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Nova Scotia Auctions -- Cape Breton Auctions -- Maritime Canada Auctioneers
Durham, Nova Scotia Ph:  902-485-5968; Cell 396-6072
E-Mail info@pidgeonauctions.com
Available Monday to Saturday inclusive from 8 am to 10 pm
 by appointment or by chance - NOT Sundays or Christmas Day
NOTE: If you would prefer to sell outright (rather than by auction) we purchase complete estates' small lots, collections or individual items--inc paintings, military, old money, gold/silver, jewelry, musical instruments, guns, swords, old toys, tools, old & new furniture, dishes, ornaments, textiles inc quilts/ rugs/woolen blankets/etc, pre-1950 hats/clothing, books, new items, attic/basement/barn contents, etc,

This line does not reach us directly, will not ring into office/residence (messages cannot be left at this number) This line is designed to keep you informed of current auction information--time/place of auction & directions how to get there--call if you are in doubt whether an auction will go on due to weather conditions or to hear a general list of items in current auction--details appx 3 days before auction--call any hour day or night   

Nova Scotia Auctions -- Cape Breton Auctions -- Maritime Canada Auctioneers
Durham, Nova Scotia Ph:  902-485-5968; Cell 396-6072
E-Mail info@pidgeonauctions.com
Available Monday to Saturday inclusive from 8 am to 10 pm
 by appointment or by chance - NOT Sundays or Christmas Day
NOTE: If you would prefer to sell outright (rather than by auction) we purchase complete estates' small lots, collections or individual items--inc paintings, military, old money, gold/silver, jewelry, musical instruments, guns, swords, old toys, tools, old & new furniture, dishes, ornaments, textiles inc quilts/ rugs/woolen blankets/etc, pre-1950 hats/clothing, books, new items, attic/basement/barn contents, etc,

This line does not reach us directly, will not ring into office/residence (messages cannot be left at this number) This line is designed to keep you informed of current auction information--time/place of auction & directions how to get there--call if you are in doubt whether an auction will go on due to weather conditions or to hear a general list of items in current auction--details appx 3 days before auction--call any hour day or night   
What a fellow won't do to get the item of his choice in an auction!  Harold MacDonald and his wife came all the way from Pictou County to the old farm auction in Cape Breton in the summertime to get the Weathervane.  Donnie sold it "as is - where is", ie, still on the roof of the barn which was approximately 40 to 50 feet high.  Donnie said, "We have no ladders to reach it and we are unable to get it down, but I'm going to sell it anyway and it's the buyer's responsibility to get it themselves".  Well, Harold bid high because he said he wasn't going home without it.  At the end of the auction, he just threw that big heavy rope up over the barn and literally walked up the side of it to the people's amazement.  This was a long-distance shot of Harold lowering the weathervane down.
Yes, it's just junk, but, unless you've ever stood back and watched everything going on there, you would never understand the clockwork at the scrapyard in Truro.  It's located on a very small acreage and nearly every inch is used.  They're crushing cars in one end, separating the metals in another place, burning and cutting the pieces too big to recycle somewheres else--on and on.  This photo shows only a small portion of it.  There must be 20 men hired there and every one knows his job and there's not an idle moment- they are going to and fro constantly.  And besides that, people are coming from all angles with scrap metal, bottles, old batteries or whatever to sell.  And winter doesn't slow them down a bit.  I always try to go over with Donnie when he has to go there, its such an amazement to watch how the place so uniquely operates--it would really remind you of a beehive!
Below:  Photos taken at an old Country On-Site Auction in Welsford a couple years ago:

                        IN THE CLOUDS


Copy of actual insertion from Augusta, Ga. newspaper:

   Orville Smith, a store manager for Best Buy in Augusta, Ga, told police he observed a male customer, later identified as Tyrone Jackson of Augusta, on surveillance cameras putting a laptop computer under his jacket.  When confronted, the man became irate, knocked down the employee, drew a knife and ran for the door. 
    Outside on the sidewalk were four Marines collecting toys for the Toys for Tots Program.  Smith said the Marines stopped the man but he stabbed one of the Marines, Cpl. Phillip Duggan, in the back; the injury did not appear to be severe. 
    After Police and an ambulance arrived at the scene Cpl Duggan was transported for treatment.
    "The subject was also transported to the local hospital with two broken arms, a broken ankle, a broken leg, several missing teeth, possible broken ribs, multiple contusions, assorted lacerations, a broken nose and a broken jaw...injuries he sustained when he slipped and fell off the curb after stabbing the Marine" according to the police report.


The Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, Mo has closed its doors forever.  The contents of the Museum were sold at Public Auction because Roy told his son if the museum ever operated at a loss, he was to close it and sell the contents.
Here are a few of the prices obtained:
- Roy's 1964 Bonneville Convertible - $254,500 (presale estimate was $100,000 to $150,000)
- Trigger's Saddle and Bridle - $386,500 (presale estimate was $100,000 to $150,000)
- One of several of Roy's Cowboy Shirts - $16,250
- One of Roy's many Cowboy Hats - $17,500
- Boot Spurs - $10,625
- The Bible Roy & Dale used at the Dinner Table every night - $8,750
- Nellybelle (remember the old car) - $116,500
- Bullet (stuffed) - $35,000
- Trigger (stuffed) - $266,500 (Roy & Trigger made 188 movies together.  Trigger even outdid Bob Hope
    by winning an Oscar in the movie "Son of Paleface" 1954)
- Dale's Parade Saddle - $104,500 (presale estimate $20,000 to $30,000)
- One of Roy's many pair Boots - $21,250

                Our generation was able to grow up with these great people even if we never met them.  In their own way they
                 taught us patriotism and honour, we learned that lying, stealing and cheating were bad and that sex wasn't as
                 important as love.  We learned how to suffer through disappointment and failure and and work through it.  Our
                 lives were drug free. 

                                                        HAPPY TRAILS TO YOU...UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!
                                                           (only people over 60 will get the real gist of this)


             another real artist in our midst

    Susan Babcooke from Antigonish, who commonly attends the auctions, is a real artist in her own right who creates beautiful easter eggs each year.  These are Ukrainian Easter Eggs and each one is a real chicken's egg, the pattern of which is formed through the use of Dyes and Wax Coatings.  they are quite intricate to make and each one takes 6 - 8hours to complete.  These shown below are not quite finished and will look much nicer once she gets some varnish or shellac on them, which will enhance the color & pattern.  Susan spent two weeks prior to Easter making these.  Once they are done to this point, a small hole is made in each end of the egg and the interior removed.



                         ---Remember the old Cutter Sleigh we sold down in Meiklefield in that auction on site in the late summer of 2012 when
                 it rained so hard--well here it is revamped--Daniel MacDonald purchased it and did a lot of work on it.  He  called it
                 his "Christmas Sleigh" and it was a big hit at his place when his little granddaughter Maya arrived home for Christmas.



                                                           BECAUSE YOU ASKED........

