Growing Up In Anderson's Cove

As told by Henry Herridge


I was born in 1923, in Anderson's Cove. One of my first memories was of having a small tomahawk. On Easter Sunday I walked over to Uncle Ned Osmond's and got his son, Max, to turn the grindstone while I held the tomahawk until it was sharpened. When I went home, Mom asked where I had been and what I had been doing. I said "Not much." But she caught hold of me and saw that I had spoiled the jacket of my new brown suit. I got a trimming for that.

I remember when I went to school I was so excited to get my first ‘primer’ (reading book) that I left the school running as fast as I could go. Then I tripped and ‘…went all sprawling, face down in cow shit!’

When we were going to school, we used to go home at recess time for a piece of bread. One day Elsie went home and Mom was frying halibut for dinner so Elzie got a piece to put on her bread. She went back to school, chanting ‘Halibut, halibut…’ and then she shouted: ‘We got halibut on our bread!’ Everyone in the school laughed. I guess they laughed because she was so excited about it.

Another early memory was 18 November 1929, when I was six years old. Our house was built on the rocks, very close to the sea. The kitchen stove was an old-fashioned iron model, called "Our Own." This day there was a small schooner anchored out in the harbour. Master of the "Kathleen Burke" was Thomas McCarthy from Terrenceville. My father and others in the community did business with the Burkes - groceries, dry goods, etc.

It was suppertime and we had fried vension. Mom heard the noise first and Pop figured Tom was taking up his anchor, getting ready to leave. Suddenly the table and chairs began to tremble and the stove covers rattled. We all jumped up from the table. Mom thought the house was tipping over so we ran outside. We saw that everything was shaking, even the dories on the water. Well, now, Mom figured it must be the end of the world. With that, Pop went back inside to finish his supper, saying: "If this is the end of the world, I'm not going on an empty stomach."

We later learned that it was caused by an earthquake out in the Atlantic, the same one responsible for the tidal wave that caused great damage along parts of the south coast.

There were about 21 families in Anderson's Cove during my childhood. For a while it was a very unhealthy little place, with a lot of tuberculosis, or "consumption" as it was then called. I was lucky, for, although I lived among the disease, I contracted only scarlet fever. That was serious enough that for a time it was touch and go, but I survived. My mother's sister, Aunt Minnie, who lived with us, died of tuberculosis.

When I was old enough to work, my first job was with Cyril Thornhill. His father suffered a stroke and passed away so Cyril asked if I was interested in fishing with him. I was glad to go. Cyril was always a pretty nice fellow and I enjoyed fishing with him. That year I spent most of my time at Aunt Maryann's (Cyril's mother) and found her to be a dear soul. I earned $12.00 and a suit of oil clothes that season, which was good for a young boy.

Later I went fishing with my Uncle John (Matthews), who gave up bank fishing when his health began to fail. I talked to Pop about it first. Pop said I would have to work hard because Uncle John wasn't able to do it himself. He said if I found it too hard I could give it up. We fished the lobster pots from April until June when the caplin came in. Then we fished for cod.

One morning we baited the trawl and were going in the bay, west of Black Rock, to what we called the "Knob." I put the gear in the motor dory and we left. Uncle John cranked the engine but it wouldn't start. He tried her several times but no luck. All this time I was rowing the big dory and it took well over an hour to reach out destination. After setting the trawl, we headed back again. The engine still wouldn't work so after I got the dory back in the harbour, to the beach, we had to make some repairs.

Uncle John then told me and Ches Herridge, who was fishing with Uncle Albert Thornhill, to go off and try the engine. It still didn't work. Next Uncle John and I went off to try again.

He put a towpin in the hole of the fly wheel to crank it. When he turned around the blood was running from his mouth and nose. I asked him what he'd done. He said, "Nothing, b'y. I'm dying." I headed the dory back to the beach as fast as I could but he was gone by the time we got there. I jumped out and screamed for help. Ches, Uncle Albert and Tom Dominaux helped get him out of the dory and up to his house, where they laid him on the back porch. I took the dory and rowed up to Southwest Cove where Aunt Elsie (his wife) and Mom were setting out cabbage plants. I gave them the news and then we went for Uncle Tom (Matthews).

It was a nice day when Uncle John was laid to rest in the cemetery at Crant's Cove. He was a member of the Orange Lodge so all the Lodge members attended the funeral, from Anderson's Cove, Stone's Cove, Hoop Cove and Hare Harbour.

Afterwards, Uncle Tom helped me take in all the fishing gear and lobster pots. His son, Archie, also had tuberculosis and was buried not long after Uncle John.

After a time I got Wallace Herridge as a fishing partner. He was a bit younger than me but a lot bigger and stronger. We had one good year fishing, using Uncle Jim Herridge's motor dory. That winter Wallace was often sick with a cold and spent most of his time in the house.

When spring came I noticed that Wallace was thinner and he didn't look so healthy. I asked if anything was wrong and he said he'd had a cold all winter and couldn't seem to get rid of it. He thought that being out in the fresh air might help, but I was doubtful. His mother told Mom that she was worried about him.

I could see a big difference in Wallace and there seemed to be a change in him almost every day. One summer evening we had a lot of big cod to fork up on to the wharf. He couldn't do it and I took over. Shortly after that he said he's have to give up for a while. About a month later, I helped carry him to his resting place in the United Church Cemetery on Anderson's Cove Point. I gave u fishing for a while after that and worked at other things.

Among those who died from tuberculosis in Anderson's Cove were: Thomas Matthews and his son Archie; Laura, daughter of Darius Hatch; Aunt Minnie Matthews; Percy, son of Henry Hatch; Frances and ??, both daughters of Thomas Riggs; Maxwell, son of Ned Osmond; Wallace, son of James Herridge; John Robert Matthews, husband of Myrtle; and Gladys, daughter of John X Thornhill.

Some survived the disease, like Violet, daughter of John X. Thornhill, and Bertha, wife of Reuben Herridge. There were other survivors too but I don't know the names of them all. Most of those who went to the Sanatorium at St. John's for treatment.

During that time I spent a lot of time away from home, working places like Argentia, Torbay and Port aux Basques; North Sydney and Halifax in Nova Scotia; and also Prince Edward Island. When things settled down I picked up fishing in Anderson's Cove again.

I went lobster fishing with Howard Herridge and herring seining with Phillip John Evans. I was herring seining with Ambrose Pope for a couple of years too.

The herring fishery was declining fast and without it, there was nothing to stay in Anderson's Cove for, so we left on July 31, 1954. For 31 years I lived among rocks and high cliffs, diseases such as diphtheria and tuberculosis, with irregular visits from doctors and ministers, and with only a poor one-room school. The only way out was by boat and, looking for a better way of life, we ended up in Fortune.

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