Three Generations

(Elaine Woodford)

My name is Elaine Woodford. I grew up and still live at TooGood Arm in New World Island. My husband and I have two children who are about to start back to school.

The shopping begins! They need two pairs of new runners, one pair to wear to school and one pair to wear inside school. They need several outfits of brand name clothes and a cartoon book bag, pencil case and lunch bag. The next thing on the list is school supplies; they want (or need) crayons, glue, markers, scissors, pencils, pens, paper, folders and tons of other necessities.

When my children start school they have play-time, learn how to share and co-operate with each other, and learn how to recognize if an older person would try to hurt them. Our kids have computer time, gym classes and career development classes. Although they will never believe it, school is more fun nowadays.

In their leisure time my kids watch T.V., play Nintendo and play with Lego Blocks. They go outside only when I insist. Kids today are so used to being entertained that they don't know how to play outside.

I remember when I first went to school it was quite different. It was called Primer. We had our Primer Book which taught us how to read and write. I didn't have the crayons, glue and other necessities to use in school. We didn't have play-time either. We did Primer from September to December and Grade one from January to June. The only play-time we had was recess time when we'd all go outside to play Farmer-in-the-Dell, Ring-around-the-Rosie or Hide-and-Seek.

When I was growing up, our imagination kept us from being bored in our spare time. My mother ran a shop. She sold groceries from the porch of our house. When the trucks came with the goods, we'd wait for her to unpack the boxes so we could play with them. We'd stack them to make houses or use them to play Hide-and-Seek. It would be hours before we'd grow tired of playing with the cardboard boxes. Other times we would cut pictures from catalogues and stick them on cardboard or paper.

One thing that sticks in my memory is when my brother Gerard and I used to wait for Mom to go outside so we could eat the catalogue paper. We'd watch through the window for her to return. I know, it's disgusting! I guess we wanted to do it because we knew we weren't supposed to. But, it was a big thing with us.

Our outdoor activities were jump rope, hop-scotch, and copy-house. In the summer we'd make mud-cakes and go swimming In the salt water, in the winter we'd make snow-cakes, have snowball fights, and build snow forts and tunnels. We would also have lots of fun sliding down the hills around our community.

When my mother started her school year there was no shopping for supplies for her either. Her mom made all their clothes. In the fall they'd each get a new pair of shoes from the catalogue and a new book bag for Christmas every year. In her first couple years of school they used slates, after that the school board supplied them with pencils and paper.

Elaine's mother used to also make mud-pies, play hop-scotch and hide-and-seek. They would go down on the wharf to catch Conners and tom cods. they'd have a contest to see who could catch the biggest fish. In the winter they'd go skating on the bay, sledding, and have snow ball fights. They used to play hockey using a picket from someone's fence for a hockey stick and a tin can for a puck.

Fifty years ago in the summer months most men would go fishing for cod and the women would put it on the flakes to dry. They would cut and dry hay for the horses to eat during the winter months. In the late summer or early fall the vegetables would be harvested. Nowadays there is no cod to fish and hardly anyone makes hay; some people still have gardens but on a much smaller scale.

Back then many houses were launched from one place to another. It required a lot of planning, manpower and maneuvering sometimes it would take days or weeks to complete.

Traveling was quite different too. My mother, her sister and her mother went to Corner Brook one year. Their father had to take them in a motor boat to Herring Neck to catch a boat called "The Clyde". From there they went to Twillingate and had to stay overnight. They called in at a lot of places until they finally reached Lewisporte where they stayed overnight in a hotel. They caught the train on the fifth morning and reached Corner Brook late that night. The same trip would only take four or five hours today.

"But," mother said, "my dear, the olden days were much happier times. People had more time for each other. Everything wasn't rush, rush, rush like it is now.

I tend to agree with my mother. We've become too materialistic and depend too much on technology for our own good. I wonder what it will be like twenty years from now? Do I really want to know?


  1. Is watching T.V., and playing Nintendo and Lego Blocks good or bad for kids? Why?
  2. Write a few sentences describing your childhood or describe the longest trip you've ever taken.

Table of Contents