very few English songs at home, mostly hymns Dad sang in Latin, such as Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris Hostia, and my favorite, the version of Alma Redemptoris Mater that Dad used to sing. I can still hear him singing and rocking the chair.

To hear all those children singing with gusto this majestic carol that was familiar to them was so thrilling to me. I can’t describe how I felt to hear this wonderful melody sung by us children and all in imperative tones. Joyful! All ye! Nations rise! Join the! Triumph! of the skies! With

th’angelic hosts proclaim: Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

I wondered how and when my classmates had learned this special song. This was my most unforgettable moment at the Convent school at Christmas, an awesome and totally absorbing experience.

The effect of these sounds deep inside me was the a big revelation to me. A revelation of awareness of myself being so moved by something totally and new and terribly exciting, and deeply moving, and I was only five or six then. Could it be because even from infancy I had a strong attraction to band music, this carol had a majestic marching sound. Perhaps so, but hearing it sung for the first time, and by a group of children my age, is something extra special to me, something that left indelible impression.

Remembering this effect of music on a five year old, teaches me the fact that children’s emotions run very deeply and the effects are lasting. Mostly everything makes a very deep impression on a young child, especially something that excites emotions especially something delightful new and vibrant music, song, color, light, smell, decorations, people enjoying a day together.

Comfort and Joy! Everything! That’s probably why many are so lonely at Christmas because they need to bring back those very same emotions for it to be Christmas for them.


Memories of Sand Beach School at Christmas Time

To my howling chagrin, Mama used to take the hairbrush every morning and make ringlets in my long brown hair and I was a chubby 6 or 7 year old. The teacher dressed me like a doll in pastel colored crepe paper. You can’t get that kind of crepe paper nowadays. Back then it was of top quality and came in every pretty color imaginable. You could stretch this paper to shape a full skirt and bonnet, and that’s what hey did for me. I must have looked like Little Bo-Peep!

And I had to sing solo, but that didn’t impress me at all. I didn’t even know what most of the words meant, but Mom taught me the little song to the tune of "Billy Boy" – but the words I had to memorize and sing were these: "Oh won’t you be glad, little girl, Oh won’t you be glad Christmas morning, when you find a doll like me, just as sweet as sweet can be, peeping out of your stocking Christmas morning!"

Oh, and I saw all the neighbours there sitting as close to the platform as they could, but didn’t realize they were all looking at me. I was surprised to see them all there, and I just stared at them. I didn’t know all the people, but I did see Mr MacKenzie, the store keeper across the road from our house in Sand Beach, Mrs. Cosman, our next door neighbour, mother of my good friend Helen, Mrs Tracy Goodwin, mother of Carl who played with my brothers, Mrs Wyman, mother of Mary, a schoolmate, Lillian Poole who had a kindergarten in her home, Mrs Mae Stoddard, mother of Paul and "Buster"–whom the teacher called Stanley–, Winnie Rogers and her sister Mae who had a candy store in one room of their house where they sold many kinds of delicious and incomparable home made treats.

Miss Purney who, every autumn, gave our family a box of wonderful brown chestnuts that fell from her trees, and a box of hard mixture candy every New Year’s eve, Mr LeCain who drove his 1930s car up the snow covered dirt road every day and always tipped his hat to a lady, regardless of her age, and I always felt honored by him for his lovely gesture. And there were parents and other family members, some of them our cousins, from Wyman Road, and Kelley’s Cove, and more, enough to fill the whole school.

And they were all smiling and clapping, and I didn’t understand what was going on, why they all started making such a noise. I was in a world of my own, thinking only of that little doll on Christmas morning. I just stood there motionless on the teacher’s platform decked out in pretty crepe paper ruffles and huge pink bows, and stared at them all blankly until Miss Clark came out, took me by the hand and led me back behind Mrs Hayes’s blue bedspread that served as a stage curtain, and doubled as a night sky for the Nativity scene.

Mrs Hayes kept all kinds of pretty cloth and threads, and she became our school’s sewing club teacher. Then the familiar audience started the same thing again, only louder this time. Teacher asked me to go out to the platform and sing it all over again, and I did, and they were quiet again until I was finished. I had no idea at that age what applause was. Those were memories of some of our wonderful Christmas time at Sand Beach School in 1937-38.

There was a huge tree all decorated by children from the older grades, and Santa came with candy and presents for all. My gift was my favorite, paper dolls of t he Dionne Quintuplets, five little girls my size and who all looked almost exactly like me.

Santa was generous with treats. Older children received gifts of books and games, the younger ones also received little toys.

Part Two

Date: 11/26/2012
Name: Marie

Comments: To be continued ............
Christmas in Sand Beach in the 1930s, Part Two ...

After a choir of all the little grades finished singing Away in a manger that I was hearing for the first time.  Mama came and found me and took me to sit with her in the back row where I heard the older grades sing a very beautiful carol I was hearing also for the first time; it was the soul-stirring carol, Silent Night! At that time we had no radio or music in the home, so most Christmas music at school was new to me, and I had never heard anything more beautiful! I was astounded that such beautiful sounds could come from the children I was getting used to in that comparatively rough rural school, one that had a familiar smell of its own kind, the same as every other rural school in the dampish Maritimes. (At the Convent school I had been used to everything being  scrubbed by the Sisters, and polished to a shine, so this Sand Beach School was different to me, another new experience, another new “world” all round.)

I was so surprised that these schoolmates could do that, to sing like that!  I had not heard them practice because the little ones went home early and the older ones stayed for concert practice, to rehearse their Play, their skits and Christmas carols and songs.  My private little practice was done at home with Mama who taught me what I was supposed to do. 

As babies at home we never heard these carols, we only heard our Daddy singing us to sleep with Latin hymns and a few other little songs like “When Daddy was a little boy, all little boys were good; they did all their Daddies and their Mommys said they should.  And sometimes when I’m naughty, he takes me on his knee and tells me, when a little boy, how good he used to be” etc. The ones he sang to us most often were “O Suzanna”, “Yankee Doodle”, and “On the good ship Lollipop.” That was Daddy’s main repertoire when we were still on his lap in the rocking chair.

We were familiar with the melody of Adeste Fideles, so that when we were scheduled to sing O Come all Ye Faithful, we had only to learn the words, and that was a surprise and also fun to be able to sing a Latin Carol we heard only in church, and in English in Sand Beach School! That’s where we learned the meaning of that familiar carol that previously we had only heard being sung in Latin.
[Years later, when I was about 20, I was thrilled to hear Silent Night being sung in French, and that was another deeply moving experience. French and English expressions are worlds apart, I learned then. “O nuit de paix, sainte nuit”, and “sur le paille est couche l’Enfant, que la Vierge endort en chantant ...” and “Il repose en ses langes, gloire au Verbe Incane.” Those words were so exquisitely beautiful, so much richer in meaning than what we sang in English. Those were such beautiful new lines for me to absorb and contemplate! Oh, how beautiful Heaven must be, I kept thinking, when we have such mystical beauty all around us hereon earth!]
Those are some memories from our wonderful Sand Beach School days at Christmas time. The schoolhouse had been decorated beautifully by students in the higher grades, and they kept everything a secret from all those under grade six. They did an expert job, helped most likely by parents and older siblings at home, but it was so exciting for those in the younger grades to discover the great surprise, especially the amazingly beautiful tree with shiny colored bulbs, shiny rope, icycles, tinsel, little toy Santas, elves, reindeer, candy canes, and everything brightly gleaming and all there on the huge spruce tree, and gaily wrapped gifts with large ribbon bows and more tinsel.  Everything was magical and just like Santa’s place up at the North Pole, we believed. Singing and eating candy and so much fun, then snow up to the knees to punch down on the way home where we would wait for the most exciting days yet to come! We sang “Jingle Bells”, and “We wish you a Merry Christmas” on our way out the old storm door!


Christmas in Sand Beach in the 1930s, Part Three ...
Added: Date: 11/28/2012

Christmas time in Sand Beach in the 1930s was a time when grownups –at least-- were well aware of being still in the grips of the economic Depression that started in 1929. Those were years when special treats and gifts or any hint of luxury were a rare thing. Christmas came only once a year, bringing with it incredible joy and delight.

I remember that at home, in Sand Beach, to my young eyes at least, the most amazing sight appeared Christmas day and early evening after Santa had come and gone.  Daddy kept a fire glowing in the base burner stove in the middle of the dining room. The flames reflected outward, and radiated abundant heat all around the large and cosy room.  The big dining room table had two or three lighted kerosene lamps with their flickering flames which reflected and danced all around the room, especially up on the high ceiling.  The large mantlepiece was decorated with small ornaments on either side of a chiming parlor clock that was never moved from its permanent place, exactly in the center.  Our long brown cotton rib stockings were hanging on small hooks underneath the enamel-painted mantle shelf over the fireplace.  Daddy did not light the fireplace, only the base burner that stood cheerily in the middle of the room.

The great and tall Christmas tree that Daddy had cut down from nearby woods reached all the way up to the high ceiling near one brightened corner of the dining room.  The branches reached out to a great width, and they were filled with shimmering ornaments. It was all decorated with tinsel, shiny glass balls of many colors and kinds. The were so beautiful! I could hardly take my eyes off them.  Some special little glass balls had cavities with multi-colored reflectors and the shiny strands of tinsel shimmered ceaselessly, like icicles

Again that year, our Uncle Harry brought us his usual present, a big bag of peanuts in the shells.  He hung them up high on a nail that had been painted-in on the door frame. He said we could open the bag if we could reach it, so we opened the door to the kitchen and brought in the baby’s highchair. And before long we children had most of the shells on the floor.  Uncle Harry had a smile on his face, but Mama had on her “mother look” – broom and dustpan in hand. The shells made little sparkles as Mama opened the door of the base burner and tossed them into the eager flames. Everything was so special and so different from any other time of year.

In the big kitchen we finished supper that both parents had carefully made. After supper we all gathered into the dining room.  We looked out of the beautiful bay window and could see long darkening shadows, and we tried to conceal our urge to yawn. We were not hungry enough to eat much supper after all the peanuts, and we wanted to play with our toys around the tree. It was family time on Christmas day in the early evening.

After the room was tidy, Mama lit the kerosene lamps that were on the table and wherever there was a lamp, some on the dining table and others on special holders around the room. It was a wonderful time of day on the feast of Christmas. Family gathered in the special room around the glorious tree! We played with our toys, dolls, paper dolls, a china tea set, rubber farm animals, painted so realistically, trucks, train, marbles, books and so on.  When tired of that we would sit at the table and color pictures or sit there with Mama to look over the beautiful Christmas greeting cards that had come in at the Post Office up town, cards with messages and news from relatives and friends.  Christmas cards were so beautiful in the 1930s. (unlike those of today.) Some were decorated with lace, velour, cellophane,  shiny colored paper and pop-up pictures, and more.
Christmas was such a magic time!

How could all this happen so suddenly and without us children seeing or hearing a single thing as preparations were being made, we wondered. There it all was, like magic!  Our home had become a paradise, a fairyland full of color, light, goodness and love! And this season of joy would continue until January 6!  Some of our
cousins (Cottreau) who lived farther down the road, below Sand Beach, had their Christmas on the 6th of January, feast of the Epiphany, when Saint Nicholas would visit them with gifts. That was the day the three Kings, or wise men from the far East, being led a long way by a bright star, came and brought royal gifts to the Infant Jesus who was born in Bethlehem.

Added Date: 11/29/2012
Part 4,  to the End

But the greatest thrill and the dearest memory I have of those first Christmases was having a new baby sister at Christmas time, born in December on the 6th in 1934, and another on the 21st in1940. They were even more beautiful to me than the motionless one in the manger at church. I always wondered why that Babe had not enough clothes on and why somebody didn’t bring Him a warm blanket. [One year my younger brother felt so sorry for Baby Jesus lying there half dressed in the open on the straw, that he tossed in the manger his big Newfoundland cent. Mr Patten had given it to him when he came by with his truck, selling barrels of apples for people to buy for the winter. For my brother and me the doll in the manger was a real baby. We knew our mother kept her babies bundled up.]

For me, to experience intense joy I had only to look at the dining room ceiling after supper and watch all those beautiful dancing colors reflected all over the ceiling and walls! Such sights were never seen anywhere else in our neighbourhood, or at any other time of year. It was depression time, nobody had money to speak of, so everything was always the same, plain and earth colored. There was no sparkle unless it was sunlight or moonlight shining on new snow that topped the snowdrifts.  This explosion of color was something we had never seen before in our young lives. Older children knew about it but this year it was new to us in our family. What a delightful discovery, and to know there was someone called Santa Claus who would bring us toys and good things to eat, enough to last a long time.

I watched the dancing of the flames in the round stove and from the flickering oil lamp wicks with their glowing tongues of light inside the lamp chimneys. I was held fascinated by the shimmering of the tree tinsel upon which every color was reflected and which gave out its own reflection of colors. All this was shining upward, taking with it all those colors and making them dance on the ceiling all over the room! Lamps, flames, were the only source of light in any room in those days. And adult had to carry a lamp with them if they were going from dining room to kitchen, or upstairs to bedroom, for example.  All the rooms were dark after supper. When a lamp was brought into a dark room, it was beautiful, one could see around the lighted area and the corners were shadowy, so that was the setting for the moving shadows and reflections in the Christmas tree room, the big dining room with the bay window with it’s many little panes of frosty glass.

To see the tree itself was a wonder of color and light! Everything reflected its beauty on everything else and it multiplied a million times over.  Light and color, and dance, color and light and dance. Over and over, everywhere, even on the faces of everyone in the room!

As I took in all this new delight and wonder, I could not express what was taking place inside me. I could not bring myself to speak about it or express it, and it would be no use because I supposed everybody else could also see it for themselves and nobody was saying anything about it, so I kept it all inside and said nothing, but this is so strong with me ever since, every single Christmas of my life!

Children singing and the colors and light shining at home! The special dinner was not so appreciated by us children, only the contents of our stocking! But the big brown bag of peanuts that our –then still bachelor– Uncle Harry brought us Christmas afternoon we never forgot. This was an annual highlight until we moved away during World War ll when he later married Aunt Frances and had thirteen children of his own. Most families were large ones even in “the hungry thirties”. [Children were a great asset in rural areas where families raised and gathered all their own food and fuel. Santa brought sleds to older children and these were used not only for fun but sometimes also for chores, like hauling little loads of firewood.]

Not everything on the tree was shiny, there were other decorations made of all kinds of materials, some hand made others bought for a few cents.  There were sticky popcorn balls tightly wrapped in pretty colored waxed paper. There were little velour Santas on the tree with their skinny legs and pointed toques. Those little fellows were made from green, yellow, blue, pink, and purple pipe material that resembled what is used to make pipe cleaners. (Pipes for smoking seem to be a thing of the past, but in the 1930s, many men smoked a pipe, and even some women were known to do likewise.) The pipe-cleaner Santas had little black glass beads for eyes. All of this made everything so special, and we had no idea how or when it all got there! This Santa Claus was the biggest mystery! Our Acadian cousins called him something like ‘San-nicola’ and they were not expecting him at their house until the eve of Epiphany, the night of January 5th and 6th.

We children came down stairs on the morning of December 25th, and oh! what a sight! What an amazing surprise! There was Fairyland and Toyland right here in our house! We would run over to the big bay window to see if everything outside was the same, and it was. All we could see was men shovelling snow, as usual, or punching through big drifts on their laborious way to church.

Those were the days of wonder and excitement and it never quite wears off.  It comes back year after year, with some of that same magic and excitement. 


