Newfoundland 1959 | News, Sports, Jobs


Jack’s dad sailing to shore at Cox’s Cove (Photo provided)

My mother loved the Newfoundlands almost as much as she loved her children. She had her first Newfie at the age of twelve, which began a 60-year love affair with the breed. It started as a hobby and ended up paying for a college education for us kids, and when my dad passed away at the age of 50, it gave him a career as a canine judge.

She couldn’t seriously love Newfoundland dogs without making a pilgrimage to Newfoundland. My parents made two. One on the rocky, windy island in 1954 and a second in 1959. Three of the five Drury children were able to go on the second trip, including me, 10 years old.

The month-long trip was epic. My mother was driving our brand new pea-green Ford station wagon, towing one of the first short-lived motorhomes. My two older sisters and I were joined by my mother’s sister and two of her three cousins ​​in their brand new beige Ford station wagon. We traveled by caravan to Halifax, Nova Scotia and then Sydney, where we took the ferry to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. Our fathers have joined us in Halifax for two weeks until they have to return to work.

We arrived in Halifax delighted to see our fathers, but even more delighted to see a parade featuring 33-year-old Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip. There was the pomp and circumstance befitting a queen with marching pipers, local dignitaries and high school bands. I marveled at it all, especially when the queen, standing in a convertible Cadillac, passed by.

Two days later we took the ferry for the overnight trip to Newfoundland. I slept with my cousin Howard, called Howdy by family and friends. What are you going to call him Howard when the most popular TV show at the time was the Howdy Doody Show?

We woke up early and went out on deck, where I learned something that has plagued me all my life. I have my father’s ocean-going genes, not my mother’s. My mother grew up piloting her little sailboat off Cape Cod, while my father grew up exploring the zinc and silver mines of Mexico. She has sea legs, and he doesn’t. As we neared the coast of Newfoundland, there I was, breaking into a cold sweat, my head spinning, the world spinning around me, and doing everything I could not to throw up the breakfast I had taken.

My symptoms disappeared when we left the ferry to take Trans Canada Highway 1, a nice newly paved road, at least for the first two miles. After that it was gravel for the next three weeks. We traveled up the coast through small fishing communities until we decided to spend a night in Cox’s Cove, which has a population of 700.

When we arrived at Cox’s Cove, I felt like Stanley was discovering Livingstone in Africa. Newfoundland in 1959 was primitive. Indoor plumbing, television and even electricity were a luxury in much of the province. For example, our Polaroid camera was a big hit. Instant photos seemed like magic. The locals gave us a warm welcome, encouraged us to camp near the school, and even gave us the keys to the school toilets — a three-hole outhouse.

The next morning we went down to the docks and my father convinced a local cod fisherman to take us for a ride in the Bay of Islands, a vast series of fjord-like coves off the village. The bay was twelve miles wide at its mouth with a series of arms 16 miles deep.

The boat was a typical cod fishing boat of the time. Like Dory, it was 20 feet long with a two-stroke engine called “make and break” (because of how it started) or a “one lung” (because of its unique cylinder) and was recognized by its “putt…putt…bang” sound as it walked through the water. We launched into the middle of the bay and suddenly the engine blew up and went out. Death, kaput, nada! Without oars, without means of communication and without life jackets, my father and my uncle saved the situation thanks to a small tarpaulin they brought. They set sail with it and we returned safely.

My parents knew the Lieutenant Governor (pronounce leftenant) of Newfoundland because he and his wife raised, you guessed it, Newfoundland dogs, so we were invited to have refreshments with them. It was such a formal affair that we had to rush to buy sports jackets and ties for the boys and white gloves for the girls.

We were told a story from the Lieutenant Governor, illustrating Prince Philip’s quirky humor, which became part of Drury’s storytelling for years.

The Queen and Prince Phillip had recently visited the Lieutenant Governor and his wife and when it came time for an official photo, the Lieutenant Governor said to the Queen and Prince: “In Canada, when you have your picture taken, you say cheese.” To which the prince replied, “Well, I always say b****.” The queen said indignantly: “Oh Philip, no!”

You can guess what the Drurys are saying when their picture is taken.

The fathers quickly flew home, but not before arranging for the rest of us to return via a Norwegian hunting boat. Friends of my parents living outside of St. Johns who had just bred Newfies (see a pattern here?) owned a fish packing plant. So we and a shipment of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks would travel by seal boat to Gloucester, Massachusetts. Our cars and motorhome were hoisted onto the well deck and securely tied down. At least we hoped they were safe, but just for extra precaution, our dads upped the insurance.

There were only two issues. One: we had never lived on a Norwegian diet (think fish, fish and more fish). And two: we didn’t speak Norwegian. But even worse, none of the crew spoke English.

It was a four day trip and, unsurprisingly, I was seasick the whole time. But compared to my cousin Howdy, I had it good. We slept in the forward part of the ship and used the head (bathroom) there. We were only allowed to cross the open deck under escort as they didn’t want to take any chances with us slipping overboard and becoming shark bait.

We spent our days on deck under the watchful eye of the captain and the mate. We watched the open ocean, played cards and read. The captain and his sidekick were friendly but, due to the language barrier, conversation was limited to say the least.

On the afternoon of day three, Howdy needed to use the lead. Through suggestive hand gestures and fake Norwegian, which my aunt was just sure the first mate would understand, my aunt explained my cousin’s need to be escorted to the head. The second said, “Ja, Ja, I understand” and they passed through the narrow hatchway.

Thirty minutes later, they had not returned. I didn’t see them cross the well bridge and couldn’t figure out why. How long does it take to go to the toilet? Finally, after forty minutes, Howdy came back through the hatch, eyes wide open, tears streaming down his face, walking curiously in a knocked-up way.

He walked over to his mother and looked at her with a grimace.

His mother said, “What took you so long?”

Hi said, “I walked around the ship. »

“A tour of the ship? she says. ” What did you see ? »

“The engine room, the kitchen, the hole where they keep the frozen fish – everything but the head!”

” That would please you ?

“How do I like it?” How do you think I liked it? He said. “I hated.”

“Why?” she says.

“Because,” he said, “I have to pee again!”



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