Written by William Butt, reproduced from the Fortune Teller
Today I was looking back at some old types of radio transmitters, how they were used and how effective they were. Then I remembered one of the greatest stories of all when it comes to how effective radio really was. Of course I am talking about the one that was on Green Island. The Light housekeeper was William Thornhill, a man from Fortune.
He had one of the first transmitters, if not the first, to be used on the island of Newfound-land. Prior to the Radio Telephone as they were called, some of the bigger stations were using Morse code transmitters, but there was a problem;
William had a radio telephone but one his contacts on the main land never had a transmitter, he had a radio receiver. His name James Crews living at Point Crew at the time. Bill would start his conversation with James on a nightly basis thing, and the conversation would go something like this:
Bill would say, ĎAnyone over from Fortune today Jim ? Give me your light.í Now here is how people of Newfoundland became effective at using what they had to do what they wanted to do.
Jim would hear Bill on his receiver and he would answer to Bill on Green Island by showing him the light from the room that was darkened by the window blind being pulled down.
If there was any over from Fortune, Jim would answer by showing the light in the window by raising the blind. Other questions from Bill might say, ĎAny mail for me over there Jim? Give me your lightí, and Jim would respond by showing the light. If Bill wanted to know if the mail was from home or from his office they had agreed to a certain number of flashes of the light.
If it was from the office Jim would show the light twice and Bill could be heard saying, ĎOh, from the office, is it a parcel Jim? I am expecting Parts. Give me your light.í Parcels were three flashes and so on, but to hear him doing this one would assume that you could only hear one side of the conversation.
They would converse like this for hours some nights, so you can see we are a very unique people.
The town once again, even though we are uncertain about our future, came through with two good meals & entertainment for its seniors. One was provided by the John R. Dixon Memorial for its members & guests. The staff of the legion, President Rennie, & Ladies Aux
did a superb job. The Legion was nicely decorated for the occasion; the meal was well prepared & served; lots of comments could be heard around the hall after the very nice supper.
Our Lions Club & their wives also put on a real good meal for the seniors of the Town. I never knew we had so many seniors. It is certainly the biggest part of our townís population or thatís the way it looks; a great turn out to a well prepared supper. After supper there was a Christmas Carol sing along, followed by a bingo game for anyone who wanted to play and prizes were awarded to winners. The night ended with a live band providing some old time songs that everyone danced to. It was a worthwhile night; we tip our hats to the Lions & their wives for a great night out during the Christmas Season.
A walk around town will show that most everyone is in the Christmas Spirit, lots of lights and decorations around the homes and business properties. We hope that Santa will bring some Good news about our plant will be a blessing and Christmas gift to all, in & around Fortune outdoors.
Editorís Note: This column was written in December, and intended for the January edition but there was insufficient news to publish in January.
As the sun climbs from the East in the morning sky, a bright yellow glow fills the clear blue sky, and as I sit to watch this splendor my eye catches another great sight; the early morning bike riders are off for the day in the country. They are far away from me and they look like colored ants wandering across a carpet of nearly white snow; there are still some brown patches of earth showing, but the country top is frozen, the glistening of different colors of bikes and riders for ever moving towards the ponds that today will be the recreation day for ice fishing.
Most of those riders are plant workers and they still donít know what the out come of the plant will be; lives are put on hold and families are left to wonder what the next move will be. EI will soon run out - and what then? Do they that can haul up stakes and head for another province to try and support a family? Or do they take a chance and stay to wait for bad news, and then have to take the family and move, disrupting their whole way of life, leaving everything behind? That might be ok for the younger workers, but the brunt of it all is most of the workers are nearly up to the retirement age or too old to apply for work that is available in another province.
This town is faced with a very poor outlook for the plant workers, we need something now, and some news on what the company is doing or planning to do. To sit around in country cabins and listen to those sad tales of no prospect for work kind of gives one a different outlook on life as we know it. But there may be a better offer coming. Letís hope so.
Not a big lot has happened over the winter in our town so far, we had the armed forces come in and set up radio gear to test out contacts with other provinces - Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
I was invited there to see the set up, very good HF. Equipment and communications with satellites phones and the like great for war and peace times.