The toy dolls of the 1930s --after two very short decades-- became for me the real live babes of the 1950s, after the War, when things everywhere began to change rapidly.  And, for our own little ones, we tried to bring back the old Christmas of our childhood, but, a mere twenty years later, that could not happen, impossible.  1950 was nothing like 1930.

For example, what can a person do for a tree, to make it magical for Christmas, by merely turning on small electric light bulbs strung along a wire and turning up a thermostat? It’s not the same as the way of our own childhood, nothing like the tree in the homes that still had no electricity. 

In the 1950s there’s rarely the smell of wood burning in the kitchen or dining room stoves, only the black smoke of coal that was delivered in carts all around town. And seldom, if ever, do we have the unique smell of a lighted kerosene lamp any more, no smell of the fresh spruce of a newly-cut tree any more, a tree that had just been cut by hand from the other side of the pasture a mere hundred yards away. Things change so much in such a short time.

This greatest of family celebrations, Christmas in the 1930s, continued day and night for almost two weeks. The saddest day was the day the tree was stripped and taken outside and tossed on the other side of where the woodpile would be in summer. It was a sad ritual, all the little pipe-cleaner Santas had to be taken down and put away for another year.

But even as wonderful as all those memories are, there is nothing that can match the annual experience of visiting the Crib and Manger in the Church and then receiving in our heart the real baby Jesus, who was represented here. This realization would always overwhelm me with awe! Heaven comes down to earth, Jesus comes to us! Unimaginable! There was deep peace, union and love because we were all little innocent babes back then. We children were --as the Sisters and our parents kept telling us-- the “little lambs of Jesus”.

Therefore, regardless, lights and color and dancing reflections on the ceiling are lovely memories, but they are only that, memories of the past.  But years and decades went by, and today, now, we still have the Essence of Christmas in our heart and in our love for one another.

We are assured that if we so desire, we still have the manger, the crib and the Holy Infant who comes to us in our own heart, into every heart, unconditionally!  This coming of Jesus to us is Christmas! It never changes! 

It is this way I came to realize that no one ever need be lonely at Christmas, because the Infant Jesus came for every single person on earth, to reconcile us with our Father in Heaven. This free Gift is for every single person, regardless of any condition whatsoever that one may be in, because His unconditional love is for every one of us in the entire world.~~~~~~~~

Now may I leave you with

This little girl from Sand Beach grew up and, in September 1954, married a gentleman from PEI. He had come to Yarmouth to help build a dock for the new ferry Bluenose that sailed from Yarmouth to Bar Harbour, Maine.

I asked my husband to tell me some of his memories of Christmas time in the 1920s and 30s. This is his PEI story of how rural families in PEI got to Mass at Christmas.  They hitched the horses and wood-sleigh or jaunting sleigh for the women, and put on a big heavy robe or fur wrap called a ‘buffalo’ because t was made of buffalo skin, and they rode in that to Midnight Mass.  They came home around 2 o’clock Christmas morning to a feast of roast pork before going to bed.

Next day at dinner they were treated to a roast goose dinner ‘with all the trimmings,’ and a great variety of wonderful baked goods.  In the afternoon the children took their skates and went with other children to the pond or river to play hockey, and this was their main enjoyment all the rest of their vacation time. There was always the farm work, caring for t he animals and taking in of wood, of course, but the main amusement was playing hockey.

Children went places in a wood sleigh but elderly people went in a jaunting sleigh. All the children helped with the decorating of the tree and the parlor. The girls helped with the housework and baking. There were parties in the village hall, and ‘times’ in various homes, card parties, and lots of music and dancing.

Zeno said that when he was about 13 or 14, a big highlight was hearing hockey games broadcast on radio. The game always started with the singing of ‘O Canada’ and ended with ‘God Save the King’. These were days in the reign of our monarch, George Vl (father of Queen Elizabeth ll).

When preparing to listen to hockey on radio, Zeno had to hitch a horse and go from down Sunnyside Road where the family lived at that time, and up to the Western Road to Jimmy Condon’s or to Tom Noonan’s to listen to hockey on their radio.  Not many had a radio, but these good neighbours did, and they welcomed the local boys into their kitchen.

This was for them a thrilling time to hear games from other provinces on our Island radios!  Some radios still had batteries but by then electric floor model radios were coming in vogue, and a few neighbours owned one of those amazing new inventions.  That was probably about 1935.

The best Christmas gifts he and his siblings received were winter clothing, usually home knit from the wool sheared from their own sheep, wool that had been taken to MacAusland’s Woolen Mill in Bloomfield, PEI, dyed and spun and twisted into skeins.

But equal in importance as gifts were skates and hockey gear.  Food and skating for the boys, especially, but Mass always came first and was always most important. Familiar hymns and carols were sung by neighbours who made up the regular choir. The congregation knew and experienced the real meaning of Christ-mas!

Merry Christmas to All! And a happy New Year in 2005, with love to all, from Zeno and Marie in PEI (now Nov. 29, 2012).



Other stories.............................

[These memories were written on November 11, 1995. I discovered it again only in 2012, in a box of stuff meant to be shredded. I looked it over and decided it might fit in with the Sand Beach stories. I found there also another story I had written on December 7, 2004, about Christmases in Sand Beach., so I will include that story here as well. (Marie)]

My Memories of the Second World War, of our school and one special teacher.

This will be my account of what I remember about World War ll, from the day I first heard the word “war” –the day the War started in August 1939 – to the day I remember even better, the day the War was over –“V.E. Day” – victory in Europe day, May 8, 1945.  Our family had been living in Sand Beach since 1934, had settled there, it was our home and we were happy there.

The War changed world history profoundly and forever. It changed the lives of families and individuals. Everything took a sudden “about turn”. Most of what people endured and experienced because of the war will never be told, and we will never know what life –and history– would have been like if there had been no war at all.

My father was born in 1906, so he was introduced to the idea of war in 1914 when he was eight years old. My mother, born in 1907, was only seven. When World War ll started in 1939, I had just turned eight about six weeks earlier.  When I look back and note some of the effects of the second world war on myself and on our family, I have to wonder at the impact of two wars on the lives of my parents in the early 1940s, and grandparents and their families of the horse and buggy days. Their sacrifices must have been compounded.

The dust of the 1914 - 1918 World War l had hardly settled when both of those generations were thrown again into the ‘war effort’ in 1939.  By that time, my parents had already had six of their nine children, and had been struggling through “the Great Depression” of the nineteen thirties, commonly called “the dirty thirties”. My father had long-since passed his exams and had become an officer of Canada Customs.

My parents were bi-lingual Acadians whose great-great-grandparents had been among those who had spent their lives searching for their scattered family members and relatives, reuniting and resettling them in Acadie during the gradual and gruelling trek back in the 1780s –from far and near– after “Le grand Derangement” of 1755.

Despite the reticence of my Acadian ancestors about their tragic past, generations of offspring of these peasant folk –many of whom had married and acquired new native blood now mixed with their own– absorbed and retained in their bones from both cultures, an abiding sense of apprehension, hope and courage.  They labored with pride while trusting that their phantom fears of enemy attack would never again materialize. However, not only these humble folk, but the entire world was thrown into wars whose proportions they had never imagined. They forgot their own past in order to join forces to help defend the entire country for the future.

    [Aside: But that’s life, and we can all take responsibility –right from the start–
    because we are all children of Adam and Eve. But we can try to do
    better in future because we are redeemed children of the New Adam
    and the New Eve of the New Testament. My story is not a judgmental one,
    not a misery log. It is just a personal account of some of what I remember
    and how I felt about wartime in the ‘forties’.]

I remember coming in from Dad’s flower garden, into our big house in Sand Beach, just south of the town limits in Yarmouth, and asking, “Dad, what is ‘war’?”
I remember my father trying to answer in as few words as possible, and in the kindest way possible, “A war is a fight.”
“Dad, who is fighting?” I ask.
“People far away from here, on the other side of the world.”
“Why is everyone here afraid then?”
“Some men will have to go and help them fight.”
“Will you be going to the fight, Dad?” I ask nervously.
“No, I have to work here in the Customs.”
“Why are they fighting?” I continue.
“One side wants to take land from the other.”

“Dad, will the war come here? Will the bad people try to take our land too?”
“Not if we win the war. When you say your prayers, ask God to stop the war.”

And we did, every night at Dad’s or Mom’s knee: “God make me a good girl (boy) and please stop the war.”

At school, the older children usually tried to hide their fears and seemed to enjoy reporting scary news to the younger ones.
“Mom, what’s a bomb?”
“I don’t know, ask Dad when he gets home.”

“Dad, what’s a bomb?”
“It’s like dynamite that they used to blast rock around here, like when they built Mr MacKenzie’s house and had to break up those big boulders to clear his land.”
“Do they blast people with dinah-mike?” I wanted to know.
“No, they just try to blast their guns and weapons first, in a way that they can‘t hurt anybody.  Say your prayers, and ask God to not let anybody get hurt, and there’s no need to worry about the war.”

“Dad, what does weapons mean? What is a soldier? What are rations? What’s an air raid?  What’s a spitfire?  What’s a submarine?  What’s a torpedo? What’s a corvette?  Where is Overseas?  What is the “front”?  What does casualty mean?”  On and on the questions, and the same answer to say our prayers and trust in God about the war.

Well, I soon learned to listen to the kids at school, and to everything I could hear about the war, trying to understand it.  I could not visualize war but I was afraid of bombs, even of the word bombs.  How many people were in it? How big a field was a battle field? How much dynamite, how big the blasts, and so on. I never could understand history in school because I could not picture everything. History was my worst subject, failed it every time.  The talk (words) did not translate into pictures for me at all, actual place and size of the battle, what it looked like in reality, how far away from Canada, and all the rest.  I could not visualize it at all. Besides, I decided that I did not want to know about people taking other people’s land, about fighting one another. History was, for years, outside of my interests. I would not bother trying to memorize it because I could not understand what it was all about. I could not understand how other children could understand, and even like, history!

But, whatever I heard, or pictured in my imagination about the war, I would bring home with more questions, for example:

“Dad, Lil and Jan said that Hitler started the war, but Dora said they weren’t there, so how could they know?”
“Dad, who’s Hitler?”
“Who’s Muzzeleenie?”
“He’s a leader from Italy, Benito Mussolini. Don’t sing those silly rhymes about him, just pray for him, and we have to pray for all our enemies.”
“Dad, what are enemies?”

And on and on it went with the questioning and wondering and trying to understand the big wide world around us.  How far away from here is the war? and so on.
Second World War Memories (continued) - Part Two

I remember when I was in grade four, the children in all eight grades in our one-room Sand Beach School saved ‘tea lead’, which was the tinfoil that loose tea was packaged in.  We children saved all other scraps of lead we could find and brought it all to school ‘to help win the war,’ we were told.  Some of us tried brushing our teeth more often in order to get our hands on empty lead toothpaste tubes.  I still remember my older brother coming to me with a nice golf-ball-size lump of tea-lead, and our mother standing behind him with a smile.

Brother said to me,:“Plug, (my nick-name then– for being plump and slow moving according to my mother) I’ll give you this ball of tinfoil if you’ll give me a kiss on the cheek.” Our mother was watching with eagerness. Apparently she thought I would not want to kiss my older brother but that I’d want to have the ball of lead. She would then tease me– but the fact was, I adored my big brother then, because he took me to lots of places and showed me many exciting things as he himself was discovering them all around town, and so I felt as if this giving him a kiss was a double privilege! I remember distinctly how I felt. I wanted to kiss him, not as much for the lead, but because I would have kissed him any time – if he would let me, and not rub it off with the whole length of his sweater sleeve!

I gave him a quick kiss on his cheek and with a smile he handed me the ball of tinfoil to take to school to add to the teacher’s growing collection.  I had no idea how that nest of shiny refuse would be able to help win the war, but at that age we believed everything, knowing that “the big people” or grownups, could make everything happen as it should.

Our Mama was surprised, but so was I, at the thought that she expected me to not want to give my hero brother a kiss. He was my hero because he was expert at lots of things in my view.  He would not let me go with him and do some of the fun things he did. Sometimes I was glad I didn’t do the things he got spanked for, such as joining older boys after school and hopping over cakes of ice at the shoreline down in the cove.

I brought the lead to school, hoping to have the biggest lump of lead, but mine was tiny compared to other contributions. I was glad I had helped towards winning the war, which was the main idea.

Second World War Memories (continued) - Part Three

After we deposited, in the provided shoe boxes, our lead and our big Newfoundland cent – if we could get one to donate to the Red Cross– we had to stand at attention and sing “O Canada” and salute the Union Jack (or red ensign) and recite our ‘Pledge of Allegiance’ to the flag and ‘to the country for which it stands ....’

I wondered if our Acadian teacher, Mr L Doucet from Quinan, did not see fit to say “to the flag and to Britain” so he left the country for which it stood, un-named in the wording of our ‘oath’.
We had no notion of what we were ‘pledging’ so it mattered not a pin to any of us. The final few words of the pledge, I remember, were “and justice for all.” It was part of our daily ritual, and we had no idea what any of it meant.  But that scenario was about to change quite abruptly.

One morning, as usual, we stood up and leaned against our benches to repeat this patriotic ritual. And as usual, we did not stand at attention and we did not sound convincing about the pledge. We must have been particularly lazy on that particular day, or the war was having a strange effect on the teacher, because he stopped us in the middle of our drone-like recitation and started yelling at us, something he was never known to do at any time or place.  The whole school went dead silent, we were shocked and even frightened.  Teacher got very red in the face. He trembled as he shouted a patriotic speech that, I believe, none of us really understood, yet he was making a tremendous impact on us at that moment and, even though we didn’t know the words, we would never forget the substance, the heart, of his (inspired) scolding.  What had moved him, he never explained to us.

He called us shameful things. We got the message –we were unworthy citizens. Furthermore, if we did not have, and show ‘true patriot love’ for our country, we would be responsible if our side lost the war! [Oh, we had no idea that our little Sand Beach School participation was so vital to the country and to the world! We were coming to a new understanding and respect for our country’s involvement in what was happening “on the other side of the world.”

He came down to a respectable calm, and showed us for the first time the proper way to stand at attention. Somehow, he made us begin to feel one with every soldier overseas, and we began to feel pride in being able to show some understanding.  He took his pointer –to us the second-major symbol of his authority, next only to the unused leather strap that was kept in the locked bottom drawer of his desk-- and showed us the map of the world, the tattered-edged map of Europe and the world, that had been mostly ignored, and all at once it took on a whole new meaning up there on the wall behind the teacher’s chair. So that was part of our world! How tiny a place we were on the map of the world. Every symbol in our small world was gaining new meaning for us in our little Sand Beach School, especially the pointer and the map of the world that advertized tempting and unattainable Neilson’s jersey milk chocolate bars.

He was so passionate about his political speech that at one moment he whacked the pointer so hard on the chalk ledge that part of the stick went flying– and that time, nobody dared to laugh–on the outside, at least!  He talked and talked. Then, as if exhausted, he started to weep, and sat down at his desk.  He seldom sat at his desk up front on the platform only at solemn times, one, roll call, two, report cards, and rarely, three, to use the strap, something we never knew of in our time there.

His three-piece black suit looked blacker at those solemn times, and it was especially at those times that it’s white chalk smudges looked painfully ridiculous to us. This man whose bearing commanded only the highest regard, began to appear to us to be so deeply human, so moved by his passion for peace and conversely, by our seemingly total apathy and disregard for our country and Victory at any price.  That was when we knew we had to be very quiet.  We were mystified at what was wrong with the teacher that day.

Usually he sat near the stove with one black shiny shoe against the coal scuttle, and the other foot would swing from his crossed-over knee, while he slid the inches marked 1l" and 12" on his ruler down the side of his swinging shoe, between it and his black sock. And we were most comfortable with that, almost like our fathers when relaxing at home. He usually kept a new stick of chalk in his mouth like a cigarette.  When he removed it to speak, his lips were always whitish where the chalk had been.

