Over the years interviews have been done with some of the older residents of the community. We post some of them here for your interest. The first one is with Mr. Sumner Gates from Stanburne.
An Old Timer Speaks
(Mr. Sumner Gates)
Mr. Gates is the oldest man in Stanburne today, having celebrated his 83rd birthday on May 29, 1975. The homestead is about two hundred years old. It was the first milled frame house in Stanburne while the others were log cabins. The saw mill from which he obtained the lumber to build the house, was situated on the Indian Brook. It was an up and down saw instead of the rotary mill of today.
The first inhabitants of Stanburne were Nathan Veinot and his family. They settled up by the Gordon Veinot bridge as it is known today. Mr. William Woodworth, and other inhabitant, build the house in which Mr. Joseph Slauenwhite now resides.
Ghost Stories: There are two places in Stanburne that were said to have been haunted in the past. They are: 1) The Jacob Gates place, 2) The other was on the cliff near where Mr. Homer Varner lives.
1) the cliff area – Here some people said that they saw a woman wandering around headless. Something else that startled a few people was that some said that they saw lights shining in the empty homes.
One evening a group of young boys, including Sumner and his friends, decided to play a prank on these superstitious fellows. The boys went up to the cliff and pulled sheets down over their bodies, and waited for the moment to come. It was near dusk when Ed Keddy (the man who said he saw these ghosts) come over the top of the cliff. When he came abreast of them he said, “You’re here again old girl, ain’t ya! If you don’t bother me I won’t bother you.” He was so scared that he took right off.
2) The Jacob Gates place – These people were very old superstitious. The other people of the community thought that it was just their imagination, because they said the lamps could move from the table to the floor, and also that the mats could turn upside down by themselves. One evening, Sumner’s father went down to stay with these people just to see if the house was haunted. They said, “A woman used to walk down the stairs in starched clothes.” They asked his father to stay in the room where this lady was supposed to be, so he did. Nothing took place during the night, so this proves that it was just their imagination. Sumner himself doesn’t believe in ghosts. He says, “It is all in your own mind.”
This spring was the first time he had ever gone to the Bridgewater hospital. He enjoyed his stay there very much.
He told us another story that had been told to him sixty years ago. It was about a man in Bridgewater who had betrayed his political party in an election. He felt badly about what he had done so he decided to go moose hunting. Toward sunset he shot a bull moose, and by the time he had it cleaned and skinned it was dark. It was too late to walk home so he decided to crawl inside the moose and spend the night there. In the early hours of the morning the opening of the moose began to freeze shut. When the man woke he found that he couldn’t get out, so he started to think about the terrible thing that he had one the day before. Well, that fellow started to get smaller and smaller until he was able to crawl out of the opening.
Sumner’s opinion of the depression is that it did not affect the people of their community as much as it did the people who lived in the cities.
One summer his daughter brought three other school teachers home with her. They all wanted to go around the Cabot Trail. They asked Sumner if he knew where they could obtain the history of Cape Breton. He told them that when they arrived there they should stop an old man and ask him. He could tell them quite a bit about the island. When they got there the weather was fine, but the following day when they woke, it was rather murky outside. They could not decide as to whether they should start their tour or stay put. One of the four members saw an old man and stopped to ask if he could tell them what kind of weather to expect. He said, “When Jesus Christ ruled our land you could predict what the weather would be from one day to the next, but since our governments have taken over you do not know what to look for next.”
On June 21, 22 & 23, they are having a music festival, featuring many of the musicians from Nova Scotia. He enjoys the music of the harmonica & the violin.
Sumner feels that welfare would be a good thing if used properly (such as in case of an emergency), but he feels that as it is you can earn as much money on welfare as you can by working, so why work?
Personally he would not like to have long hair, but he says that he can not be a judge of the fashions, because he is old fashioned. He sometimes finds it hard to distinguish between a girl and a boy.
