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About Amy Jacqueline (Furness) Lewis

I was born in Saint John, NB on December 7, 1941.  We moved to Partridge Island in 1950 and resided there until 1966 when my father retired as head light keeper.  I am married to Bill Lewis, formerly of Petit-Rocher, NB, and we have two adult children, Catherine and Amy, and two grandchildren, Samantha and Robyne.

During my working years, I worked for Irving Oil, St. John Ambulance, and the Provincial Hospital.

We now live in Lorneville, Saint John, NB where I can enjoy again living near the water and can see the light shining at night from Partridge Island.

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Partridge Island Capers by Amy Jacqueline (Furness) Lewis

I was 9 years old the summer we moved to Partridge Island.  That very day my father handed me a life jacket to put on and my adventures began.  That day, I learned to row a boat and before long was quite good at it.  It got me into a bit of trouble.

One day, my sister, Mary (two years older than me), and I decided to take the row boat out and rowed around the island.  When we arrived back at the wharf, our parents were there waiting for us.  We didn’t tell anyone what we had planned to do so, of course, they were quite upset with us but relieved we were safe.  If you have ever been out on the Bay in a row boat, you know how dangerous it can be at times.

Another of our adventures involved my sisters, Mary and Lillian, and myself.  Our brother, Charles, often tried to scare the assistant light keepers by rigging up ghosts across the path to the light house.  He would rig up a line from the old hospital and across the path to the old Hargrove house.  On it, he would attach a sheet and lay in wait until dusk for one of the assistants to go up to turn on the light.  He would then slowly pull the sheet across the path.  It looked like a ghost floating through the air.

My sisters and I decided we would play a trick of our own.  So, one night we gathered up an old pair of work pants, an old shirt, and jacket and stuffed them with rags.  These we placed in a wooden arm chair at the fog alarm building office.  Then, we needed something for a head.  After a bit of searching, we found an old paint can for a head, and a hat.  We arranged these on our dummy and turned up the collar on the jacket to hide the back of the “head”.  We turned the chair facing the wall, so the “man” had his back to the office door, but we needed one more touch to complete our surprise.  Eventually, we found an old beer bottle and placed it on the arm of the chair and waited outside the building near a window.  Before long, our victim arrived.  Our friendly assistant keeper walked into the office, saw the stranger sitting with his back to him and exclaimed, “What the hell!”  For some reason, no word of our little prank was ever mentioned to us.

Age of Sail by Carol Fillmore

Imagine ships glissading into harbour,

Their masts scraping the sky, sails aloft

billowing, great bird wings fluttering.

Captains navigate their ships into port,

return voyages that crossed the seven seas

riding the waves, north and south, east and west

from Jamaica to London to Timbuktu,

holds filled with bananas, sugar, rum

And molasses from sunny far off lands.

 

Wives awaiting husbands safe return home, pacing the widow’s walk, reading letters

sent months ago, hints of hardship and

menaces at sea that fuels anxiety.

Imagination runs wild, spiralling?

Fierce brigands besieging the vessels at sea

Sudden squalls threaten, ships tossed to and fro,

waves like a leviathan, thrashes and roils,

wrecks run aground, pummelled by pounding surf.

About Bill Lewis

I am the oldest of 7 siblings; 4 boys and 4 girls, born at 8:30 a.m. August 16, 1946, at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in Bathurst, NB.  I was raised and schooled in Petit-Rocher, NB, first at a one room school house for grades 1 to 6, at the Lewis Schoolhouse (my grandfather donated the land), 0.5 km from the house, then at Petit-Rocher Regional High School in the village centre about 2.5 km from my house, traveling by school bus.  After graduation, I came to visit my maternal grandmother in Saint John where I saw an ad in the newspaper for psychiatric attendants needed at the Provincial Hospital.  I retired after 37 years but always had fond memories of growing up in the country.  Here is my story.

 

Northumberland Dream Winds by Ilze Hillier

These wintry winds whirl around our

Home attempting, not succeeding.

Islands of snow on every ledge

Blanketing lane, land, and forests.

I turn, seeing you sleeping snug, warm

Dreaming our dreams; the winds are gone,

The morning calm.

 

Remembering winds, a summer trip

A seaside coast, a lonely home;

The storm set in with winds at sea

I clearly heard an anguished voice

Calling, “Cathy!” ethereal

Lament, “Heathcliffe!” he could not hear,

Her voice was lost through tides of air

Through spaces seen and yet unseen.

