As a child growing up in Pasadena I had an itchy foot at a young age. I was very curious and wanted to know what it was like to live in other communities. Whenever I had a chance I bugged my Aunt Lean in Irishtown, Aunt Lill in Deer Lake or Aunt Carmel in Riverside Drive to let me go visit them. The conversation at home would go something like this:
“Mom, do you think Aunt Lean will let me visit for a while?”
“I don’t know. She’s pretty busy with her boys and Uncle Bill.”
“But I can help her with the boys, since they don’t like doing work in the house. I won’t give her any trouble.”
“Well, I’ll phone down and ask her, and your father can drop you off there when he goes to Corner Brook.”
And so it went and off I drove, right in my glee, that I was going to meet some new people and explore the small community of Irishtown. Uncle Bill had a large family so I got to know some of his younger sisters Iniece and Emma, and his younger brothers Ron, Fred and Clarence.
There was always lots of fun, since my Aunt Lean has such a good sense of humour and Uncle Bill got such a grin on his face that it is hard to take things seriously. A lot of laughter went on in their house, and there was always lots of grub.
In the evenings I would go out with young girls who lived around the area. We mostly hung out at the biggest store, having a little treat of pop and chips or a bar. Nothing very exciting happened but we’d chat and walk the street. I do remember spending time at Emma’s house and throwing a bucket of water over Clarence while we were in an upstairs window! I believe he tried to get me back. I vividly recall one night in particular when a certain teenager walked me home and when I got home I got questioned.
“It’s dark and you’re a little later than usual. Who walked you home?”
“I was with Emma. She walked me home.”
“That’s funny. Emma is at home and I was just talking to her on the phone!”
I got caught in a lie that time, and Aunt Lean and Uncle Bill never let me forget it! I was a little shy and didn’t want to get teased so that’s why I lied. But it backfired and I got teased for lying! And also for having a boy walk me home!
My love for my Irishtown relatives didn’t stop when I left home. I took my children and husband there when I visited for summer holidays. We were always welcomed with a mug up and cake or cookies or a sandwich, whenever we visited. One time Aunt Lean had a budgie bird and the boys were really taken up with the bird, so much so that I ended up buying two when we returned back home. I have fond memories of photos of the bird on top of my father’s bald head and on my son’s shoulders or hands.
A few summers back I decided I’d repay my three aunts a little by taking them up the Northern Peninsula. I booked a motel for two night in a place near St. Anthony. I bought small gifts for each of them. Also, we decided to do some sightseeing. We visited Lanse Aux Meadows and other places around the town. A friend of mine from Qikitarjuaq had a birthday so we visited Joyce and her husband Gil, had pizza and cake with them. That night we went to a nightclub and danced for a while. The next night it was a toss up between Bingo or Karaoke, and Bingo won. There were lots of nice meals along the way and we had many giggles way into the nights. Times like this are priceless and show the love we all have for each other.
Over the years I’ve made many trips to visit my aunt and uncle and their daughter Elaine. One thing I can say for sure is that they’ve never changed. Their spirit is still as joyful today as it was when I was eight or nine years old. They love to go to their cabin and when it’s someone’s birthday or anniversary party, they always try to buy a gimmick to make them laugh. Or carry out a prank! They relish time they spend with both their friends and family.
Now that I’m well past middle aged and my aunt and uncle are getting up in age(I’m sure Aunt Lean will have a laugh when she reads this!), my mind goes back in time to when I was so young and they were in the prime of life, rearing a family. I realize their kindness to a niece who had a such a hunger to explore and travel. It could not have been easy to take on another mouth to feed and another child to look after.
Thanks Aunt Lean and Uncle Bill for accepting me as one of your own!
- Raising Children: The Role of Aunts and Uncles (forbes.com)
- Blood is thicker than Water (thornblanket.wordpress.com)
- the gift of other-mothers (motheringspirit.wordpress.com)
- Sunday Routines When I Was A child (newfoundlandtraveller.wordpress.com)
- September 1936-The Midland Settlers (newfoundlandtraveller.wordpress.com)
- Premier Joseph R. Smallwood Picked Us Up When We Were Hitchhiking (newfoundlandtraveller.wordpress.com)