And usually too, grade after grade of pupils lined up in front of his chair near the round stove – our essential source of heat and in the centre of the large room – and read from our Reader, one child at a time and one grade at a time.  The one doing the reading kept his eyes on his book, but the rest of us were distracted and kept watching that ruler going in and out of the side of the teacher’s shoe.  We had to get someone from a higher grade to show us ‘the place’ in our book when it came our turn to read. They knew the book by heart of course from having heard it for so many years.

But this day was different. Teacher stayed at his desk and nobody dared to speak or hardly move.  The old school was never so filled with silence.  We did not know if we should feel guilty, or sad, or scared, or all three, when all of a sudden we heard a stifled giggle.  We looked up and around and there were more giggles. Everybody was looking at the old broken and discarded round stove
at the front of the schoolhouse, to the right of the teacher’s desk.  The iseing glass had been all poked out of the many little square ‘windows’ of the cold and rusty stove.  I looked at te old stove too, and laughed out loud with excited emotion. There were two mice, each peeping out of a little “window” of the old stove. With that, the entire school changed mood.

Teacher stood up, walked over to the warm stove in the middle of the room, and sat in his usual place and gave a dry list of orders that we understood meant business.  In other words, “get busy and keep busy and not a sound out of anybody till dismissal bell”: 

“Walter, set the traps.”
“Arthur, put a shovel of coal in the stove.”
“Donald, get a clean bucket of water.”
“Big girls, help the new primer Ones and Twos print the ABC, a page full, then start the DEFs.”
“All the rest of you do the next pages in arithmetic until school’s out.”
And he sat there not saying another word.

We thought we knew what went on that day at school, but now I wonder what was really bothering the teacher that day!  Did he get bad news? Were his nerves getting bad?  He died young. I visited his grave in 1990 in Quinan, such a beautiful and peaceful plot in a paradise setting.  That was my only ‘contact’ with him since our family, because of the War, left Sand Beach in May 1941.

But that day, we began to think seriously about the war. We learned that the war affected people, so much that, the teacher we had thought we knew well after two years, showed us many different facets of his usually starchy personality. We learned that he did have a tender human side, a side that had feelings like everyone else.

One time we saw on te way home from school, our teacher kiss his tiny wife who had come from Quinan to Sand Beach to the Purney homestead where he boarded during the school year. She had arrived there after walking from the bus stop at the town line, down to where he boarded and she waited there for his arrival on his motorcycle.  As soon as he stopped, before getting off, he took her in his arms, bent way over and gave her a big kiss.  He had to bend down quite far to reach her face because she was so tiny.  Even when sitting on his motor bike he was higher up off the ground than she was.  Those of us who saw the incident thought that was quite funny, but we were glad to see that side of our teacher too.  We still had much to learn about the war, and about everybody’s part in helping win the “Victory”.

    “Dad, what’s a German?  Did they start the war?  Haven’t they got enough land already?”
    “Dad, what’s a Jap? Are they really meaner than the Germans?”
    “Germans are people who live in Germany; Japanese are people who live in Japan. They are still our neighbours and we have to pray for them even if they are on the enemy side of the war,” Dad explained, “and God wants us to love them just the same and to pray for all of them every day.”  Those were concepts I just could not come to terms with. Bombing our side and we have to love them and pray for them? Then why do we get punished and scolded when we do something wrong? Some things in life were getting to be a big mystery and a lot of confusion for us who were just beginning to learn new things.

“Mom, Nadia Kreutz said her grandfather came from Germany and he’s a German! She told me he knows everything, and when he goes out, he can tell when he gets back if anyone was in his room, if they even stepped on his floor in his room.” She took me to the doorway of his room but we didn’t dare to walk on his floor, because he was a German, like those on the other side of the war. We were afraid of him.

“Dad, do Germans hate everybody? even God? Why doesn’t God make them stop fighting? Why doesn’t God stop the war when we ask Him to?”

“You have to keep asking Him every day.”

Everyone did whatever they could. Our mothers joined  the Women’s Institute and took a St. John Ambulance course.  Our mother had big bandages of unbleached cotton, and all kinds of kits and a small book for the course, with lessons included on First Aid.  My mother also had big skeins of the worst colored yarn I had ever seen! Khaki, they called that color, which looked very much to us children like the color of the fresh cow manure with which we were so familiar.

In the evenings, my mother would sit in our big dining room where the base burner was, and knit khaki scarves, khaki mittens and khaki stockings “for the soldiers” overseas.  The fire in the base burner was red hot, and reflections of flames which shone through the iseing glass windows gave her and the walls a rosy glow.  The flickering flames of the several kerosene lamps added to the dance of light in our big old country home.  We were comfortable and happy there as we were supposed to be, but we had this big thing to worry about – this big fight ‘thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world.” But it felt so close!


“Dad, what’s a transfer?”
“Dad, why do we have to move away?”

“They need more Customs officers in Halifax, and I have to go until the war is over, so Mama and all of you have to come and live there too, until we win the war.”

“Dad, are we going to win the war?”
“Yes, but we all have to say a lot of prayers so the fighting will stop.”
“Mama, why did Dad go away and leave us here alone?”
“He’s gone to Dark-mouth to find a house for us to live in.”
“Where’s Dark-mouth?”
“It’s near Halifax, where your Grandma Rosalie and Uncle Ellis went when they left Sand Beach a few years ago.”
“When will Dad be back?”
“I don’t know.”
“Dad, did you find a house for us?”
“Yes, it’s on Silver’s Hill. It’s a farm, Silver’s farm, –and the name of the farm is Wyndholm Farm.”
“Where abouts is it, Dad?”
“It’s near Lake Banook, but there’s a lake up on the hill on the other side of the farm, Maynard Lake.”
“Where will we go to school?”
“You’ll be going to St Peter’s School. It’s like Saint Ambrose School here in Yarmouth where you two went for grades Primer and One. There are Sisters teaching there, the same as you had at Saint Ambrose.. It’s not like Sand Beach School, there’s a Sister to teach every grade, and there will be about twenty boys and girls in every grade, only one grade in one room.  You won’t have to go for catechism to the church on Sunday because the Sisters teach it every day at school for the first half hour of the day. And the school is just down at the bottom of the hill from Silver’s farm, you can walk to it in five minutes, so you will be coming home for dinner every noon.”

Already I felt a world of emotions and wonder! If anything could take my mind off the war, it was this exciting upheaval that was about to take place.

Mom had a new baby girl in December 1940 so now we were seven children in the family.

“Dad, when are we moving?”
“Mom, where’s Dark-mouth?”
“It’s near Halifax, where Grandma and uncle Ellis moved to; we’ll be able to visit them when we get settled in Dark-mouth.
“Mom, is it a dark place in Darkmouth?”
“No, but the name sounds something like that.”
Those were eventful years, especially the activity in the harbour all through the war, ships and servicemen and women everywhere, sights and sounds, air raid practice, black-outs, fighter planes practicing, search lights in the sky at night, sounds of corvettes leaving harbour in fog before dawn and much, much more. It was a time to remember.  Who would need a mere poppy in order to remember, to not forget: I ask myself ever since, “how could anyone forget those years!”


Date: 1/1/2012
"Further memories of Grandmere"
by Marie

In May 1937, a few weeks before my sixth birthday, my older brother and I were to make our First Holy Communion at Saint Ambrose Church in Yarmouth.  Grandmere Rosalie (Surette) Doucette (Theodore), who lived only five houses north of ours on the other side of the road in Sand Beach, kindly offered to make me a dress for the special occasion. It was still Depression time then, and with four small children, Mama had to be thrifty and practical, so she gave up her lovely wedding dress for the purpose.  For most of her life Grandmere was a skilled dressmaker . Finished at last, and on the big day I felt like an angel!  During that whole dressmaking experience Grandmere and I almost became re-acquainted with each other. 

Grandmere pulled a fancy kitchen chair to the middle of the large yet cosy kitchen, looked at me and said, “Monte”.  Mama echoed, “Stand up on the chair so Grandmere can fit your dress.”  I climbed up and held on while Grandmere draped yards of slippery cloth over my head and started tucking and pinning, pins sticking out from between her tightened lips. “Vere-toi une miette,” she mumbled through the pins while turning me slightly to the desired position, until I noticed that we were eye to eye.   I studied her face. She looked tired, almost sad, and calmly determined to get on with the job at hand. 

She had a very strong will, and I inherited a good measure of her stubbornness. At least that’s what Mama used to tell me. All Grandmere’s little orders for me were spoken in Wedgeport French, the same as my father’s.  The little I spoke to her or to Mama came out in Sand Beach English that I had been learning for more than three years, and while I was losing my limited French since age two.  I still understood some of the French words I heard, but I had forgotten how to make a sentence in French, even using the little bit of baby French I had from when I first learned to talk.  Besides, that bit of learning during infancy had taken place in the homes of my mother’s people in East Pubnico, and with their very different accent from that of Wedgeport.  Because of their various differences, one might almost think those two very close Acadian communities were from two separate cultures, nearly identical, but each with its very distinct speech and manner of doing things.  There seemed to be a noticeable difference in each community’s characteristics, their approach to most aspects of everyday  living.

From: "Steven Stewart"Sand Beach 1935
Subject: Sand Beach
Hello.  I thought the following image might be a suitable addition to your Sand Beach page.

The small cape jutting into Yarmouth harbour is Rum Nubble in Sand Beach, or simply "The Nubble" as it is known locally.  The two pictures are from 1935 and 2010.  Some of your older readers might remember that, 75 years ago, the now-barren Nubble hosted a thriving  fishing industry.   Steven            Click on picture to enlarge.

From Marie: Date: 10/21/2010

Playmates in Sand Beach in 1930s.
The little girl closest to my age who lived nearby was Mary Wyman. At the time, she was living diagonally across the road, slightly up the road from our house.  She lived with her parents, two brothers and two sisters in a big house, wonderful to explore, and she and I did that a few times. There was the big back part and a palatial front part to the house.  

Mary and I attended the Sand Beach School and she and I sat together at a double desk with a bench seat made for two little ones.  Mary was much younger than all her siblings, whereas I was the second oldest of all mine.  Oh, how I envied Mary, at school with her “slick and shiny paper” scribblers, when I had only the rough-paper Mammoth one.  And Mary would have a whole lead pencil with an eraser on top, whereas I usually had the bottom end of half a pencil, cut in two by our Dad, and shared with my older brother. 

Mary had beautiful yellow hair and mine was dark brown.  In our school picture we both wanted to sit next to each other but also we both wanted to be next to the kindly Annie O’Connell, so in order to settle it, Annie sat between the two of us, and there we still are, seventy years later, the three of us in a row yet, in that old school picture! Little did I know I’d be writing about that after seven decades!

Christmas time was the time I envied Mary so much more and the time I asked my parents so many questions.  Santa brought me a lovely doll that I became attached to immediately, some crayons and coloring books, tea set, paper doll books, and a few more toys, and I was ecstatic!
However, during the holidays Mary asked me over to see what Santa Claus had brought her, and that’s when I became most envious of her!  The two Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, would have nothing better than what Mary had near her tree!  

Mary had a big life-like doll with real hair and blue eyes that would open and shut. She had two real teeth and could cry Mama. And she came in a big blue pram with a pretty satin comforter, a carriage with a hood, like a real baby’s almost.  I know she received many more gifts that were too expensive for most families, but I was riveted to that doll and carriage, and paid little attention to anything else, except the laundry set with a “real’ iron and ironing board.

I couldn't help thinking that Mary received better gifts because she had been so good – and she was very good!  For a while I felt very inferior to her because of it.  When I went back home and told my parents what Santa Claus had brought Mary and compared it to my gifts, they explained to me that it was because Mary had no younger brothers or sisters to play with and we had a housefull.  

I still was not consoled that my doll had no real hair and asked my parents if they would buy me one.  

The only way they could change my mind was to suggest that we could “take our new baby back to the doctor” and trade her for a doll with hair, like Mary’s, for me.  

It took only a split second for me to cry with a truly broken heart and protest: “No! Don’t give her back! I want our baby!” and that was the end of my pestering.  

And I always wondered why I never saw Mary outside with her doll and carriage, perhaps she kept it upstairs and just looked at it as I did, staring, that Christmas.  I realized that I could look at a doll all I wanted and at any time in the stores, if that was all one would do with a precious big doll with real hair.

I liked Mary very much, and I found her smarter than I was even though she was younger.  She knew words that I had never heard before, big English words! She knew the words ‘accident” and “nasturtium”, both of which I had never heard before.  (I have a good memory, so I can still see the times she taught me those two particular words): 

One day her older brother Clyde took Mary and me for a Spring drive in his coupe, up toward the Airport that was being constructed near Starrs Road in the late 1930s.  We had an eventful Sunday afternoon because of deep mud ruts, but Clyde and friends soon freed the coupe and we were on our way back home. On the way home in the car, Mary asked me if I had ever seen an accident.  
“What’s an accident” I asked?
Mary was not pleased, thinking I was playing difficult. 
“You KNOW what an accident is!” 
I started to cry, “No, I never heard that word before.”  So Mary said 
“Well I’ll tell you; it’s when one car bumps into another car and the wheel comes off and you have to walk all the way home.” So then I knew that an accident was when two cars bump together.

The other story: One time Mary asked me to go with her on an errand to her Grandmother Hatfield’s. Hatfields lived a little further up toward town, but only a few houses up from Wymans.  Their house was a pretty cream color or light buff.  Along we went and Mary did the errand for her mother, and afterwards she wanted to show me Grandmother Hatfield’s flowers that were in bloom outside all around the house.  

Mary picked a flower and started to eat it.  She offered me one and I said “no, you can't eat flowers; they're poison!” and she said, these are not poison, they're nasturtiums, and you can eat nasturtiums and cook them too.” So I believed her and wondered – as I practiced the word nasturtium mentally-- how she could know so many things that I had never heard tell of. But I was learning all the time and really appreciated it.  That was Mary.  But then there was Helen next door, a few years older than I was.

I loved Helen because she was so kind and generous, smart, and full of fun and adventure, yet shy and modest.  Her mother made her a shoe-box full of doll clothes, and she made big date squares with the old fashioned oatmeal and they were better than any candy.  Helen took me into her house and showed me her big sister's typewriter and explained how it worked –the first I ever saw-- and I was so amazed! 

Helen took me with her picking berries, mostly blueberries, and took me to the beach with her so many times.  Just before the War started an airplane came by in the sky, the first I ever saw. Helen said to me, “See the airplane up there; let's watch it till it gets out of sight.”  I asked her, “What does ‘out-of-sight’ mean?”  Helen patiently and obligingly explained, “It’s watching it till it’s far enough away that you can’t see it any more, but it’s still up there.”  I was so amazed at how she could know all these things!

One time neither of us knew the answer to one of my many questions.  We were walking along our big stonewall between the back yard and the pasture. I asked Helen how we spell the word we use when we say we ‘hafto’ (‘have to’ do something): how do you spell “haft”? I asked her, and she said she didn’t know and neither did I, so when I got home I asked my parents and they told me that there’s no word ‘hafto’, that we were not saying it the way it should be: have to. So every day and every minute of every day we were learning from one another.

Other friends we had were Joyce and Lorna Nickerson who lived further down the road going toward the school. One time they came up to Wymans to play with Mary, so Mary asked me to come over so there would be four, two and two, she said. Her little table and four little chairs were out on the lawn and her little tea set on the table all arranged for four.  Mary had four caramels, and gave me two.  Those were four for one cent back then.  When the two Nickerson girls arrived, Mary and I gave them each one of our carmels. 