                    People ask, "What is Donnie talking about when he says he is a Cape Bretoner when we know he comes from Pictou", and,  "Where on earth does   he get the idea that he is Scottish through and through when his name is 'Pidgeon' which is known to be English".
                    It's a long story--started in 1945 when a cute little Miss from Craignish, Cape Breton, came to Pictou to stay with cousins there so she might obtain work at Hamiltons Biscuit Factory.  Not long after that, she met a handsome young chap from Guysborough who was working in the area and they fell in love.  Late in the year, she found she was with child and she and the young lad made plans to marry and settle down in Pictou to have the baby; but when the Pictou relatives got wind of this, they kicked up a big fuss since she was Catholic and he was Protestant (and in those day, never the twain should meet or date or have any connection whatsoever).  The relatives in Pictou took charge and put an end to the courtship and the little Miss from Cape Breton had the baby on her own there in Pictou on July 29th, 1946.  She never informed the relatives back home in Cape Breton as it was such a shame in those days.  Without the aid of welfare or any government assistance that is available today, the young Miss eventually realized that she could not raise the baby on her own and reluctantly gave the priest permission to adopt him.  She had named the child Donald Joseph MacDonald'  Art and Bella Pidgeons in Pictou has no children of their own and this child filled the bill.  He became Donald Joseph Pidgeon.
                    The Cape Breton Miss eventually married and ended up in the States for the rest of her life.  She never ever did tell the folks back home in Cape Breton about her child and she never had any more children.  Two or three times in the following twenty years, she returned to Nova Scotia for trips and each time visited Donnie.  He had been told he was adopted and knew the lady visiting him was his natural mother, but as a child, she meant nothing to him.  As far as he was concerned, the Pidgeons were his parents.
                    However, all through his young years, Donnie never knew his natural mother was from Cape Breton; yet it was like he had a great love for Cape Breton built right into his very being.  As long back as I've known him, he would say that he would want to live in Cape Breton if the work was there for him.  It was just like something in his blood. We went to Cape Breton a lot on the weekends, he hunted there a lot and really spent a great deal of time there.  He loved the Cape Breton people, the music, the lingo....he loved everything about Cape Breton....especially out on the northwestern coast, ie,  Mabou and all those little places right down through to Craignish.
                    As time went by, like with most adopted children, a desire arose in Donnie to find out who his natural father was and what other relatives he may have.  By then his natural mother had passed away. 
                    With the help of the Guysborough Sheriff (who knew absolutely everyone in the County), Donnie was able to locate his father, then living way back in the Boonies in Guysborough.  Can you imagine a knock at your door some Sunday afternoon and the fellow there near 40 years old announces himself as "Your son", whom you've never met before.  That is exactly what happened!  The man was shocked.  He had several children of his own nearly grown up by then.  He talked to Donnie for some time and told him of the rejection he received when he wanted to marry his mother.  It was not until then that Donnie found out that his natural mother came from Craignish.  That's about all Donnie wanted to know there--who his natural father was and what he looked like and what kind of guy he was.  He's never seen him since.  But even then, Donnie was the spitting image of his father--even the eyebrows raising to 90 degree angles when he was excited.  Forever, Donnie had been a hunter, and this would appear to have been the great love of his natural father, too.  And Donnie always liked living out by himself in the country and that, too, was certainly the desire of his natural father.
                    So after this encounter, knowing his natural mother sprang from Craignish, Donnie set forth to seek out any natural relatives there.  He approached the Priest in the local Parish, who then was well in his 80's.  Donnie told him the situation and asked if he knew a Jessie MacDonald around there back in the 40's.  The Priest wasn't in that area then, but said he would ask some people he knew and let him know any information available.  We never ever heard anything back from Priest.
                    After a lapse of 10-15 years, we happened to be doing an auction in Orangedale, Cape Breton, one fall day and as I was clerking I noticed a man wearing a lovely tartan hat.  I love the Scottish tartans and this stood out to me, so when the man passed by the desk I commented, "You must be a MacDonald with that nice MacDonald tartan hat on".  "That I am, Lass", he replied, "And proud of it, and from Craignish, too".  Click!  Click!  Click!  Craignish!  MacDonald!  The man appeared to be in his 60's, so I said to him, "From Craignish, eh?  Did you by chance know a 'Jessie MacDonald' there years ago?" 
"Did I?" he said, "I went to school with Jessie.  I'm related to her".  Then I said to him, "See the auctioneer up there on the platform--Donnie Pidgeon?  Well, Jessie was his natural mother".  The man was taken back, "My God," he said, "Was you the fellas who came up to the Church a long time ago trying to find out about Jessie".  He then explained how the old Priest had called him after our visit there and told him that Jessie's natural son was there looking for information.  This fellow wanted to call us but the Priest had forgotten the name 'Pidgeon' and kept telling him it was a man from Pictou with a bird's name.  So he never did reach us.
                    I sent a little note up to Donnie then auctioning simply written, "One of your natural Cousins is in the audience here." 
                    Donnie read the note, so taken by the information, stopped auctioning right in his tracks and out and out told the audience the story of his search.  Then he read them the note given to him contained information that he had a "real" cousin right there in the crowd.  "Where are ya, boy?" he said.                   
                    The fellow in the tartan hat stood up and said, "I'm your second cousin, boy," and then lifted a little fellow high in the air saying, "And this is your third cousin."
                    The crowd went wild! 
                    On that day in Orangedale, Donnie really became a "Cape Bretoner"--he knew it and the crowd knew it!  He was congratulated by many many people and welcomed into the fold.  And for several months after, he had telephone calls, letters and e-mails from people all over North America who were related.  And from that point on, he took his stand that he was, in fact, "a Cape Bretoner". 
                    Furthermore, since Donnie's natural mother was Scottish through and through coming from the Gillis & MacDonald Clans in the Craignish area and also since his natural father was of Scottish blood, Donnie has claimed his Scottish heritage and even throws a few Gaelic quips around now and again.  Even when he was in his teens, he was in the Reserve Army and donned the Kilt and was mighty proud of it.....let anyone say a word about a man wearing a Kilt to this day and they'd probably get the boots like they did in those times when anyone mocked the boys in kilts!
                    And too, in the 80's, when we owned The Consulate Restaurant in Pictou, there was a fellow on one of the Tauk Tours who did a writeup in a Travel Magazine giving a large amount of the space to his vivid description of the "real Scotsman" there waiting on tables and talking to them in Gaelic.  That's the real Donnie that many have not seen.
                    And now you know the rest of the story.


Isn't it wonderful to see locals make it big!!!   Does everyone know about that fantastic young horse, "Somebeachsomewhere"  from Truro who has set world records in racing and is now a  "Million Dollar Horse".   The big time races during 2007 & 2008 in Canada & the States told the story.  "Somebeachsomewhere" is now retired on a swank farm down in the States -- after making millions racing for two years; he is now making millions making babies.  Congratulations to all those who shared in "taking the big step" with this horse.  One of his famous races can be seen on  harnessracingblog.com/harness-racing-in-pictures-somebeachsomewhere/ 

   *When you change the way you look at things..the things you look at change".....
                          Dr.Wayne Dyer
                                                    Submitted by J. R. Bob Firth   (thanks Bob)


                                                           A GALA FUNERAL

            Through the years, we worked for Dorothy Sutherland and her family, doing the old Thompson & Sutherland auction in New Glasgow and the old Sutherland household when the parents died and then consignments for Dorothy.  We got to know Dorothy well.....she was a good soul.  And Dorothy did everything in a big way! 
            Then one winter's day, we came across Dorothy's obituary in the paper.
            The paper mentioned that a graveside service would take place at the old Sutherland Cemetery at Six Mile Brook.    That would be the place where Dorothy Sutherland's family owned the beautiful old stone home, now long gone.
              Some of you locals know where Six Mile Brook in Pictou County is--for those who don't--it once was a flourishing little community in behind Saltsprings off Exit 19.  However, today, there's only a handful of houses left AND the old Sutherland Cemetery.  Six Mile Brook is obviously from whence many of the local Sutherlands originated. 
            Donnie was going to be away the morning of the funeral (called for 10 am on a Monday morning in January).
So I decided to go out myself.  I donned heavy coat and boots for there had been a big storm on the weekend and the snow was very deep and it was freezing cold.  I arrived early to make sure I could still find it.....everything was plowed out like city streets, even the cemetery. 
            I expected this to be a little country funeral......to my surprise at exactly 10 am, in rolls a big pale green hearse followed by several pale green stretch limos to match--loaded with Sutherlands.  As they began to take the coffin out of the hearse, out jumps a piper from the following limo dressed in full regalia and piped Dorothy in to her resting place.
            It was bitter cold that morning, so the service was short, but only Dorothy could have such a gala funeral in the middle of the woods.  


                                                                                                                        A SATISFIED CUSTOMER
This little fellow was happy with his purchase of a Davy Crockett
                                                       Coonskin Hat & a Bag of Marbles at the Baddeck Auction




                                            ......nothing like trying on the hats at an auction to get you in the
                                            mood for a good day's fun.



                             OVER THIRTY YEARS AGO

                                                           My brother sent these photos--we hardly knew who they were......taken at our auctions in the late 70's.....




