During the recent COVID–19 shutdown limiting personal contact to two friends, we chose our neighbours Floyd and Pauline Thomson. Day or night their door is always open. I can’t count the number of fresh biscuits and cups of tea I’ve enjoyed at their kitchen table. Floyd makes birdhouses in his workshop and I’m always welcome to use his drill press or table saw. You can’t buy friends like that!
Floyd holds the honour of being the oldest resident of the Cove. At 87 he has taken up a new hobby and recently commenced painting his very first work of art Horse in a Stall. He wanted a few pointers, so while I was there I asked about his life. “You’re an Islander, aren’t you, Floyd. I mean, you were born here.”
Floyd: “That’s what they tell me. I was born up West in Campbellton. I think my aunt Vera Shaw was the midwife but I don’t remember the details.”
“Campbellton’s just a dot on the map these days.”
Floyd: “It was a big place back then! Two grocery stores, United Church, one-room school, about thirty houses, a fish plant, blacksmith shop—I spent a lot of time in there, I was as black as the blacksmith—and Bradshaw’s sawmill was a going concern. Before my time they built ships down at the shore, hundreds of men worked at that. And there was a lobster factory.
“Dad was a carpenter at the Point Pleasant airstrip. WWII came along and he signed up. After the war we bought a farm in Hampton and started farming, kept a few racehorses, pigs, chickens, some Guernsey cows. Sold our cream to the Crapaud Dairy.
“I wanted to see the world so I moved to Ontario and worked in my uncle’s garage. I loved convertibles… had a green ’53 Ford Fairlane, ’59 blue Olds. One thing led to another, I got married and had a daughter. Then I came back to the Island and settled down, or tried to. It didn’t all work out. I had open-heart surgery, lost sight in one eye, you know, one thing and another.
“I met my wife Pauline at a dance for the Separated Widowed and Divorced crowd. Things clicked right away so we decided to buy a house. We’d had our eye on this place but didn’t know if we could handle the muddy road in spring. I guess we could. That was 1986 and we’ve been here ever since.”
“What’s the biggest change in your lifetime?”
Floyd: “My body! Well, I can’t say computers because I haven’t got one. I guess we carry on pretty much like always, eat the same things, biscuits, fish…”
Pauline: “Floyd cooks all the fish!”
Floyd: “… homemade bread, ham and scalloped potatoes…”
I comment, “You’re doing okay.”
Floyd: “I’d say so, yes.” He frowns and looks critically at his half-finished painting. “If I can just make this horse look like a horse. Do you think his eye’s in the right place?”
“Well, you might move it up a bit.”
Floyd puts down his brush. “That’s enough for today. Let’s have another cup of tea.”