Word and Work

The following is a revised version of an article which I wrote for the fifth volume of the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1994.

Word and WorkWord and Work. The premiere issue appeared in May 1952. It was published and printed by the Eastern District of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland. Edited by E. Raymond Pelley (1907-76), who was pastor of the Clarke’s Beach Pentecostal Church, the four-page magazine contained sermons; news from churches, official functions and pastors; editorials; and reprints from other Pentecostal periodicals. The masthead is drawn from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-19, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work (KJV, emphasis added). The subscription price was five cents per copy. Only four issues are known to exist: I:1 (May 1952), I:2 (September 1952), I:3 (December 1952), and I:5 (September 1953). Word and Work has ceased publication.

Dolly G. Walker

In the late 1980s, I was invited by the managing editor of the Dictionary of Newfoundland & Labrador Biography to contribute biographies of select personalities. For a variety of reasons, some of my submissions were not included in the reference work. The one on Dolly G. Walker follows, with updates.

Walker, Dolly GolstonWALKER, DOLLY GOLSTON (1926-88). Overseer of the Newfoundland and Labrador District of the Apostolic Faith. Born Walnut Hill, Florida. Married Terry B. Walker on 17 February 1945. Walker held the office of youth leader, pastor and evangelist with the Apostolic Faith, a Pentecostal denomination headquartered at Portland, Oregon. In 1963 and 1974, she visited Newfoundland and conducted evangelistic meetings. In 1975, she relocated to Newfoundland, where she became overseer of the Newfoundland and Labrador District of the Apostolic Faith, succeeding Stanley Hancock. Church headquarters are located at Roddickton. Walker produced a book of gospel music, Channel of Blessing, and two audio cassettes based on that work. “The compilation of these Hymns,” she wrote in the Preface, “is the fulfillment of a dream Channel of0004I had as a young adult. Times through the years I felt an inspiration to write some of my thoughts, consecrations, prayers, testimony, etc., which you will find in this book.” She died of cancer on 18 August 1988 at Florida. Marjorie Reid (interview, 24 January 1994; letter, February 1994), D. G. Walker, Channel of Blessing (1988), souvenir funeral program for D. G. Walker (23 August 1988).

The revival of an urban legend

Some years ago, I read an intriguing newspaper story which states that a well-known library is slowly sinking. I clipped it for future reference.

LibraryAccording to the account, Queen Elizabeth II library at Memorial University in St. John’s, NL, has fallen heir to a common urban legend. The building is slipping into the very earth on which it is built. A second oddity, albeit less common among popular urban myths, is that the same structure was built backward. A third urban legend is that the facility houses a ghost, who haunts the hallowed halls of learning.

According to the first urban legend–the library is slowly sinking–the design engineers neglected to consider the weight of the books the building would hold. As a result, the monstrosity is slowly slipping downward. Indeed, according to this legend, several bookshelves must remain empty in order to avert imminent disaster.

According to the second urban legend–the structure was built backward–the windows facing Columbus Drive were intended to face Elizabeth Avenue. Unfortunately, the building was erected backward, because an ignorant engineer misread the blueprints.

According to the third legend–the library houses a ghost–I simply refuse to go there, for it defies my sense of what is rational and what is not.

The newspaper story was too good to consign to a paper shredder or “File 13,” so I sent a copy to Jan Harold Brunvand, aka “Mr. Urban Legend,” America’s premier folk detective.

“Oh, yes,” he replied, “I have had sinking libraries in my books since (I wrote) ‘The Baby Train and Other Lusty Urban Legends’ in 1993.” He thought the newspaper account “was a very nice article about the MUN version of the story.”

Incidentally, Brunvand and his wife had a nice time in Corner Brook not so long ago…and that isn’t an urban legend.

“Even though I failed to catch a salmon,” he said, “we saw amazing wild flowers and scenery.”

I pulled Brunvand’s book–The Baby Train and Other Lusty Legends– from the shelves of my personal library which, to my knowledge, is not sinking, and checked other references to sinking libraries.