Our Town provided them with a place to set up the equipment and a place to stay, nice and cozy they told me; at least we did some thing for our boys who serve our country in one form or another. Anyone who did not see it missed a nice experience in how Emergency Radio really works. Most of the fellows - if not all - are Newfoundlanders and I had the privilege to meet the Grandson of one of my old friends from Lamaline so itís still a very small world.
We have one thing to look forward to in the coming month - the winter carnival for the towns of Grand Bank and Fortune. Lots of winter activities are going on, some of it will be indoors and other things outdoors, whatever it is that you like to take part in, do it in and around Fortune outdoors.
As I am limited to how much I can get around town and trail ways I will have to depend on my readers for information on to as what is going on, I have been afflicted by the awful disease of osteoarthritis in both of my feet and as a result I find it very difficult to get around like I use to, but then again lots of people are worse than that, especially those who are sick and no job to look forward to.
When you see the demonstrations on TV of our people fighting for the right to live, things like this we only saw from other countries just a few years ago, are we coming to the time in our life where we will have to fight for a bite to eat not to mention to keep warm? We have gone back to poorer times when good food and clothing was very hard to come by. I never thought we would ever have to go back to that. Prosperity was a thing we all strived to achieve; no one wants their children to have it worse than we had it growing up; but it sure looks that way, and at that time the only ones that made it was the ones that left the province to go away to start elsewhere. Itís sad times for all of us. Once our people leave the tax base goes down and down goes the quality of our town.
My short walks take me to the waterfront; the ducks are on the streets on the waterfront. I see motorist slowing down to give them a chance to cross the road to the water. They are looking for food; the townís people have been hand feeding the birds all year and now they look for it. When they see the cars coming they come towards the cars. It looks like people have been feeding the ducks from the cars, not a very good practice but their hearts are in the right place.
Now that spring is here the wild ducks will come to mingle with the tame ones and we will get some new blood in our birds. You can see the mixture of wild birds and tame ones in the few that we have. Nesting sites will soon be started although itís a bit early. The first birds to build their nest are the Whisky Jack or Common Gray Jay. We know them as they are very tame birds that visit our camp fire in the summer looking to get handouts, or steal whatever they can and hide. I read somewhere that they can remember up to twenty-eight hiding places. I donít know who keeps track of such things.
The waterfront on the Fishermenís Wharf is quite busy with the off loading of fish to be taken to plants elsewhere for processing. Itís a shame when we have people here looking for work. I often wonder what is the problem? Is there something we donít know about?
I canít wait for the ground to slack up and to see the first snow crocus peeping toward the sun. We know then its gardening time; the beauty it brings to the worker who gives a little time and knows how to get the flowers blooming, even though we have a down time. Letís still try to keep our yards and hedges full of the beauty of flowers in and around Fortune Outdoors.
The cold spring days has warmed up at last, but only for awhile, some mornings itís so cold that one wonders if we are going to get some snow. Of course we know how the 24th week end will turn out, itís the same every year cold wet and just not fit for camping, but we suffer through it all just to get out in the country; did you get a chance to do a little trout fishing?
We did but I found that my catch was small in size compared to other years, I donít think the food is ready as yet the May flies are not out & up from the bottom of the ponds that is when they start to take on a little weight and color, if we wait it will all come together and we will get some nice trout.
Not much to report on the plant opening I am like all of the rest wondering when its going to happen, time is getting short for some workers they will soon have to decide on what they are going to do, some has all ready left to start life else where, I guess when the EI runs out more will follow, so sad to see a town with no employment, our tax base will fall and down will go the town we will not be able to afford much in the way of maintenance to our roads, water and sewage and other things that we need to keep the town in good shape, lets all hope some thing will happen soon .
As chair person for the townís monument (Royal Canadian Legion) at this time I would like to ask the Motherís & Fathers to kindly remind their children not to be doing things in and around the grounds of the Cenotaph to destroy what the caretakers are trying to do to keep the place as respectable as possible, this place of remembrance has flowers and other things there to make it look nice not only for our tourist but to remember the ones that paid the Supreme sacrifice and gave their lives that we might live in peace and a place of honor. Some kids and I donít mean small kids are starting to vandalize the property, I know itís justsome thing to do after dark, please in form the children that we have talked to the police and they make checks every now and then, we donít want your child to be involved in this kind of prank just for the sake of having something to do. I know we can count on you to do your best to correct this problem, and I thank you in advance for it.
Letís keep our town beautiful in and around Fortune outdoors.