Monday, July 6, 2009


Today is my mother's 90th birthday. Because I am at the cottage, the only photo I have of her as a young woman is this of her in a row boat when she was about 18 yrs old. I have many at home but none at the cottage. So if you clik on the photo it will enlarge and you can see how truly pretty she was.

When my mother was born in 1919, the family were farmers as most rural people were. She lived on a farm near Grand Falls New Brunswick and had many brothers and sisters. As she was the oldest girl, she had many responsibilities of which, looking after the younger sibblings was a primary one.

She never went beyond grade 8 and at the age of 14, being french and thinking that there was much to life outside of the small community where she lived, she was hired as a "nanny" to 3 children whose father was a banker and when he was transferred to Montreal, she went with the family thinking that she would be treated as part of the family, but in fact they treated her like she was....hired help...and didn't want to even give her a day off at all.

So, she was supposed to learn yiddish, when she said she could barely speak english, and since french was her language, it was impossible for this catholic girl to learn such a difficult after a time she sought employment elsewhere. After two years doing domestic work she realized that she had had enough and as she now could speak english as well as french, she went looking for a job.

She saw a sign in a window of a silk shop. In those days, she said, there were shops where silk of all kinds was imported, from stocking to scarfs, to dresses and this little shop in Montreal was looking for sales help. I asked her if she thought that because she was so pretty if that helped her get her job and she said that it helped, but she had to be able to do the sales too. She was hired for two weeks without pay and if at the end of that time she could do the work, she would be paid half wages for her time learning and then full wage if hired. My mother said that the women in the shop were very helpful and they helped her with making out the sales slips for customers and my mother proved that she had a knack for figures even then. She worked for them for a while till the war broke out in Europe.

She then went to work in a war plant and I can't remember exactly what she did, but she described it as the time of her life. She said even though there were rations, she always managed to secure stockings because of her silk connections. Silk was in great demand to make parachutes.

She met my dad, married and life moved on. She had 3 children, two boys and me.

In the late 1960s, she had a friend who moved to the British Virgin Islands and my mother went to visit her and came back saying that she was moving there and was going to open a bar. Jill's Beach Bar was in operation for 20 years and she entertained the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Andy Williams and a lot of celebreties who used to sail down from Miami to the islands. Since my mom served excellent food so she was well known for her excellent lobster sandwiches which she invented and said that it was the beginning of her success....well that and her well stocked bar to make those drinks and pina coladas....

She played bridge until a couple of years ago, entertained until a couple of years ago, but with the developing of parkinson's disease it has left her quite dibilitated and hence she is in a nursing home and when I can, we reminice of her days as a young woman, her life in the BVI and share so many of life's memories.

Happy Birthday Mother!

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