Brunvand has heard this urban legend attached to, among other institutions, the University of Utah library; Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut; Colgate University in Hamilton, New York; Robart’s Research Library at the University of Toronto; the University of Waterloo in Ontario; Northwestern University; the Science and Technology Library at Brown University; the new library at the University of California at San Diego…. The list is seemingly endless.

Such stories titillate the reader, making for delightful reading.

Meanwhile, libraries can sink. As Brunvand notes, the Sweetwater Country Library in Wyoming is haunted by the cemetery on which the building was erected.

“When the library was completed, serious structural problems began. Eventually, the library began to sink.”

Back to that sinking feeling at Memorial: former librarian Richard Ellis burst this urban legend bubble. The structure is maintained by columns, he says, which are unaffected by the weight of the books on the shelves. If the building were indeed sinking, it would be easy for all to observe, he adds.

As for the building standing backward, Ellis explains, “The light coming into the main reading room is a north light, which is the preferred light for reading rooms and art galleries, and it’s not as hot as south light. It was meant to be built that way for that reason.”

I’ve thought much about how these urban legends about MUN’s library arose. I think I now have the answer: My brother, who lives in Alberta, heard it from a friend who is related to the wife of a banking official in St. John’s whose brother is a student who had a prof whose spouse heard it from the cashier at the bookstore. Sounds like an airtight case to me!

Which is exactly how urban legends spread. Obviously Memorial’s library can’t escape the world of urban legends.

Justice prevails: A memoir of child abuse

Brown0002Sandra Mae Brown is a survivor of child abuse.

Born in Botwood, NL, she now resides with her partner in St. Catharines, ON. She has three children and eight grandchildren. She loves spending time with her family, and likes going on road trips and making happy memories.

This, despite the fact that many of the memories of her early life are anything but happy. As a child, she was beaten, starved and left to die by her parents.

She has now told the story of the horrendous abuse she endured, including how she bravely stood alone and took her parents to court. The title of her book is Justice Prevails.

“My hope,” she says, “is that, by sharing my experiences, I can prevent similar things from happening to other children, so that they won’t have to go through what I had to endure.”

Writing her story has been, she says, “a long and arduous journey,” consuming 15 years of her life.

Leaving school with only a grade three education, she learned, with the help of her friends, children, grandchildren, coworkers and neighbours, “to read and write enough to see my dream of sharing my story become a reality.” She has achieved her goal of sending “a message to the world” and drawing “public attention and action to the issue of child abuse.”

I personally do not believe that forgiveness means forgetting. I asked Sandra Mae this very question.

“Forgiving is not forgetting about the things that were done to me,” she responds. Instead, “I think it’s more about letting go in order to move forward with my life.”

Sharing her story, as difficult as it was, has been, she states, “the key to my freedom.”

In a transparency born of pain, she admits, “I’ve tried drugs, drinking and meds from doctors. I’ve been in the hospital for six weeks at a time.”

However, nothing worked for her until she, in her words, “started writing and, believe me, that wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did because today I’m so happy with all that I’ve accomplished…. I’m very much at peace with my life now.”

As an abused child, she often prayed, asking God to deliver her.

“Let me take you back to that dark room,” she says, referring to the “dark hole in the wall,” where her parents had moved her when she only six. “It’s so cold inside, my fingertips are sore and bleeding as I try hard to break free. The smell of my own body waste makes me sick. I hear voices outside, but nobody seems to hear me crying for help. Mother’s footsteps scare me. I’m afraid because, at any moment, she’s going to pull me out, only to beat me again. It’s so dark, I can’t even see my hands in front of my face.

“I pray to God for help, but help doesn’t come. I say to myself, ‘Maybe God didn’t hear me praying.’

“But now,” she continues, “I believe God was there beside me all the way. I truly believe one must talk through the valley in order to claim the victory in the end. I also believe life’s hardships can be our best teacher.”

Justice0003Sandra Mae’s message resonates with her readers.

“I’ve gotten messages from across Canada from people telling me how touched they were by reading my book.

