Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pokiok Beyond The Ponds: Part Three

The above photo shows the house which has been the centerpiece or focus of the two foregoing parts of this post "Pokiok Beyond The Ponds" .... however , this time seen from a different angle. I thank my friend , Art McGuire , .... of Pokiok fame .... for kindly lending me this treasure from the McGuire family heritage archives . I  notice a slight addition to the house which seems absent in the former picture .... .... a plank or mast fixed to the southwest side of the house and stretching vertically upwards from the porch roof. Maybe for a radio antenna ?
Back in my childhood days a "man of the cloth" ... a minister from Massachussetts and his family ... lived here during the summer months. His name was Sweetser I believe and he drove a very modern car of the day which we all admired ... from afar ! I know nothing about the man except that he seemed to be on friendly terms with the Copelands and the McCoys. 
Between Robert Robertson and the Sweetsers I have no proof of occupation for this house to which I can stick a name. However , I do have an inkling ... a theory so to speak ...  as to whom it might have belonged during those years  .......  nevertheless ,  I will say this much though ! Local lore , hearsay and backyard chitchat among old Pokiokers always referred to this building as the mysterious Skeleton Club and the Saint John City Directory mentions its presence on Pokiok Road sporadically during the 1st quarter of the 20th century without ever giving any precise address. The three other clubs in Pokiok ... the Cliff , Little Millionaires and Beefsteak Clubs ... I can account for , so I am left with the old Robertson home as the obvious and most logical choice for the Skeleton Club headquarters. I recently discussed this with a most respected and reliable source of Pokiok "antiquity" ... Oscar "Junior" Estey , who shares my "inkling" ! Junior also added that much of that property as well as the house  beyond the ponds had once belonged to a well-known North End family by the name of Holt.
At some moment in the near future I hope to do a post about the four clubs of Pokiok ...

From age 11 to 15 I spent most of my summer holidays jumping or diving off the rocks next to Higgins Beach ( 1 ) or simply sitting there with my friends watching river traffic ... pleasure boats of all sizes , powerboats or sailboats , fishermen tending to their set nets , folks in rowboats just moseying along with the currents or trying to find a favourable eddy , now and then a tug with a huge logboom in tow ........ and far out off shore an inquisitive sea dog popping up to catch his breath and take his bearings. I can even remember the last runs of the old D.J. Purdy , the last of the river boats. I was 12-13 years old at that moment. Higgins Beach was the "cool" place to be on a hot day and on any given day a group of some 10 to 15 kids from Upper Pokiok would gather there to "cool off" ! Only once to my recollection did we ever have a close call. The tide was running out fast and the down current was strong when someone noticed  little Eileen Estey being swept down river so I dove off the rocks and went after her. Doing the crawl I quickly overtook her and towed her back to the rocks a bit further downstream. That day we all vowed not to tell Doris , Eileen's Mom .... fearing she would put the "kibosh" on Eileen's as well as her sister , Helen's , hopes of swimming with the gang at our favourite haunt. And I have kept my word to this day !!!

There were two rowboats and an inboard tied up at Glen Cove ( 2 ) back in the mid to late 1940s. One of the rowboats and the inboard belonged to a local man , Eldon Ferris , .... a first cousin to Pokiok's own Ken Cross ..... who lived in a modest house on the hillock above the rocky beach .... roughly on the site where ( 3 ) appears on map ... nowadays only the foundations of this house remain. Eldon was , I believe , a painter by profession and a part-time fisherman with a few set nets along the river. It was he who put the two majestic sturgeon and oodles of eels in the Lower Pond. In a previous entry for February 5th , 2011 entitled "Flashbacks !" I related the story of Fred "Badger" Monteith and his family. Fred had lived in this house before Eldon but I doubt he had the wherewith to own it outright. I also believe this to be the house or at least the site of a tragic death of  Mrs Robert "Nobby" Clark back in 1879.
The story was carried in the Daily Telegraph for November 17th , 1879.

"A horrible case of burning, the victim being Mrs. Robert CLARK occurred Friday night or Saturday morn. in a small house on the Pokiok road at a place called Glencove nearly three miles from Indiantown (St. John) Her remains were discovered by her daughter, Mrs. Charles HIGGINS. Coroner Rigby empannelled the following jury: T. Burlin VINCENT, C.M. BROWN, John GOUGH, Albert CUNARD, A. PIDGEON, Wint. ROBERTS, John McCANN. Constable Pidgeon obtained a coffin and conveyed the remains to the alms house shed. Mrs. Clark, about the time of her death was 47 years of age and was married to Robert Clark who is at present at sea. He was familiarly known to the police and others as Nobby CLARK. He had served several sentences in Penitentiary. Previous to her marriage to Clark, the deceased had been the wife of a man named HAMM who deserted her and went to the United States. It is said he is now in Portland, Maine. By the first marriage, Mrs. Clark had a son and daughter who are still living. The son's name is Ledro HAMM and he was living with his mother and sister. The daughter is married to Charles Higgins, and is about 20 years of age".

N.B. Please take note of the son-in-law's name Higgins ......... especially with nearby Higgins Beach in mind ???        

I'll bring this evening's post to a close on a happier note. The other rowboat at Glen Cove belonged to Jack Stevens , a young plumber and recent comer to Pokiok , who lived out the end of Pokiok Road between Kate Whitenect and the Copelands. His wife's name was Kathleen and they had two small children , one of them a toddler I recall. Jack always gave me the impression that I was a "big boy" ... almost a young man ... and even moreso when he gave me permission to use his rowboat whenever I wished. I must admit that this gave me "big points" with my buddy , Tommy MacDonald and the other guys. So off  we'd row whenever we felt the urge ... picknick tucked snugly away in the bow ... up out of the bilge. How happy we were to cross over to Mosquito Cove ... Tommy bailing all the time .... and catch eddies from there up to Swift Point in Greenhead ... then cut across to Snow's Beach  and if the tide were running out ...... catch a ride back downstream to Higgins Beach on a fast - moving current favourable to our inertia and overwhelming feeling of well-being....... simply drifting along , not a care in the world .... all this bliss before life got complicated !


  1. Lovely place. I can sit staring at the picture above for hours. Pokiok Falls is not large but has a unique character that embraces the area and visitors.

  2. I find this so interesting,I`ve heard some of these stories from my dad over the years and love reading this.My name Ken Dawson Cross,Its obvius where I got my first name but my middle name came from Daws King,He was Gramps best friend..I believe you were good friends with Dad,"Harry Cross"as well..

  3. Hi Ken ,
    Thank you for visiting and your kind words of encouragement. Yes , I knew your grandparents very well ....... kind , generous , hard-working folks who were so much a part of my youth. I can still see your "gramps" trudging by our house on his way home after a hard-day's work , his painter's hat stained with drops of paint ... a hat which I would always , as a kid , associate with an locomotive driver's hat for some reason or another ??? I knew your "gramps" much better than I knew Daws ... I was even your gramps paperboy for three years in the late 1940s ... my second last paper before the McCoy's ... after which I could go back down the road a bit to have my supper !As for your Dad ... well , we played hockey or baseball according to the seasons ,,, swam or fished at the ponds or in the river. In fact , I have posted an old picture in my fourth post entitled " Childhood Playmates" where you can see your Dad when he was maybe 8 years old ??? Bear your names well , Ken , and with pride..... and come back often.