 

You slept beside me and I thought

About the graves that could be seen

From where we slept, an anchor forged

A wrought-iron gate could not hold all

The souls held there, longing to be

Released and free to soar above

The sea again; the storm blew out

Far out to sea and all was calm.

 

In town we learned a man and wife

Lived in that house, so many years

She passed away, he could not stay;

Their names were not the ones I heard.

Who calls? Who hears?

Who waits? Who meets?

These voices mingled with past souls

To join again through winds that blow

On land and sea, a mystery

For those that hear the souls lament

Through howling gales and stormy seas

They do not yet call out for me

On Northumberland seaside shores.

The Visit by Bill Lewis

Time:  The 1950s.  Place:  Petit-Rocher on the shores of the Bay des Chaleurs, New Brunswick.

At the time, the village was 100% French Acadian in language and culture; a dual economy of fishing and farming.  The amenities were a general store, a garage, a doctor’s office, a school and at the centre, a Catholic church, of course.  In charge of the parish was Monseigneur Lanteigne.

Every year, the Cure went on a parish visit to keep in touch with the parishioners, to take a census and with the hidden agenda of shaming the lapsed catholics into returning to Mass on Sundays.

It would take anywhere from 2 to 4 months to visit the estimated 500 families (many family having about 7 children).  The Monseigneur was assisted by a Vicaire, but no one knew if he would be blessed by the Cure’s visit or the Vicaire’s or how long he would say at a particular house.  Nor did anyone know which direction the priest would take.  He might start at the church and work his way North, South or West (East was the Bay des Chaleurs), or he might start at the far end of the parish and work towards the church.

To add to this anxiety, Monseigneur Lanteigne was, shall we say, rather severe, hell bent on saving souls.  It seems that every housewife filled with the fear of God would embark on an epic house cleaning quest from attic to basement, not to mention cooking as sumptuous a meal as possible, using the best cutlery and flatware as possible (inherited or borrowed by the neighbours) just in case the priest decided to stay for a meal.

Every morning, the party lines would light up with frantic inquiries.  “Where is he now?  How long did he stay?  Did he have supper at your house?” and so on.

I can still see the Monseigneur walking down the road in his long black robe, black shirt, roman collar, his long rosary rattling on his leg as he walked.

Now that the scene is set, let me tell you about myself at 7 year old, about 1953.  In today’s terms, I must have suffered from ADHD, but then I was just a crazy kid.  I had received a free bicycle from a neighbour, probably in hopes of dissipating some of my energy.  I practically lived on that bike, outside of school.  I would explore all the pathways and logging roads in the country.  On this fateful day, I came across a dead skunk along the path, and whatever possessed me I’ll never know, but I found myself tying a rope to the bike and the other end to the skunk’s tail, and headed home.  Not only did I arrive home, but I circled the yard two or three times, anointing the yard with skunk.  Mom was scanning the road for the priest when she spied me dragging the skunk behind me.  “Oh my God!  Get that thing out of here now!” she hollered.  Next thing I knew, I was burying the skunk in the sand at the beach.  Then, I went up to the house as far as the garage, too afraid to go in.  The Monseigneur was in the house by then.  I was still hiding behind the garage door when I heard the priest telling mom as he was leaving, “I see you baked some homemade bread.  I love the smell of homemade bread.  It’s too bad, since I’ve been fighting this sinus infection, I can’t smell a thing!”  And that is a small episode from my exciting life in the country!

Gazing Skyward by Carol Fillmore

As a child

  I gazed skyward with wonder

 Watched puffy clouds change shape

 As they drifted…

 I wished upon the first star of evening and

 Was charmed by the man in the moon,

 Amazed at the gazillion stars twinkling

 In the inky-black country night sky.

As an adult,

  I still gaze upward with wonder

  Watch clouds shape shift as they drift.

 It’s different now though: no stars shine

 In the urban night sky.  Light pollution dims

 All but one, the evening star that is Venus,

A planet, not a star at all. Surrounded by clouds

Of sulphuric acid, covered by a thousand volcanoes

and illuminated by lightning bolts, it’s not an alluring place.

Venus named for the Roman Goddess of beauty.