            (A) When this young fellow held up 2 ornamental cats & "wore" the cat hanging, Donnie said he was "catting around"
            (B) This cute little one tried her hand at auctioneering




                                                                                             MAGNIFICENT HOOKED RUGS



                                                                                                                                        BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE

                                        As a child growing up in the town of Pictou, I often heard the name "Broidy".  The name Broidy and Lobsters were synonymous to many people around here for the Broidys were  the  owners of the Pictou Lobster Factory, a well-known and prosperous business even in those days when lobsters were still up and coming.
                                       Bill and Emma Broidy owned the place forever and they lived in a big white house on Grange Street in Town.  Bill and Emma were Jewish, probably the only Jewish people in town then, but they kept a low profile there.   A weird thing to point out here, but, to my knowledge, they were perhaps the only people in this neck of the woods who ever had a bidet in their bathroom.  They also had a heated driveway (pipes running underneath the pavement) so that there would be no snow on their lane.
                                     But they were plain ordinary people who had made it--no sticking on airs!  Bill and Emma were very pleasing people on the surface fulfilling their deeds as "good neighbours"; but it's what went on "behind the scenes" that really mattered.   I don't believe the Broidys ever had any kids of their own, but they certainly had a heart for children.  When anything went on in the town where anything was being done for children, they made it their business to have a part in it.  I even remember the old "Mutt Shows" in Pictou (yes, that's it, a "Mutt Show"--nobody had a real pedigree dog, just mutts, so that's what they called it).  There were prizes for dogs with the longest ears, for the saddest look and anything else you can think about, but the Grand Prizes were two beautiful bicycles donated by the Broidy's.  It was supposed to be a draw, but I never believed that, for as long as I can remember, it was only kids who did not have a bike and whose parents could not afford a new one for them that won those prizes.  All those years, that couldn't be coincidence.  When I was around eleven, I "won" the girl's bike at the Mutt Show with our neighbour's dog "Jiggs".  I drove that same bike till I was 16.
                                       It wasn't until years later I actually encountered Mrs. Broidy face-to-face.   I was married by then and she called me one day on the telephone and asked if I was the former "Verna Stewart".  I said "Yes".  She told me she had a photograph of me there that she kept from the time of the Mutt Show and though I might like to have it since she was getting old and if something happened to her, it might be discarded.  I was grateful and went up to her house to get the photo.  She was so gracious and even for her age, she was still a beautiful woman.  She asked me in and we sat down together and had a nice chat.  She was so down-to-earth.
                                     Mr. Broidy passed away some time after that, but Emma continued to live in the big house by herself...but she did have a caretaker who watched out for her explicitedly.The Broidys' apparently had done a lot to help him out over the years.
                                    Several years after that when Donnie and I owned The Consulate Restaurant in Pictou, one day after a really busy Bus Tour, Mrs. Broidy came in.  Now if anyone knows anything about bus tours, they know they are a real hassle.  There's only so much time to get them in, orders taken, get them fed, to the washroom and on the bus again.  That was not an easy feat with Tauk Tours for they gave their people an "open menu" at the restaurant, of course, hoping they would fill their bellies there where it wasn't so expensive before they got to the  high priced hotel in Charlottetown late in the afternoon.  Anyway, it was one of those days when  the tour bus literally ate us out of house and home--the big roast of beef was all gone, the 23 pound turkey was gone, everything except the pork as far as meat went.  And in came Mrs. Broidy, a Jewish lady, who, of course, did not eat any pork, ham, or anything from a pig.  Brenda, who waited on her, explained that the tour bus just left and they cleaned us out and the oven were full of roasts, but nothing was ready except PORK.  But, being ever so gracious, she just said she would have a bowl of Chowder.  Just pleased that she could order something she liked, we got it out to her immediately with a nice fresh roll.  She was a little deaf by then and obviously did not hear Brenda come in behind her a few minutes later to see if everything was okay and Brenda saw the kleenex on her table with little chunks of bacon she had taken out of the chowder.  We forgot about the bacon in the chowder!  When she saw Brenda,she covered it with her hand and said the chowder was "lovely".  She obviously did not know Brenda saw the bacon pieces and Mrs. Broidy took the kleenex  with her when she left with the bacon rolled up in it.  She would never offend anyone and even remained gracious in this affair.
                                    Some time after Mrs. Broidy's death, we got a telephone call from a Mr. Abbey from Montreal (Mrs. Broidy's nephew).  He set up an appointment at her house and there we discussed an auction.  That was in the mid 80's....we were still quite young and green and had never ever taken on a huge auction like that before.  We didn't even have a microphone--everything was done by natural voice.  And Donnie did all the auctioning then....that's before I ever started.  We were up front with Mr. Abbey and leveled with him that perhaps it was a bit out of our league, but he just said, "You'll do just fine."  Mr. Abbey levelled with us, too, and said he had taken out a couple dozen pieces which he felt would not seek their value in Pictou County and had them shipped up to Montreal for auction.  But we got it!   It was a 2-week set-up and a full 2-day auction with absolutely wonderful items.  Mr. Abbey was a man of integrity--that was obvious from the beginning.  He made it clear that he previously went through "everything" in the house and "everything" left there was for sale.   In the process of setting up, I came across a box in the back closet containing a new pair pink ladies wool bloomers.  I took them down to him and said I presumed he had missed those and would not want them sold, but he said he knew they were there and thought someone might want them since they were new.  I'm sure I raised my eyebrows without realizing it, but would you believe, no one made any comments when they were sold and they went for around $40.00.  For all the money those peoplehad, there was not a proud bone in their bodies!  We had never set up an auction inside a house before--used to be everything went outside the morning of the sale and that's where it was viewed and that's where it was sold.  But Mr. Abbey said he would like everything set up in the house and that people could go through and view.  The carpets were all Ivory and pale Green.  Donnie asked what about the carpets....did he want them covered with plastic?  He said no, if they got soiled when people were going through, then hewould have them cleaned for the new owners.  The auction took in extreme prices, for people all over the Maritimes had heard about the Broidys and everybody wanted a piece of the pie.  Mrs. Broidy's brother, an elderly gentleman by then, flew down from Montreal for the auction.  He, too, was a beautiful person!  We've worked for a lot of nice people over the years, but I will say the Broidy family took the cake--they were tremendous people--couldn't have been nicer to us.  The brother told Donnie up front that he was not willed any books and would be bidding on them in the auction.  We though he meant a few....she had a huge amount.  He purchased every box of books there (big boxes) at around $150 a box if I remember correctly, and then afterwards asked Donnie if he would see to it that they were delivered to the Pictou Library--it cost him a bundle!  But
that's the way they all were--real "Givers".  And it was good of Mr. Abbey (the nephew) to write us after everything had been settled thanking us for a great job and in particular,
mentioning that he felt he would have done just a well if not better, if he had left those other couple dozen pieces for us to auction in Pictou rather than taking them to Montreal.
                                            Since that, over the years, we have worked for several  other Jewish people.....you know, they were all the same--most gracious and grateful for anything we did.  I am
reminded of a Jewish lady Doctor in Halifax who was moving back to the States and had us do her auction.   She, too, was a really sweet person.  And we cleared out the Julius Solomon place in Halifax for his son after his decease--he, too was great to deal with.  I was so impressed there I got Mr. Solomon's business sign here with some other collectibles to remember them all.  I don't know if it's most of the Jewish people or just the ones we have encountered, but they have all been beautiful people!


                                                         THE TRUE STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT KNIFE MAKER & HIS FAMILY

          In the late 40’s, there was a Czechoslovakian man by the name of Rudolph Grohmann who moved from the old country to Pictou, Nova Scotia.  He, his wife and two daughters had survived the war and it has been said that during an invasion over there, he had to bury his girls below their coal bin to save them from rape and murder when the enemy was going through.

          Mr. Grohmann first started at the Fisheries building here where he opened up a small knife factory known as “Pictou Cutlery” up on the hill beside the old Sutherland Harris Hospital on Beaches Road.  My brother, Preston, worked at that factory  for a while in his youth.  We lived way out past there and I remember hurrying from school at noontime so I would sometimes catch a ride the rest of the way home with Preston.  Money was tight here in the last half of the 50’s when the boom after the war settled down.  The Pictou Cutlery closed about that time. 

          Donnie remembers Mr. Grohmann making knives in the little shed out behind his  house up near where Donnie used to live in the "Heights".  And wonderful knives they were, too….like Pictou had never seen….but most of us could not afford hardly anything in those days as many were out of work.  I remember my mother saying she would like to have a “real” Grohmann knife, but, putting bread on the table was the first objective.  Mr. Grohmann strived to succeed from the works of this little shop to help keep his family going. 

          When things got a little better around here in the early 60’s, Mr. Grohmann got his break….the relatively new large brick building on Main Street which housed the liquor commission was vacated and that place became available.  There, Mr. Grohmann, with his daughter, Berta, and son-in-law, Mike Babinec, set up the factory known today as “Grohmann Knives”.  It’s the first most noticeable business on the street with a big replica of a knife stuck through the corner of the brick building. 

          Some time after that, the Russell Belt Knife was designed which became world famous and is still one of their most popular designs today.  They have many designs—for hunting, for the kitchen, pocket knives, etc, etc.  When we owned the Consulate Restaurant in Pictou, that was the main reason the bus tours stopped in Pictou for lunch—so the tourists could got a chance to go over to the famed “Grohmann Knife Factory” to buy a real quality souvenir of their trip here.  And the people flocked there, too!   