But there was more yet. Joyce and Lorna had stopped in at Mae and Winnie Rogers for a stick of sugar candy, so Mary got them to break their long sticks into two pieces, and share half with herself and me. That’s the way things were kept fair-and-square-and-even back then.  Everything had to be fair and according to proper regulations that were somehow ‘built-in’.  

How did we know all this? How do children get the notion that there are rules that have to be kept even in the smallest things, and put restrictions on themselves and on one another, such as when we played simple games like ‘Redlight’ and so on. 

I think now that children are a very interesting study!  How children impose rigid rules upon their games and adhere to them religiously.  (And who makes the rules? Did they change, and evolve, over the generations in a natural way?)

I find it fascinating – because it seems to be something innate, built-in, something humans are born with –but I never did any study on it, just think about those things sometimes.
Sand Beach children were very interesting and a lot of fun, and full of adventure, and maybe that’s because of their proximity to the sea, seamen, and seafaring stories of old from far and wide.  Who knows?  Children are a wonder!

Marie: Date: 5/29/2009 
From 1934 to May 1941 our family lived in the lovely Horton house in Sand Beach, and now I want to relate a few memories of neighbours we had at that time. I've already mentioned the friendly Cosman family next door.  Down from them was Tracy Goodwin and his wife who was a Knowles. They had a lovely family of hard working truckers, mostly of coal in those days, and it was Tracy with his big truck who moved our family belongings to Dartmouth when my father was transferred there by Canada Customs in 1941. My mother and Mrs Goodwin and I decided to walk to make more room in the car for my siblings. As we climbed Silver's Hill to the lone farm house at the top, Mrs. Goodwin kept repeating with every breathless step, "Last place on earth, Mrs. Doucette, last place on earth!"  In Sand Beach, her youngest son Carl was my brother's best friend. 

On the south side of the Horton house was the family of Gordon Colquhoun. His daughter Thelma married Ralph Martinelli who drove a motorcycle and lived in a little bungalow on Wyman Road.  I remember Gordon with a back brace he had to wear from his broken back.  Down from him was Ken and Jane Poole. All I recall about Ken Poole was that he was so tall, his trousers barely reached down as far as his ankles, and he was the best in the neighbourhood at playing the game of horse-shoes. His wife, Jane, had a little Kindergarten in her home, and how I longed to go to her classes, but was too shy to mention my longing. The Pooles also grew a lovely patch of cultivated strawberries. Some of us learned, as we reached in under the fence at the edge of the road, that it took only one of those great big strawberries to almost fill a child's hand! I know because I had one, and it was delicious, although I was guilt-ridden as I gulped, and worse, was never able to share the delectable story with anyone, especially my strict and law-abiding mother! 

Straight across the road from the Horton house, was Mr. MacKenzie's little store. When he was not there it was Kathleen Wyman behind the counter.  Mr. MacKenzie was a Boy Scout Master and was often seen in full Scout uniform with the large brimmed felt hat.  Mr. MacKenzie had a Scottie dog named Angus. He also drove a Beach Wagon, and it was the prettiest station wagon I ever saw. Its sides were panelled with beautiful light grain wood. [The only other similar vehicle I've heard of would be the truck owned by a Mr. d'Entremont, and the picture reminds me of Mr. MacKenzie's beach wagon. He used that for transporting his supplies.  
When Mr. MacKenzie was having a new house built a little south of his store, the workers blasting rock and all the neighbours were cautioned to beware of flying rock! Some of us younger and more timid ones hardly dared go outside.  I remember the sound of exploding dynamite and one time I saw a piece of rock lift a few yards up into the air and straight down again, but no more. We were glad when that was over. How anyone could plow a garden in that rocky terrain puzzles me to this day.  

Down from Mr. MacKenzie were the Rogers ladies, Mae and Winnie, and they sold lovely candies they made themselves.  They had a wide variety of flavors of taffy kisses and some made into longer sticks and canes. They made a reddish coconut chewy log called a hunkadory, and then a flat white candy with yellow blob on top called a fried egg, and those were creamy and delicious.  There were others but those mentioned were the favorites in the neighbourhood.  At Christmas time our family received one of their pound boxes of "ends" of candy and those were as yummy as the more perfect renderings of the original stock. 

The Purney family lived next door and every fall at Halloween they gave us children a box filled with beautiful chestnuts!  Oh, the games we made up with these treasures!  The Sand Beach school teacher boarded with the Purneys or with the Rogers, both beautiful large homes.  

The teachers there in our time were a Miss Clarke who was succeeded by Mr. Lawrence Doucette from Quinan, and he had a large family of his own. He travelled by motorcycle and went home to his family on weekends.  
On the north side, going toward town, there was a railroad crossing, and just before that was a little place where lived a Mr. Bushell (like Bush-Shell)  He was fond of children and liked to make them little toys from wood and especially popular were his little soldiers made of molten lead. He would melt the lead and pour it into little soldier moulds and out would come a shiny soldier. He gave those to children who did errands for him. He was a kind elderly gentleman. 
Not far from his place but across the road, was a Mrs Walsh, for whom my Dad would get her mail from the post office up town and take it to her.  She gave him a Christmas gift in the 1920s, a book she signed "Wallace, from Mrs Walsh," a book by T.C. Haliburton of Nova Scotia, Sam Slick the Clockmaker.  That book is still in the family. 

Various peddlers came around, some with apples, others with fish and meat, and yet others with a great variety of goods, such as Watkins or Raleigh products so well known all over the place, but Sand Beach has many more stories of back then when there was no pavement anywhere and where the Beach was a favorite summer attraction and the harbour and Bunker Island and Cape Forchu with the beautiful old light house where many went for a picnic. i remember the nasty experience I had on Bunker island with a group from school, when I was stunned after being bunted by a ram! I learned something new that day!  
Bless y'all, Marie


Marie: Date: 5/29/2010

In the 1930s when I was about six or seven, a 'circus' of sorts came to Yarmouth. My mother, who was then in her early thirties, and I walked from our house in Sand Beach to the exhibition grounds 'up town'. I was very excited and full of wondrous childish expectation, and felt so privileged, as if living in a fairy tale!

In school our reader had lovely colored pictures of circus animals and all the things that go with a county fair. Several things were my favorites, popcorn, cotton candy, fish pond with lovely little dolls and a variety of toys 'fished up' on the end of the line, also colorful balloons but mostly elephants that could do many amazing things. 
In our reader, elephants could make like a train or chain by hooking their trunk to the tail of the elephant in front of it, and this way them made a long line and put themselves in a variety of formations, according to their trainer's commands. One was standing with all four big feet on one small round drum. It seemed so impossible that an animal that huge was able to gently climb onto a small round drum the size of a barrel top, and stand there with all his weight, as if he were light as a feather! It was amazing to see these pictures in our reader.

So all of this is what I had in mind as I held my mother's hand all the way up the dirt road from Sand Beach to Parade Street --or was it Pleasant Street or Starrs Road, or wherever the exhibition happened to be, I don't know now. But alas, that walk and my happy anticipation was to be the best part of the day. 

We were late arriving because there our mother had so many things to see to at home first, so the elephant show was over, the gateman explained in a regretful tone. "But you can still see the elephants if you go to the outside of the back fence and look in from there."

That was a round-about trip but at last we were just outside the elephant compound looking in.  THERE WAS A REAL ELEPHANT! I was seeing a REAL ELEPHANT!  I was delighted, even though it was not his head I could see, but when I lifted my chin and looked way, way up, I could see his legs and tail and the round of his hind quarters. I remember being totally surprised and amazed at the height and size of the elephant. I wondered how big baby elephants are. 

I stood there captivated by this huge creature's size, staring up at the pivotal point for that swinging gray tail, when all at once he made a big blow of gas toward my mother and me!  How insulted I felt!  That's all I had gone to see and this is how we were greeted! I was never able to erase that from my memory, and now I'm glad I didn't because I have the story to tell. 

I was quite offended that my mother kept laughing about it! How could she! But now I do understand, it was very funny for her and more fun than seeing them make trains or stand on a drum; we could see that in a book anytime.  But to offset the disappointment she took me to the fish pond where I knew there were lovely little gifts, dolls and colorful animated toys for children. Oh, this would be fun and again I was filled with joyful anticipation.

My mother paid the five cents for a fish-line and the young lady helped me get the line up and over the top of the curtain behind which were an ocean of gifts.  When she said "Ready" I reeled in the string and with her help, the small brown paper bag was soon in my hands and torn open. 
"What IS this?" I exclaimed with a stunned expression.  I was holding two lengths of black elastic, like the kind that was run through a "tunnel" at the waistband in the tops of our big bloomers that all little girls wore in those days. "What kind of toy is black bloomer elastic?" I wondered. 

Again my mother laughed, and somehow I knew right away that was not a good sign for me: "Those are men's garters, we can give them to Daddy," she said in an effort toward the positive, but I started to cry. The young lady told my mother the nice little toys were already gone, but she would put the black garters back and I could fish again. I had no great expectation this time, so was surprised when I had fished out a bib-apron my size. I really wanted a toy, but I did like the little apron, like our mother's aprons, only just my size. 

I did learn some tough lessons growing up, and hardly realized at the time that I was getting a taste of the "real” world.

Those are vivid memories of the Yarmouth County Exhibition in Yarmouth town in the mid 1930s –or at least, how I FELT about it. 

marie: Date: 4/15/2010



Most families in Sand Beach had a small hen house and hen coop. Inside the henhouse were shelf-like roosts lined with straw for the nests hens used to lay their eggs.  A barrel lain on its side was used for the “broody” hen who stayed in it for a long time to hatch her chicks.  The spacious hen coop was enclosed with chicken wire, and I recall seeing small pieces of shell from lobsters, clams and other nutritious bits on the ground for hens to peck at. 
Hens made us laugh sometimes when they were pecking at something and then would begin to scratch the ground and weeds with their funny feet. It was fun for us to see them. 

One of the worst times for us children was when we observed for the first time how a hen was selected, then killed and prepared for a special dinner.  We watched and even giggled nervously at seeing the hen’s head and body held over the chopping block, the swift swing of the hatchet and the hen’s sudden odd display: the headless creature’s dizzy prance around the back yard leaving splats of blood on the shavings around the woodpile until it stopped and fell motionless --not among our best memories.
As we know, nearly every household kept a cow or two, had a pasture and a barn. So, at the gate to the pasture, there were long removable “cow-bars” and these were kept shiny all summer long by children who used them to do what, at that time, was called “stunts”, twirling and spinning over and under the bars like acrobats.  We children spent a great deal of our summer days on those bars. 

As well, children were familiar with what we naturally called “cow flats”, some old and dry and others that looked old and dry. Wherever we walked in the pasture we sometimes sank our sneakers down into the fresher ones! 
And when War was declared in 1939, we children noticed that the Army used a “khaki” color for their military uniform, a color close to what we sometimes stepped into by mistake, so the new word “khaki” seemed to fit in very well with our ever-increasing kid-fun vocabulary. 

Wartime in Sand Beach
(for me, almost an oxymoron)

I remember the time of construction of the Yarmouth airport with its modest landing strip. It was not a war port, just a kind flying field, if I am not mistaken. Work on it began in the late 1930s, “up by Starr’s Road” we were told. The road was not yet paved and in Spring was quite muddy, yet people went there to view the new construction.  It was not long afterwards that war in Europe was declared, and this was a ‘life-changing’ moment for the whole world. Little Sand Beach rolled up its collective sleeves right along with the rest of the world. Men enlisted and others were “called up” and drafted. Some women joined the forces, and were called the Waves, Wrens, Wacks, and so on.  Many civilian women played the part of Rosie the Riveter (–she was very well portrayed on a magazine cover by Norman Rockwell).

Many of our fathers volunteered as air-raid (black-out) wardens, and our mothers who belonged to the Women’s Institute got busier than ever.  They dutifully studied their newly issued little black First Aid book, learning all they could in case of emergency. They practised making and applying bandages and slings from yards of unbleached cotton, and studied how to stop bleeding and to give basic treatments in any event. 
Children proudly collected “tea lead” from packages of Red Rose tea, and lead in any form, to bring to school to help the war effort. At that time even toothpaste tubes were made of lead. Children played with little lead soldiers, toy motorcycles and small lead farm animals. 
Also every household had a milk container called a “creamer” and those had at the bottom a lead pouring tap for milk, while the cream stayed at the top floating above the milk line. Lead was not known to be so harmful back then, as far as I know.
Most oil paint contained some lead.  None of that abundance of lead seemed to harm us children in those times, but today its use is largely banned.

In wartime, women and older girls knit khaki winter clothing for soldiers to help the “war effort”. 
These additional wartime jobs meant that nearly every home, even in Sand Beach, had a modest supply of khaki wool yarn, unbleached cotton, boxes of sterile gauze and cotton batting, iodine,  mercurochrome, rolls of unforgiving “sticking plaster” (-which was almost as adhesive as our contact cement or crazy glue – if only certain modern band-aids had more of the holding power of that old-fashioned sticking plaster, but on second thought, it’s merciful that it doesn’t.)

Added~~~~~April 17, 2010

Yarmouth became one of the training bases for men in the Army, and at that time, unbeknownst to me, my future husband (from PEI) was one of them! A story he told me was that every Sunday those who went to Mass at St. Ambrose had Church Parade, from Parade Street over to Albert Street. Father Penny, native of Newfoundland, was pastor at St Ambrose during those years, and he was a great friend of the soldiers. He often invited them to his house (the Glebe House on Albert Street) to play cards.  Every Sunday after Mass he provided a breakfast for for those who had come to Mass, and before their march back to Parade Street. Ladies of the parish prepared and served the men, and all the while Father Penny was removing his clerical vestments and chatting with the men before they would leave under the orders of a very fine Commander, Lucien d'Entremont. (He was married to a Rose Deveau and they lived in Salmon River, NS.) 

Father Penny had a big Newfoundland dog that as gentle and loveable as he was big!  Children loved that dog and he liked being patted by them.

Father Penny was a very friendly person. He came to visit our family before my brother and I made our first Communion, to find out if we were ready. Our father would not let him leave without a gift, either a chicken or two ready to be roasted, or beautiful big dahlias for the altar.


Grandmere Doucette made my first communion dress by cutting down the white dress our mother was married in, and it was beautiful! Grandmere would pull out one of her big fancy kitchen chairs, she would look at me and say, "Monte", and I would climb up and hang on with both hands as she pulled and tucked and pinned, as my mother stood by and watched, not having much to add to whatever Grandmere said or did.  Grandmere was an accomplished seamstress and taylor. She was a quiet woman who knew all about very large family and about very hard work, inside and outside. I am so proud of our Grandmere Rosalie! But it took decades for me to acquire a proper understanding of her sterling qualities.

She taught all her children all the necessary jobs, inside and outside, boys and girls alike. Her sons all learned to hem and cuff their own trousers, to darn socks neatly, how to press wool pants and suit coats properly, how to wash and iron their own white shirts, how to starch collars and cuffs and to press them so as to leave not a hint of a wrinkle in them! She taught them all to make and bake bread, to cook and bake all the basic meals, and how to keep a house clean and ship shape! I like to think that Grandmere was tiny but mighty. She had a deep conviction of it being vitally important for French people to speak their mother tongue, to maintain their language, religion and culture. 
Little did I know that her conviction and the fact of my becoming rapidly anglicised would be the cause of a huge clash between Grandmere and me. That is a sad story but it has an amazingly happy ending. That story will come next. marie

Added~~~~~April 18, 2010

Grandmere and the Mother Tongue, Acadian French.