“One mother said she had to stop reading and call her daughter, whom she hadn’t talked to in years, to say she was sorry and to tell her how much she loved her and wanted to see her again.

“One young lady wanted to send a copy of my book to her mother in hopes of making things right between them again. Today they’re like best friends. Her father sent me a note of thanks.

“I feel so blessed to have all the support from people I don’t even know.”

She hopes her book will “go far and wide around the world,” but not for the sake of selling more copies. Rather, she hopes it will “save other children who are suffering from child abuse.”

She has a practical word of advice for her readers who may have gone through abuse in their own lives: “Don’t let the abuse define who you are.”

Meanwhile, she believes it is “very important for people to open their eyes to child abuse. A home may look pretty on the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s clean on the inside.”

Sandra Mae Brown self-published her book, Justice Prevails, which is printed by Friesen Press of Victoria, BC.

An open confession

Against Her RulesAn old Scottish proverb says, “Open confession is good for the soul.” Well, I have a confession of sorts to make. First, though, some background information is in order.

I am a voracious reader. A wag once said to me, “And you read a lot of books, right?” Yep, I do.

Some years ago, I came up with a statement to describe my love of books: “When God was giving out looks, I thought he said books, so I asked for a library.”

I read virtually any- and everything. Theology immediately grabs my attention. History is right up there with it. Biography and memoir make up a large portion of my personal library.

However, when I want a respite from nonfiction, I dive into novels. After all, I cut my reading teeth on the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and other mysteries. Today, I read the Classics. I also read contemporary stuff, like everything John Grisham writes. I am in eternal debt to C. S. Lewis and Tolkien for their fascinating fiction.

Here’s my “open confession”: sometimes I read romance novels. I remember the Grace Livingstone Hill novels in our family home. My sister, Karen, tells me, “There were some around, but only ones bought when we came on the scene.” My sisters read them, as did I.

Hard as IceSo, after Flanker Press of St. John’s sent me a review copy of two of Victoria Barbour’s novels, Against Her Rules and Hard as Ice, I made it a point to start reading them.

Both volumes are part of the author’s Heart’s Ease Series, which she initially self-published. She is already a USA TODAY bestselling author for an earlier Newfoundland-set romance novella.

Born in St. John’s, Barbour was raised above her family’s fish and chips restaurant. She has travelled and lived elsewhere in Canada but, according to her current publisher, “chose to make her home where her heart has long resided.” She “is fiercely proud of her home,” which serves as the backdrop for her works. She hopes “readers will one day come to witness Newfoundland and Labrador’s rustic beauty for themselves.”

The mother, wife and marketing communications specialist has a degree in history from Memorial University, with a minor in Newfoundland Studies, which adds a realistic flair to her books.

In Against Her Rules, Campbell Scott goes to the Newfoundland wilds with one thought in mind: sketch some birds before returning to his playboy lifestyle in London. But a single glance at his sexy hostess and there’s much more going on. He determines to convince Elsie Walsh that he belongs by her side at the Heart’s Ease Inn.

In Hard as Ice, the first time Daphne Scott met hockey superstar Jack Walsh, she was more than a little irritable. Still, it was hard to deny that he was hotter than Adonis — even if he did know it.

I leave the rest of the plots to the interested reader.

Flanker has now released the third and fourth books in the Heart’s Ease Series, Play Me and 21st Century Rake.

In Play Me, sparks fly between lawyer Fiona Nolan and folk singer Dillon O’Dea. Little do they know that they know that they’re about to turn a long simmering family feud into an all-out scorcher.

In 21st Century Rake, rock superstar Asher Corbin is back in Heart’s Ease. And he’s not alone. This time he’s brought the entire cast and crew for his upcoming film debut to the small town for a retreat back in time.

So, are you able to keep my “open confession” a secret between the two of us?