          The Canadian Military were supplied with Grohmann Knives for many years but (as many auction-goers will remember Donnie was so up-in-arms about) our local MP offered the contract up for grabs and opted unit price over quality and gave the order to an Ontario firm who in turn had the product made in China for our military.

          Over the years, we accumulated many of the Grohmann knives—especially when we owned the restaurant—the knives are in a class of their own and cannot be beaten!  We still have some of those knives from the early 80’s which have been used on a daily basis—never sharpened—and like the day they were purchased.  In our business as auctioneers, when packing up an estate, we are always sure to go through the kitchen drawers for Grohmann knives so they won’t be thrown in with others, as they are always a big seller individually.

          And so the knife business has flourished here.  In the early 70’s,  Donnie’s boyhood friend, Mike’s son, (Michie) came into the business with his father and grandfather, and later Michie’s two younger brothers also joined the business.  It went on like that for a time, but the younger boy died…he was a haemophiliac and we understand received a bad transfusion.  The second son pursued another vocation.  

          Now, I believe the business is in Michie’s hands and it is operated by him in conjunction with his daughter, Michelle, and her husband.   Last thing we heard, they employed over 20 local people full time.

          Mike was still seen around there at times until his recent death—he wasn't a young man, but still saundered in when he chose to....it’s a family affair and they (at least the generations we knew) were not really like most Canadians for it was evident they held their parents and grandparents in very high esteem.  Many Canadians have lost that kind of respect.   

          When we speak of the Grohmanns and the Babinecs, Donnie remembers the old times.  He knew Mr Grohamnn as a very fine humble man and his wife a very quiet lady (Michie used to have unusual pet names he called them which probably meant grandfather and grandmother in Czechoslovakian).  Mrs. Grohmann died long ago and an eternal flame burned on her grave at Seaview for many years….it’s probably still there. 

          It’s the many good times with Michie and Mike that Donnie really recalls—Donnie and Michie were kids then.  Mike was good to all the kids.  Sometimes, the whole gang of them went out to the hunting camp at Mount Thom for a week during holidays—Mike would usually stuff them all in his car for the long trip (it was considered a long distance in those days) and then pick them up when their provisions were gone and they were glad to get back to mammas' cooking.

          I remember Mike and his wife, Berta, in a different way.  Berta is a stately lady and very wise.  She, too, possessed that strong sense of love and respect for family.  It was so evident when Junie married Michie and Berta so immediately received June as one of their own.  That is not so commonly seen here as usually there is so much contention between mother and daughter-in-law.  Berta knitted beautifully in her day and I recall a gorgeous pair highland knee hose she knitted
for my brother to go with his kilt.  Later, in the 60’s, she knitted a pair for me.  As for Mike, nobody could compare to him singing and playing the accordion.  I remember him performing at the old Catholic Hall in Pictou for the Saint Patrick’s Day Concert.  I was always in the concert dancing the Irish Jig, but all of us performers pushed to get up where we could hear Mike’s renditions of “Irish Eyes” and those old Irish favourites…..he always took the house down and people cheered until he came back for seconds.       

        The Grohmanns and the Babinacs lived in just plain “height houses” beside each other (wartime housing) like many of the rest of us—rented from $8 to $22 a month in the 40’s & 50’s, then in the 60’s  sold by the Housing Commission for around $2500 each.  When Michie married June in the early 70’s, they bought another “height” house beside the other two, so the three families lived side-by-side for a lot of years.  Eventually Michie & June moved out the country not far from us.

        The family we knew and grew up with were always hard workers and down-to-earth. Our interests have changed over the years, so we are not close like when we were kids, but we occasionally meet Michie and June in Sobeys or the like and reminisce about those good old times.  They are still the same down-to-earth people we grew up with and success never went to their heads.  And Michie still goes around in jeans like the rest of us!   This is an immigrant family which Canadians should be proud to call “ours”!

         In all our years, I don't think we've ever given a wedding gift that wasn't from Grohmann's, except, of course, Michie's & June's wedding.  A Grohmann knife is always considered a quality gift!         

        Our nephew, Duane (Preston's son), and Donnie are both great hunting enthusiasts (to say the least)—for years, they had a competition each year between the two of them, who would get the biggest deer.  Duane understands the fondness Donnie holds for this Czechoslovakian family and their business and one day set about to design an all inclusive tool for the woods—hunting, survival and all that. He went down to the Grohmann factory and had them especially craft his design and that was Donnie’s Christmas gift that year.  It’s a beautiful implement which has become a showpiece—never to be used in the woods.  At the launching of the “Hector”, again Duane went to Grohmann’s for Donnie’s Christmas Gift—a gorgeous commemorative knife on which was inscribed a picture of the ship….only 2000 of these knives were produced and Donnie’s bears the number 1946 (his date of birth). 


                                                               HARVEY A VENIOT

               After all these years, I though I should write something here about "Harvey A."  It seems that old politicians are left out of the picture!

            From the time I was a little girl, I remember Harvey's name in our household--sometimes good and sometimes bad!  I don't really know the whole story from the early times, except that I understand Harvey first started into politics as a Liberal and later turned Conservative.

            My first encounter with him was in the late 50s when he asked me to play the bagpipes at the Conservative Meetings to pipe the speakers in (basically to quiet down the noisy crowd).  That's when Stanfield used to come for the big ones.  Political meetings were a big thing in those times!  I got $10.00 a shot--big money in those days!

            After Harvey became the MLA for Pictou West, he called on me again to pipe at the Tourist Bureau out near the PEI Ferry then to welcome the people to Nova Scotia.  I piped one day a week all summer and blew my lungs out, but the $10.00 for each trip was worth it!  I got paid by Tourism Nova Scotia the end of August.  And, of course, I got some tips from the American tourists, too.....Canadians would never give a penny!  I was just in my mid-teens then AND certainly formed an opinion!

            When I was taking a Commercial Course in 1963, money was tight and so I would work one month at the old Stedman's Five-to-a-Dollar Store and then one month go to Commercial Class and so on....I got away with just working every second month as Mr McGaw, the Manager of Stedman's then, knew I was a good worker and would do twice the work the others would in the same time!  A full week's work at Stedman's (6 days) paid $22.00 so I took home about $19.75 a week--like $79.00 for the month.  The Commercial Course cost $50.00 a month and supplies about $15.00, so I had 14.75 to go on for the month.  Fortunately, the Commercial Teacher also went along with this arrangement of one month there and one month at work--she was a lovely old gal, never married, and did her best to get the young ones on the road to "success".  She shoved everything she could into me in the months I was there and when in May, she heard that I had a chance to get in to Harvey Veniot's as Secretary, she sent me off with her blessing and agreed to let me write my finals with the other girls in June, without charge, so I would have my papers.  I actually completed my 10-month course in 5 months with a lot of hard work.

             So, I started at Harvey Veniot's office as Secretary in 1964.  Harvey was a small town Lawyer in Pictou who did everything from Wills to Drunk Driving Charges.  His fees were never by the book.....if you were rich, you paid a good price; if you had nothing, the fees were substantially less--many of which he never received!  But if you were caught drunk, you paid to the teeth--rich or poor!

            The first job he gave me to do when I came into the office was to learn to forge his signature.  As a politician, he sent cards out for everything (the mailing cost was cheap then)....cards of congratulations for weddings, baby births, graduations, etc., etc., condolences and everything else you could think of!  He had cases and cases of Cards for every occasion.  One of my most important jobs was to pick up every notable occurrence from the local papers on a daily basis, forge his signature on a card and get them out!  People love to get signed cards, so it was good for his political standing.  It got to the point that Harvey couldn't tell my "Harvey A Veniot" from his own signature.  Neither could I.  Now, this is not to say that Harvey did not care about his constituents and just left it to the secretary to do.  When he came in each day, he wanted a "briefing" on who died, who had a baby or whatever I had picked up in the papers.  His most common saying about a death was "poor bugger".  And he was always concerned about the family making out okay. 

            Now Pictou was a bad little place in those times, so it was nothing for someone to end up in the "clink" at two o'clock in the morning and to be calling Harvey to get them out of jail at all hours of the night.  Many a morning I'd come into work and Harvey would be sitting there in his office in front of the typewriter (he could type as good with two fingers as I could with all of mine) dressed in long overcoat, cream silk scarf, high zipper boots and the knees of his striped PJs showing.  You see, when he got called out to bail someone out through the night, he's just pull everything over the pyjamas and go to the police station like that.  Nobody noticed because the coats were long and the boots high then.  And by the time he got out in the cold and got the transgressors out of jail, he was wide awake and usually went down to the office afterwards to get some work done through the night.  When I came in at nine o'clock, he'd have a load of work ready for me to do and then he went home to get some sleep for a few hours.

