It was a beautiful community nestled at the base of rolling hills with a rugged ocean battered shoreline that hugged the mighty Atlantic. It was established in the early 1800s and was maintained by a vigorous fishing industry in the summer and logging in the winter. The community was made up of two coves with about a kilometre between the upper and the lover cove.
The first school was opened in 1845 and two churches were established by1911—a Church of England and a Salvation Army church.
By the mid 1900s the community had mushroomed to about 400 residents and an expansion of the fishing industry now included catches of herring, capelin, cod, squid, flounder, turbot and mackerel. In 1981 a fish plant was opened and operated from April to October and employed about forty-five employees. Other employment at the time included wharf construction, brush cutting and work as linesmen.
In the mid 1940s two schools were firmly established in this small, predominately fishing, community. Both schools were owned and operated by the local churches and the mingling of students between the two schools was almost non-existent.
Road hockey was always a fun activity and enjoyed by both guys and gals but mostly by the guys. John was about six feet tall, very athletic and always available and thus made the team without argument. Sometimes there would be rival hockey between the upper and the lower cove and this gave opportunity for students from both schools to get together and some lifetime friendships were established.
During a particularly feisty hockey game between the two coves, John became captivated by a young student from the upper cove. In John’s eyes, she was absolutely gorgeous. Throughout the game John deliberately went out of his way to get her attention and show his athletic ability. He would deliberately slap the rubber ball in her direction and then run to retrieve it just so he could get close enough to get a better look at her.
John asked his team mates if they knew the beautiful young student with the long brown hair and beautiful eyes to match. No such luck from his team mates. John finally asked one of the opposing players about this student and was relieved to know that he would now make a deliberate attempt to introduce himself to Matilda. The name was not particularly appealing to John but the person behind the name was a knockout—she was a first class winner.
At the end of the game John was tired, sweating and out of breath. Like a panting dog he ran up to Matilda and almost saluting her blurted out the words. “Hi! I’m John!” Absolutely no response. Eye to eye contact but no body language indicating that she even heard him. “What!” said John to himself. “Am I out of her league or what?” John’s prowess as a hockey player had obviously not impressed Matilda.
John walked toward home but could not erase the picture of Matilda from his mind. That night he could not concentrate on his studies and found himself becoming irritated when his siblings teased and tormented him. John was thinking that he should never have spoken to his siblings about Matilda and did his best to avoid them for the rest of the night. He had a restless night and in his sleep kept repeating the name—Matilda! Matilda!
A week or so passed and there was no sign of Matilda. On a Friday night John and a number of his siblings went to the common pool hall for a few games. John was still so fixated with Matilda that his mind was not on the game. He was falling way behind with a lot of balls still on the table.
He was lining up a corner shot when, out of the corner of his eye he saw her, standing only about ten feet from him. She was even more beautiful than his imagination led him to believe. If he was to make an impression on her, John knew that this would be the moment in time. Carefully positioning his body in an athletic pose the accuracy of his shot was without question. With a forceful thrust of the cue stick the number two ball hit the right corner slot with a vengeance.
Knowing that Matilda was looking him all over John now looked in her direction and gave a very quick wink which she acknowledge. This just about knocked John out of his boots. With tremendous prowess, focused by his desire to impress, John cleared the table with high fives from both his team mate and his opponents.
John had enough pool for one night and laying his cue stick on the table he walked in the direction of this standing beauty. He motioned toward a table and with a Coke and two straws they engaged in some small talk. This young couple was already falling in love or, at least, into a state of infatuation that would certainly last beyond the emptying of a shared Coke.
John was giddy. The way she smiled, her voice, her body language and the innocence of getting to know a boy from the lower cove. They talked about school, church, families and any other subject John could think about just so he could continue to look into the beautiful eyes of this gorgeous young lady. In the course of conversation John learned that Matilda lived about three kilometers from the pool hall.
There were no street lights in town at the time, and John was not going to allow her to walk that distance by herself. She assured John not to fear because a number of friends from the upper cove, including several guys, would make sure that she would not walk alone. There was no way John was going to allow her to be with the guys, no sir. “I will be more than happy to walk with you and make sure you get home safe and sound,” blurted John.
She just gazed at John and said nothing. Her gaze was so fixating that John found himself blushing a little and with a racing heart said, “Well….will you allow me to walk with you?” John knew she was pulling the strings and slightly biting her lower lip before speaking she finally smiled and said, “Of course you can walk me home.” John was about to sing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah when Matilda pushed back her chair and beckoned John to leave with her. He spoke with his siblings and assured them that he would be home later that night—they gave John the wink and slapped him on the shoulder and the older brother said, “And don’t you be late.”
With a graveled road under their feet, a bright moon, glittering stars and slow moving clouds overhead made the walk a memorable one. They held hands. Brushed against each other. Giggled. Told silly stories and sometimes pushed each other just for fun and then fell into each other’s arms for momentary embraces. Almost two hours had elapsed since John and Matilda began the memorable walk and now it was over. They had finally reached her house but John didn’t want the night to end.
He was nervous. He wanted to kiss her goodnight but was this appropriate? He knew by her body language and the tone of her voice that she wanted to be kissed, even if just a touching of lips. He wanted to but then he saw it. Matilda’s mom was looking through the kitchen window and before John had a chance to pucker up she was on the steps and in a very stern voice, as if to alert the neighbours, shouted, “Matilda you get in here right now and stay away from the boys in the lower cove!”
Oh man! What a nag! Matilda then quickly put a finger on John’s lips and said, “I will definitely see you again…Good night.” John watched as Matilda walked slowly toward the house, opened the door and then disappeared inside. He pumped his fist into the air and shouted, “Yes! Yes! That’s my girl!”
Next week, the ring. But until then remember: the sun is always shining.