Thursday's Storm: The August Gale of 1927
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When the crew of the fishing schooner Annie Healy left their home port of Fox Harbour, Placentia Bay, on Wednesday, August 17, 1927, no one could have imagined what fate held in store for them. Times were hard in Newfoundland that year. On shore, wives of the crew were often worked to exhaustion, even more so while their men were at sea. Most had lost parents, siblings, or children to tuberculosis. Each family had at least one tragic story. But when a hurricane struck Placentia Bay on August 25 of that year, a tragedy unlike any they had lived through would unite these people in ways untold. Now, eighty-six years later, the full story of the ill-fated vessel and her crew is told for the first time. The closeness of the crew and their families, and how they worked together to ensure their little community survived, is relived through the memories of children of the crew, stories passed down from their mothers, and reports from the last men to see the schooner afloat.
December storms, when the place is often mistaken as a safe haven. “It’s good to be home, Jim,” Anne calls out to her oldest brother. He’s standing with a tally sheet, counting fish on the flakes. “No place like home, Annie, girl,” Jim replies with a little laugh. He makes his way out of the yard and under the flakes toward the wharf. Jim is like their father. At fifty-five, Jim is big and tall, tough and strapping. He’s carrying a large killick with one hand, with a ten-foot plank on the
then. Anne loved looking at fancy clothes in big store windows, and not having to walk under shady fish flakes where, at home, she was sure to be pinched by dirty old men and curious young boys alike. In the big mercantile shops, Annie smiled shyly at the fine-looking businessmen in tailored suits running on her father like he was a king. She even made eyes at clerks, although they weren’t nearly as important as the sons and nephews of rich, powerful merchants. When she was nineteen, in a
the Crow Hill. It’s flooding Liz Bruce’s kitchen with wide bands of light, drawing attention to the air full of dust from the floor just swept. Squinting past the glare coming through the front window, Liz sees two young boys running past the house. Their bodies twist and turn as they throw pine cones at one another. They jump, push, trip, and fall into the grass off the side of the path where they rampse and spar. Their playful squeals rob the house of its stillness. Mindlessly putting her
Arthur looks up at his father and smiles, then takes off to catch up with his mother, who is already halfway to Roselle Foley’s. “Be good to yer mudder!” Charlie says, but not loud enough for anyone to hear with all the noise. Michael Mullins flicks the last of his cigarette into the water, grabs another coil of rope for the Annie Healy, and goes up the plank. Still feeling a bit gloomy over being away from Katie, he’s pretty sure the crew will share their booze with him on account of it
Naimo; Eneida and Bill Valenti; Mike Kelly; Mary Murray Hawco; Susan Mandville; Bernie O’Reilly; Betty Howard; Shirley Duke; Jack Houlihan; Jim Houlihan; Joe McCue; Mary McCue; Mame Culletin; Frances Duke; Jimmy King; The Jim Spurveys; Mary P. F. Healy; Joan (Healy) Halley; The Centre for Newfoundland Studies; Tom Furlong; Wallace Furlong; Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Maritime History Archive; the Daily News; the Evening Telegram; Joann Fantina; Mary Fantina; Bob Hyslop; Peter Murphy;