            I had asked Harvey for the day off the 23rd of December 1966 and the morning of the 24th.  He was always very inquisitive and wanted to know why I wanted it off.  I just told him it was important and I'd let him know when I got back.....he didn't like being kept in the dark, but let me have it off anyway.  Obviously, he couldn't stand the suspense and phoned my parents on Sunday by the way to wish them a Merry Christmas but it was really to question them where I'd gone on the 23rd.  By then, they knew that Donnie and I had taken off to Moncton and eloped.  Harvey wanted to speak to me.  When we came in for Christmas that day, they said to call him.  He just said, "You're not pregnant, are you?"  I said "No".  "That's good, he said--get the pill.  I don't want you taking a lot of time off to have babies".  He softened up:  "And you can have an extra day off with pay for your honeymoon, so you don't have to be back to work till Wednesday". 

            Some people hated Harvey with a passion.....he was rough and tough and cursed tremendously.  But beneath it all, he had a good heart.  Many a time, I've seen him send food or money out to someone desperately in need...and especially toys to children who had nothing at Christmastime....he would always say, "the poor kids can't help if their parents are ba-----s". Outsiders never saw those good points and he didn't care if they did!  He came from a big family himself and knew what it was like to have very little.

            He didn't pay much in wages--I worked 5-1/2 days a week for $25.00 in the beginning and later got $30.00 a week.  The average then was around $40 for a 5-day week.  But the benefits were good.  When Harvey spent the 3 months at the House of Assembly early each year, he paid me right straight through and I just had to be there with the office open--very little work to do.  And when he and Rhoda went off on their big trip every year, again I got paid right straight through and they always bought me nice gifts back.  I always got something real nice at Christmas--I still have a sterling bracelet they gave me one year....and in those times, the ordinary person never got anything sterling.  The bracelet would have cost more than a week's wages then.

            Rhoda, Harvey's wife, was big into organizations in the town.  When occasions came up that she needed help sewing an outfit, she would just call Harvey and say, "I need Verna here today...you'll have to do without her".  That suited me great--I never did like typing.  So I would go up to their lovely home and help Rhoda with the sewing (she knew I sewed since I was a child, so she'd usually just tell me what she wanted and let me go to it myself).  She was not big-feeling, so we got along great.  For that matter, neither was Harvey big-feeling....he worked his way up from nothing but never ever stuck on airs!

            They say Harvey worked the pulp boats to get himself through college and he expected everyone else to work hard too; so there weren't many breaks with him for anyone lazy.

            Harvey was big on advice.  He constantly reminded me that I could fall in love with a rich man just as easily as a poor man.  Needless to say, I didn't take that bit of advice.  However, he liked Donnie. We both worked the elections with him.  Does anyone remember the little plastic rain hoods that were in every mail box marked "For a brighter day, Vote Harvey A"?  We delivered thousands of those.  I remember once when Donnie was at Hawker Siddeley and they were on strike, Harvey called him up and said, "Come on down, Donnie, I've got something for you to do."  Harvey would get these big ideas through the night and they'd have to be dealt with immediately the next morning.  Anyway, that night, he apparently decided that Rhoda should have a new car....he liked to keep her looking good--his cars were never as good as hers!  So he told Donnie what style of car he thought she should have and said he wanted it to be classy and a colour that was really in style and sent Donnie off to New Glasgow to choose a car for Rhoda.  Donnie went from garage to garage and enjoyed every minute being able to talk in the big leagues.  He finally settled on two and took details, photos and prices back to Harvey.  Harvey liked them both and let Rhoda make the final decision.  Harvey told Donnie to come back the next morning.  By then, he had been on the phone to the garage to cut them down in price and arranged a time for pickup.  I can't remember how Donnie got to New Glasgow, but Harvey gave him the cheque and within a  couple hours, he was back with Rhoda's new car.  As a young fellow, Donnie though that was pretty cool that they let him literally choose the car and even be the first one to drive it.  There was no such thing as us having a new car in those days, so that was a big thrill.

            The main thing I remember of the several years I spent in Harvey's office was his passion to see a causeway over Pictou Harbour.  He felt we were getting the bum end of the deal in Pictou West since we did not connect with the rest of the County and so he set out on an unforgettable journey to see his dream come true.  For several months, he took his plan before every government committee in Halifax, but none of them saw it his way.  This was the low end of the Province then and they shoved Harvey and his ideas aside like a can of soup.  He continued to gather together more information and plans and even got the CNR involved, trying to get the train track across his proposed causeway....that gained a little ground but shortly fell flat.  The battle went on and on for months.  Harvey tried every scheme he could, but they flatly refused him every time.  But when Harvey got something in his head, there was no talking him out of it.  He kept badgering and badgering.  It got to the point that he couldn't get any more appointments with any more government officials in Halifax.  But like the Bible says, because of "importunity",  the people got up out of bed through the night and gave the fellow at the door bread; so it was with Harvey......because of "importunity" or downright out-and-out persistence, he broke through.  I can remember Donnie and I coming back from Halifax late one Saturday night and passing by the office about 2 am to notice the lights on.  I though I must have forgotten them on when I left there at noontime, so I went in to turn them off...Harvey would crack up if he knew the lights were left on (wasting power).  To my amazement, Harvey was there in the office at that hour down on his hands and knees on the floor with maps spread out all around him--"Come and see", he said, "I found a new way, a shorter route across Pictou Harbour".  He was ecstatic!   He said not to expect him into the office on Monday and postpone any appointments he had for then.  He was off to Halifax again--no appointments, but he went anyway.  I understand he made a total pest of himself at the government offices that morning and would not leave until he got to speak with the necessary officials.  He just sat there and waited and waited and waited.  They had no choice but to finally let him in.  I honestly believe to this day that we would not have the causeway across Pictou Harbour if it was not for Harvey Veniot.  The Halifax officials gave in because he bugged them to death and they just couldn't get him off their backs!  Unfortunately, most people do not realize that Pictou Causeway would not be there except for Harvey's hard work and importunity.  And unfortunately, very few have every given him any credit for his efforts.  People used to say, "Harvey wants a pat on the back for what he did"....sure, he wanted a pat on the back!  And didn't he deserve it!  Everybody likes a pat on the back.  That's all he wanted--a pat on the back!  There was no money in it for him.  Couldn't we give him a pat on the back at least.  Without that causeway, we would still be in the backwoods!  If no one else will acknowledge it, I will--Thank you Harvey!

            And so Harvey went on to become Speaker of the House of Assembly and Minister of Something or Other after this, so he was off to Halifax most of the time and his Pictou office was only open on weekends....I went on to another law office in New Glasgow from there, but highly appreciate how much I learned from "Harvey A".

                                                                                                                                                           BY     Verna
Note:  After writing the above story, I had a very interesting e-mail from a former
Pictou resident:  "Thanks for a great and true story about Harvey...I admired him all
my life and still do.  He indeed was a good person, although unconventional at times.
I know people for the most part called him down...but that is common when you don't
know a person for the good of their heart and soul.  I learned that if you crossed him.
you'd pay to the end.  That is fair in my book.  I recall him bringing food to our home
in bad times.  Mother always told me when I was a child that Harvey had a good heart,
but I thought she meant that he was healthy.  In time I understood what she really
meant.  May God bless him"

October 2009--it has just come to our attention that Harvey passed away a few days




                                                                                                                                                                                            FOREVER CHANGED

        In the last year of WW2, a young man by the name of Gordon from this area enlisted.  I guess no one really knows what effect the war and killing and all that has on some people, but Gordon returned home afterwards hooked bad on the booze. 

        He married and had a nice family, but in spite of this, Gordon was an alcoholic and known as "the town drunk" in Pictou.  I hope Gordon"s family will not mind me saying this for it's not really important what happened before but what was accomplished in his life afterwards. This information is simply presented to set the stage for later events.

        By Gordon's own words as he told his story to us in the early 80's, many years before, he woke up about midnight one warm Saturday night in the ditch after a lengthy drunk.  It was almost like another Damascus Road experience without the physical blindness.  He just knew without a doubt he had only one thing to do.

        Now Gordon's wife was a fine lady and through the years had faithfully attended the local Salvation Army meetings in Pictou so that's the first place Gordon thought ofto get help.  In the wee hours of the morning Gordon staggered down to the old three-storey building on Main Street that housed the Salvation Army Citadel.   The Officerslived on the third floor and Gordon was in such rough shape that he had to crawl up the long steep steps to their apartment.  As in Luke 11;8, due to his "importunity" the officers finally arose from their sleep and opened the door to him.