According to Mr. Gates he feels that the winters are not as severe as they were back near the turn of the century. He told us that in 1905, there was so much snow that there was no train through New Germany for six weeks. Then the men had to start in Bridgewater and chop the tracks out with axes to let the train through. His philosophy about this is that the Russian’s and the American’s have been flying all kinds of things through the air, and now they have got the atmosphere all mixed up.
He mentioned to us that the young people of today are going to have a hard time to get jobs to suit them, because they are all getting good educations and they want suitable jobs. He has his grade six education and lives on a farm.
The other day he outwitted a young student because he asked the student how many pounds there were in a ton. The student did not know the answer. He feels that a student of today should at least know that.
Mr. Gates is quite happy and contented to live as he is in his old age. He enjoys not having to work as hard as when he was younger.
Mr. William Feindell, Lunenburg, formerly from New Germany
Where was your first school?
“My first school was where Zwicker’s mill is.”
Who was your first school teacher?
“My first school teacher, there, I don’t know. When they divided the section up and built the school house down where George Feindel still lived, my first school teacher was Minnie Joudrey from Mahone Bay.”
Can you tell us if there was any rum-running around New Germany?”
“There was some. I know a time when there was every other house selling rum.”
Mr. Feindell told us that he could remember when the area from the Irving service station to the Railroad Station was woods and also where Zwicker’s Mill is now.
“There was a cheese factory right across the road from where I lived where young Poole has his trailer. A fellow built a creamery there. I was hired on to drive a horse to drive cream into the creamery. They used to haul it themselves and after a year or two he thought it didn’t pay so he make it over into a tenement house. After a while he tore it down.”
“Mr. X used to be a shoe-maker and lived on a hill next to the Jimmy Fancy place. He used to go back there playing cards and poker. He was coming home one night and came down the cemetery. He heard something and looked back and saw a woman coming after him all dressed in cards. It was just his imagination.”
“From the Methodst meeting house it was a good five miles down to Mr. Y’s. A friend and I were back there one Sunday night to church and a couple of girls were up. We went down to their home with them. I was ahead, and it was a dark, rainy night. By and by the friend hollered and asked if anyone saw a light up ahead. We kept walking. The light would go across different ways. The friend said he wouldn’t go any further, so they made the girls go home.”
“One Halloween night there was a truck wagon setting up by a barn. We took it apart. Hauled it up on the barn roof, and put it back together.”
What do you think of the young people today?
“Well I don’t know. I know we didn’t do as bad a tricks as some of them does today. Of course, putting the wagon up on the roof, that’s bad a trick enough for anybody. I don’t know if young people goes out and drinks. The young people in my time used to drink quite a lot. I think the young people drink more now than they did then. There can’t be any more money around the country than there is right today. Everyone got money. I know the times when I’d go to town and I didn’t have a damn cent in my pocket. If their poor old fathers could have some of that money.”
Could you tell us what it was like to live during the time of the Depression?
“I can’t tell you very much. I don’t know where I was at that time. If young fellows had to go out now and work twelve hours for a dollar would they do it? We got a ten cent raise and thought we had something. For twenty-four days we got twenty-four dollars. Now they earn that much a day. I worked in the pulp mill when they built it. We hauled pulp three years up to the station. Then I went inside. After that I don’t know how many years I worked. In 1898, I went to the States and when I came back in three years time I went to the mill and was in there twenty-eight years scaling wood. Scaled one hundred ten loads a day.”
What would a load be? A half cord?
“Gosh no! Some had two cord!”
Misses Lottie and Clara Barkhouse, New Germany.
“The lake would freeze over and they would have horse races. They’d start by Cecil Conrad’s and come down to the foot of the lake. That would be a mile. Sometimes they’d race a half a mile across the lake. Mostly it was a mile race. Tanny Silver always had horses in the races and so did Stephen Meisner.
“There was an old store where the Foundry Garage is now. There was a grocery store in the house opposite the Red and White. J. B. Delong had that store. Then he moved up where the C. and J. Variety Store is now. That was a general store. Then his son Don Delong owned it. Before him Will Downey owned it.”
