Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Campbells Are Coming !!

One day when I was about three and a half years old I came home and told my Mom that I had seen a woman all dressed in white called a "brite" ...... pronounced "bright".... We kids had been playing at the head of Big Hill near the Earle house when a bunch of cars drove up the hill full of folks all dressed to kill ....... parked along both sides of the road ..... then everybody got out and went into the big red Andrews'  place .......   the lady in white waved to us and someone uttered , ...... maybe Joan Earle since she was older ..... "There's the bride !" ...... which my phonetically immature ears heard as "brite"....... and my Mom constantly reminded me of it until the day she died. Anyways it was June 29th , 1940 ... the war was on ..... and I had just witnessed the arrival of the newlyweds , Mr and Mrs Clayton Stanley Campbell , at their wedding reception. The radiant "brite" was the former Miss Ethel Grace Clarke from Carbonear , Newfoundland. Not long afterwards the happy couple would move into the house on the cliff just above our home ........ up the Clubhouse Road across from the LM Club.

Within the next seven years Clayton and Ethel's union would result in Pokiok's population
 increasing by three........ that is , three bouncing baby girls .... and I mean "bouncing" , full-cheeked , energetic bundles of joy , real sweet wee cutie pies.... Dawn Elizabeth , Marjorie Grace and babykins , Virginia Faye..... or better known to world history as simply Ginny! ....... the poor little waif who got the pengouin while her older sisters clasped their big dolls and held on to them for dear life !! Just kidding .......Anyways ..... with the arrival of Ginny the Happy Gang was complete. Probably alluding to the popular CBC radio show in the 40s and 50s with Bert Pearl ..... Mom always referred to Ethel and the three girls as The Happy Gang. Seeing them traipsing by the kitchen window into our backyard I'd hear her exclaim , " Here comes the Happy Gang!" ...... and I knew their coming made her very happy as she loved those kids so very dearly.

For the Happy Gang our place was like a halfway house between their own home on the cliff and their relatives at the head of the hill ..... the Andrews and Campbell ( Clarence) families. My parents loved those girls as much as they loved me I'm sure. I remember coming home from school one afternoon when I was in either grade seven or eight and finding a huge gallows-like contraption set up between the house and the garage ..... with three coils of thick rope lying there on the ground. Mack ... as they called my Dad.... was putting up swings for the Happy Gang in our backyard ! .... solid proof of how much they cherished those kids. I would use this later in life to "razz" my Dad , " You never built swings for Tommy and me !" Anyways.... looking back at this whole scenario nowadays the old expresson comes to mind ....  build it and they will come ( Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner)...... and come they did !! Pushing the trio became an almost full-time job ..... that is were I to hang around the house for any long period of time ..... and just when I tried to sneak away I'd hear a wee mournful voice cry out , " Gerry , I's dying down !" ( Ginny hadn't yet mastered pumping her legs I guess ) so back I'd
 go for one last push before escaping.   

In 1950 I made a decision that would keep my life in motion .... away from Saint John.... for the ensuing 59 years .... until a year and a half  ago when I saw the light still glowing through the fog and came home to roost. Maybe I am part homing pigeon after all !! However,  I did come home during the summer holidays in the early fifties and couldn't help but notice...... even for a seminarian vowed to celibacy..... that my cute little girls from up the hill..... were fast blossoming into beautiful young teens with all thir charms. In August of 1955 I was going away for good on the 8 o'clock train to Montreal .... so the Happy Gang came down to say their goodbyes .... Ethel had just washed her hair and was wearing a turban so my Dad referred to her as Lady Anastasia and asked her where her crystal ball was ..... and , as usual , the girls were dressed like princesses. I remember Ginny staying for supper with us that evening so that she could come to see me off at Union Station and also her snuggling up to me on the platform just before boarding and  waving to her and my folks as the train pulled out.

N.B. The story doesn't end here by any means. There will be other posts about the Happy Gang in the near future.

Have you read the link About Pokiok ?


  1. It's very interesting (to me)to read your commentary on our Campbell cousins.... and how you and that branch of the Campbell family tree got so close. I love the pictures. I look forward to reading more of the story'.

  2. Yes, I looked upon the three sisters almost as though they were my own ... and Ethel was a regular fixture in our kitchen at teatime .... often imparting to my Mom her own homespun cooking experience and knowledge learned back in her native Newfoundland. She was an excellent cook !Our family relationship to Ginny became more intense after my Dad's death as she and Katherine Doyle devoted themselves to seeing to my Mom's well-being and every need until the day she passed on ... God bless them both !!

  3. So you have any family information regarding Ethel Grace Clarke. My Great great Grandmother was a Miss Julia Clarke born in Carbonear, NL in 1835 to Richard Clarke and Anne Hutchings. I'm trying to find out more info up the line. I wasn't sure if Ethel was a relative of Julia's. Do you have any information?

  4. Dear Joanne,
    Thank you for visiting my site and commenting.I know very little about Ethel's origins ... however , if you send me your e-mail addy to , I would send you Ethel's obituary as well as that of one of her two sisters , Triffy I believe. In those obits their mother Julia Clarke is mentioned as the wife of Edward Clarke. Ethel and Triffy likewise had a third sister named Bessie , married to a certain Mr Alexander ... a fourth sister I did not know.
    Hoping this info will be of some consolation in your search for family ties.