During the summer months of the 1950s and early 60s, many people from far away places would visit with relatives and friends on Pictou Island. One such family was Sidney and Delta Hooper from Digby. His parents, Lester and Bell Hooper, raised Sidney on Pictou Island.
Delta Thurbur was an eye-catching young schoolteacher who taught school on the tiny Island 1942-1943. It appears as though cupid was present when these two met and matrimony followed. Sidney was in the armed forces during those years and stationed at Fort Petrie in Cape Breton.
After their marriage, Mr. & Mrs. Hooper spent the remaining war years there. Their first child, a son, was born at Fort Petrie and they named him Albert. Delta was originally from Freeport, Digby County and after the war ended, the Hooper family moved and made that area their home. Here sometime in the middle 40s, they were blessed with two beautiful identical blond-haired twin girls. They named their two new additions Doris and Doreen. Pictou Island was not to be forgotten by the Hooper’s. They with their children would return nearly every summer to visit with Sidney’s parents, relatives and friends on the Island.
Sidney’s parents passed away when I was a young age and I don’t recall too much about them. However in later years, the Hoopers would visit with Vernie and Isabel Rankin. Mrs. Rankin and Sidney were brother and sister. The Rankin’s three children, Carolann, Linda and Darrell, would anxiously await visits each summer from their cousins. The Hooper twins and my older sisters Rita and Rosemary having met on Pictou Island became the best of friends.
At that time the Pictou Island ferry was owned and operated by Pictou Islands own Captain Ernie Rankin. I remember Ernie’s boat being quit large and I believe he called her The Pictou Islander. I recollect him either towing or having a Newfoundland dory on the stern and being able to carry passengers, cargo and livestock all in one load. When Rita and Rosemary knew that Doris and Doreen were coming to their Island, they would be anxiously sitting on the wharf waiting for Ernie’s ferry to dock so they could be united with their friends. Numerous times when visiting the Island, Doris and Doreen and sometimes their cousin Carolann Rankin would stay at our house. We lived about two and a half miles west from the Rankin’s home. There were many times when the girls would get together at our place.
When it came time to walk home to Vernie’s place, Rosemary and Rita would walk along with them for company. The old pioneer cemetery had to be passed and at their age, many imaginary things could be seen on that lonely dirt road after dark. Once they were able to walk past the cemetery, the other girls would have to walk Rita and Rosemary back to our place. Back and forth, hand in hand they would do this while singing “Here lies John Brown’s Body.” Some hours later they would decide to stay at the same place until morning, either our place or Vernie’s. Rosemary used to dazzle the twins – especially Doreen with a thing she would do with vix in a bottle. When she was certain that Doreen was watching her, she would dip her finger in a vix bottle and pull out a wad of vix. She would then proceed to eat it. Doreen would roll her eyes for she couldn’t figure out how Rosemary could possibly do that, come to think of it, I can’t either.
There always seemed to be something for us kids on the Island to do. It wasn’t a necessarily to have money in our pockets, we would make do with whatever we had at hand. We would hang out at the island hall much the same as kids do today at the malls. Here the boys could mingle with the girls and I have to say that there were a few Pictou Island boys who longed for the attention off the Hooper twins. Beach parties, wiener roasts, and scavenger hunts were regular events during summer months. Every summer the ladies of the island would arrange to have an ice-cream sale. Pictou Island residents didn’t have freezers for keeping produce frozen during those years. At least once every summer however large tubs of ice cream would be packed on ice and transported to the island by ferry. The ladies from the island would set up this product at the hall and sell LARGE ice-cream cones for 10 cents each. Ice cream was a big treat during those years and this day was always appreciated. We also had Explorers, Bible School and young people. I recall Hazel and Doris MacDonald and Isabel Rankin along with the student minister of the time being some of those who taught these functions. Thank you ladies for the many memories.
After many years of being away from Pictou Island, Rosemary, Rita and Doreen revisited together in 1993. The following is a poem that Rosemary put together in 1993.
Oh, little island, there you are,
Lying out in the Strait so far,
Oh. Little island, here we are,
Three old friends from afar.
With knapsack in hand,
We explored our island land:
With all our memories to be told,
And treasures we could hold.
How great it was, the three of us,
To walk these dusty roads,
With many legends,
That will always be told.
So little island, do not dismay.
We will come back again
…… some day