At the same time that my siblings and I were becoming rapidly anglicized, we learned that our becoming so was causing a huge barrier between us and Grandmere Rosalie (Surette) Doucette. She and Grandpere Theodore came in 1912 with their very large family from Wedgeport to live in Sand Beach, in a big square house that was only five places up from the Horton House, but on the opposite side of the road. 
And how ironic it was that our family settled on the opposite side of the road –with our anglicization that caused so much grief on both sides of our friendly dirt road. The road was lucky it could just lie there in the middle of things, oblivious to the growing chagrin. 
I like to imagine that if the Sand Beach roads could talk, what stories they would tell!  One true story is paramount in my memory, because it takes in so much about culture conflicts, about losing our baby French and about my lifelong and deeply troubled relationship with my dearly loved but estranged Grandmere Rosalie.

For example, a few short years after our parents moved to Sand Beach, we children were old enough to start school. We had already become acquainted with some of the neighbour children, most of whom were a little older than we were, and they enjoyed telling us new things, initiating us, especially in anything fascinating and fun. 


One day my best friend told me in very serious tones that a real witch lived down Wyman Road, a real witch!  She dressed all in black from head to toe, was tall and thin, wore a black hood over her head and a black shawl over her shoulders, wore a long black coat that went right to the ground and her boots and stockings were black.

I kind of knew what my friend meant by “witch”, since we had read in school the story Hansel and Gretel and the old witch who lived in the woods and lured children with sweets, caged and fattened them, then cooked and ate them! The witch was friendly and charming in the beginning, but that was only to fool children, she was really mean and would steal you and eat you up!
At school one day a little girl I liked very much, and who lived a short distance down Wyman Road, asked me to take my doll and go down to her house to play with her.  We could see her house from our back yard, and my mother said I could go for a little while, so I took my doll and started for Wyman Road.

I was not quite as far as Ralph Martinelli’s bungalow when all at once I spied the WITCH!  I had forgotten all about her! And now here she was, right before me! She had just come up over the little hill in the road and there she was, and there I was!

But, somewhat comforting, I noticed that she was not wearing a pointed or peaked black hat like the real witch wore in the Reader, so I doubted that she was the real witch.  Timidly I continued walking, hugging my doll tighter, and at last I came right in front of this pleasant looking woman. 

“I-ou’s-tu va avec ta catonne?” was what I heard. 
Now, I have to say, here and now, that my father was from Wedgeport but my mother from East Pubnico, and their French accents were quite different.  In Pubnico the word “catin” would not have had the ‘onne’ sound on the end of it, but more the “an” sound on the ending. But I had never heard the word “catin” or “catonne” before! In Pubnico, the French word for doll was “poupet” or like a puppet. I had never heard any other.

I felt sure the woman was referring to my doll but I was afraid if I assumed so, and answered her in English, she might continue the conversation in French and I would be stumped for sure. And I had never seen her before, had no idea who she was! 

I was not terribly afraid, but confused, knowing that “I-ou’s-tu va avec” meant where are you going with, but that other word, catonne, I wondered: Was that a trick of a real witch, trying to trick me? I was very nervous and confused. 
I know now, in adult hindsight, there were better ways for me to let her know I was unfamiliar with the word catonne, but in my nervousness, I tried to get out of the situation by saying to her simply, “I don’t speak French”, meaning I cannot speak French. 

Well! Why did I not say, rather, I CANNOT speak French very well, then she might have understood and been less offended, but that was not the end of it by far! From then onward I was in very big trouble! All because of that Wyman Road ‘witch”!

Around that time, a man from West Pubnico, Desire d’Eon, started a wonderful little newspaper that he called Le Petit Courrier, which carried little news from many French-speaking communities. Every household subscribed, or borrowed and exchanged copies of it.  Grandmere would pass her copy to our parents when she was finished with it.  Our father or mother would stop in for it on their way home from town, or my brother and I would be sent to ask for it: always in FRENCH! 
Our mother helped us memorize what we were to say, and for me it was something like: “Grandmere, Mama vay le pity coor-yea, si voo plah.” 

So Grandmere would hand it to one of us, with a grunt of “tan” (or “tiens”).

One time our mother stopped in at Grandmere’s to see if she was finished with her Courrier, and she was.  But she gave my mother an earful and I got it after that when my mother said indignantly:

“The nerve of you acting so big feeling and telling Tante Rose when she met you on the road and asked you where you were going, that you stuck your nose up in the air and sassed her with --(and repeated to me with special un-dreamed of emphases)--: 
‘I - don’t SPEAK French!”

Ohh, ohh, what did I do now! And who was Tante Rose?!  Did we have a Tante Rose living down Wyman Road? Why didn’t somebody tell us that –  and so much more that we didn’t know?!

Grandmere was so indignant and said to my mother, who repeated it to me, and translated it for me:
 “Si a’n’ veut pas me parler en francais, je n’ lui parle plu!” 

And stubborn she was, and she never did speak to me again, except once when she was moving from Sand Beach to Halifax after the war started. 

She called my brother and me over to her house on our way home from St. Ambrose, and gave us each a small statue, my brother’s was of St Joseph and mine was our Holy Mary.  “Casse le point!” she said. 

I walked along the ditch, fell down and broke in two pieces my special souvenir of Grandmere! I became very said over that and blamed myself for everything bad that was happening all the time. Life was not fun any longer! What on earth was wrong!

I did get to my friend’s house down Wyman Road that day, but never had a chance to mention the ‘witch” because this little girl had been given a batch of quilt samples, pretty pieces of good quality cotton print. I loved them all!

Right away, she asked me which one I liked best. There was a beautiful material in white on top and I said the white one. “Nope, that’s mine; you have to pick a different one. 
This one?” I said “Nope”, and the game continued to the very last sample, and I still said nope, stubbornly. 

And she, just as stubborn, said “Alright, then “git home”! So I took my doll and went straight home and that was the last of my trips down Wyman Road until our new baby sister was born in December 1940. That time some of our cousins took in my brother and me for the duration and gave us lovely home made strawberry jam, all we wanted! Unforgettable!

''Yes, we were a stubborn lot and I vowed to myself that one day before I die I am going to learn French and be able to understand it, even on the radio, to speak it, to read and if possible, to write in French!

In 1989 I started learning French conversation and continued taking various French courses until 1994 when I had been studying in Moncton for the summer and stayed on for the Congres Mondial acadien! "

My husband and youngest daughter came over from PEI and we stayed in Moncton and took in as much of the amazing Congres as possible. 

At the very end, after the Grand Spectacle, which was so wonderful, so unforgettable, we were leaving the grounds with a huge throng of Acadians from all around the world. It was dark by then and with the crowd one could hardly see the ground. My feet got caught in something, and when I told my husband to wait, he bent over and picked up a very large cloth banner that had in big bold letters: SURETTE!

Tears came into the eyes of both of us, my brown French eyes and my husband’s blue Irish eyes! And he said to me with great emotion: 

“Marie, this is your Grandmother, 
Rosalie Surette Doucette saying that now, at last, she’s proud of you!” 

That was my biggest healing moment! I knew Grandmere and Tante Rose not only understood, from their lofty vantage point, but also were happy that our Mother Tongue is still alive and well, and so easy for me now! 

At that moment I felt so close to Grandmere and I knew that I was now ready to do research on our Acadian ancestors, now that I could read our story in our mother tongue! 

More than that, I am extremely grateful that our grandparents were so stubborn as to insist that we not lose our French language, and that we know how to communicate in French.

Tante Rose had been a Muise, and she was married to a brother of Grandpere Theodore. I learned that from the Wedgeport book, but that book is in English, whereas the new book of Pubnico families (2010) comes to us in French, but now I usually never notice the difference, whether I’m reading English or French! 

How grateful I am for Grandmere and for the opportunities given me to learn what was lost so early in life. 
Sincerely, Marie

Comments: EASTER TIME IN SAND BEACH Date: 3/29/2010

At Easter time in the 1930s school was closed during Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Easter Monday.  When we became old enough to go to school, for days before the school break we had colored Easter baskets and eggs, cut them out and brought them home to give to our parents as a surprise Easter card.

Most families went to the special church services held all through the week in various Christian denominations. Stores were closed on Good Friday and people who were not able to go to church prayed in their homes, trying to keep silence, especially from noon to three o’clock, the hours when Jesus hung dying on the cross. Most Christians who were able, in a spirit of penance and renewal, had given up eating certain foods such as meat and sweets from Ash Wednesday until Holy Saturday, the vigil of the great feast of Easter. 

What joy when that great day arrived!  Easter eggs, real eggs! Hens had started laying and eggs were plentiful, and to our delight, children were told that on Easter morning we were free to eat as many of them as we wanted.  Excitedly, we ‘talked big’, saying that --if Easter ever got here– we were going to eat five or six eggs, but most of us were stunted after only two of the soft boiled wonders. At a very young age we called boiled eggs ‘coque-coques’, and I can still hear our father and mother coaching us to “mange ton coque-coque.”

One year, probably 1935, Grandpere and Grandmere had bought us each a little white porcelain egg cup that had a thin gold line around it, real gold, we believed. How precious and lasting a gift it was! And how exciting it was for us, as we got older, to have a special little holder for our egg at Easter.

Another year our father bought us each a small cup and saucer that was filled with small Easter candies. The whole thing, saucer and all, was wrapped in cellophane that was either pink, mauve, yellow or pale green.  One year our mother gave each of us a small fluffy yellow toy chick that had orange wire feet and could be made to stand up.  They looked like the real chicks our father had in the incubator down in the hennery. They had bright and shiny little black eyes and orange beak.  Our mother said they were so cute she wanted to buy them for us, and she bought some marshmallow filled candy eggs which we found in a bowl on the dining room table. Those were delightful Easter gifts and so treasured by us for many years. 

I recall thinking about our parents and grandparents, and wondering how they –as “old people”-- would know what would be the right gift for us children.  How would they know what little gifts would delight us? They never seemed very interested in children’s things, but at Easter they seemed to know somehow the best way to reach the hearts of little ones, reach them in a way that would last a lifetime, long after they themselves had passed on.  Those are a few of the heartfelt gifts we receive in life from those who love us, and whom we hold forever in our dearest memories.

Mothers everywhere made sure all their little girls had a new dress or skirt and blouse, new socks and a Easter bonnet or pretty hat to wear to church Easter Sunday morning.  Sometimes new outfits were home made, and some items of children’s wear could be purchased at the Royal Store, while ankle socks and hair ribbons could be found in the Five-&-Ten, up town. Main Street in Yarmouth was a busy and happy place to visit on shopping day, it was like mile long meeting place because most shoppers in town knew one another.

Each year at church the boys looked so handsome in their new white shirts, little neckties and neatly pressed short pants and knee socks. Their shining hair was neatly parted and combed over to one side. How on earth these rough and tumble fellows were able to look and act so gentlemanly for a whole day was always a puzzle for timid little me, as I wondered: “If they can be so civil on Easter Sunday, how come they are so rough and rowdy all the rest of the year?” Already as a young child I was learning very gradually about how our daddy had got to be so big and strong, and eventually I began to see that it was all OK, that everything was as it is supposed to be.

Everybody was all ‘decked out’ for Easter.  For church, all the mothers wore a pretty hat, dress and Spring coat, and were imitated by their daughters. In those days mothers often “made-do” with their last year’s Easter wardrobe in order to provide better for their children.

marieOur father was one of the choir members at St Ambrose. He would take us up in the choir loft with him when our mother had to stay home with the little ones.  The singing was beautiful Gregorian chant, especially the Gloria, when the bells rang, statues were un-draped of their lenten purple, flowers everywhere, and liturgical singing nearly all in Latin. Some psalms were sung in lovely harmony, all male voices. I especially loved Vespers and hearing the Magnificat by men of the parish. It was so special to hear this music, to see the beautifully ornate vestments, the sacred vessels, the lighted candles and the pervading smell of incense from the censer (or thurible) that were used at evening Benediction. Those were times of greatest awe and wonder, and the lasting effects of it all are most difficult to describe in plain language. All this went together so well with our pleasant walk home back to Sand Beach with our father, on a dry and smooth dirt sidewalk and on a most perfect Spring evening.
Daffodils and crocuses here and there and Spring Peepers out singing their praises in harmony with the season.

After dinner, on Easter afternoon neighbour children gathered on the front doorsteps and started telling one another about our special morning. One boy told of snaring rabbits and of having eaten rabbit pie for dinner! A small girl cried out: “You ATE the Easter Bunny?!” We were so serious about everything but we were still learning about life around us, new things every day!
This is enough for now. Happy Easter Everyone!

Date: 2/23/2010

Comments: Horton House, Sand Beach in early 1930s

My two brothers and I were ages 5, 3 & 1 when our family moved into the Horton House in Sand Beach in the Spring of 1934, and there we lived, explored, grew up and learned new things until May 1941 when our father was transferred to Halifax by Canada Customs.

Someone said a Mr. Fisher had been living there before us, and he had a little store in the front room facing the dirt road; the room with the ‘store’ was at the north side of the house.  The large empty room still had some removable shelves standing up against the rear wall, and on the bottom shelf we children found a delightful surprise, a small flat box that contained new green packages of Doublemint gum –a whole boxful!  We had never seen gum before, but my elder brother and I liked the minty smell and taste. We chewed but it would not dissolve, so we swallowed gobs of it and went for more –until our mother caught us with the empty wrappers, and our new-found fun vanished in an instant –never to be repeated. When we were older our dad made spruce gum from trees which made for healthier and stronger teeth.
There was so much to explore, inside and outside.  The house had three exits and two entry ways: front door toward the road, side door toward the back yard, and another exit-way from the back porch down to the woodshed where winter wood was kept and where kindling wood was cut each evening, also a 3-seater outhouse –a lower seat for small children.  Still under the same indoor passage-way a little further on, there was a milking stall with place for milking stool and milk pails.

There was a “hennery” (a place “used to house domestic fowl”), which was a long well-ordered building that held our dad’s several dozen Plymouth Rock hens of which he was so proud -- some gray and some white-- and it had special round incubators for hatching chicks, and places for gathering fresh eggs, sometimes double-yolked ones, to our added delight.
There was a separate larger barn down toward pasture, with spaces for a horse stall, cows, pig pen, garden plow, grass mower, scythes, cart, wheelbarrow, and whatever else came with the place.  The hennery had many windows all along the south side of the long structure. How tempting it was for a child heading to the meadow for blueberries, long-handled dipper in hand, to bat out several of those more reachable small panes of glass!  And how keenly felt, a few swats with said dipper across a small boy's corduroy covered bottom! Part of his restitution was to help soften with his little hands, lots of smelly putty our father used for securing replacements.  At times on rainy days we would play in woodshed, or inside the entrance to the hennery, but our most fun was inside the house itself on those days.

 [There are still some places “Up the Bay” around Church Point and those older places that have a covered structure from the house to the main barn, all under the one extended roof, and over the decades those structures always reminded me of the Horton place in Sand Beach in the early 1930s.]
In season, the stonewall that separated the back yard from the pasture and meadow, was covered with beautifully perfumed climbing Honeysuckle, and later on, large juicy blackberries. In front of the stone wall was an apple tree that produced a profusion of sweet-smelling apple blossoms every Spring. Often I climbed on top of the stone wall and studied the blossoms very closely for a long time.
I came to know the beauty God gave these simple creatures, not only their beauty in shape, structure and colour, but especially their captivating scent.