“There used to be a hotel across from there the New Germany Fruit Company is now. Willard Mosher owned it. It burned. Then Dr. Young built there.”
“Where Suttles and Seawinds is now, Ike Moore had a hotel and it burned. Then Jud Freeman built it up.”
“The first bank was where Asaaf’s store is now. At that time Bobby Tipert owned a confectionary store in the same building.”
“During the war time there was a theatre where Wynn’s store now stands. The children used to go on Saturday afternoon for ten cents.”
“There was a blacksmith’s shop in the house opposite the post office.”
“A Mr. Tipert had a sawmill on the Lake Road. When oxen and horses used to haul wood they traveled across the lake.”
Mrs. B. G. Oickle
Mrs. Oickle came to New Germany about 48 years ago. From where her store sits today, she remembers that there were trees over to Holland’s Corner. The street through New Germany was dirt or gravel covered. The maple trees that line the street were just saplings.
She worked at the New Germany Fruit Company as a bookkeeper. She told us that the apple industry was quite a considerable industry in those days. Almost everybody had orchards and grew different varieties of apples such as Spies, Kinds, Golden Russets, Cortlands. These would be brought to the Fruit Company and packed in big round wooden barrels. These barrels would be shipped down to Lunenburg or Bridgewater by railway or truck where the barrels would be loaded into ships and taken overseas. The grower never received his money until he got work back from his buyers how his apples went on the market.
She remembered how the 112th regiment drilled through New Germany.
She told us how the men used to work at Zwicker’s Box Mill and the Pulp Mill. They worked for a dollar a day or thirty dollars a month.
She showed us her precious stones which were handmade by her brother-in-law. Among them were amethysts which are native to the Parsboro region.
She showed us a picture of Morgan Falls before the fishway was constructed on the Lahave River by the old Pulp Mill.
Her opinion of the depression was similar to the rest. Her reply was that the Hungry Years were not so bad around here as compared to the cities. Things were valued more than before.
After World War II, New Germany faded out of the apple industry; the Pulp Mill also faded but the wood was shipped by truck to Liverpool.
Mrs. Cora Veinot, Pinehurst
“Can you tell us something about your school days?”
Well, I only went as far as grade seven. Dad, he’d take us to school and if it came a big snowstorm, the road was blocked, (there was no snowplow then), and we sometimes had to crawl on our hands and knees to get home. We had a mile to go and the snow used to be so deep.
In them times, we used slates to do our lessons on, a pencil, a bottle or water and a rag to clean the slate with. We’d work on the slate, the teacher would correct it, rub it off and we’d do another piece. If you didn’t know your lesson, you stood in the corner for the day. We went to school at nine in the morning and left at four in the afternoon. We had an hour for lunch, fifteen minute break in the morning and a ten minute break in the afternoon.
“What about during war times?”
We were rationed on meat, sugar, and butter. We got a pound of sugar per week but we make our own butter so I used to give my butter coupons to someone else.
“What were the wages like?”
Well, my husband earned about a dollar a day. Once, he worked in the States for sixteen dollars a week, and had to pay for his board plus his laundry. Sugar then was five cents a pound, turnips were twenty-five cents a bushel and now you can’t buy one as big as your fist for twenty-five cents.
“Can you tell us anything about transportation?”
When we used to go to Windsor, it took us from daylight to dark to go by horse and wagon. We’d stop on the road to feed the horse and have a lunch ourselves. It’s a lot of difference now. The road used to be so bad you used to hand on to both sides of the wagon and pray you didn’t fall out.
“When was the first time you saw a car?”
Oh, I saw one in the States when I was about sixteen years old. When I got married in 1912, people had cars around here then. There were very few card and they were all open; you had to crank them to get them going.
“When you were young, what did you do for entertainment?”
We studied our lessons and then went to bed. We had lots of dances and sing-songs. We’d gather, sometimes twenty-five, in a room around the piano and sing all evening. Of course, we’d make sugar or molasses candy, maple cream or maple sugar for a snack.
Interview with Mrs. Myrna Chesley
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