        Right there on the officers' kitchen floor at nearly two o'clock in the morning, Gordon knelt and wholly committed his life to the Lord.  It was an instantaneous change.  Such was his zeal for the Lord that the following afternoon (as was the custom in Pictou in those days) when the Army band met in front of the hospital to conduct the Sunday afternoon service, Gordon was there all dressed up, big as life, singing along with the old familiar hymns.  I was only young then, but I can still remember everyone phoning around to tell of 'his miraculous conversion and many even drove out past the hospital just to see if it really was Gordon there.

         It really was a miracle for it was a total life change.  Gordon never touched the bottle again and he served the Lord with all his heart from that day on.  He became an Officer in the Salvation Army himself and during their years stationed near a reservation in Northern New Brunswick, he won untold numbers of people to the Lord. Whenhe was in his 50's, he was ordained into Holiness.

        To Gordon, home was back here around Caribou, so the family came back and settled in here.  Gordon never liked the idea of being cooped up in a church, but felt he could be of much more service out in the workplace.  So he followed Paul and became a "Tentmaker-Preacher". He worked as a Chipper at the shipyard in Pictou through the week.  Such a witness was he there that even the foulest of the foul curbed their language in his presence for he "walked the walk" and the saved and sinners alike showed respect for Jesus radiated from him.  Some of the older "Yard" boys will remember this.

        On Sundays, Gordon preached in a little country mainline church which we attended during his years there.  God, Himself, orchestrated the hour long service at that oldchurch where neither mike nor speakers were necessary .  Even the backseater sat up and listened when Gordon's deep booming voice echoed praises off the old plastered walls.  His several message on Revelation were the deepest yet easiest to understand I have ever heard. 

        When he prayed, Gordon was transported into the very presence of God and within seconds this rough and ready hulk of a man was transformed into a tender loving childin Father's arms.  Some of us in the congregation began to hop aboard that transport and those were five minute experiences I will never forget. 

        During one of these prayer times, I experienced a phenomena that words can hardly tell, but I will try.  One particular morning when Gordon gushed out praises from the very depth of his soul to his closest and most intimate Friend, I lifted my head and opened my eyes to see what appeared to be a sort of smoke arising from and about Gordon.  I obviously had been given a glimpse into the spirit world.  It was absolutely magnificent--the most beautiful color I have ever, ever seen.  It was breathtaking.  The closest I could ever try to describe in our language would be to say it was rising like steam from a whistling kettle in great puffs and the awesome color was something between s royal purple and magenta. I closed my eyes and opened them again and it was still there.  It stayed for as long as the prayer lasted. My earthly mind questioned God, "What is this?" I clearly heard the answer, "It is the sweet incense of praise arising  from my servant, Gordon."  That was not long before he died.  I believe this was just a hint of the heavenly kingdom that Gordon MacKenzie now knows as "home"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        by Verna


                                                                                TRAMP ART, TRAMPS AND BEDBUGS 
In the August 30/07 "Kovels Komments" (an antique weekly available on the internet), suggesting that Tramp Art was improperly named for in fact it was not done by tramps but by home craftsmen. 
                They are not a hundred percent correct on this....probably some pieces were made by craftsmen in the homes, but I do know that tramps made many pieces in this neck of the woods anyway....been there -- as the saying goes!
                Now most Tramp Art is attributed to earlier times than the 40's, but when I was a wee little girl just after the war, I can vividly remember the tramps knocking on our door asking, "Can you spare a bite of food, ma'am?".  Those were the times when most people still had an old gramophone in their homes and the most common song I remember playing was, "Hallelujah, I'm a bum, Hallelujah bum again, Hallelujah, give us a handout and revive us again!" -- went with the times!   We didn't call them tramps or bums  -- we called them "stragglers".  Although we did not have a whole lot of food ourselves, my parents did not believe in turning anyone away from the door hungry and always gave what they could spare--usually a big thick slice of homemade bread with molasses.  The stragglers were never invited in though....they had to wait on the doorstep and the food was handed out to them.
                Something that is very clear in my mind from those many times I accompanied my mother to answer the door was the cute little boxes, cigarette containers and other trinkets the old stragglers sometimes offered in exchange for food -- items they had made along the way (from match sticks, fish boxes and the like).  I remember the little bumpy things all over them (just like we see today called "Tramp Art").  I don't remember any big elaborate pieces, but just little odds and ends...sometimes a jewelry box if they thought they might get a full meal.  The stragglers who did not have the skills to make such things occasionally offered to split wood to pay for their food, but for the most part, I recall them being a lazy bunch and didn't really want to work at all.  One that stands out in my mind vividly was "old Tom McClousky".  He was a real big guy and my mother was scared to open the door to him if my father was not at home.  In fact, if she saw him coming from a distance, she would grab me and we would hide under the table and I was warned not to utter a word, for it was common for him to look in the windows to see if anyone was around.
                But we never even got one piece of this Tramp Art as my mother would never allow the stuff in the house.....you see, it was just after the war and port towns were crawling with bedbugs that were brought over in the ships from the old countries, they claimed.   My mother was always afraid that bedbugs may have laid their eggs in the wooden crevices of the hand made wooden wares the stragglers offered and we would be inviting bedbugs into our home if she took anything....although, we eventually got invaded by bedbugs like practically every other home in Pictou in those times. 
                And this is the subject matter of the rest of this writing--Bedbugs!  Nobody ever said a word about it--it was considered a shame to have bedbugs, but pretty well every household got them sooner or later.  Quite often, parents tried to hide it from their kids when they had bedbugs in case it might slip out of their lips in school--even hair lice was not considered as "dirty" as bedbugs.  The bugs soon spread to logging camps (prevalent in the 40's and 50's) and they were running wild.  It just took one bug brought in on someone's clothing to lay eggs and they multiplied like crazy. 
                In those days, we believed that bedbugs had both male and female reproductive organs on each bug so that you only needed one to get it all started. Since those times, it has been established that there are actually male and female bedbugs, but that a female, after being inseminated, can lay eggs for months afterwards, so when we carried a female bedbug or some eggs on us, the whole cycle started again.....sometimes long after we may have carried the horrendous things home. They were dreadful little creatures--left big welts like hives when they bit.  They thrived in mattresses and came out at night in the dark to do their damage. They looked like little beetles sort-of, had crispy backs that cracked when they were crushed and they really stank--I'll never forget the smell as long as I live.  To this day, I know I could  walk into any house and just tell by the smell if they have bedbugs.  The bugs loved the darkness and I can remember being sound asleep when I was a little kid at the time we were infested and my father would come in through the night, pick me up out of bed and carry me out to the couch in the kitchen to sleep for a few minutes while he and Mother quickly killed any bedbugs on my bed when the light was turned on fast.....the bugs soon ran for all the crevices when the light came on, but they got some of them anyway.  If any bites were showing, we were not sent to school that day so no one would know we had bedbugs.  Father would wait until the weekends to fumigate and we would all have to get out of the house for hours while the poison was so strong and stung the nostrils.  Father would spray the whole house, staying in there without a mask in all those fumes....sometimes he would come out for a few minutes in between when it go so bad he could hardly breathe.  It's a wonder we all survived the severe douses of poison spray that went into the houses in Pictou in those times to get rid these pests (including DDT).  Nobody knew then how dangerous DDT was.   Also, there was a weird light bulb that could be screwed into a socket and everyone had to get out of the house for 24 hours while it emitted some poison gas to work on the pests.
            Nobody every got completely clear of the bugs in just one fumigation.  Mostly, we had to get rid of all mattresses and anything padded from the houses and douse the whole place (ceiling to floor) several times over a period of 2 to 3 months to get completely clear of them.....and then hope nobody carried a bug in after that.        
            These horrible bugs persisted well into the 50's and I can remember going to school through the "heights" in the springtime and it was a common sight to see mattresses burning in the back yards.  Everybody, of course, just said the mattresses were old and wrecked and they just wanted to get rid of them (we didn't have a garbage pickup in those days)....but the whole town knew it was because nothing else would kill the pesky bugs without first of all getting rid of the mattresses.
                Not one soul I ever heard of in the town admitted they ever had bedbugs.
                However, I do remember Jack Cunningham (Donnie's old auctioneering partner) telling the story of going out west on the train with several other men looking for work sometime in the first half of the 1900's.  He was awakened through the night by a weird sound.  A whole pile of the men were all packed onto one train and they were all asleep.  Jack lit up the old barn lantern and there on the train were so many bedbugs in sight, it literally scared him.  The sound was of them moving around.  He said the walls, ceilings, floors, covers and everything was black with them...so bad that he left the lantern lit for the rest of the night....because the bugs will go and hide in crevices, clothing or whatever to get away from the light.
                When Donnie & I first got into antiques in the 70's, we though all this was 20 years behind us...but when we were into an old fellow's place out in Diamond, I saw a bedbug crawl up his arm.  Hair shot up on the back of my neck, for I could never forget the sight of a bedbug.  I told Donnie we had to leave immediately and made up some kind of an excuse to get out of there at which time the kind old fellow piled a few old dishes in my hands which he called antiques....he was trying to be nice to me and what could I do?  I tried to refuse them, but there was no getting around it without hurting his feelings--I had to take the dishes.  When we got to the car, I told Donnie what I had seen and he panicked too, for we both knew how a bedbug could crawl onto a person and hide in a seam of clothing or whatever and be carried home completely unnoticed.  We went flying out the lane and I don't even know what dishes we had, but they were soon biffed into the woods along the way in case any bedbug eggs were on them.  When we got home, it was dark and we both stripped stark naked on the doorstep before we went into our house (even shoes) and just ran for the shower and stayed there for nearly 20 minutes in the hottest water we could stand.  Then we took a big tubful of varsol and any other killers we could find out on the doorstep and picked up our clothing and shoes on a broomstick and doused them.  Then we sprayed the car with every poison we could get our hands on.  Mission accomplished!
                And now after 60 years, "the cat is out of the bag"....Pictou, like most other Port town had its fill of bedbugs....this was a well-kept secret, but now it is just a story out of the archives.   Consider yourselves blessed that you don't have this problem today.
March 2009--I guess I spoke too soon....they say that bedbugs are on the go in Halifax again....not that bad and mostly in derelict areas, but hopefully now they have something available to get rid of them easier than in the 50's.
September 2010--just watched a segment by Geraldo on Fox News about several places having a severe infestation of bedbugs now.....here we go again!