These were all new experiences for us children; the universe was opening up to us a little at a time and it was so beautiful and exciting, inspired in us such wonder and awe.  Before long we were old enough to notice our first yard full of yellow dandelion and later on an abundance of daisies and then golden buttercup.  The meadow was almost carpeted in spots with lovely purple violets, and down along the rocky and dusty road the ditches were lined with rainbow shades of tall and majestic lupins! They looked like slender princesses in their glorious pastel gowns. 
 [In case the reader thinks my description is too one-sided, too idyllic, I must say there were the uglier experiences too, such as getting hen droppings on our clothes, or worse, that of cats! sneakers stuck in cow flats, June bugs upstairs in the house, mouse in the porch in a rubber boot! Spankings for disobedience, mischief, or for fighting with one another, for being “sassy” and for sticking out our tongue at a temporarily un-favorite adult after some confrontation, and so on! But everybody goes through that other natural side of life, so that here we portray some balance, perhaps.]

When we were old enough to go to school, we saw in places along the roadway long stretches of friendly alders from which some very fine whistles and pea-shooters were made. The ‘peas’ for the shooters grew by the wayside as well, little “bee-bees” the tiny seeds were called, and most boys kept a pocket full of them. Some called them “mouse peas”.  (Picture is of Beach Peas)
~~~~~~~ Continued..

Click  To Enlarge Picture
The boy on the pony was one of the Jenkins children. Zeno and I visited them and that's the time they gave us some of the rose bush, and Mrs Jenkins kindly gave us this lovely picture. It shows the back of the big square house Grandpa Theodore Doucette lived in and where my father, Wallace, grew up, so I was delighted to have this picture.  That picture was given me in the 1970s by Mrs Jenkins, whose family was living in the big house in Sand Beach that my grandparents had lived in from 1912 until the onset of the second world war in 1939

Horton House, Sand Beach in early 1930s Part 2

Our Jersey cow gave all the milk, cream, butter and buttermilk needed for our family. We children watched in awe while our father, and sometimes our mother, milked the gentle "Bossy" who looked at us with her big brown eyes. We children were taught to respect the three-legged stool that our father kept hanging way up high on a spike ever since the day he had to hunt for it. We had taken it for our makeshift play house in the woodshed. Other spikes there held an interesting assortment of old horseshoes, pieces of rope, leather harness and whatnot.


Our dad had an iron "last", or shoe form, for repairing leather shoes for all the family, and many a time we watched as he tacked on a new leather half-sole over the old one that had a hole worn right through it. The iron last had two sizes, one side for adult shoes and the other end for children's and ladies’ small sizes. It was such a treat to have new soles on our worn shoes, and new hard rubber "lifts" put on the run-down heels. For us it was better than having a brand new pair.

Mostly everything one can name, that was in every day use, was hand made in those days, including furniture, and clothing, so every homestead had tools and whatever was needed to work with in order to produce all that was required. 

Meals were cooked at home and ordinarily all the family ate together seated around the kitchen table, which was so welcoming with its pretty flowered oilcloth. But on Sundays in summertime and during Christmas time and special days, our family usually ate in the dining room with its large table covered with a special linen tablecloth. Both parents were good cooks, but especially our father who, at a young age, had apprenticed at hotels and restaurants in Boston,.

For dessert on Sundays our mother would cut up a bowl of orange sections and sprinkle sugar over them, a very special treat. Other special days there might be each a piece of cake or dish of bread pudding, all made in the oven of our big iron kitchen stove. 

[I cannot resist stating an opinion now, in 2010, that no cake or pudding of today, in fact no meal whatsoever, tastes as good and rich and wholesome as those made in the 1930s. In fact, nothing we call food today tastes anything like real food as we knew it before the war when everything produced was still pure and simple.]


The Horton House must have been quite elegant in its early days, and seemingly built for a well-to-do family. Inside, there were two sets of stairs, back and front. The back stairs off the kitchen led to servants quarters above, while the front led to the master’s quarters. A magnificent front stairway boasted a shapely wide railing –one that we children would find perfect for sliding down! The stair steps ended in a wide curve at the bottom and the fancy railing followed suit. It ended in a circular form, leaving a flat round stand upon which an arriving gentleman could momentarily set his hat while removing his overcoat –or, upon which a child could sit after having slid down the rail to the bottom, before leaping with a thump to the hall floor.

Under the front stairway was a spacious closet with large shelves but no light, so when the door was closed it was very dark inside, and a nice hiding place. Former tenants had stored there several dozens of wonderful magazines. When I discovered those, I would go un-noticed to sit in there for a long time, leaving the door open just enough to see the colored pictures in those magazines, one after another.

One day my mother tried to punish me for being disobedient, so she sent me into that closet and closed the door –until I would apologize, which I stubbornly refused to do. She said she would leave me there until I conformed, which I was determined I would not do. 

I was not afraid, because the place was so familiar to me, and those magazines I considered my friends, so I pulled them from their stacks and spread them all over the closet floor and lay down on top of them and was ready to spend the rest of my life there, I thought. 

After a while, my mother. curious about my silence, opened the door a bit and peeped in and saw me lying there contented. She ordered me to re-stack the magazines, which I started doing just because I wanted to. The door remained open and the whole issue was soon forgotten.

[The big "issue" was that we children were just beginning to learn English. Too young for school, we had to pick up the language of our neighbours from their children. 

One neighbour girl told me my "yes" was too Frenchy-sounding. She coached me: "Don’t say ‘yiss’or "yess", say ya-ass! 

So I learned to say ya-ass, but my mother did not like the sound of that pronunciation one bit, so she told me to say "yes". But I would not, thinking it sounded "too Frenchy", and I could not understand her disdain for my way of saying it. 

So she would leave me in the dark magazine closet under the main stairs, until I would say "yes". I would not make myself sound Frenchy on purpose, and risk being ridiculed for it by neighbourhood children.

I think perhaps children instinctively obey peers rather than parents where there is conflict of popular opinion. Anyway, by the time I was a student at school I dropped the ya-ass and learned to say yes like everybody else. 

And in order to be able to read my Acadian history, I had to study hard to learn French (for the first time)–which I did do with firm determination after a fierce struggle with Grandmere Rosalie who insisted I speak in French or she would not talk to me any more. But I could not speak French and she didn’t believe it, so that, broken-hearted over Grandmere’s stubbornness, I, with equal stubbornness vowed to study French one day, which I did do in later years. All my thanks to Grandmere Rosalie Doucette!]

I think now that my mother was secretly proud of me for being more stubborn than she was! That is my main and fond vivid memory of the front hall closet under the big stairway.


While the front hall stairs went up to the large and bright rooms in the front part of the house, a narrow closed-in one from the back porch took one up to the servant quarters toward the back. My parents used some of those rooms for storing trunks and suitcases and other things they were keeping for use at some future time. Also, it was a great place for us children to play Farm, Soldiers, or Chinese checkers and Jacks, or color in our coloring books when we couldn’t be outside. My own favorite playthings were dolls and paper dolls, tea sets and coloring books. My brothers liked what they called "funny books" (comic books) and Big-Little books. 


The Horton house had two fine pantries, the regular large one just off the kitchen, with space for a barrel of flour and large breadboard, breadbox, and all the necessary cooking and baking supplies. Cookware was hung up on special hooks that were fastened to sturdy boards high up on the wall that kept the pots and pans visible and handy, yet out of the way.

There was also what we children learned was called a "butler’s pantry". It was between the kitchen and the dining room. We asked lots of questions about butlers and why a man had a pantry, but we still could not identify with any of it, but it was fascinating for our imagination.


We were satisfied that we had access to this pantry’s two wonderful swinging doors. The door next to the kitchen had a small cut-out door with a slide opener and a small shelf just large enough for a platter of food, The door that swung into the dining room had a small peep hole affair at average height for the butler to peer through to keep watch over every need and desire of his table guests. All this I tucked away in memories, and they are still there, only to resurface now, for some strange reason! Mainly thanks to this wonderful website that gives me such freedom to tell my Horton House Story "as is". 

We children heard stories about wealthy people having lived there and were served by a hired butler and at least one maid. Servants could walk from the kitchen and through the butler pantry with trays of prepared meals, right into dining room without having to stop to turn a door knob. They only had to slip through them somehow, tray held high and steady.

The shelves in the butler pantry were wide and deep, and in times gone by they surely held a variety of fine chinaware sets, goblets, silverware, linens, white cotton gloves, candles, wines, and so on. The floor had a hatch that led to a small wine cellar down under the floor where it was cool.

When our family lived there, the varnished shelves, cabinets and drawers were empty, and the place was dark. There was a light bulb hanging from the ceiling on a length of yellowish asbestos-covered and twisted electrical cord, and the light had a beaded pull chain. But there was no light, no electric hookup when we were there, we had only kerosene lamps and candles. The kitchen had electric switch buttons on the wall near two of the doors, the top button was white, and when it was pushed in, the light was supposed to go on. The black button just below the white one was to shut off the light. Try as we might, we could not get those buttons to work, no matter how many times we pushed those buttons in. Now another story, one of my favorite memories, and it too takes in the butler pantry!

When one of the new babies came along –about 1936 in the summertime, our other Grandma, Mary Elizabeth Amirault, came from Center East Pubnico to Sand Beach to stay with us for a few days. During that time a powerful thunderstorm arose, something Grandma did not like one bit, and it made her very nervous. She looked for a place without windows where she could wait out the storm. She took me with her, took a stool for her to sit on and I had the highchair, because I was only five.. Our arms rested on the top of the buffet counter where Grandma had placed a lighted candle that was kept in a metal holder. She put that in front of her and took from her purse a small bottle of holy water and her rosary beads, blessed herself, sprinkled everything with holy water, and started to pray in French while I sat there in silence with her, and without moving. Sometimes the crashing sound would interrupt her prayer and I’d hear her counting, cinq, six, sept, to see if the storm was still coming or going away. 

We saw none of the bright flashes of lightning but the thunder boomed and echoed for miles out over the Atlantic from whence it came. I wonder if it was that day when I absorbed her phobia that lasted for several decades, until I decided how useless it is to be afraid of it or to worry about it. That is my most vivid memory of the butler’s pantry in the Horton House in Sand Beach.

Horton House, Sand Beach in early 1930s Part 3

The kitchen and dining room had access to each other through other doors as well. It was a most interesting house for us children to explore!

The dining room when we lived there was my favorite place, perhaps because it had become our family room. In winter a heat stove called a "base burner" that looked like a pot-bellied stove, kept the whole room, and us, warm and comfortable. My first memory of it was the time my father carried me downstairs wrapped in a blanket, and settled me down in a highchair just a few feet from the base burner. He came from the kitchen with a saucer of warm porridge and placed it on the little tray. As I awkwardly spooned in the porridge I kept watching the little square shaped isinglass windows on the stove door. These were brightly glowing mica squares that brightened reddish and almost to a whiteness when the fire inside the stove was its hottest. That stove could radiate tremendous heat, and we children were taught to keep our distance from it. 

The dining room’s main feature was the beautiful bay window. It was a favorite place to stand and watch snow or rain coming down, or on a windy day to watch hundreds of daisies bending over in the fields. 

Raindrops made small rivulets on the window pane as new drops clung to other drops and ran down as fast as a mouse could run! 

Snowflakes were fascinating to study through the double windows in winter. Jack Frost (we were told) painted beautiful fairy patterns on the glass on frigid days. Everything was so delightful when we were just becoming aware and noticing new and interesting things for the first time.

The dining room was the place where we celebrated Christmas and all ‘twelve days’ and more. What a surprise for us on Christmas morning. Without us suspecting, our dad had brought a big tree from the woods, and set it up on the 24th, when he and our mother decorated it with the most fascinating glass ornaments one could imagine! There was shiny tinsel and many pipe-cleaner Santas of all colors. Usually, in those days, gentlemen cleaned their smoking pipes with those sturdy white pipe cleaners, but these small, fuzzy and skinny Santas were made of the same material and came in all colors, purple, pink, yellow, red, blue, green, white and so on. And we found them hiding all over the tree, also candy canes and round popcorn balls that were wrapped in colorfully designed wax paper. On the floor under the tree were a great assortment of new toys, which gave us children great delight.

The dining room fireplace must have been connected at one time to that of the parlor or what we called the front room of the house, toward the road. The fireplaces had been closed in, and were back to back from each other on the wall that divided the two rooms. There were two tall and spacious chimney closets in the dining room, one on either side of the fireplace. That’s where Santa had stored in advance some of the gifts, thinking surely they would not be discovered there before Christmas. Both fireplaces had a very large mantle piece upon which sat a special parlor clock that had been wedding gifts to our parents only six or seven years earlier. On the parlor mantle piece stood a couple of naked celluloid Kewpie dolls because, much to my chagrin, a gift that was too fragile to be played with. (That was one of the more sorrowful memories for me,)

Christmas time was so wonderful in the Horton House! Barely noticed were the big dining room table that was made to be extended even longer, and eight lovely chairs with their high backs that had been carved in beautiful designs, dark stained and varnished. Two or three oil lamps were placed on that table when we spent evenings there. 

Some years, for greater convenience, we had our meals in the kitchen where it was always warm from the big stove. Our parents prepared special Christmas meals, but we children were not very hungry because we had opened our stockings that Santa had filled and left hanging under the mantle piece above the fireplace. We were busy playing with our toys most of the day.

Our Uncle Harry, not yet married then, spent a few Christmases with us, and always he brought a large brown paper bag filled with delicious peanuts in the shells. He would hang the bag high up on the door frame, and we could have some if we could reach them! The highchair was the solution, and down came the bag, peanuts and all. We sat on the big couch with our kind and gentle uncle, responding to his teasing, listening to his stories and spreading peanut shells all over the place, leaving one more job for our mother. 

After supper, toward evening when lamps were lit, our mother would take out a box that held many special Christmas greeting cards from relatives and friends from many places. What a joy it was to see those beautifully decorated cards and to hear our mother read the messages and letters! Each one was different and special, some with red velour, lacy paper, cut-out and pop-up cards for children, some with colored crinkled cellophane, sparkley snow, windows, stars, and pictures of all kinds. Some had wonderful big Santa Claus and sleigh on them, also reindeer. Some had baby Jesus in the manger. 

I had a special fascination for colored pictures, and for greeting cards, and that trait holds to this day. Every one seems to be, for me, a kind of ‘presence’ of the sender, and they are so special that I cannot throw them out. (I don’t understand what caused me to become so sentimental –but if I were not, I surely would not be sitting here writing all this stuff! ).

Those memories are unforgettable because of the delight they held for us at that time when we lived in the Horton House. Those are real memories of our time spent there in the large dining room.

The front room toward the south side of the house was darkish and seldom used, perhaps only for summer visitors from the States. We children were not allowed to play in there. For me it contained a drab and dark colored velour sofa and two matching chairs, a few uninteresting occasional tables, old fashioned lace doilies, old style lamps and vases, window curtains and thick drapes on both windows, and a square on the floor like a Persian rug –the most boring and uninspiring room in the whole house, I felt. It was all too ancient and too quiet and mysterious, surely a remnant from someone’s musty past. Had it at one time been a smoking room, or what? In its favor, I can say that it was a convenience at times when one wanted to see up or down the road.

Across the hall from it had been the delightful shop or store, with the shelves, which our father took down in order to make it a lovely bedroom with new paint and wallpaper, even a new flowered linoleum square on the floor. We are told that this special room was the birthplace of one sibling.


