My New Brunswick Memories of Morrison Cove
by Joan Cripps
I was born in 1935 in Chatham N.B. When I was about 7 years old we went to live with my grandparents at Morrison Cove. Morrison Cove was just outside the Chatham town limit. My grandfather worked for the Town of Chatham looking after the Town Pumping Station. A two-story white, red roof house belonging to the Town came with the job.
When inspectors would come, dressed in their fancy suits and ties, to inspect the pumps, they sure looked out of place in the pumping station with the big old cogs and large machinery. The noise was deafening. They were the experts, but grandfather was the “Hands On” person, and had to tell them how things worked. (He was a rugged looking, tobacco chewing character, as picture will attest to, and it was really something to see him shaved and all dressed up for Sunday Mass.
There were two dams the water was pumped from (water reservoirs), the little dam and the big dam. It was a lovely walk through the woods to the little dam. We would pass a large grove of pine trees where the needles were piled really thick on the ground. Here we would gather and shape the pine needles into a bed, table & chairs etc. It was our little hideaway.
Both dams made great fishing spots. I did a lot of fishing in both dams using our home made fishing lines…a branch off a tree and a hook tied to twine. I remember one day going fishing with my grandfather. The little damn had a spillway, with a little cement bridge over it. This is where I was sitting while fishing. Grandfather was around the corner out on a point. I got a bite and it was an eel that struggled fiercely, causing a lot of loud splashing. I could hear grandfather running through the woods, tripping over branches, and using a few choice words saying “@#! #@, I told her not to fish there”, etc. He thought I had fallen in.
The pumping station has passed many hands over the years once the Town started using deep wells. In this picture it belonged to a horse club, and today it is being used by the Fireman for a Fire Training Area.
Morrison Cove was an exciting place for a young person to grow up and the pumping station was a treasure place as it had a phone and National Geographic magazines that told of exotic places and animals. At the pumping house, we learned how to start the pumps and chlorinate the water.
I also learned all about guns, how to clean them and how to hit a target. I learned the names of trees and birds and how to find their nests. I also learned where the water springs were, how to make a birch bark cup to get a nice cool drink, and how to swing from a tree on a tire out over the water. I could sail the little river behind the pump house on a catamaran. I guess I must have looked like Tom Sawyer, as people from the States who were touring the dams wanted to take my picture.
A trip to the farm on the hill was exciting at haying time…Did you ever ride under a railroad track bridge, and through the fields, high up on a wagon filled with bundles of hay and hauled by a team of horses? Exhilarating!
Grandfather was a card shark. The best cheater ever, when we gathered around the dining room table for a game of cards. He loved to sing the old folks songs with oh so many verses. Each song would go on and on.
Grandmother was a great cook. She would make what she called “A Hard Time Stew.” It was delicious. It seemed she could make a meal fit for a king with next to nothing. She made the best brown sugar buns ever. I’ve tried to match them over the years with no success. Grandfather would tell us the story about how they were so poor they would hang a herring from the ceiling and would rub their potato over it J
Picking wild raspberries, strawberries and blueberries was a seasonal event that brings back a funny memory. Grandfather used to tell us what to do so a bumblebee wouldn’t bite us. He told us to press our tongues on the roofs of our mouths. One day he got into a bee’s nest while picking berries over the side of the bank. He came screaming up the bank grabbing at his pant legs, being chased by bees. We children yelled out to him “Papa, put your tongue on the roof of your mouth.” Grandfather could sure shuck oysters and slurp them down, to our disgust. Every spring there was an exciting time as Grandfather lit the large brick chimney next to the pump house. The sky would blacken with birds as they flew out the chimney. If you were out for a walk through the woods and came upon a partridge, you were in for a good scare, as they seemed to wait until you were right on top of them before flying up out of the bushes right in front of you.
There was a bridge across the little river connecting to the highway, and up on the bank was a beautiful large firtree where I would sit and read. I also had a view of all the traffic coming up the highway and the boys too.