                                                         A HALF MILLION KILOMETERS & STILL TRUCKIN'



At 10:00 AM on Tuesday morning, November 27th, 2007, Eastern Standard Time, the temperature in LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, was 60 degrees Fahrenheit, in NEW YORK CITY 60 degrees Fahrenheit and in DURHAM, NOVA SCOTIA,
it was also 60 degrees Fahrenheit   (appx 15 degrees Celsius)


Did you know that Alfred Nobel (who established the Nobel Peace Prize) and other Nobel Prizes throughout his lifetime made his money selling ammunition and dynamite!


                                                                             WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog.

There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved.

"I want to repay you," said the nobleman. "You saved my son's life."

"No, I can't accept payment for what I did," the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel.

"Is that your son?" the nobleman asked.

"Yes," the farmer replied proudly.

"I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of." And that he did.

Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia.

What saved his life this time? Penicillin.

The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill.

 His son's name? Sir Winston Churchill.

Someone once said: What goes around comes around.

Work like you don't need the money.

Love like you've never been hurt.

Dance like nobody's watching.

Sing like nobody's listening.

Live like it's Heaven on Earth.

May there always be work for your hands to do;

May your purse always hold a coin or two;

May the sun always shine on your windowpane;

May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain;  

May the hand of a friend always be near you;

May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.


                                                              POSEIDON ADVENTURE--NOTHING!
                                             REMEMBER THE "BONNIE"

 Many of our customers know Danny Lloyd from the Auctions.  His wife, Verna, used to clerk for us back in the 80's.  We have all remained close friends ever since.  Donnie & I were at their home Sunday night in January 2006 and for the first time in our many visits back and forth, Danny showed us some old photos from his younger years in the Navy.  Here is a photo of him at age 22.
                           In particular, Danny brought out a photo of the Aircraft Carrier "HMCS Bonaventure" when it hit the big storm of the century halfway between here and England in early December 1959.
                           The "Bonaventure" was a majestic Aircraft Carrier of the Royal Canadian Navy built in Belfast, Ireland and named after a Bird Sanctuary in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  She carried Banshee Jet Fighters and Tracker A/S Aircraft and with its advanced features permitted USN and RN Aircraft to be regularly operated during training exercises.  
                           Danny was only 22 year old when the "Bonny" crossed the Sea to attend a Nato exercise in England.  His position was Leading Seaman as was his friend, Robert Grant, from Briar Island.....remember about three years ago we conducted an auction at the Best Western in Truro for the Estate of Robert Grant--same fellow!   Rube Hornstein (remember the Weatherman on the old Halifax Television Station) had gone over on the trip with them to England and when they were returning from England, he said it was evident that a storm was brewing, but it appeared that evening that the storm would pass off to the side of the ship's course.  During the night however, the direction of the storm shifted and they met it head on.  The vicious sea tossed and battered the 700 foot ship around like a little toy boat in a child's bathwater.  The waves reached as high as 90 feet and looked like a huge wall of water in front of them.  All communication was out.  At the height of the storm 2 tracker aircraft and a big crane were ripped from their moorings and washed overboard, the anchor punched a hole in the bow.....even the piano in the Wardroom broke loose and pinned a man against the wall.  For nearly four days the fate of the Bonnie and the lives of 1200-1500 men aboard including squadrons and ships company rested in God's hands.
                           When the sea finally settled, there wasn't a raft or lifeboat left--the high winds had ripped them all off the ship.  The heavy steel frames of the ship were bent eleven back from the front.  Although the engines kept running throughout the siege, the ship only moved 11 miles in the four days.
                           Needless to say, after that battering, the ship was taken in for a refit at Saint John.
                           Other men Danny can remember who were on board during this run were Norm (Skip) Bewsher and John Gregory (both of Dartmouth).
                           The Bonaventure was the last of the Canadian Aircraft Carriers and served until 1970 when the government cut defense costs.  It was never replaced.  "Ottawa's desire for a small ship navy and helicopters made carriers with a fixed wing aircraft impractical",  says Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum spokesman.
                           Along the southernmost part of Point Pleasant Park in Halifax sits an anchor off the Bonnie. 
                           Below is a photo taken on the ship at the height of the storm.  Look close and you will see 3 men in a "goofing" station keeping a watch.  01/17/06

                                        Another photo showing some of the Seamen off the Bonnie:
                                         (This was the time when the men had to press their pants with the "crease of the seven seas")

                                        More information and photos welcome from you who sailed the seven seas.





The following is a chapter from my brother's book "From the Eyes of a Child (the hungry thirties in P.E.I.)" - Verna

                                                  A HORSE CALLED JIM

It was on my father’s knee in front of the kitchen stove when I was just a wee tyke that I first heard about “Big Jim”. And that was certainly not the last time I heard the story, for it seemed a cold winter’s night shut up in the house really set in motion the story telling mood and that of “Big Jim” was always a dousie.

Not long before I was born, when my family still lived in Georgetown, earlier in the depression, there was a long cold snap right in the dead of winter.  As was the order of the day, it was “hard times in the Maritimes” and particularly on "The Island".

Now in those times, traveling by ice in winter was perhaps the most common and favoured means of transportation for anyone living near the water; and the route across the River between Georgetown and Newport was a main run then clearly marked with little bushes to denote the thickest ice.  The temperature had not risen beyond 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit for a long time and the severe cold was hard on the fuel supplies, for people had to run the old wood stoves wide open just to keep the chill off their places.  My folks were running “mighty low” on fuel, Dad said, and, so, regardless of the weather, it was necessary for him to get bundled up and walk across the ice from Georgetown to Newport and then up to Woodville Mills (a good stretch of 5 or 6 country miles) where he cut down a load of railings (3-4” inch logs) for firewood.  Uncle Leigh over there in Woodville Mills had this great big old dirty gray horse they called “Jim” which Dad borrowed, along with Leigh’s sleigh. And Dad hitched old Jim up, loaded the sleigh with the wood and started on the cold trip back.

By then, the day was shot, for Dad probably would have stayed in with Leigh for a while taking about mills and engines. ("That was all those Stewart boys ever talked about", Mom would say).  Anyway, it was dark by the time Dad passed by Faye’s General Store near the Newport Ferry Wharf.  He could see several of the local men in there congregating, but Dad was “chilled to the bone” by then and all he could think about was getting back home and out of the cold, so he never bothered to stop.

It wasn’t only sub-zero temperatures that night, but it was pitch dark and it took everything Dad could do to follow the bushes on the good ice.  It was some frosty, but he was doing great until he got out from shore about a half mile when he heard a loud crack.   Before he could do a thing, the horse and sleigh with Dad aboard plunged into the icy water.   The sleigh, being made partially of wood, floated somewhat; but Dad was soaked to the neck in the sleigh and poor Jim was frantically threshing around in the frigid water.

