Violet (Harding) Bragg

In Conversation with Violet (Harding) Bragg
One of the people to “come home” to Greenspond this past summer was Violet Bragg. Violet took time from those hectic days of the summer to talk about growing up in Greenspond. Violet married Jack Bragg, and they had two sons, Gordon and Barry. Jack Bragg passed away in 1990. Violet Bragg lives in Gambo but always consider Greenspond her home.

Now then Violet let’s start with your family history.
My father was Fred Harding and my mother was Renora Lane from Bragg’s Island. My mother left Bragg’s Island at the age of 15 to go work on Puffin Island as a housemaid with her uncle, Eddie Wheeler. She spent one year on Puffin Island. She’s still alive, she’s going to be 85. Lane is a Bragg’s Island name. Fred Harding’s mother and father were Reuben Harding and Susie Harding. There were two Reuben Hardings living here and they used to identify them by “big Reuben” and “small Reuben”. My grandfather was small Reuben. My grandmother was a Humphries. Susie Humphries from Greenspond. They lived down Sainsbury’s Lane, go up past Kean’s, turn up over the hill, that’s where they lived. That’s the only Humphries I can remember in my day. I can remember my great grandparents’ names. Susie’s father was William Humphries and I’m not too sure of her mother. Susie had a brother, Robert, and a sister, Irene. Irene moved to Salvage and married a man Moss. My mother’s parents were Samuel and Mary Lane. Mary was a Feltham from Deer Island.

And Violet you were bom in Greenspond. When? Yes, I was bom in Greenspond on August 26, 1933. I went to the Salvation Army one room school. The school is now Jean (Burry) White’s summer house. I went right through school there. Violet, I forgot to ask you about your brothers and sisters. I have one sister. Her name is Mary. She lives in Gambo and is married to Edgar Burry.

Now back to school. Who were your teachers?
My first teacher was Major Clarence Thomason, and my last teacher was Annie Maude Duffett, she was then. She married Major Baxter Davis. I went to grade nine.

Were all your teachers Salvation Army officers?
Most of them were Salvation Army officers. Annie Maude Duffett wasn’t an officer then but after she left Greenspond, I think she went to train as an officer then. She retired there about two years ago. There was one room. I started off in what they called primmer. The first two or three years there was two or three in the class. Then after that it decreased to two. Myself and Charlie Woodland. Just the two of us. We went to grade nine. Then he left and went to Buchans. Later he went in training as a Salvation Army officer. He died here just before Christmas. He was looking forward to coming back for the Come Home Year. He was Bert Woodland’s son.

My, some lot of Woodlands are Salvation Army.
Yes, most of them. I think it was in grade three or four that there was just me and Charlie Woodland in class together. We went right to grade nine, just two of us. And then he left and went to Buchans. And I left and went to work in Skipper Ro Carter as a clerk in the store. That was in 1950.

What was that like? Did you work every day?
Yes, I worked Monday to Saturday, and Saturday night to ten or half past ten. Well, there was no such thing as take your cart and go around and pick up anything. I had to get everything. On one side there was a counter and that was the groceries. On the opposite side there was a counter and that was dry goods, cotton by the yard. There was everything from underwear to nylons. And up in one comer there was like a showcase, and on the back of that one
they sold kerosene oil, nails, salt meat. Everything. People would come in and stand up by the counter and say, I want two tins of milk and I’d go and get that and bring it back and then they would ask for something else and I would go and get that and carry it back. Item by item. And there was the big rolls of brown paper and you’d pull that off. Then you’d wrap it up and weigh up peas and beans and even biscuits. There was a big box biscuits and you’d
take the lid off which was board and then you’d put a lid made of glass with a hinge on it. That was to keep the flies off of it. Biscuits were sold by the pound. You would serve somebody kerosene and then someone else would want biscuits and you would have to go and wash your hands and get that.There was even bins with oakum, oakum that you put in between the seams of the boat.

Were you the only one working there?
Yes, I was the only clerk. But he had someone working in the office. Skipper Cec Carter worked there for a while. Harry Burton worked with me for a little while. Janie Hoskins, Janie Hunt then, she worked there. But I was there a lot by myself. Skipper Ro was the distributor for Coca Cola and he used to go up around the Bay and sometimes he would have to go for a couple days.