The poet of Whale’s Gulch

Fuge, FredToday, the name of Fred T. Fuge is virtually unrecognized in his native Newfoundland, and only marginally better known in his adopted land, the United States of America, where he spent the greater part of his life, leaving his mark as a clergyman, author and poet. As a result of the recent discovery of a cache of his writings, both published and unpublished, the broad contours of his life can be reconstructed. A prominent feature of his poetry is his love of the land of his birth. His life reflects the truth of the timeworn adage, “You can take the boy out of the bay, but you can’t take the bay out of the boy.”

Frederick Thomas Fudge was born September 1, 1870, in Whales Gulch (now Valley Pond), a fishing community on the western side of New World Island, Notre Dame Bay. He left Newfoundland early in life and moved to Canada and served as an officer with The Salvation Army. He then relocated to the States and married Azalea Jane Bethune (1874-1953) of Grand Bank and changed his family name from Fudge to Fuge (rhymes with huge). The Fuges and their adopted daughter, Emma Brown Fuge (1895-1977), served as missionaries to Africa for sixteen years. Fred wrote several books, including The Storm King: A Collection of Remarkable Facts and Illustrations and Thrilling Adventures On Land and Sea. In 1954, his marriage to his second wife, Norah Heslop Fuge, was annulled. Fred died in 1968 in Ohio, after a lengthy and illustrious career as a minister, primarily with the Church of the Nazarene.

This expatriate Newfoundlander wrote countless poems, many of which deal with Newfoundland themes and scenes. Together, these evoke a nostalgic longing for a lost time and place, an idyll, his own Shangri-La.

Newfoundland itself never ceased to enthrall Fuge, as he observed in the Atlantic Guardian in 1956:

There’s a beautiful island far up the North
Sea-washed, and triangle bent;
And up from its sod breathes the pure breath of God–
It’s the land where my childhood was spent.
Her mountains majestic, her bulwarks superb;
Her capes are commanding the West;
Her waters are teeming with riches alive
Her citizens are classed with the best.

A month later, he wrote of his

birthplace, the land I love,
Where I first saw the light–
A land of heroes born to toil
And battle for the right.
The waves break on her rugged coast
And wash her iron-bound strand,
But Time hath never yet revealed
The wealth of Newfoundland.
With factories and stores untold,
Of copper, gold and lead;
And with premier Smallwood in the chair
There are better days ahead.

He was effusive in his praise of his first and only schoolteacher, Polly Roberts:

Queen of the classroom that guarded my footsteps,
Counsel supreme of my early day;
Sentinel that watched by the path that I traveled
To the little old schoolhouse just over the way.

Fred keenly missed his mother, evident from these lines written following her death:

I know my mother waits for me
Beyond the sunset skies,
And some fair morn I’ll meet her there,
Where no one ever dies.

He recalled his father rather differently:

When Dad got angry his face turned red,
And every hair stood on his head–
His eyes flashed fire, his body shook,
And the very devil was in his look.
He would raise his voice with a dreadful shout,
Then no one never need to doubt
That hell was there all burning hot,
When old Dad in his tantrums got.

Fred fondly recalled those days

When I saw the blue waves ripple
Across the shining pond,
My mind turned back full fifty years–
To the years long past and gone.
When a barefoot boy climbed up the rock,
And played on the sparkling sand,
And sailed his boat across the pond
To a strange and far-off land.

He could still see

The little white church in the bottom
By the side of the murmuring brook,
Where the old-fashioned people would gather,
To study their old-fashioned Book.
Those days of the past are still with me,
Their memories never can die,
The joys I have tasted grow fresher,
The friends of my youth are still nigh.

For the first twenty-five years of his life, he lived either on the sea or within sound of its moaning. In 1952 he wrote about “The Sailor’s Faith”:

The sailor’s faith heeds not the storm,
His course is set, his compass true;
The ship that braved a thousand gales,
Again will take him through.

In later years, he revisited his “old deserted” homestead.

My footsteps are washed from the sand that I walked on,
The rocks have forgotten that once I lived there.
And the rippling waters that laughed on the land-wash
Are cold and reluctant to offer me cheer.
The dust of my friends that gathered about me,
When first I decided this wide world to roam,
Lie silent in slumber beneath the green branches,
With no loving handshake to welcome me home.

