Adam - Chapter One

Kingwell By Kingwell, 14th Feb 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1vxpcy3g/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Fictional Narrative

Adam begins his life in a small community on Newfoundland's South Coast.

Adam Makes His Debut

Little Valley had been had been rightly named for it appeared to be just that to one entering its harbour for the first time. Situated on an island on Newfoundland’s rocky south coast, it was accessible only by boat and it was here on a sunny July morning in 1931 that Adam was born. The sixth boy in a family bereft of girls, he was another mouth to feed from the small income his father, Eli Murphy, managed to eke out as an inshore fisherman who fished alone from his small dory. The statement didn’t mean that he was loved less than his brothers or that he wasn’t wanted, it was simply a fact of life. The coastline was rocky and it’s sparse soil not suitable for gardening of any kind which meant that vegetables were almost unknown in the diet of the twenty-nine families that called the community their home. Like the other women in Little Valley, Adam’s mother Mary, picked berries for making jam, the closest thing to a treat to be found in the tiny hamlet. Adam’s favourite was the bake apple which grew in abundance on the marshes. Birth control was unheard of at the time and would have been considered immoral, if it had been. In the way they perceived life, if a couple was meant to have fifteen or even twenty children that was the way the good Lord had ordered it. It never would have occurred to them that God might not approve of bringing children into the world to survive on a diet that consisted almost entirely of fish, salt beef and pork, coupled with bread and molasses. Dried peas and beans were usually available at the community’s one store but some families lacked even the few pennies necessary to buy this luxury. Fruit was unheard of; accept maybe at Christmas when an apple or an orange might be a child’s only gift.

The Early Years

Adam was a quiet, thoughtful child who at the age of six once asked his mother why he could not remember when he was a baby. The question amused everyone so much, that he felt it best to keep any further questions to himself. He soon discovered that his parents subscribed to the idea that a child should be seen and not heard and subsequently kept his mouth shut and ears open. Although he listened without comment Adam didn’t always agree with his elders. By age ten, while other boys of his age might be trying to kill a small seabird by throwing rocks at it when it came near the shore, (something he abhorred and felt to be very wrong), he would be sitting in a corner of a net loft, listening to the men until they sometimes forgot he was there. Here he heard things that weren’t usually talked about in the presence of children and which he filed away for clarification at another time. At home too certain things stood out in his memory, like hearing his mother say, “I can’t believe I’m fifty”. Afterwards he would remember that as the only time he recalled his mother speaking of her birthday. For adults, those anniversaries it seemed, came and went without fanfare although children were always reminded and usually given their ‘bumps’, one for each year, by their peers.

The Priest

The church was another thing that aroused Adam’s curiosity and he would watch the priest carefully every time he visited. Why he wondered, was he so respected, amounting sometimes to almost a fear, by many of the people? Confession to the priest was he was soon to learn, a must for all Catholics with the exception of children until confirmation which usually happened at the age of ten or eleven. Apart from the fact that he was better educated than others on the island and always wore a black suit with a white round collar, Adam couldn’t see how he was different from the other men in the community. Perhaps he thought, he would learn more in the net loft, but even there no one spoke ill of the priest although it was common to take the Lords name in vain, which he knew was against one of the Ten Commandments. The following spring he attended confirmation class in preparation for the bishop’s visit in October, when he would not only receive the laying on of hands, but also receive his first communion. Adam looked forward to seeing the bishop and wished that he was allowed to ask questions. It was two of the holy nuns from the convent in Petersview that came to instruct the class but he knew that even they would frown on the questions he had in mind. It was best he decided to go with the flow and wait instead for the gifts that the Holy Spirit would bring. Perhaps he would have no further questions then.

Typhoid

Even the fact that the bishop with his gift of the Holy Spirit, was coming in the fall did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the children that summer, nor did it stop the outbreak of typhoid in August. In all eleven children contacted the dreaded disease, and three babies, all under one year, died. One of Adam’s classmates, Fred Walsh spent nearly two months in hospital in St. John’s but recovered and returned home in early October. The opening of school in the community was delayed by one month, but eventually the all clear was given. The bishop’s visit was also rescheduled from October to November. Adam, having dismissed the priest was now having second thoughts about the bishop. Of course he kept all of this to himself, not wanting to raise the ire of his parents. Although he had friends, in some ways the boy was a bit of a loner, his thoughts were not like those of the other kids, and as he was discovering some of his feelings weren’t either.