Carter’s, now that was a big place, wasn’t it?
Yes. I was there until March of 1952. And then I left and got married that year. I married John Bragg, but he was known as Jack. He was from Greenspond. He was brother to Fred. Jack was the youngest brother. He died seven years ago. He was 61 when he died. He worked for 35 years on the coastal boat. The Glencoe was the first boat he worked on and he retired in 1984. He had his pension paid up so he decided to retire. I was working in Gambo at the time so I worked for another year after. We had our house down here [in Greenspond] and we used to come back and forth. So I decided I might as well give up too. I retired in 1985.

He worked on the coastal boats?
Yes, he started out as assistant stewart and then he moved to second cook and when he retired he was chief cook. He retired from the Bonavista. Now, he did spend time in the Gulf, mostly down around the coast of Labrador. I was on her twice then for a trip. I used to take our two boys when they were smaller and go on the boats. I loved the boat trips. I have two sons, Gordon and Barry. Gordon lives in Stephenville and Barry lives in Gambo. Now, Gordon never lived in Gambo. When we moved to Gambo he left and went to the Trades School and he got his engineering ticket and went to Stephenville and married a girl from over there.

Now then Violet, what is your earliest memory of Greenspond? Where was your house where you grew up?
The house I was born in and lived was first my grandparents house, the Hardings, Reuben and Susie. My grandmother died when she was only in her fifties. So, when my father got married my grandfather was still living in the house. Now that house was up in Sainsbury’s Lane, up near Humphries house. But in later years, when I was around seven or eight years old, he brought a house further down the lane by Kean’s. It was owned by Dewey, Frank
Dewey. I grew up in that house until I got married. Years later, shortly after we moved to Gambo, they sold the house to a man in Hare Bay and they floated the house from here to Hare Bay and that house is still there in Hare Bay now. When you go through Hare Bay and pass Collins’s Home Hardware on the left hand side, and just two or three houses past that, on the same side. But it isn’t the same. It’s changed quite a bit because that house had two big
bay windows. But my father took the win dows off. My grandfather lived with us until I was about 17 years old. He died about that time. He was 86 years old. My father wasn’t home much. He spent

Greenspond Come Home Year 1997
by Violet M. Bragg

When we received the letter, our hearts just leaped with joy,
To know that plans were now being made our spirits just ran high.
Plans for a great reunion, for a place that we call home,
For these are our roots here, wherever we may roam,
Of course, this is Come Home Year, and I am coming home.

I thought of all the changes, I’ve seen in this dear place,
And quickly do recall, each dear and bygone face.
As the memories came clouding of days of long ago,
I savoured every contact, with a smile and loud hello.

Went back to the lane, where my life had begun,
In a bay-window house, with its laughter and fun.
Saw men standing there, having their say,
About fish, about war and cutting their hay.

I trudged up the road to the old one-room school,
With splits under my arm, and a birch junk or two.
Saw the girls and boys, joined with them all,
Playing Pippy and May I, down by the Army hall.

In summer came the sound of berry-picking time,
When we tramped over Doctors Hill, three or four of us in line.
If we were very lazy or spilled a whole lot,
We’d stuff moss in the bottom and berries on the top.

Thinking back on our younger days, the winters they were great,
The cold never cowered us, tho’ parkas we never had.
If the hill had a good path, a wooden sled would be found,
We’d start at Crocker’s cellar and stop at Sainsbury’s mound.

I laughed as I counted the sites we once knew,
Are they still on the lips of young people too?
Crocker’s Hill, Over the Point, Fred Burry’s Medder,
Powder House Hill, Meeting House Bridge, Benny’s Hill.

Fardon’s Head and Oram’s Cove, Down in the country,
Post Office Hill, Church Hill, Army Rock, up Lances Cove,
up Pond Head, up on the Look Out, the Dogs Head, the Crossroad,
Baird’s Hill, Ship Island Draw Bridge, Barrack Hill, Paddy Poor’s Light.

Ah, these were the days when strangers were few,
We walked everywhere our errands to do.
Life wasn’t a rat race, our ancestors survived,
We come back today to drink a toast to their lives.

The years have passed quickly, we’ve all gone our way,
Nothing’s the same cause time changes they say.
But when we have memories that gladden our heart,
What a blessing they can be, when we have to part.


Get the latest information on Greenspond Historical Society news, projects, funding, volunteer opportunities, and more!