Now I know of this world above unseen by the naked eye,

The sky, a window on this mysterious world vast and ever-expanding

Visible only with powerful telescopes

Explorations into space in infancy

Astronauts like the explorers to the New World

Curious and fascinated by the strange new place

Filled with planets so bizarre, otherworldly

Some with no atmosphere, others are just balls of gas.

Star clusters, nebulae cover the vast expanses.

Stars born millions of years ago

Asteroids and meteorites hurtle through space

Moons and planets orbit

Comets streak across the sky, tails blazing.

The genesis of the cosmos, the creation

of everything everywhere, all at once,

the crucible of heat and light

space is an endless frontier

incredible discoveries

waiting to be known

Dreams: Past and Present by Ilze Hillier

When I was a young girl,

I announced, “I want to be Howard Carter!”

My parents encouraged me by taking me to the museum,

Where I could gaze in wonder at ancient antiquities.

I dreamt of sweeping sands,

Lengthening shadows,

A ray of sunlight upon a glimpse of gold.

 

When I was a girl,

I declared, “I want to live in Africa, like Jane Goodall!”

My parents supported me by taking me to the zoo,

Where I could fall in love with animals of all kinds.

I dreamed of staring at grey crowned cranes,

Cheetahs and gnus on vast African steppes,

A sense of freedom and adventure.

 

When I was a girl dreaming of Canada,

I stated, “I want to become the Prime Minister!”

My parents bolstered my dreams by driving me to see the

Prime Minister’s motorcade during the height of Trudeaumania.

I envisioned leading the country,

Solving crises, helping others,

Guiding with sagacity and compassion.

 

When I was a teenager,

I confirmed, “I am buying a dog!”

My parents declared, “No,” yet they let me borrow the car;

I brought home an exotic bundle of Afghan hound love.

I delighted in companionship,

Unconditional love,

Sharing liberty and developing independence.

 

When I was a young woman,

I longed to be in love; to say, “I love you!”

Reciprocated passion;

I met a boy who would become my lifelong friend.

I imagined new beginnings,

Enthusiasm for shared journeys,

A quest of lasting love and ardour.

 

When I was a young wife,

I expressed tenderly, “I want a child.”

A new person to share our lives and joys;

We were of the same mind; our daughter was born.

A fair-haired wonder, overwhelming maternal love,

Amazement for the world around me,

Imagination through a child’s eyes.

 

When I was a young mother,

I expressed the wish to have our family grow,

Extending our shared love; our second daughter was born:

A dark-haired beauty with an independent spirit.

I recognized my inner self,

Strength of character and courage,

Determined fortitude that was ours to exchange for a time.

 

When I was a devoted mother,

I desired one more child to have and to hold,

Our baby girl was born with a radiance all her own,

An artistic soul that bonded with me in every way.

I understood the tacit ties that exist and grow,

Continue on, regardless of distances,

Never separating, creating and nurturing truth.

 

When I was a busy wife and mother,

I longed to be surrounded by dogs,

To extend my love and care with others

Who felt a special affinity for their canine family.

I gave of myself and learned how people

Need dogs for compassion, love, and sacrifice,

Thus becoming better persons themselves.

 

When my children grew older,

I wanted to make a difference in the world,

Teaching young people a love for learning,

Enthusiasm for the world around them.

I became a teacher, who listened and learned,

Guiding and caring for each student that touched my life,

Nurturing friendship, creating belonging, supporting unique directions.

 

When I needed rest, better health and a new direction,

I sang, “So, Let’s Go!” a Great Big Sea song,

To embrace change, find connections to nature,

A new set of emerging dreams.

I discovered woodland trails outside my door in New Brunswick,

Seaside rambles along the Bay of Fundy,

Meaning and belonging amongst ancient shores.

 

 

When I became a grandmother,

I yearned for lasting ties with my grandson and granddaughter,

Beyond occasional holiday visits,

To create meaningful loving relationships.

I have found wonder in new experiences,

Connecting past remembrances,

Feeling happiness in shared laughter and delight.

 

What new dreams lay ahead?

Nurturing a desire to create words,

Writing for joy with newfound acuity,

Through memory and reflection.

I contemplate past dreams,

Find achieved treasures through love,

Family, friends, dogs, and nature,

Continuing a love for life in future dreams.