The New Teacher

Little Valley was fortunate in that the priest was able to find a teacher for the little one room school again that year. Many of the outports along the coast were not that lucky and indeed in 1935 and 36 the school in Little Valley itself had remained closed. The young teacher who arrived in the community on the last day of September 1942, as the opening had been delayed by a month that year, was from Petersview and was one month shy of his seventeenth birthday. The young man’s name was Harvey Antle but here in Little Valley he would now be referred to as Mr. Antle by those of all ages, for no one ever called the teacher by his first name. As Adam watched him stride up the hill to the school on the day before its opening, he wondered if the young man felt as confident as he appeared. Mr. Antle was a fair haired, handsome young man and Adam knew that more than one of the teenage girls, who had already left school, was eyeing him with interest. Unlike many of his friends, Adam was happy to be going back to school where he would at least have something to read. He loved history and would sometimes get so engrossed in reading that he felt as if he had travelled back in time.

Adam's Dream

As was customary at the time, school began at 9:30 AM with the teacher ringing the little hand held bell that had been there for generations, and the students coming to stand by their desk. The first item of business was saying the Rosary, after which the teacher introduced himself, though everyone there knew his name by now. He even wrote it on the old chalkboard, so everyone would remember the spelling. The teacher than took out the School Register from last year and read out the name of each student. As a student’s name was called each would raise his or her hand. The small classroom was crowded and the young teacher appeared horrified to learn that there were a total 53 children and at least one student in all classes from beginners to grade 11! The rest of the day was taken up with purchasing the necessary textbooks and the reordering of others. By the end of the day, most students were ready for school to begin in earnest the following day. Adam who was beginning grade six, felt happy as he made his way home in the late afternoon. None of his siblings had gone beyond grade seven, but he was determined to be different and even dared to dream of going to college in the far off capital city of St. John’s.
TO BE CONTINUED
See Chapter Two

Tags

Apple, Bake Apple, Berries, Birth Control, Bishop, Christmas, Coastline, Confirmation, Dory, Fisherman, Gardening, Holy Roman Catholic Church, Holy Spirit, Kingwell, Newfoundland, Nuns, One Room School, Priest, Teacher, Typhoid

Meet the author

author avatar Kingwell
I am 75 years old and retired.I like writing short stories, poetry as well other articles of interest.

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Comments

author avatar Carol
14th Feb 2015 (#)

Very nice write Kingwell.

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author avatar Kingwell
15th Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you Carol. I hope you will follow the series and would appreciate your comments. Blessings.

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author avatar Utah Jay
16th Feb 2015 (#)

A good beginning.

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author avatar Kingwell
17th Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you Utah. Chapter Two has been published. I hope you will continue to follow. Blessings.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
19th Feb 2015 (#)

Good beginning Kingwell. I remember when I was of the same age of Adam and my curiosity was stymied by adults at that time. Lots of questions lay hidden within me. Also my Catholic school friend told me the Pope was God Himself and his words were gospel truth to be blindly obeyed.

Later I too contracted typhoid and one of my close friends succumbed to the disease even when he was encouraging me to get well - siva

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you Siva. It seems that people are alike wherever they live in the world. My greatest hope is that someday everyone will see that we are one, that we all want the things. Blessings.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
19th Feb 2015 (#)

you are amazing dear Kingwell..sorry have not been around but do more on google plus where i have nearly 1 million views...love you...

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author avatar Kingwell
19th Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you Carolina. So pleased that you are following this. Happy that you are doing well. Blessings.

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author avatar Markthespark
20th Feb 2015 (#)

Hi Kingwell I see a lovely story developing here. Things were tough in the old days .. but people persevered, hence the term "good ole days". Being Catholic too, I've heard how my previous generation were in awe of their parish priests, many here came from Ireland in the early days .. and were very strict; so too were the convent nuns who taught us. Very good read!

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author avatar Kingwell
20th Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you Markthespark for coming here and for your comment. I hope you enjoy the remainder of the story. I will also check out your work. Blessings.

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author avatar SilverPlatinum
21st Feb 2015 (#)

This is a really interesting and enjoyable story. Looking forward to reading more.

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author avatar Kingwell
21st Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you SilverPlaiinum. Blessings.

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author avatar Retired
22nd Feb 2015 (#)

Great story. I have not read many of your articles but they have all been great. I wish mine were better. Need to work on improving.

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author avatar Kingwell
22nd Feb 2015 (#)

Thank You norlaw and I enjoy your articles. Keep writing.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
23rd Feb 2015 (#)

Kingwell, great story. I had to smile as I read each paragraph. I think I was born being inquisitive and Adam reminds me of the way I questioned things and still do. Sometimes I also would keep things to myself. I'm also wondering if everyone was catholic in the small town? I'm also thinking it's a good thing they lived near the harbor and the father was a fisherman. Feeding 6 boys was quite a job.

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author avatar Kingwell
23rd Feb 2015 (#)

Thank you Nancy. I hope you will follow the series. Blessings.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
23rd Feb 2015 (#)

Kingwell, blessings to you and I will follow the series! You are the best!

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author avatar jjmyles
13th Mar 2015 (#)

Well written and interesting. I will be starting on chapter 2 soon. I think I will enjoy this story.

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author avatar Kingwell
13th Mar 2015 (#)

Thank You Jimyles. Blessings.

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