March 7, 2010
fordMy 55-Ford

While we were living at the Horton House, our family had increased by four more children by the end of 1940, making it seven of us instead of the original three. As we were growing up, our curiosity never waned. One day my brother and I sneaked up into the attic to see what was up there. We carefully climbed a small wooden stair-like ladder, and that was risky, not so bad going up, but scary trying to get back down. After watching my brother a few times I tried but had to call and wait till our mother came and rescued me. Mother was not very interested in hearing our account of what was up there: a very nice Charlie McCarthy made of solid rubber and painted in bright colors. There was no sign of Edgar Bergen, the ventriloquist, but we were not as familiar with him as with his voice and puppet, Charlie. There was a pretty sewing basket made of masonite fibreboard with a few flowers hand painted on the outside. It had a high carrying handle and two flaps, one on each side of the handle that opened up on small hinges. It was nicely made, and likely made by a student or apprentice at one of the schools or work places. I opened it and was so pleased to see some very interesting sewing articles inside, especially colored threads and embroidery floss, small cloth measuring tape in a round case, small pair of scissors, a thimble and some needles in a little pin cushion. Santa had left that there for safe keeping and he put it under the tree for me that Christmas, to my greatest delight! My brother and I were attending Sand Beach school where some of the older girls had started a sewing club which all the girls were expected to join. I was fordfascinated at what could be done with just a needle and thread! What a wonderful discovery it was for me! I could hardly wait to learn how to construct a garment of some kind, even the simplest thing like a small purse or marble bag. A sewing teacher came once a week to show us new things, and even the youngest were permitted to learn to make embroidered daisies with French knots in the centers. This was a wonderful new world of creative delight that opened up for me, one I never let go of! I never forgot Mrs. Lydia Hayes, our sewing teacher. She came with pretty cloth to encourage us to enjoy sewing, and besides that, she helped with other little student activities, such as coaching us to sing carols for the Christmas concert which was a highlight of the year, not only for our school but also for the whole community.

When the second world war was declared, everything changed. Children saved pennies and collected all kinds of lead to bring to school so that it could be donated to help the "war effort". Mothers, especially those who were members of the Women’s Institute, began studying First Aid, learning to dress wounds, to make slings and all their little guide book contained. They knitted many skeins of khaki wool items for soldiers who were being drafted overseas. Some knit sweaters, others socks, mittens, gloves and scarves, all in that khaki color which children didn’t find very pretty, and some gave the color nicknames, with words that most of us were not allowed to use!

The War changed many things, and quite suddenly. For example, our father was buying the Horton House and wanted to raise his family there. He loved the country place, the animals, and all Nature.

He scraped and painted the whole house himself in a very nice light buff color, planted beautiful flower beds of sweet Williams, marigolds, forget-me-nots, pansies and other flowers besides his row of tall, large and glorious dahlias that I remember being in full bloom all along the white picket fence he made. He also made a very nice lawn swing that had seats enough to hold all of us children and our mother too, and painted it light buff like the house. He had done all this lovely work for his family to grow up in Sand Beach, when all of a sudden he was notified that he was being transferred to Halifax by Canada Customs for the duration of the war! Life was never the same again for any of us, but that is the same basic story of so many other families in the Maritime provinces.

What we were not able to take with us was disposed of and our father made a big bonfire to burn more than any of us wanted to part with, but it was wartime, and soon men would be leaving families and jobs, ration books with food cupons were to be issued and we were asked to buy victory bonds and all went toward the war effort.

There was time to take one picture to mark the year and month of our departure from our beloved Horton House. The picture was taken in the front yard, between those nice pillars that had been topped with the round wooden balls or post-tops that would spin and shake and rattle, making weird-sounding ghost-warbles in the wind, and would scare us children at night.

Our mother dressed our baby sister who was born just before Christmas, and in the picture was four and a half months old. I was wearing my new black shoes, blue knee socks and blue tam that were bought for me to wear for the trip to Dartmouth.



Picture of Marie holding Joan age 4 ½ months, May 1941 on front doorstep of the Horton House, Sand Beach, our last day there.


I could write a lot more, but this is enough for now.

God bless, 


Sun, 07 Feb 2010 

 I received the old picture of Grandpa's house in Sand Beach from Dad's sister, my aunt Rosabelle {Doucette} Snarr. 

She and my father were close in age, -two of the younger bunch in the family, so they grew up there, practically. They went to South End School and then to the Yarmouth Academy I think it was.

Doucette-Marie-house.jpgThis picture of the Theodore Doucette home in Sand Beach was from the collection of his daughter, "Rosabelle" (Doucette) Snarr. 

Grandpere Theodore moved there in 1912, He died in November 1935. Grandmere Rosalie (Surette) Doucette remained there until wartime when she and youngest son Ellis moved to Halifax, where Rosalie died in 1946.

The Horton house picture was snapped by my husband-to-be in June 1954. The window that is just above my head in that picture was my bedroom window when I was growing up.

The "old" Yarmouth Light used to shine in that window most nights! When it was not shining, the foghorn was sounding its descending moan.

My brothers slept in the room with the window at the front, right next to my room. Outside that window there was a high railing around the turret or balcony, and we sometimes climbed out that window, which was several feet directly below the peak of the house. We climbed out on that little roof until our mother would catch us and warn us never to open that window again. 

But that railing has been gone for a long time now. On that fenced-in balcony there were two corner posts, each topped with a round wooden ball or cap. When these caps became old and weather-worn , they became like a hollow shell. The wind used to make them spin round and round at various speeds, slowly for a while, then spinning wildly in the stronger gusts and gales. The rattling sound of those two wooden shells spinning erratically on the posts, together with sounds of the howling wind in the trees and past the windows, made eerie and fearsome sounds in our young ears. 

Our mother reassured us right away, saying something like, "Oh, Daddy is going out there on a fine day and take care of those loose tops on the posts so you won’t hear them spinning in the wind any more. That’s all it is, now go to sleep."  We closed our eyes, and next thing we knew, we were awakening to another beautiful Sand Beach morning.

Theodore_Doucette_home~1912.jpgThis is a picture of the house Grandfather Theodore Doucette's lived in from 1912 until his death in November 1935. It was on the left side of the road going toward town, and about five places up from the Horton House.

I forget if I ever knew who had the place before Grandfather moved in from Wedgeport with his very large family. The older ones in the family were adults while the younger set attended South End School in town. My father, Wallace Peter Doucette was age 6 when they moved in there. 

A few years ago I met the Jenkins family who were living in that house and they kindly dug up some roots of "Grandpa’s climbing roses" for us and we have those few roots transplanted and growing near our own house in PEI. marie


Click on pictures below for enlargement
 Wallace & Willetta,
40th wedding


My older brother,Wallie, who took me everywhere when we were attended St Ambrose Convent and Sand Beach School for our early grades. Wallie Doucette in Pubnico with team and load, age 17 or 18


Date: 12/6/2009
Name: marie
Location: pei

Sand Beach School at Christmas time in the 1930s 

Winters in Sand Beach in the 1930s were fun for children and challenging for adults. I remember lots of snow every Christmas. I can remember looking out our front room window and watching men shovelling banks of snow to break the road open enough to make it passable.  Some men had a car or truck, but not many. I remember in December of 1940 my brother and I getting a ride from church in a truck driven by a cousin who lived down Wyman Road.  When we arrived home we were delighted to learn that we had a new little sister!

Saint Nick and his reindeer never had a problem getting around Sand Beach, and Christmas time was the highlight of winter.  Teachers and parents and the whole school of children were busy and excited getting ready for the Christmas concert.  Children made decorations while adults arranged a stage on the teacher’s platform in front of the one-room school.  All turned to magic for that one event.  We sang carols we had been practicing all month long, and some talented pupils sang solos, while others gave recitations.  Some from the higher grades performed skits and little plays after which Santa passed out gifts from under the beautifully decorated big tree that was cut down from nearby woods.  On it had appeared pretty popcorn balls, candy canes, shiny tinsel and many ornaments including pipe-cleaner Santas and Elves of every color.  It was amazing the excitement when all the community young and old had gathered in that little old school house to celebrate this special time of year. How joyful and cheerful everybody was!

Santa’s elves passed out little white bags of “hard mix” candies of many delicious flavors: cloves and lemon were my favorites back then.  There was a long school holiday, lasting from before Christmas till about January 7.  When we returned to school we told stories about our Christmas at home, and how we spent Christmas vacation.  We told one another what Santa had brought, and how we spent our day at home. 

But when I asked some cousins from Kelly’s Cove way, I was surprised and baffled to learn that they had Christmas like everybody else, went to church and had a fine dinner and so on, but that they did not receive their Christmas gifts until “Petit Noel” or what some called “Old Christmas” which is January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, when three Kings from the Orient brought gifts to the Christ Child.  That is the feast many of our Acadian ancestors exchanged gifts, the day children received a visit from Saint Nicholas.  This was most interesting to me especially when I began to understand that these were also my own ancestors! I learned all this from my little cousins who lived way down below Sand Beach. 

Children received practical gifts such as home knit mittens, caps and stockings, along with a few toys and candies. 

Most families had a sled or two, usually home made. Some older boys made what they called a double-runner, which seems to have been two sleds, one on each end of a long wide board, making something like a toboggan upon which several children could speed downhill, that is if all could hang on all the way down, but usually some would fall off part way down. It was lots of fun. 

I remember two kinds of sleds, the flat little wooden ones for younger children with no steering, and the higher ones that had handles that one could use to steer right or left.  I remember older children being gone for hours and when they got back home they had been sliding down “Kinney’s Hill” wherever that was, but the younger ones had to stay at home and slide down the big snowbanks in the yard.

Rappie Pie was standard fare for many Acadians, and my Dad being a very good cook, made the best I ever tasted.  I believed he also made the best biscuits and donuts.  My cousins on the Wyman Road made the very best strawberry jam, and Aunt Carrie made the very best hot chocolate ever!
Those were some memories from Sand Beach School at Christmas time in the 1930s . Marie

Date: 10/26/2009
Name: marie
Location: pei

Comments: Edith Cavell Goodwin
In 1937 my mother had a “maid’ or “servant girl”.  That is what mothers’ helpers were still called in those days. I’m not sure what these workers are called nowadays. I never did take to the term baby-sitter because I would have to be able to imagine that first!  Who was ever able to ‘sit’ while having little children around!  But our live-in “Maid” was Edith Cavell Goodwin.  Even though she came from about a mile away, she made her home with us in the big Horton House. 

My mother always said Edith was the best maid she ever had.  “She could just go right ahead and do what she knew needed to be done without me telling her every move, and how to do it. She just went ahead, she knew how to work!” 

Edith kept us children, and our kitchen and pantry clean and tidy, and lots more.  She made our school lunches and even sprinkled a bit of sugar on our peanut-butter sandwiches.  She shined the little red apples to go in beside them, buttoned our coats, tied my bonnet, and we were off for the day.

Edith helped mom with the wash, which was all done by hand.  Water from the well heating on the big iron stove, large galvanized tub and washboard, small rinse tub, and these fixed on top of two or three old half-chairs from the back porch, blocks of home made lye soap, and a long rope clothesline with a lifting pole from nearby woodlot: those are some vivid memories.

Edith had Thursday afternoons off, and usually she went up town to do whatever business, shopping or visiting she wanted to do. She dressed so prettily to go out. Her auburn hair was a sea of deep and beautiful waves, with tiny curls around the edges. She looked lovely in her lavender sweaters and light gray or bluish skirts.  To me, she was very pretty and she was my pretend fairy godmother; that’s because she was so gentle and kind and thoughtful.  She told us the story of how she got her name. Edith Cavell was a nurse, heroine and martyr. During the first world war she sheltered soldiers and freed a good many by getting them out of Belgium and into Holland where they would be safe. For doing that, she was put to death. The whole world honors her and her heroism to this day.

How secretly jealous I was when I heard that a Mr. Carl Adams was going to marry “my Edith” and take her to his home with him! That’s when I was made to realize that I had a great deal of growing to do! I had clung to her because in my childhood she had been so special and because my mother treasured her so much. And Edith always had good things to say about my mother and about the time she lived with us in Sand Beach.  One more little story before I end this:

The stores in Yarmouth were closed on Wednesday afternoons to give the clerks a break.  One time the Royal Store up town was advertizing “Wetums Dolls” –dolls that wore a diaper and could ‘drink and wet’– for twenty-five cents!  Even though I had two dolls, I really wanted one of these baby dolls! Edith said she would take me with her next Thursday and buy me one. Dolls were among my favorite toys, but come the happy day, we arrived there, myself overflowing with excitement, when the lovely young clerk said “Sorry, there are none left–sold really fast.”  Oh, how sad a time that was, no ‘wetums’ doll! And when we got back home, I remember my mother saying something like “Good, we’ve got enough real live little wetters already, we don’t need to buy one.”

Years later, I found out that Edith was living in Kelley’s Cove.  I was glad that the Adams home was right next to Sand Beach where she would feel at home.  The Sand Beach children used to go sliding in winter with their schoolmates, the Kelley’s Cove children, so it was quite near. 
I know that Edith Goodwin Adams is in heaven with Edith Cavell and all the other angels. May they rest in peace.

webmaster's addition:  A bit more information on Edith (I think this is correct)
14.*I give, devise and bequeath my Electric Lamp to my daughter-in-law, Edith Adams, wife of my said son, Carl Morrison Adams. Source of will=
Subject: Halloween 

In the 1930s in Sand Beach, Halloween was celebrated, but nothing like it is today. First of all, it was spelled Hallowe'en because it is the eve or vigil of the religious feast of all saints.

In those days there were no spooky decorations anywhere, only pumpkins of all sizes and shapes. Children scooped out the seeds from inside their chosen pumpkin, and then cut eyes, nose and mouth to make what was called a jack-o'-lantern. The lantern part was made by a lighted candle inside which shone through the cut-out faces of the pumpkin shell.

[on the Internet I found something interesting that I never heard before. There we read that the jack-o’-lantern is "associated chiefly with the holiday Halloween, and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o'-lantern."

Also, one dictionary tells us that ignis fatuus is "A phosphorescent light that hovers or flits over swampy ground at night, possibly caused by spontaneous combustion of gases emitted by rotting organic matter. Also called friar's lantern, jack-o'-lantern, Also called will-o'-the-wisp, wisp.

Also, "something that misleads or deludes; an illusion."]

Anyway, as I recall from childhood, this is what we did in Sand Beach to make a jack o'-lantern. After the top was cut off and set aside for a cover or hat for the pumpkin, we took a large spoon and scooped out all the pulp and seeds from the inside, and then tried to cut out a scarey face on the pumpkin shell. 
Parents gave each child a candle about four inches long which they helped fasten to the inside bottom centre of the pumpkin shell. 

After supper, at dusk we would go from house to house with these shining and flickering spooky ghost-like faces and shine them in the windows of our neighbours --who, naturally were nearly "frightened out of their wits!" 

Children wore some kind of mask, usually home made from oilcloth or even brown paper bags and string or elastic, so that nobody could recognize us, we believed.

We went to one another’s homes to do this, and a big part of our great fun was that none of us goblins spoke aloud, all was done in spooky whispers, moans and groans like ooooooo-ooo. The adults inside their kitchens at the windows were great performers in those days which greatly heightened our childish delight! 

As opposed to today’s Halloween, there was no such thing as today's "trick or treat," and no thought of receiving anything from those we visited. There were no decorations in yards or anywhere. Our fun was to pretend there were ghosts and goblins going around the neighbourhood, causing chills and excitement and lots of fun. 

When everyone was back home there might be milk and a cookie or warm cocoa and a piece of bannock, and soon it was bedtime which was later than usual, about eight o'clock for this one special evening, 

