Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Sorrowful Memory

If I had taken a picture from the same spot back in 1950..... with the same parameters in view  .... a very different much more pristine scenario would emerge....... no buildings , no telephone poles or wires , no hydro tower , nor paved road. In those days the whole area between the Copeland's and the Ponds was a grassy field with a makeshift farm road running through it .... two parallel grooves with grass growing in between. This field was our softball diamond where we would often gather on summer evenings .... both kids and parents ... to show off and "swat" our stuff ! I remember one evening in particular ....... my last game on this field.

It was mid-August 1950 , I was 14 years old and was making ready to head off to the Redemptorist Fathers' minor seminary in Brockville , Ontario on the 1st of September. After supper one evening we all showed up at the field , two pick-up teams were formed ..... and the game got underway. One of the adult bystanders along the third base line had stepped forward and offered to umpire. His name  was Jack Stevens who along with his wife , Kathleen , and two young children were recent comers to Pokiok. My turn at bat came and I still remember many of the details of what happened that evening.

Larry McCoy was pitching while his brother , Bob , squatted behind me as catcher .... and Jack stood behind Bobby calling balls and strikes. I was a big boy for my age , already weighing in at 150 lbs at age 14 , a long -ball hitter and aiming at splashing one into the Upper Pond that evening ... a kind of parting gift to my friends .... something to remember me by. Since it was a friendly game the pitchers were lobbing ... not zooming ... them in. We wanted everybody to hit the ball ... hoping the batter would either fly out , strike out or be thrown out at first. This way all players got in on the action. So when Larry tossed me a soft pitch and with the "splash in the pond" in mind , I leaned into it with everything I had. Then I felt contact with the ball ... then a second thump ......the tip of my bat had hit something else behind me on the follow through. At first I thought I had struck the catcher , Bobby McCoy ... but when coming full 180 degrees I saw a wee girl lying there on the ground with blood gushing out of her mouth ! It was Jack Stevens' baby daughter .... a wee toddler.  

Somehow the tiny tot had broken loose from her guardian in the small group of onlookers on the sidelines and scampered-bolted  towards her father who was umpiring the game ... behind me and out of my vision. I recall Jack jerking off his t-shirt and wrapping it around the little girl's head ...... then scooping her up in his arms and running off toward Daws King's home. From there they drove off in Daws' car heading for the hospital.

I saw the little girl only once before leaving for college soon after the unfortunate incident. Her head was all bandaged up and quite swollen. Even though the parents , Jack and Kathleen , reassured me it was an accident  , I , however , nurtured an almost overwelming feeling of guilt as  I held myself physically responsible for possibly maiming this child for life. This feeling would haunt my teen years and I often discussed it with my spiritual advisor in college.


When I came home the following summer in 1951 I began working full time ... shift-work to boot ... at the Atlantic Sugar Refinery to help pay for my tuition fees and travelling. Even though I was only 15 years old Mr Hunt hired me anyways ... and back then nobody objected about such matters. I was able bodied and needed the money. I remember meeting Jack Stevens once that summer who informed me that his daughter was fine and also that they were going to wait a few years before having her undergo corrective surgery for the left side of her face. In 1952 they moved away from Pokiok  ... to Drury Cove it was rumoured. After that I lost sight of Jack and his family. Nevertheless , every time I drive out to the ponds to sit and reminisce a while , my mind drifts back to that evening in August of 1950 and I wonder how that wee tyke ... nowadays a women in her early sixties ... has fared over the years. They say that time heals all ills ...... and in some cases may only numb or dull them .... but memories linger on.    


1 comment:

  1. I am too young to remember "Pokiok", but I love the stories. It is wonderful to see the history of peoples lives being kept alive. I happened upon your stories when I was looking for Fred "Badger" Monteith who lived in that area. His marriage certificate to Gladys Marr says that he lived on Spar Cove Road. I would love to know more about him, as he was my mother's father. Sadly, he was gone prior to my birth. So if any more stories, please post them. I sent Gerry an email in hopes of learning more. Fred's parents were James Monteith and Annie Wasson.