Things that go bump in the night

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It was a warm sunny Monday morning, June 2, 1954 and my sisters Rita, Rosemary and brother Vincent had risen early. This was grading day and excitement filled our home. Vincent went into Grade 2. Rosemary graded into Grade 4 and Rita went into Grade 6.

Miriam Wong from Pictou was Pictou Island’s schoolteacher and she was boarding at our house while teaching on the island. To reward my brother and sisters and to show how proud he was of them, Dad planned an overnight sleepover for them in his boat, Slo-Mo-Shun.

Lobster catches were down that year and my father finished landing his lobster traps on June 26. He put the Slo-Mo-Shun ashore on that same day. After drying on the beach for 10 days and getting a fresh coat of paint, the boat was launched back into the water. Dad had built a small cabin on the deck of the Slo-Mo-Shun that could be easily removed or installed. I read in Mothers’ diary where Dad, Vincent, Rita and Rosemary sailed over to Caribou on July 9 and spent the night there. Dad probably would have placed a mattress on the floor where he and the kids would have slept that night. I being three years old stayed home with mother.

I can’t begin to imagine how much fun that they would have had on that night out. It’s amazes me how family time together has changed over past years. My brother and sisters would have probably appreciated that night being with their father more so over the lavish gifts that will be handed out to successful kids in 2002.

Sailing to the mainland two or maybe three times a year was like going on vacation for us island kids. I tend to believe that it was possibly the same for those who visited with islanders from Pictou. Folks from other places often visited with relatives and friends on Pictou Island during those hot summer months. The following people came over to our place on Ernie Rankin’s ferryboat for a summer picnic on the morning of Monday, July 25, 1954. My mother’s sister Ivy Davis with her three daughters Eileen, Patsy and Margie; Theresa Slawnwhite with her kids Gerry, Wayne, Sandy, Gloria and Dennis; and Amelia Poirier with her kids Keith, Beverly, Marsha and Sylvia. The annual Pictou Island picnic was going to be held three days later on Wednesday, July 28, and these ladies were going to help prepare for the celebrations. Unfortunately I can’t remember what this bunch of kids would have done for excitement on that day but I’m sure that they would be far from being bored.

The Davis and Slawnswhites went back to the mainland that evening but Threasa and her kids stayed with us until after the picnic. Fred and Tina Bowes lived next door to my grandparents Edward and Mary Hemmings in Pictou. Their son Ian and my brother Vincent had become good friends and Ian was also spending that time with us on the island.

We lived in a fairly big two-storey house that had four bedrooms upstairs. My brother Vincent, Ian and I shared a bedroom. Vincent had a habit of talking in his sleep and his babbling about something on many nights would awaken me. To aggravate things even more, Vincent would walk in his sleep. I have no idea how he could do it but there had been times when Mom would have found Vincent wondering around sound asleep downstairs in the middle of the night. There were at least 15 steps leading downstairs and somehow he never missed any of them. As luck would have it, Gerry Slawnwhite also was a sleepwalker and they slept in the spare bedroom directly across from ours. Vincent was familiar with the stairway but Gerry wasn’t. Before going to bed, mom would place chairs across the hallway leading to the stairs. If Gerry decided to talk a midnight stroll, he would bump into the chairs and wake himself up. It was during the middle of one of those nights when Ian Bowes felt nature calling. We Pictou Islanders had no indoor lighting or plumbing. Our bathroom was a little two-seater condo that was situated about 75 yards from the house. Well to make a long story short, Ian wakes up and proceeds to take a walk in the darkened house. Still being half asleep and not familiar with his surrounding, Ian walks right into the chairs, looses his balance and falls into Mother and Dad’s bedroom. I’m not sure whether Ian made it to the outhouse or not?


Pictured are lifelong friends Vincent Turple and Ian Bowes.