It caused us to wonder next day how some real mischief had come about, soap on windows and overturned wagons or outhouses: were there real ghosts and goblins in our neighbourhood after we were safe in bed? 

In those days our jack-o'-lanterns were really quite spectacular because there were no outside lights anywhere and homes did not have electric lights, only rather dim oil lamps, so to see a little group of children parading around with lighted pumpkins was quite sight.

Also, whenever the adults thought we should be on our way, they would pull down the big old green window blind and cover the window, so we could no longer see them and went on our way. 

It was exciting, simple and innocent as it was! 
Very fond memories of 1930s Hallowe’en. 


Date: 8/9/2009
Name: Marie
Location: PEI 

Comments: In 1938, the Grade two pupils at Sand Beach School, under the tutelage of Miss Clarke, answered an invitation by radio station CJLS in Yarmouth, to write a letter to Uncle Bob. Grade Two children in all the schools within listening distance were asked to write a letter and Uncle Bob would read a select few over the radio at a certain date and time, so all families were urged to listen-in, especially families of the young writers.  Excitement in all the local schools was mounting by the day to learn which school would win the top prize. I was in Grade Two and all of us in that grade had written to Uncle Bob and Miss Clarke sent our letters to the CJLS station. 

Our family had no radio at home, so Mama asked Bob Calquhoun, and we three listened –sort of-- to this special Uncle Bob program on his battery radio.  The radio was up on a shelf so Bob lifted me up on his knee so that I would be better able to hear, but I age seven and was so shy to be sitting on his lap that I began to squirm my way down to the floor. The more I squirmed, the tighter he held my torso and the tighter he held me, the more I squirmed.  Uncle Bob was busy reading letters and making comments, none of which I heard. Mama was trying to listen and was embarrassed at my behaviour. I kept saying to Bob, "Let me down!" But he tried told me to listen, which I was not able to do, I was that shy and embarrassed at being on his lap and being held there.  So I resorted to telling him if he didn't let me down, I'd pull up his pant-legs, which I was already doing, and showing my beautiful young mother his skinny legs covered with long black hairs! Then HE was embarrassed and my poor mother was totally humiliated, and so was I, yet felt defiant and vindicated when he did finally let me down.  Just then MY name was given as the writer of the best letter and the honor went to Miss Clarke at Sand Beach School.

The prize was a book called "Ruffles and Dandy" which I took home but never read, because I had not yet learned to read, and my French-speaking parents were not ready to read me something that was so foreign to their culture, so it remained unread.  That was the very beginning of my writing career, and, even yet, in my old-age, I still have a great deal of embarrassment as I try to write --for whatever reason. I hope someone gets a chuckle, at least, out of this – and my sincere apologies to my latest literary hero, the kindly and generous and most patient Mr. Bob Calquhoun of Sand Beach.

Date: 6/5/2009
Name: marie

Comments: In Sand Beach, in the 1930s, one of the regular peddlers who came around every week with his truck selling meat, was a Mr Patten (or Patton?). The truck would stop in the middle of the dirt road and neighbours would gather and make their purchases while everyone caught up on most of latest news from a radius of probably five or ten long miles --who had illness or any misfortune, who had a newborn, who moved away, who returned, how bad the storm was, who lost what by lightning, whose boat capsized, and so on.

My two brothers and I would follow Dad to the road, and most often the kindly Mr Patten would press a big Newfoundland cent into the palm of our hand, each one! When he came around in the fall with barrels of apples to sell, we excitedly emptied our piggy banks to help make up the three dollars to pay for the beautiful apples, barrel and all!  Those were the days!  How could one ever forget such a p;lace and such neighbours! Blessed memories. 

Date: 6/3/2009

By the way, I forgot to tell the story of the time Clyde Wyman, our good neighbour, took his little sister and me ('me' is correct in this case) with him in his new little coupe for a Spring drive out to see the new construction of the airport. The drive was most enjoyable till we got stuck in deep mud to the axles!  Clyde soon had a circle of friends around the scene and by some effort "got us out of the stuck" --as we little girls later described the scenario.
It was fun and exciting --for two of us anyway. Fond memories, 

 And I mustn't forget to mention a special gentleman, a Mr LeCain, who drove a nice car, a 1930s model, and his car would go by, heading toward town, as I would be on my way down to the Sand Beach School. Mr LeCain never failed to tip his hat to me each and every time!  That's how I learned a little more about refinement and respect for others, making no distinction.  I felt honored by him. One time he gave me a ride part of the way home from school on a very cold February day.  "Did you get any Valentines today" he asked. 
"Yes, I got nine."
"NONE! no Valentines?" he asked in a kind of sorrowful tone.
I thought he was teasing me, so I said, 
"Yes, I got NINE, n-i-n-e!"
And he smiled in a voice of surprise and said, 
"Oh, NINE< well that's a LOT of Valentines."
He let me out at the end of our lane and I went into the house with a happy story to tell my mother about getting a rid in a car, and she knew him and told me his name was Mr LeCain. 


Entry Date: 5/29/2009

Comments: From 1934 to May 1941 our family lived in the lovely Horton house in Sand Beach, and now I want to relate a few memories of neighbours we had at that time. I've already mentioned the friendly Cosman family next door.  Down from them was Tracy Goodwin and his wife who was a Knowles. They had a lovely family of hard working truckers, mostly of coal in those days, and it was Tracy with his big truck who moved our family belongings to Dartmouth when my father was transferred there by Canada Customs in 1941. My mother and Mrs Goodwin and I decided to walk to make more room in the car for my siblings.As we climbed Silver's Hill to the lone farm house at the top, Mrs Goodwin kept repeating with every breathless step, "Last place on earth, Mrs Doucette, last place on earth!"  In Sand Beach, her youngest son Carl was my brother's best friend.
On the south side of the Horton house was the family of Gordon Colquhoun. His daughter Thelma married Ralph Martinelli who drove a motorcycle and lived in a little bungalow onWyman Road.  I remember Gordon with a back brace he had to wear from his broken back.  Down from him was Ken and Jane Poole. All I recall about Ken Poole was that he was so tall, his trousers barely reached down as far as his ankles, and he was the best in the neighbourhood at playing the game of horse-shoes. His wife, Jane, had a little Kindergarten in her home, and how I longed to go to her classes, but was too shy to mention my longing. The Pooles also grew a lovely patch of cultivated strawberries. Some of us learned, as we reached in under the fence at the edge of the road, that it took only one of those great big strawberries to almost fill a child's hand! I know because I had one, and it was delicious, although I was guilt-ridden as I gulped, and worse, was never able to share the delectable story with anyone, especially my strict and law-abiding mother!

Straight across the road from the Horton house, was Mr MacKenzie's little store. When he was not there it was Kathleen Wyman behind the counter.  Mr MacKenzie was a Boy Scout Master and was often seen in full Scout uniform with the large brimmed felt hat.  Mr macKenzie had a Scottie dog named Angus. He also drove a Beach Wagon, and it was the prettiest station wagon I ever saw. Its sides were panelled with beautiful light grain wood. [The only other similar vehicle I've heard of would be the truck owned by a Mr d'Entremont, and the picture reminds me of Mr MacKenzie's beach wagon. He used that for transporting his supplies. 
When Mr. MacKenzie was having a new house built a little south of his store, the workers blasting rock and all the neighbours were cautioned to beware of flying rock! Some of us younger and more timid ones hardly dared go outside.  I remember the sound of exploding dynamite and one time I saw a piece of rock lift a few yards up into the air and straight down again, but no more. We were glad when that was over. How anyone could plow a garden in that rocky terrain puzzles me to this day. 

Down from Mr MacKenzie were the Rogers ladies, Mae and Winnie, and they sold lovely candies they made themselves.  They had a wide variety of flavors of taffy kisses and some made into longer sticks and canes. They made a reddish cocoanut chewy log called a hunkadory, and then a flat white candy with yellow blob on top called a fried egg, and those were creamy and delicious.  There were others but those mentioned were the favorites in the neighbourhood.  At Christams time our family received one of their pound boxes of "ends" of candy and those were as yummy as the more perfect renderings of the original stock.

The Purney family lived next door and every fall at Halloween they gave us children a box filled with beautiful chestnuts!  Oh,the games we made up with these treasures!  The Sand Beach school teacher boarded with the Purneys or with the Rogers, both beautiful large homes. 

The teachers there in our time were a Miss Clarke who was succeeded by Mr Lawrence Doucette from Quinan, and he had a large family of his own. He travelled by motorcycle and went home to his family on weekends. 
On the north side, going toward town, there was a railroad crossing, and just before that was a little place where lived a Mr Bushell (like Bush-Shell)  He was fond of children and liked to make them little toys from wood and especially popular were his little soldiers made of moulten lead. He would melt the lead and pour it into little soldier moulds and out would come a shiny soldier. He gave those fo children who did erranes for him. He was a kind elderly gentleman.
Not far from his place but across the road, was a Mrs Walsh, for whom my Dad would get her mail from the post office up town and take it to her.  She gave him a Christmas gift in the 1920s, a book she signed "Wallace, from Mrs Walsh," a book by T.C. Haliburton of Nova Scotia, Sam Slick the Clockmaker.  That book is still in the family.

Various peddlars came around, some with apples, others with fish and meat, and yet others with a great variety of goods, such as Watkins or Raleigh products so well known all over the place, but Sand Beach has many more stories of back then when there was no pavement anywhere and where the Beach was a favorite summer attraction and the harbour and Bunker Island and Cape Forchu with the beautiful old light house where many went for a picnic. i remember the nasty experience I had on Bunker island with a group from school, when I was stunned after being bunted by a ram! I learned something new that day! 
Bless y'all, Marie

Thank you again Marie...  G.J.LeBlanc


When I was a little girl living in Sand Beach in the 1930s that beach down there where the roses line the lane almost to the water's edge, there were banks of white sand! tons and tons of it, but it's been cleaned out to the rocky bottom!  Ages and ages created that sand and put it there and many went there every day all summer to play on the beach. Seaweed was not up on the shore as it is now. Only when the tide went out did we get to walk on the seaweed and see some of the rocky bottom. There were treasures in those days coming from a long and glorious-- and always tragic -- history of fishermen, sailors merchants and the sea.  There is a haunting tale of a woman who lost her husband at sea and when the tide went out she would go to the beach and walk out as far as she could, in her nightgown, and call her husband through the fog and mist and with the foghorn blowing, it was even more eerie. Police had to rescue her when neighbours would report her out there. She had practically lost her mind over his disappearance at sea and in her sleep she would sleepwalk to the beach and go way out and call him at low tide. This was the REAL woman, not a "ghost". There was no ghost to it, unless it would be her husband calling back from the deep--who knows, but I never heard of any. This poor woman never got over her terrible loss and ended up in someone's care. So tragic and sad! (If I remember right, her name was Scovil, but it's a long time ago, but that name always stuck in my mind after hearing older people telling about Mrs Scovill being rescued from the flats at low tide down at Sand Beach.) That story always stayed with me because it's so tragic and sad. 


I was amazed to find a picture of the old house I used to pass by twice a day in the 1930s when walking to and from Sand Beach to St Ambrose Convent school and church.  It was on the right going up toward the golf links on our way to school. Because I was quite new there and hadn't walked up that way before without a grown-up, as soon as we started school the neighbour children told us that a Mrs. Scott was living there and that children had to be on their very best behaviour when passing by that house. The rule was that one must look quickly if one wanted to see it, but not stop and stare at it, just glance that way while walking past the property, because "Mrs. Scott" lived there and she could see us going by.  They said she would not bother us if we were moving on, but if we stopped it was hard to tell what might happen.  That for me was exciting and scary at the same time.  Some children exaggerated saying the house was spooky, and it might well have been so.

That's the kind of story older children told us little ones about that very same house as you have pictured on your website! i was so amazed to see it that I was almost trembling looking at it, this old 1930s house! Here it was on my computer seven or eight decades later! (to continue:)

--So whenever we came close to that house, we almost held our breath until we were past it.  We looked briefly , and way up at it, as we wondered silently, and kept on going toward home.  Always we children kept that place of "Mrs. Scott's" in awe and her too, although we never saw her.  But we were certain that she was watching us through her lacy window curtains, any time we walked past her house.

The house looked different from any other we were familiar with. It was not like a box but rather reminded me of a castle or what had once been a palace.  It was gray or unpainted in those days and tall weeds or grasses grew all around the house, back and front. and on both sides of the many steps that mounted to her front door. When I was a few years older I believed it had been the home of a seaman because there was a "widow's walk" where his wife could climb the turret to watch over the horizon and the ocean.

This website gives me for the first time in my nearly eight decades of life some facts about that mysterious  residence. So it was an Inn, yes, i believe it.  And also we were told that Mrs. Scott at night would go up into the widow's walk and watch the harbour and she could see sailing vessels way out far in the distance.

Sand Beach children had amazing imaginations and they loved to tell yarns to us littler ones! Such delightful and sometimes scary dreams and memories they gave us!  Their parents must have read them many wonderful books when they were little to instill in them such imaginations and fantastic little stories!  Such memories!

Thank you! Marie


On the old houses of Yarmouth from the museum website I think and I learned it was Ellery and Margaret Scott so the lady in my letter below must have been this dear Margaret M, widow of husband Ellery S. Scott.  Amazing what one can learn on the Internet, the REAL story of this house that the children  thought was spooky. I also found some Scott history and genealogy. Mr. Scott and his ancestors were great people according to records.

Why does it seem to me almost a violation for me now --a once timid child passing the Scott house so often-- to have now invaded the privacy of that dear widow who had been so reserved during the years we children were passing by, looking but not daring to stop to greet her, and to bring her mayflowers?

Nevertheless, this great lady is speaking to us now, opening up some of her family history for us and giving us a real tour of her mansion there at 7 Main Street!  May she rest in peace.


Comments: Thanks to Steven Stewart for his kind words and for reminding me of Freddie Burke (Bourque) and Leonard Cottreau whom I also remember from years gone by. I didn't know the Moore family but do remember Ken and Jane Poole who lived about three houses down from us.  Leonard Cottreau and I were cousins of some degree --if he was related to Emma and Lena. My father worked in Customs in Yarmouth so whenever relatives in the States sent huge white canvas commercial laundry bags solidly filled with wonderful clothing of every size and description, also sundry trinkets tossed in as fillers, these came addressed in care of my father, and he saw that Mamma and our designated cousins received their long-awaited treasures! 

Large families and very little money was the norm, but some did have a camera which would be used only on very special occasions, first Communion, last day of school and so on.

Freddie Burke used to come up from way down the road to walk to catechism lessons with us on Sunday afternoons up at St Ambrose. He was a very kind and gentle and humorous young man in his early teens, much taller than my brother and me, so I really looked up to him.  One wet day while walking up toward town on the dirt road, I spotted a leather wallet in a shallow puddle and mentioned it to Freddie. I was seven or eight then, the wallet was soaked and I didn't want to get dirt on my hands. Freddie asked me if he could pick it up and I said yes, and if he could have it, and I said yes, and if he could have anything that might be in it, and since I liked him so much I said yes, so he opened it and exclaimed ONE DOLLAR!  And I was glad he found a dollar inside because he was so thoughtful to have asked me first. There was nothing but respect from him for everybody. He was so friendly and kind to my brother and me, and he had a much longer distance to walk than we had, to and from church, so i wanted him to have it. 

Finally, those bundles of high quality clothing that were sent "Down East" from "the States", I have leaned since, came not only to Sand Beach, not only to Wedgeport and other Yarmouth county villages, but also to all parts of the Maritime Provinces from relatives working "Across".

Later, when I went over to work for five years, one aunt said to me, 'Now it's your turn to wrap and tie parcels and pay the postage, and was I ever grateful for the honor of following in the footsteps of these hard working relatives in the "Boston States". 
[Now, I wonder why I suddenly am able to imagine the scent of mothballs?  marie :)


Thank You Marie

St Ambrose Convent and St Ambrose School, Yarmouth, NS - Len Leiffer Post Card, no postmark (source: )

**Stories on this page belong to Marie **