contributed by Archie Munroe (nephew)

Harley "Beattie" Munroe was born 1915 in Whitehead, a son of Thurlo Munroe and Mary Lavinia Uloth. These are some of the stories he recorded over the years.

Wrecks & Sour Wine - Pa's Brew
Wrecks & Sour Wine - Pa's Brew

Those long weary days in the old schoolhouse. How dismal and dull it would be. The schoolhouse was painted a dark grey inside, and the windows were so high you could not see out of them.
I often wonder how so many people that attended that school only to make their way in the world turned out to be very brilliant and got themselves high positions. Your education depended on what resistance you had to the strap, blackboard, pointer, rulers, etc. If you were scared of those weapons you had to learn. If you defied the teachers, you would be beaten into such a stupor you couldn't learn, such as myself.
We would be up to all kinds of tricks. I remember once that the girls were playing a game with a ball they called "Leo". The girls would line up, so many on either side of the schoolhouse; one would holler "Leo" and throw the ball over the roof. Whichever one of the other sides would catch it would have her turn to throw it back over and holler "Leo". There were loose bricks in the schoolyard from a repair job on the chimney and one-day while they were playing the game, I picked up a half brick, shouted "Leo" and through it over the roof. The screech that come back would chill you blood, it hit this girl right on the bridge of the nose. She had stopped some of the force with her hands but it was a dirty trick who ever did it.
We had a schoolteacher one-year from a small country place that had never seen coal burned for heat. We always burned soft coal in the old pot
bellied stove and boy what fires. You would have to hold your hand over your eyes and reach in with a long poker to open the stove door, and throw in a scuttle of coal; the heat would be terrific.
Once in a while if we wanted a half-day off from school, we would throw a couple big pieces of slate rock in the stove, and after that would make about two good bangs, the teacher would close school for the day. A good thing the men and women of the village did not know what we were doing.
When the boys of the village would get to the age of 12 or 13 years they would leave school in March or April to go lobster fishing with their fathers for the spring season. They would stay away from school September and October to work in the factory packing blue berries.
Even with all the broken school terms most of the boys and girls got grade nine and some ten and eleven.
It was a big chore for any person to teach school then. There were usually 70 or 75 pupils ranging from grade 1 to grade eleven.
If you could see all the bread and molasses, and the big old fashioned molasses cookies, and the cinnamon rolls in one pile that were eaten in that school at lunch times, I'm sure it would be larger than the school house. Most of the kids living nearer the school like my family would go home to lunch. In the summer we would try to make it home without putting our feet on the ground that would be by climbing a tree then jumping from tree to tree. It was sure rough on
the cloths and our hands would be black from the balsam, but it sure gave us a good appetite. In the fall when the fishing was good, how nice the smell of the food would be when you opened the kitchen door. Mom would have the dinners all on the plates as soon as you were in the door; you would look at your plate, and see how much was on it. Quite often it would be turnip hash and fried pork that was my favorite. I could always tell at a glance, knowing my capacity so well, whether that plateful would be enough or if I would have the second helping. Of course there would usually be a fair sized piece of bread pudding for topping off with. I remember one day my twin brother was having quite a rough time with his bread pudding trying to cut it with a spoon. Three times, while he as pressing with his spoon the saucer slipped out from under it and he would have to crawl under the table among all the feet and get it.
My twin brother and I sat at the back of the table. There were nine in all around it. Mom sat at one end and Pa at the other end. We'd dare not disturb them to get in so in an automatic fashion, we would close the door with one hand, take your cap off and throw it on the lounge with the other, by this time you would be in a crouched position for the dive under the table and up on the other side. No matter what the meal was, there was never anything left on the plates.
Our family was brought up to a very straight and narrow path of religion with no exceptions to the golden rules. Everybody went to church. Everybody sang as hard as they could and prayed as hard as they could and lived as good
as they could on Sundays. We would get real fine ministers in the parish, but they would never stay very long. In the lean years, the minister got very little in the collection plate. If there happened to be a dollar or a fifty-cent piece in the plate, the minister would always ask whom the stranger was that Sunday. I remember one minister we had a Mr. Dudley from England, a very devoted man and a beautiful singer. I think this would be around 1920 to 1924. He was a very tolerant person, and would never want to cause any displeasure.
The parish covered a large section of the country, about 50 miles and five churches. He was the first minister to have a car, a 1919 Ford. I remember one day an uncle of mine was carrying a piece of lumber on his shoulder and accidentally poked it through the window of the car. He sure felt embarrassed over the incident, and went to tell Mr. Dudley. Mr. Dudley realizing his feelings, told him, "that's quite alright, that's just what I wanted. Now I will be able to see the road better, when it's wet and muddy.
You know Pa was a very good living man, and an ardent churchgoer, and always paid well to the church too. The younger ministers that came our way used to like talking with him and of course Pa enjoyed that very much. I've heard him several times say to Mom, "Have you got a dollar or two, I don't believe that young feller has a cent." It would make the fellow so happy.
Of course Pa liked liquor too, and sure drank his share. One time when I was quite small Pa made a big brew. Dear knows what kind of a concoction it
was. He put the keg under the back porch to set. The fourteen days suspense and worry of waiting was too much, more than he could stand. On the eighth day, which was Sunday, Mom and all us kids went to Sunday school. When we returned, there was a little stream coming from under the porch. Pa was out cold on the kitchen floor, with a pitcher in his hand. The last trip to the keg he didn't get the tap turned off; as far as I know that's the only brew he ever made.


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