JANUARY 19, 1927
Letters To The Editor
MEN AND EVENTS OF 50 YEARS AGO
Editor The Register: -
When reading from time to time, as I always do with great interest, Pete Lawsons reminiscences, it has often occurred to me that someone should write of people and events of earlier years.
Pete devotes his efforts to the decade beginning with 1880; my recollection easily harks back to 1870 and succeeding years. Then I am at once confronted with the fact that few of the residents of Berwick of that day are now living. The old-timers of 1870 who reside here now, could perhaps, be counted on the fingers of one hand, and the few who still live are scattered round the world, usually out of touch with Berwick and The Register.
This was forcibly impressed upon me a few days since, when in passing a stranger on the street, I heard him say to his companion: "I am going over to the Cemetery; all the people of Berwick that I know are down there." I was impelled to ask, "Who are you that knows so many people in Berwick Cemetery?" He replied, "My name is Collins; when I left here fifty-six years ago they called me Dave Collins. I have only been here once since, and then only for a short time."
Immediately there flashed upon my memory the names of a dozen or so "big boys" in the school I attended as a small boy. The name, Dave Collins, called up in close association, George Marsters, Ben Marsters, Gilf. Woodworth, Arth. Bond, Went Ells, Dwight Ilsley, Joe Norwood, Havelock Norwood, Arth. Rand. Mine Foster, Rup. Foster, and others whose names are not so familiar to me.
The exodus to the United States was quite as pronounced fifty years ago as now. The wander-lust was in the blood and practically all of the class aforementioned made their way, sooner or later to the Republic at the South, and few of them are or will be laid in Berwick Cemetery, "their fathers graves beside."
The Collins family lived on Main Street, in the house just east of the United Church. A small store stood on the premises, where Robert Collins, the father, sold flour, feed, salt and heavy groceries. Robert Collins was a pillar in the Methodist Church and an ardent supporter of all its activities. He was a class leader, fervent in exhortation and prayer. His sonorous voice could often be heard pleading forgiveness for the sins of the people and his own children (meaning Dave).
In conversation Dave remembered with me the beautiful spring morning when he sustained a fractured leg while working in Clarks steam mill. He was brought to the house on a stretcher, and as the fracture was serious he was laid by for some time, and walked with a slight limp for years. I well remember the beautiful morning and the air of tragedy that hung over us, as the school children stood on the sidewalk opposite, looking through the open front door in the hall, where good old Dr. Marsters was binding up the fracture. Accidents to life and limb were not as common then as now, when the deadly automobile takes its toll almost unnoticed, save to those near the sufferer.
Dave had a step-mother of whom he was not particularly fond, and it was understood that his lack of affection was fully reciprocated. So, soon after his leg became sound, he left home to go on his own. After the death of Robert Collins his widow occupied the house for many years, living a very retired life. She was a godly woman, but like many of us had her peculiarities. Though a staunch Methodist, at one time the pastor of her church incurred her displeasure. Learning of this loss of confidence the minister came to make peace with his parishioner. As the front door was always locked with drawn blinds on the front windows, the Reverend caller came to the kitchen door. The lady of the house opened the door and seeing whom the guest was greeted him effusively. "Oh, come in Mr. C., walk into the sitting room, come right into the parlor Mr. C., and thence through the hall to the front door. When in a moment Mr. C. Found himself outside the front door, which was quickly locked behind him.
Enoch Collins, of Middleton, who celebrated his ninetieth birthday a few weeks since, and Harvey Collins, now of Los Angeles, California, are brothers of David Collins, sons of the late Robert Collins.
If The Register would like to use it some day when the spirit moves, I could spin other yarns of Men and Events of fifty years ago.
S. C. PARKER.
Berwick, N.S., Jan. 14, 1926.