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43 - Heroines of Yesteryear



from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961

This little story happened in Sound Island, Placentia Bay about 50 years ago. It was told me by my sister and others, also my dear mother, who has since gone to rest.

Jack and Sandy were two school-age brothers, full of fun and energy. Their father was a herring and fish inspector and the family lived in a big house beside a hill. Their mother was a good wife and mother, who lived for her family and those she could help.

One fine winter morning, Jack and Sandy went over the big hill to get wood and have some sliding. It was a very steep hill, icy as a glacier. Sandy was an adventurous boy who thought it would be nice to slide all the way down. They were young of course and at the time dad not too much sense. Jack decided he would like to try it too.

Down over the hill they went, one after the other, twisting and turning. As soon as they started they knew they were in danger but could not stop. The older boy Jack was terrified but could not hold back his younger brother. At the foot of the hill, near their garden there was a sharp picket sticking out from the fence. And into this picket Sandy struck. Both were halted, Jack on top of Sandy. But the damage was done. Jack got his brother home but Sandy was bleeding profusely. They ran in the house and found their mother, who was really frightened but acted quite calmly. the blood was pumping from the boy's head like a tap and he seemed to be getting weak.

In those days it was very hard to get a doctor.

People had to wait a long time for relief of pain. Although a doctor did live in this community, he was some distance away. Fearing the boy might bleed to death, his mother thought to do something herself. And it was a wise thing she did.

She dipped her hand into the flour barrel and clapped it on Sandy's head. But after a few minutes the blood came pumping through the flour again. She put her hand in the flour barrel again and put on another handful. Then they waited.

This time the blood did not come through the flour. The mother let the little boy rest. By the time the doctor came, Sandy's mother had saved her son's life. Whether the doctor approved of the method she used or not, I do not know. But Sandy lost a lot of blood and was very weak, and had his mother not used the flour, the boy would have died. This was the way of life in the outports of Newfoundland in the days gone by. Many a brave soul died and no one know how really brave they were. Doing the best they could with what they had, was their motto. And many a live was saved this way too.

Well, Sandy grew up and came to St. John's - and Jack his brother, too. They attended St. Andrews Presbyterian College - mostly run by Scotch and English teachers at that time. Sandy at the age of 17 joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and fought in World War I.

After the war was over, Sandy worked for one of Newfoundland's commercial firms and is now one of Newfoundland's most popular and well-known travelling salesmen. I believe he still remembers the day he came over the hill headfirst for he still carried the mark on his head.




Back to: The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories Menu

This page transcribed by James Butler, 2000
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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