Saturday, February 5, 2011

Flashbacks !

   I have been blessed with a good memory ..... and it seems to be getting better and more inventive the older I get. However , were I to tell you that I remember well the day this picture was taken ... and even who snapped it ... you might be inclined to accuse me of tampering with the truth ... to put it lightly .... or even overstating my God-given abilities. Therefore , I won't attempt any such deception but simply tell the story the way my Mom related it to me.

At the very end of Pokiok Road ... beyond the Twin Ponds and some 500 yards upstream from Miller's Point ....... there lived a family named Monteith. The man's given name was Fred but everybody called him "Badger" ....  a quarryman with the Snow Flake Lime ......and his wife, Gladys , a gentle , jovial woman to whom my Mom took a quick liking the first time they met. My Dad liked "Badger" as well .... often mentioning that he was a "pleasant" fellow who worked hard to provide for his wife and childen but couldn't remember just how many there were. Anyways the story has it that one very cold day in the Winter of 1936 my Mom , seeing the Monteith trudging through the snow on their way out the road , invited them in to warm themselves with some tea and hot chocolate before undertaking the last lap home. Gladys was carrying a well-bundled up infant girl in her arms ....and upon seeing me all warm and snug in my bassinet near the stove .... immediately "plunked" down the wee package in the crib beside me saying , " Don't they look cute , Josie ? Now they can keep each other warm...... and who knows ... maybe some day they'll meet up and get married ?". The Monteith family moved away from Pokiok around 1940 and myself in 1950 so I never got to know them nor test Gladys' query as to my possible future betrothals.

In closing , one more anecdote about the Monteith family. As a toddler learning to speak English and seeing Fred go by our house alone on his way to or from work I would always refer to him as Mr Montooth. However , when he was with his family he was Mr Monteith. I guess I was simply and unknowingly applying the grammatical rule I was in the process of engraving in my brain ... one tooth , many teeth !!

While doing some research I discovered that the Monteiths had moved to Rockland Road where in 1952 , at age 51, Gladys passed away to be followed by Fred some two years later in 1954 at age 78. Their last  son , Fred Herbert died in 2004 and his obituary states that he is survived by a sister living in the Saint John area. Maybe she was baby girl who shared my crib that cold winter's day so many years agó ! 


There is , of course , a great deal more to say about a man than what I just wrote about our neighbour of
yesteryear ....... and feeling that Fred was deserving of the effort , I delved into the old archives and other
online sources and came up with a wee bit more information about the man , his roots , his sibling , in-laws and offspring. I found Fred , then 14 years of age , in the 1891 Census living with his widowed father , James ( 65) on Spar Cove Road in Pokiok. James had married Annie Wasson in Gagetown on August , 10th , 1872 .....both having been born in Ireland ..... and most probably landing in Saint John aboard one of the numerous "famine ships" sometime between 1846 and 1848. Of this unon a baby girl , Eliza Jane , was born in 1873 .... followed two years later by Frederick William himself in 1875. I could not find any other children but sometime between 1875 and 1891 Annie died because in the 1891 census James is listed as widower. He , in turn , would die in 1910 with burial in Gagetown .... and Fred shows up in the 1911 census as a boarder in Mrs Margaret Cunningham's home on Spar Cove Road .... with such quality neighbours as the McGuires , Kirvans , Kileys , Gormleys, McGoueys , etc. In 1923 Fred weds Gladys Marr of Rothesay and , in the ensuing years , they would have either 10 or 11 children , three of whom would die in the 1930s before age 1 while they lived at the end of Pokiok Road.  Eliza Jane would marry John Samuel Emery in 1903 ...... John S died while they were living on Adelaide Street in 1945 whereas Eliza Jane passed away in the Hammond River area in 1958 at age 83.

To say that times were tough back in the 1930s is an understatement of reality .... and Pokiok could very well
have been its "poster district"....... strong men and women raising families in dire conditions with meagre
income. Hats off to Fred and Gladys ...... hats off to all our parents and God bless us all !!