Dinner at Our House by Nancy Clifford

Sunday dinner at our house was a big deal. It was always at noon, and laid out like a feast on our eight- foot hand-made red table.

I was eight or nine at the time, and had been delivered into this family roughly in the middle of ten siblings. A pretty good position if you consider I learned how to avoid blunt force trauma from the older kids, and how to manipulate the younger ones.

This Sunday morning started out as usual. My parents got up first, and then kids woke up, weaving in and out of their bedrooms in staggered bursts. I bided my time in bed, waiting to hear the bathroom door open, and slam into the back wall. My mother’s angry yell carried to my room. I was ready, and jumped out of bed to vie for position for those oh so precious few moments of bathroom privacy.

Back in the kitchen I squeezed into a spot at the big red table. Spoons and knives glinted like spears as they whizzed over my head, and past my face grabbing up toast, cereal, sugar and margarine. Food disappeared like magic.

While breakfast was going on my mother checked on a large roast of beef already roasting in the oven. The smell of the roast wafted through the kitchen, and around our heads. We ate with renewed gusto.

Just then my father came into the kitchen. He was a butcher, gainfully employed by the Dominion Stores. He was dressed, and ready to go out. We all knew that meant we had five minutes to be dressed, and ready to go out. Herded like chickens we walked in two’s and threes, to Saint Peter’s Catholic Church.

After mass, my father said he was taking the younger kids for a walk, and told my mother to take a rest. My mother went into the kitchen to check the roast of beef. It was ready, so she took it out of the oven, put it on a large yellow platter, and placed it on the red table. Then she quietly left the kitchen.

I was alone. That never happens.  Immediately I thought this was the perfect time to change the water in my goldfish bowl. This fish was my first pet. I had saved my allowance for four weeks to buy a goldfish in a bag of water.

Running to my room I brought back my goldfish bowl, and put it on the table.  Under the sink I found a rose bowl and filled it with cold water, and put that on the table. I wondered how I was going to get the fish from one bowl to the other so I went to the kitchen drawer, and brought back a soup spoon. Very cautiously I dipped it in the water. I was lucky to get the fish in the spoon on my first try. Smiling in glee I lifted the spoon high above the fishbowl. The fish immediately twisted and squirmed and flipped like a gymnast up and out of the spoon to land squarely on top of the roast of beef. Dumbfounded I stared at the fish as it slithered in the juice on top of the meat. It thrashed and flipped it’s tail and suddenly down it went over the side of the roast to land on the rim of the yellow platter. Gaping wild-eyed I noticed a trail of fish poop hanging from the back of the goldfish. This was not good. This was not good at all.

Fear prodded me back to life. I was still clenching the spoon. Putting it down I tried to pick up the fish with my fingers, but it was as slippery as soap. In a panic I ran to the bathroom, and got some toilet paper.  Swooping in and out with the toilet paper, the fish kept wiggling out of reach. Throwing the toilet paper aside I lifted the spoon, and slapped it down against the rim of the yellow platter trapping the fish in one spot. My eyes were dry, and my ears were ringing as I lifted a corner of the spoon, and poked my fingers under it until I had it firmly in my grasp.

I dropped the fish back into the dirty fishbowl, and raced it back to my room. Then I dumped out the clean water, and put the rose bowl back under the sink. Seizing a dish cloth, I wiped up water, and beef juice spilled on the red table.

I stared incredulously at the roast. There were little bits of toilet paper stuck on the rim of the platter, and floating in the beef juice. Sticking my fingers in, and out of the juice I picked out all the bits of paper, and wiped them off against my clothes.

I was still standing there aghast and apprehensive when my mother came up behind me. She told me to get out of the kitchen and find something to do. I left as quickly as I could for my friend’s house. I knew I wouldn’t be back for dinner.

At our house if you weren’t there, you missed the fare, and I was ok with that.

About Nancy Clifford

I was born and raised in Saint John. Looking back, I feel that my life can be described as an experimental approach to a series of triumph’s and failures. I had few mentors, handled some things well, some not so well. My greatest success has been passing on to my children the wonderful indelible imprint, of those who came before me.

Short story writing has been an interest for as long as I can remember. I struggle with it. It is a pursuit I find difficult. Discipline and writing are like two friends that refuse to be in the same room at the same time.

My hope is to change that.

I am “Sharing my Story” ….