I have no idea why I started to remember this little old school-house ( I’m not going to share the date that I attended, but let’s just say it was more than a few years ago). The above photograph is current and was shot by a friend of mine. The School-House has still retained its dignity despite the need of a fresh coat of paint and some minor repairs.
As I look at this picture I can hear the excited voices of children and see them run around the school-house and in and out of the woods. There was a little brook that ran down the side of the property. A lot of battles were won and lost in these woods. Tears, laughter, shouts of joy and fear were the music of the school recess time. The difference then is that we were allowed to play in the woods and didn’t have a lot of “things” to occupy our time outside except for our imaginations and it was…glorious.
I remember that there were two classrooms which housed a grade one class and a grade two class. I can’t remember if we shared the cloak room but there was at least one of these where we would store our outside wear, our lunches and it was cold. The classroom I was in had those old wooden and cast iron desks with the inkwell in them which were in rows bolted to the floor. (For those of you who are wondering, no it wasn’t so long ago that I actually used the ink well, but our Reader did consist of stories about Dick, Jane and Spot.)
A couple of memories stand out for me. One was standing in line to receive our Cod Liver Oil pills. Who ever invented these pills must have really hated children. I learned the hard way not to put the pill in my mouth until I was at the water fountain and had the water running. What an awful experience…I can still feel the texture of the capsule on my tongue and the taste in my mouth when the capsule broke before I could swallow it.
Another memory is about show and tell. This one time a friend of the family, who was well known in the community for his colourful flare and interesting view of life thought it would be a great idea for me to take a beaver tail as my item to share about. What a lot of people didn’t realize is that this person, although rough on the outside had a heart of gold on the inside. He really did think that this would be a great thing to give a child to bring to school to show off. Well, he may have thought it was great, but my teacher had another opinion and marched me right back out to the cloak room to keep my show and tell item “safe” until it was time to share. Remember that I said the cloak room was cold, I think my teacher thought it best for this particular item to remain in the cold rather than in its bag in my desk. I can still remember the pride I felt as I took this tail out of its bag and stroked its texture. But more importantly I remember the looks of awe from my classmates as I shared my treasure with them. To put this in better perspective for those of you reading who can’t wrap their heads around taking a beaver tail to school. This family friend lived off the land, truly. He trapped and hunted to live, not as a sport. So for him this gift to me was one that was hard-won and meant something.
I can’t help but think of the times when we are given gifts and just put them aside because they have no significant meaning to us. When in fact perhaps we should take a minute to admire the gift, ask about it and get the story behind about why the gift was given in the first place.
In regards to the old school-house. To some looking from the outside at this old building it may look like the school-house is past its prime, when in fact it is currently being used by an organization called Harvest House where people who are addicted to substances and need help have a place to meet, share and learn about their addictions and how to recover from them. This little old school-house has quite the history and looks like its going to continue to be able to make memories for a few more years to come.
Grand Manan Island is a magical place to experience. I feel lucky to have lived there for a few years in my childhood and even though I am a CFA (comes from away) I felt and still feel like I truly belong. Maybe at another time I will share some of my other memories of this wonderful Island. What do they say…it’s the Bermuda of the Maritime’s.
Here’s to happy childhood memories and gifts from the heart.