Toward the end of his life, Fuge admitted:

I may never see [Newfoundland’s] shores again,
And never share her glory,
But may she write for years unborn
A great and thrilling story.

Paul S. Rees remembered Fred T. Fuge’s “eye for the unusual,” “tongue for the eloquent” and “heart for the immensities.” In his homespun poetry, this expatriate Newfoundlander attempted to portray the immensities of the unusual beauty of the land of his forebears.

The Royal Readers

Promotion CertificateI did Kindergarten in Central School in Twillingate in 1962-63. My teacher and principal were Doreen E. Burton and Gordon R. Martin respectively. By then, the Royal Readers had long since disappeared from the education system. My late parents, who had used them as part of their schooling, told me and my siblings about the books. I often wondered if I would ever possess my own personal copy of at least one of them.

The series of eight books were produced in Britain by Thomas Nelson and Sons and were part of the Royal School Series. They were used in Newfoundland and Labrador from the 1870s until the mid-1930s. Students–or “scholars,” as they were invariably known–progressed from the infant reader to the school primer, followed by Royal Readers one through six. They covered reading and spelling from the beginning of school to graduation. The stated aim of the series was “to cultivate the love of reading by presenting interesting subjects treated in an attractive style.”

The infant reader was comprised of rhymes and simple short stories, accompanied by numerous illustrations. There were also short script lessons and addition and subtraction tables. Emphasis was placed on systematic drills on vowel sounds and consonants.

Scholars learned letters and reading from the first level school primer, which was similar to a primitive kindergarten.

The first Royal Reader begins with simple lessons, focusing on monosyllabic and two-syllable words. The second reader includes short selections of poetry and prose intended to develop reading interest and skills. Each story is accompanied by a pronunciation lesson, simple definitions of new words, and questions on the content. The third reader, which is slightly more advanced, includes more writing exercises. The fourth reader includes phonetic exercises, model compositions, dictation exercises, and outlines of British history. The fifth reader addresses health of the body, plants and their uses, as well as quotes from and stories of great people.

Royal Reader0003The sixth book–which I now have the good fortune to own–contains word lessons and passages with sections on great inventions, classification of animals, useful knowledge, punctuation and physical geography, as well as the British Constitution.

The anonymous author of the prose selection “The Bed of the Atlantic” writes: “In the northern part of the basin there stretches across the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland a great submarine plain, known in recent years as Telegraph Plateau.”

To help the scholar, definitions are provided for such words as “ascertained,” “garniture” and “gossamer.” For those who desire elaboration of “Telegraph Plateau,” it is defined this way: “So called because on it were laid the submarine telegraph cables between Ireland and America in 1865 and 1866. Many other cables now follow the same route.” Questions follow. Of what does the end of the ocean consist? What part of the Atlantic has been surveyed? What plain stretches across the northern part of the basin? On what do the British Isles stand?

Longfellow’s “The Lighthouse” begins: “The rocky ledge runs far into the sea, / And on its outer point, some miles away, / The lighthouse lifts its massive masonry– / A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day….”

There are two approaches to the vaunted Royal Readers. On the one hand, as Raymond Troke notes, “it seemed that everything had a moral lesson, and…everything was almighty gloomy…. By the time you got out of Grade 5 you knew a lot about death and destruction and had a powerful vocabulary to describe your miseries.”

On the other hand, novelist Bernice Morgan says, “The first literature I remember consisted of Bible stories and wonderful English ballads and heroic poems, which my mother read to us from her old Royal Readers.”

Jessie Mifflin recalls: “There were interesting and exciting tales in prose and verse in the old Royal Readers. We wept copiously over the death of little Nell, and exulted over the escape of the skater who was pursued by wolves in Number Four.”

The Royal Readers served a utilitarian purpose in those days. The reality was, as Mifflin adds, “Except for our textbooks, a dictionary, an atlas, and the Bible and hymn book for the opening exercises, there was no reading material in school–nor anywhere else, for that matter, except for the fortunate few who had books at home.”