The brick doll

Uncle Ches and daughter

Uncle Ches and Cousin Edie

One Sunday afternoon, my Uncle Chesley, who was a year and a half older than my father, decided to go for a walk through their village, Hant’s Harbour. It was in the years of the Great Depression, which meant hard times in Newfoundland and elsewhere. Consequently, the brothers had no clothes fit to wear to church. There were a total of eight children in the Janes family – five girls and three boys.

Sunday was a dreary day to them, so a little walk around the waterfront and beach was a break.

Suddenly, Uncle Ches, as we called him, hit on an idea. He took their dilapidated baby carriage, bearing the marks of many generations, and in a rough condition.

Due to the poverty-stricken times, their sisters had no dolls, or at least Uncle Ches could not find one to place in the carriage for their afternoon trek. So he picked up an old brick and a piece of ragged cloth, and placed his lifeless “doll” in the ancient, worn-out carriage which had seen many summers.

Then off they went, chanting one of Wordsworth’s poems that was then current in their low-key school.

Very soon, Uncle Ches got tired of the dummy baby in the squeaky carriage. When they drew near the beach, with its whispering, silver waves seeming to arouse his interest, he took the brick doll from its resting place and deposited it in the depths of the sea.

With all their reserved energy, they took off full speed, making the quiet of that Sunday afternoon ring with the sound of broken springs, mingled with their footsteps.

Today Uncle Ches’ daughter, Cousin Clara, says, “Sounds like a typical thing a boy would do. I know it is only boys having fun in bad times.”

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