Being people not of great means it was wonderful when pictures were in black & white. I wanted to get my picture taken, and wondered what I could wear. Then it dawned on me that I didn’t have to match my clothes, as the picture would be in black & white anyway. I put on a red jacket, yellow belt, grey pants, and a hat I can’t remember the colour of.
Milk & butter were kept in a hole in the ground where it was cool.
Vegetables were kept in the shed where it was cool.
When you made fudge it took a lot of beating as you had to beat it by hand, and it didn’t go in the fridge to set. It also went in the shed.
The homemade dandelion wine was kept in the closet.
Bath night was in a galvanised tub
Robin Hood flour sacks were used for a number of things
Washing was done on an old crank washer and roller. It was an exciting day when it arrived.
The school bus picked us up at the top of the hill where we cuddled close together behind a large stone hedge to keep out of the wind in winter. On the really cold mornings a neighbour would bring us in till the bus came. We had to pay to take the bus at that time.
It was an exciting day when the whale beached on the shore under the bridge.
One day the boys came home with vegetables after raiding the garden at the house on top of the hill. Grandfather took them by the hand and marched them up to the house to return the vegetables and apologise.
So many memories of life at Morrison Cove over 50 years ago.
I guess this could come under “Special Areas to Reminisce About ” or “History”, as the Pumping Station is no longer used for supplying water to the Town, and the affect Morrison Cove had on my life was to give me a life long enjoyment of nature. When my husband was preparing for retirement he built me a camp on the Bartibog River, where we spend many happy days enjoying the outdoors and each other. I did a write up on this area for “The Reader” a couple of years ago for an editorial called “Places in the Heart.”
Flour Sack Underwear
When I was a maiden fair
Mamma made our underwear.
With five tots and Pop’s poor pay
How could she buy lingerie?
Monograms and fancy stitches
Were not on our flour sack britches.
Panty waists that stand the test
With ” Gold Medal” on the chest.
Little pants the best of all
With scenes that I can still recall.
Harvesters were gleaming wheat
Right across the little seat.
Tougher then a grizzly bear, was our flour sack underwear.
Plain or fancy, three feet wide, stronger then a hippo’s hide.
Through the years each Jack and Jill
Wore this garb against their will.
Waste not-want not, we soon learned,
And a penny saved is a penny earned.
Bedspreads, curtains, tea towels too,
Tablecloths to name a few,
But the best beyond compare,
Was always…that flour sack underwear?
Saturday Night Bath
Did you ever take your Saturday night bath
An’ try to wash an’ scrub
While squattin on yere haunches
In a galvanized washing tub?
If not then you ain’t missed a thing
But I’m telling you what’s right.
I done it until I wuz almost grown.
An’ every doggone Saturday night.
In summertime it wuz bad enuff,
But in winter it wuz really rough,
Spreadin’ paper, filling buckets an’ kettles
An’ all sorts of stuff.
But getting ready for ordeal
Wuz only half o’ th’ rub
O’ takin’ a bath on Saturday night
In a galvanized washin’ tub.
Did you ever stand there stripped to th’ skin,
A woodstove bakin’ you’ hide
A dreadin to put yer dern foot in
For fear you’d burn alive.
Finally you got th’temperature right
And into the th’ tub you’d crawl,
That cold steel’d touch yer back
An’ you’d squeal like a fresh stuck hog.
You’d get out of th’ tub next to th’ stove
An’ stand there drippin’ and shakin’
The front o’ yore body’s freezing’ to death
While the back o’ yore body’s bakin’.
That’s the price I had to pay
That awful ordeal will haunt me
Until I’m old an’ gray.
I ain’t thru yet, there’s sometin else
That I been wantin’ to say,
I wuz the youngest of all the kids
What bathed each Saturday,
Now we all bathed accordin’ to age
An’ I fell last in order
Which meant I had to wash myself
An’ in their same dad-blamed water
I’m a woman o’clean habbits
An’ believe in a bath a week.
It helps to keep clean and healthy
An’ it freshens up my physique
But if I had my druthers,
I’d rather eat a bug
Then to take my bath again
In a galvanized washin’ tub.
I didn’t write these poems. Authors unknown.