When I Was a Young Lad

When I Was a Young Lad

I Could Write a Book
(Just to make you laugh!) A true story
by Bobbie Cross

My name is Frances (Bobbie) Leudy Cross. My life began in a small coal-mining town in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The name of the town is New Waterford. 

My first trauma took place at the age of five years. My sister ran over me with her sled and broke my arm.

To this day I remember vividly the nurse and doctor and my mother and uncle, holding me down, laying wads of gauze on my face and pouring ether on the cloth which knocked me completely out.

A few months later I went up to visit my grandmother and locked myself in the bathroom. The screams out of me could be heard all the way to heaven, I swear. Daddy came to the rescue.

He got a ladder, climbed up on the roof of the veranda and got in through the bathroom window to rescue me. I have been claustrophobic ever since!

At the age of six, the same sister was playing tug of war with me over a shirt. We were (of course) huddled around the kitchen stove to keep warm. Lo’ and behold she let go of the shirt, I (tiny little thing) went flying onto the side damper of the stove with my elbows landing on the top stove plates and my midriff laying on the side grate.

Mama, cool lady that she was, casually walked up to me, hauled off and gave me a wicked punch in the jaw which cooled me.

Apparently Mama figured that it would be less of a shock for her to hit me than to pull me off of the hot stove. Whatever works, they say!

At the wedding of an aunt, I fell off the fence and broke my wrist. Oh, the ferocious howling!

When I was eight years old, I made the mistake of sitting on the picket fence. Well! The 8:30 PM Curfew blew (the whistle) which put such terror in my heart.

When I tried to jump from the fence, my drawers became caught on the picket and I was held fast. My screams of terror were much louder than the fire whistle was. Too much!

When I was nine (during the good old years when you could swim in the ocean) I slipped on the dock which was full of tar and creolin and instantly became infected in both knees. Out came the crutches for me to hobble around on.

The fun part of that incident was that Daddy had fixed up an old baby carriage with large wheels from an adult bike. This carriage was used to take Daddy’s junk back and forth to the shore.

Before long I was just like a princess, being a passenger in this item that Daddy had built because I became so tired trying to hobble on those crutches.

Well, Laurie (my sister) not to be outdone, developed a large carbuncle on her derriere so she was allowed to have rides as well. Those were the good old days.

Laurie had a way of coming out on the good side of things. Daddy was coming into the house and Laurie was peeping through the keyhole. Daddy pushed the door and wow; the doorknob hit Laurie in the eye.

What became of this great tragedy?

Daddy promptly went rushing to the candy store and delivered Laurie a large cone of ice cream while we clustered around Daddy begging him to hit us in the eye. Anything for a cone of ice cream. Oh yes, those really were the days.

Life goes on so they say. I remember the day I was to sing in the music festival alone.

I stood there on the stage terrified out of my mind. I scanned the audience and there sat my sister Jean. It was like imagining that your guardian angel was right in front of you. The terror subsided and I began to sing.

I ranked second which was a great place to be out of such a large number. Some years later I was to meet with another fate that was the next thing to impossible to face.

While in grade seven the public health nurse came to check us out for tuberculosis. I had just gone back to school after surviving a bout of hepatitis “A.” from impure water. We had been given the patch test.

So the story goes, if when the patch came off a red rash showed, you would have to go by bus to Sydney to have a chest x-ray. When word was received that my patch test was positive, I was given a good clout on the head.

Mama said, “You scratched that so you could get time off school as well as a free bus ride.” I swore I did not, but no way would she believe me.

Mama was being tested for something or other at the hospital, so when she received the call saying the Doctor wanted to see her in his office that very afternoon, my mother joked, “Bobbie, I hope that is about you.” My response was, “Well, I hope it is about you Mama.”

When I arrived home that evening my mother was just beside herself. She said, “Well Bobbie, it was not about me.”

I automatically said, “I am not going.”

Of course, I did go. For 11 and one half months I was in a sanatorium for tuberculosis.

The sad part of that experience was to find that so many people were afraid of me. I was shunned by many after I received my release. They were to be pitied for being so cruel.

Anyway I made it this far. I learned so much in my first 15 years. Imagine what I have learned in the last 47!

I could write a book.

Bobbie Cross is the President for the St. Michael’s Catholic Women’s League in Chatham, Miramichi, as well as the Communication and Public Relations Chair for the Diocesan Catholic Women’s League in the Diocese of Saint John. She is a Purple Hatter and belongs to the Mount St. Joseph Lady’s Auxiliary, the Santa Maria’s and the Senior’s Pioneer Club.

When I Was a Young Lad wants to tell your story. We hope to create a living history, a tribute to days gone by. Whether you jot down your memories yourself or have someone else record them for you, Bread ‘n Molasses wants to hear from you. Email your submissions to editor@breadnmolasses.com