#13 - In Port Dover

My Mother's side of the family
My Mother's side of the family


My mother wrote:

Black Diphtheria
When I was in Port Dover one summer I met some American girls who were interested in art and we used to go out sketching along the River Lynn and other picturesque places around Dover. We were out on one of our daily sketching tours down by the fishing boats and the dock when I was overcome by a feeling of dreadful sickness. I went home to Grandma as I was running a high fever. She called the Doctor and when he came he diagnosed my illness as a particularly violent case of Black Diphtheria. I will never forget how I suffered. My throat was swollen to the point where I could hardly swallow and was filled with a grey, crepey phlegm. The Doctor told me to gargle with hot saltwater. This seemed to help me and to relieve the soreness. Of course, in those days, they did not have the wonder drugs that they have now and I consider myself lucky to have survived this dreadful illness.

Boating on the River Lynn in Port Dover
I used to love going on a boating excursion up the River Lynn with my Father. We would rent a rowboat and row down the river, it was beautiful. There were always lots of seagulls and lots of red-winged blackbirds. These were happy times.

Pete McNabb
Of course, my boyfriends from St. Thomas used to come down to visit me at Port Dover. There was Pete McNabb, a Catholic fellow I was very fond of. He had two brothers who were Priests. One was a school-teacher in Toronto and the other was a missionary in China. He had two sisters who were nuns. Pete did his best to convert me to Catholicism but never succeeded.

Saturday Night Dance
There were always Saturday night dances at the dance hall down at the lake. Edna and I used to go down together. This one Saturday night we went and there were not very many present. We sat like wallflowers for a while and then this farmer-looking fellow came up to Edna and asked her for a dance. They got out on the floor and he said to her, "There ain't very many here tonight," and she said "Nope, there ain't." and that was the sum total of their conversation for the rest of the dance. Needless to say, we went home in disgust. This is not the end of the episode, however. We sneaked into the side door and quietly went to bed at 9:30. The next morning after breakfast Mother and I were washing dishes and I said that we were going to go to the movie theatre. That night. Mother said, "You are not going anywhere tonight. You didn't come home until three o'clock this morning and I'm grounding you." I was so mad that I took a dish I was wiping and smashed it against the wall and flounced out of the kitchen.

Running Away
In the afternoon Mother went shopping with Grandma. I packed a suitcase and ran away. I was picked up by two young fellows in a sports car, and they took me to St. Thomas. When I arrived there I went to stay with a special girl-friend of mine, Elma Strickland.

The Chase
Mother and Dad were sure I had run away to Pete McNabb, the chap I had been going steady within St. Thomas. They were afraid I was going to get married to Pete. Dad high-tailed it to St. Thomas. I was not with Aunt Clara, where he thought I would be, so he went to see Pete. Pete didn't even know I was in St. Thomas. However, as fate would have it, my cousin Frank saw me on Talbot Street, talked to me and found out that I was staying with Thelma. The cat was out of the bag. So Dad took me back to Port Dover. Edna upheld my story that we were in early from the dance and peace was restored. Relations were strained between Mother and myself for some time.

Wavy Line

© Sonia Brock 2005

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