                                                                     Post Scriptum

In our post for July 7 , 2010 intitled " Putting Names to Faces in Pokiok " Fred appears in a group picture of the Snow Flake Lime quarrymen. He is in the front row .... the sixth (6) man in starting fom left to right ... in kneeling position beside other well-known Pokiokers , Oscar Estey who is number 5 , Raymond Earle (4th) and Ralph Estey following in 8th place. You can find this particular post very quickly in Blog Archive.





  1. Sylvia Johnston SpencerFebruary 20, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    Saying "Hi" to you, Gerry.

    I enjoy everything you write, even if I do not comment. I imagine it would be great for you to get feedback after you give us so much information and musings. I encourage your readers to keep in touch with you through this blog. I, too, would like to read what they say...another source of education about Pokiok.

    Keep up your work, it is still a gift to me. Thank you, again.


  2. Ah! my faithful reader and dear friend , Sylvia ... thank you so much once again for dropping by to cheer me on.

    In Wintertime I feel as though the creative juices in my brain are behaving somewhat like the sap in trees decends into the roots ... hibernates .... and then flows upwards in the Spring bringing new life to the trunk and branches. In other words , dear Sylvia , I feel a renewal coming on ! ..... and I am so grateful to you for your support and kind words.

    In passing , are Frank and Katherine buried in Saint Joe's cemetery ? Uncle Stan ? Charlotte ?And should you come here to see Irene this Spring .. please contact me so that we might meet up ... give each other a big hug ... and share a pot of coffee


  3. Sylvia Johnston SpencerFebruary 20, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    Hi, again today, Gerry,
    Yes, Dad, Charlotte, Mom, Little Sylvia, Katherine and Frank are at St. Joe's. Dad, 1977, Charlotte, 1994, Katherine, 2002, Frank, not sure but between '94 and '02. Mom in 2004.
    Little Sylvia died in 1946. They are all buried in Mom's and Dad's plot but I have not been back to Saint John much since 2000. Mom lived with us from 2000- 2004 when she died. Joe and Irene visit us when we get together and Paul does not visit here since Mom died. He and his wife have been seperated for YEARS and he lives with a really nice person, a widow, in Long Reach.
    Yes, if I finally go to Saint John, I would love to meet up for a big hug and a coffee. It would be really nice. Irene is very busy right now helping her husband through his medical ordeal but, hopefully, we will connect before the fall.
    I really enjoyed today's blog. I remember doing all the same things and I did not know about Katherine falling through the hole. I bet Mom and your Mom were frantic. I love hearing about your Mom because she was so special to me. She had me convinced that my shoulder blades were the beginnings of angel wings. Your father backed her up so it had to be true. It was wonderful.
    Keep up the writings. You really do have a gift for it so you MUST use that gift!!!!!

    Happy "renewal".

  4. Hi Sylvia..... Thank you for all the info concerning your family ... I hadn't asked about your Mom .. absentmindedly thinking that she was buried in Nova Scotia. I'll find your Dad's plot and lay a few flowers once Spring comes. We often swing by to say "hi" to my folks when on our way home from the mall.I met Paul in front of his house one day last Summer .. I believe he and son , Freddy , were fixing Cecile's car and they told me that your old homestead had been sold. I was saddened but time moves on I guess !!
    I talked to Barbara Campbell this morning on the phone and suggested we have a picnic in Victoria Square some sunny day in early Summer ... inviting as many old timers as we can muster up. They have really done marvels to that park since last Spring ... beautiful grass , benches , tables , gazeebo , etc so it would be an idal spot to gather. She was all aglow ! We'll give it a try and see what happens.
    Check out Art's comment and my reply in latest Pokiok post. He's becoming quite adept at this computer stuff ! an honest to goodness ace !!
    Sad news though ... Laura McCoy died last Sunday with funeral probably sometime next week. What a sweet lady she was to us kids when I was out the road playing with her boys. She would have celebrated 100 years in 2012. Requiescat !
    Looking forward one of these days to sharing that coffee , dear Sylvia , as well as giving you a big-brotherly hug.

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