This fall, I had the pleasure of sitting and listening to some Christmas stories told by the people of Placentia Bay west. These stories tell of their childhood memories, their travels as an adult and how important it was to them to be home for Christmas. There would be kitchen parties, concerts, soup suppers and dances to attend and though people did not have much, they appreciated what they had and celebrated life to the fullest.
Madonna Pittman Hayse recalls how in 1965 at the age of 19, she made that trip home for Christmas. She boarded a fishing dragger in Harbour Breton as did others from the area that were working there on the fish plant. Jack Hayse, John Tom Brushett and Ambrose Whittle were among them. From Harbour Breton, they headed to Fortune.
There were very few trips home throughout the year but getting home for Christmas was the most important. She remembers that year particularly well because of what happened on the return trip.
Along with 5 other teachers they left Fortune in a longliner for the trip back to Harbour Breton. The waters were very rough, so windy and rough that they had to anchor outside St. Jacques.
They could see the lights on land but stayed anchored for 12 hours waiting for the storm to pass. Not even the comfort of a cup of tea was available to them, for the kettle could not stay on the galley stove.