Dad quickly climbed up along the shafts connecting the sleigh to the horse and got onto Jim’s back.  Then he reached down into the icy water and released the shafts, figuring that Jim would swim ahead and Dad would be able to climb up over his neck onto solid ice.  My father could not swim!!!  Too late, he realized that the ice in front of Jim was all cracked and broken.   And when Dad turned around, he saw that Jim had swam far enough ahead to leave too much distance between him and the sleigh so that a return to the former position was impossible.   Dad tried to unbutton his heavy overcoat for it was weighting him down so much he was having trouble moving; but in that short time, ice had formed over the buttons and everything was frozen solid. 

There was open water for a good distance on both sides of Jim. but somehow, in the midst of that hair-raising experience, Dad was able to stand up on Jim’s back and make a jump for it.  By the grace of God, the upper portion of his body landed on good ice and he was able to drag himself up to safety.

Poor Jim was near mad in the frigid water and Dad knew that neither of them would last long under those conditions.  My father’s soaking wet clothes were getting stiffer every minute with the frost and his body was near numb with cold by then, but he ran around on the ice to the back of the sinking sleigh and pulled some of the long rails from it which were caught on the ice.   He took them around to the front of the horse and splayed them between the edges of good ice across the open water and under Jim’s neck.   Then in the darkness, in that freezing and exhausted state, my father proceeded to shimmy across to Jim on those rails above the open water and wound the reins around Jim’s neck and then around the rails to ensure that Jim’s head would stay above water while he ran for help. Can you possibly imagine doing this to save a horse when in fact Dad could not swim a stroke!

It’s a good thing Dad was only in his thirties then, for he went on the dead run with his overcoat caked to him for the entire half mile across the ice in that freezing cold to the General Store he had earlier passed in Newport.  On his arrival and on hearing his plea for help, the couple men there immediately rounded up a few more to go with them.   It was a God-send that Captain Will Sigsworth and his son, Michael, were there at the store at that time--for the Captain had been known to have experience as a lead man in getting horses out of the water.   (There was the occasional time when horses would accidentally break through the ice in those days; but unless they got them out immediately, they were usually goners).

Within five minutes or so all the men were on the run across the ice and it was said that when they left the Newport wharf, they could hear the groans of Jim in the distance.

It was a miracle that Jim was still alive when they reached the scene for nearly a half-hour had lapsed since the accident and the weather was bitter.

Captain Sigsworth gave the orders for the men to cut foot holes in the ice while he got a noose on the horse’s neck with a long rope reaching to all the men.   Almost like a tug-of-war team, the men took their places.

Now, most people don’t realize when they see something like this on a movie today that it is next to impossible to pull a big horse like that up out of the water onto the ice with just a rope, but there is a “trick” to it that only the experienced person can pull.....and Captain Sigsworth was the man for the job.   He got at the head of the team of men next to the horse.   By that time, Jim was nearly done for, literally gasping for his last breath.   It sounds crazy, but what the Captain did next was to swing a big stick and whacked old Jim on the side giving him such a shock that he gulped in a huge breath of air at which time the Captain immediately hollered “heave”.   Not a second was wasted and the men pulled with all their might in sequence just like clockwork virtually choking the horse off for a few seconds so that he could not let that big breath of air out, which had displaced water and caused his big body to float up another foot or so in the water—just enough that with great effort they could pull poor Jim out across the ice to safety.

Now after Jim being down there in the frigid water for that long of a time, Captain Sigsworth knew they had no time to lose; so, he got Jim up and sat his son, Michael, on Jim bareback and sent him on the dead gallop back across the ice to the barn in Newport--the reason being that it would be necessary to keep Jim’s body vigorously moving after such an ordeal so that his blood would keep circulating in that freezing cold.

By the time the rest of the men got back to the barn at Newport, Jim was bedded down under layers and layers of rugs, blankets, overcoats and anything else they could find in an attempt to bring the temperature up on his huge trembling body.  The chills were so bad that the covers were shaking off him and the men knew that Jim had gone through such a hard time that his body would not warm up on its own.   So, they heated up the big pans of hot water on the wood stove and messaged and bathed Jim all over with hot rags until his body temperature finally returned to normal.   It took a good part of the night to bring the horse back to that point and then the men covered him up well for the rest of the night.   It was up to God then whether or not Jim would make it and the men went home and left it in The Master’s hands.

The next morning when Dad went over to Newport to check on Jim, he couldn’t believe his eyes.   Jim really wasn’t dirty gray at all but he was a solid white beauty and he was up and rearing to go.   No one could ever imagine what the animal had gone through only hours before.

So away Dad and Jim went across the ice again with pick and axe and Dad dug the sleigh out of the ice, which was frozen in solid by then.   The firewood was still in the sleigh and Dad even retrieved the shafts which were caught in the ice.  Jim was then harnessed up to the sleigh and pulled it out.   After chopping the ice off the sleigh, it appeared no harm was done and they both went on their way.   A day later than planned, the load of firewood arrived home in Georgetown, just before the supply there had been exhausted.

Dad never ever told Uncle Leigh about the accident, but then Uncle Leigh never ever mentioned Jim’s change from dirty gray to pure white.   My cousin, Cecil (Uncle Leigh’s boy) years afterwards said that Leigh did find out about it later but choose to stay hushed.   And Jim never suffered any after effects from the ordeal and lived as long, if not longer, than any of the other workhorses of that day.

And like all good stories—all’s well that ends well.

                                                              A True Story by Alden Stewart, formerly of Montague, PEI, now deceased

                                                              It is interesting to note that the English teacher in Grade 10 recognized that
                                                              Alden possessed ability in story writing and offered to pay his way through  
                                                              university if he would pursue this avenue.  In those times, university was
                                                              almost unheard of for the ordinary person and Alden declined the offer.
                                                              Needless to say, when he got older, he greatly regretted that decision of youth.


We were picking up goods at a house for auction, the daughter was there and was reminiscing her teenage days when she lived there nearly 40 years ago with her parents and siblings. 
      As we viewed the old floor model stereo, she told the story of how excited the whole family was when they purchased the stereo.  They were probably the first in the neighbourhood to get one.  It cost around $300 then.  She recalled it was on a Friday night  when it arrived and her parents invited all their neighbours in that evening, rolled back the carpet  on the 10'x13' prefab living room and they all enjoyed an old-fashioned dance till 3 o'clock in the morning.
      Anyway, for "old time sake" a relative kept the stereo, perhaps to remind him of the 60's when they "let the good times roll".


                                                                  UNCLE PAT

           Donnie's Uncle Pat (by adoption) was a colourful character all his life.
                Pat was a wild little fellow in the Town of Westville back in the early part of the 1900's, and by the time he was 15, the priest told his father he was possessed by the devil and if he gave him to the priest to purge for half an hour, he would knock that devil out of him.  That's when Pat left home and the church. 

                He kicked around, working here and there, stealing, or doing whatever else he could to keep alive in the hard times and finally ended up with his buddy, Charlie Noel (Willie's brother) in Montreal in the "hungry 30's".  Pat was into everything when he was young, but got an honest job when he could and otherwise picked up money whatever other way he could.  Drugs were rampant then and even opium could be purchased over-the-counter at drugstores as a pain killer.  When times were hard, a trip to the local "watering" hole or other various night establishments in the city could usually net a few extra bucks "rolling" one of the closet people of that time. (if you don't know what "rolling" means, don't ask!) 

                In the midst of scratching for a living, Charlie found a girl up there in Montreal and fell head over heels in love.  Of course, Pat being his best friend, would have to "stand" for him at the wedding.  But there was this overholding situation between Pat and the church........but to be a buddy to Charlie, Pat agreed to go through the whole thing again--communion, confessions, everything to get back in, so the church would allow him to be Charlie's best man.  Now, it was quite a thing when Pat finally went to confession, for when the priest asked him to confess his sins, Pat answered, "Well, Father, if you believe in the Good Book, just start at page 1 and go to the last page and everything bad in between, I've done, so that's what I'm confessing".

                After the war started, things begin to pick up in the Maritimes and Pat came back to New Glasgow where he started working in Car Works at Trenton as a painter.  It was shortly after that he met sweet Hattie whom he married and settled down with her in New Glasgow.  They had a little girl who Pat treated like a Princess--everybody remembers her dressed in a white rabbit fur coat and hat in the wintertime.

                But Uncle Pat was a born Entrepreneur and just working at the Car Works was not enough to satisfy him. 

                                                                                       ----to be continued---