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Saving A Pill Box Hat

[I heard the story below from Gerald Webb, a natural-born Shore storyteller who reminds us of how much life has changed since the 1950s.This story was told at Gerald and Joyce’s 5 -year Anniversary Party, and the laughter and applause brought the house down.] 

Prior to their marriage on February 7,1959, at Holy Trinity Church in Tangier, Joyce Webb started planning her honeymoon.  Joyce’s heart was set on Newfoundland, Gerald’s on a warmer clime. Joyce’s first choice was Newfoundland. Gerald reminded her that there was 15ft. of snow ton the ground in February in Newfoundland. Her second and “last choice was Winnipeg.” Gerald said, “Their discussion just substituted 15 ft. of snow for 27ft.” 

Joyce then added “and we are flying there.” Gerald had a fear of flying. But he didn’t want his Bride to think he was “a wimp.” He pointed out all the significant architecture and beautiful scenery they would miss in flight, as opposed to traveling by train. Joyce finally agreed to go by train.

They set out on their honeymoon trip from Halifax to Winnipeg by train. Joyce left in style, wearing her going away-suit, gloves, and a pill box hat.

After the train pulled out, the porter came and started to make up the seats. Joyce asked, “What is he doing?”

Gerald, very careful to use the best word, said the porter was “making up the berth, to distinguish from bunk a term used for camping.”

Joyce said, “I am not going to sleep up there!”

Gerald responded, “It’s either there or on the roof.”  He snapped the curtain closed for privacy and they both got in their berths. Gerald went to sleep and when he woke up later, he was “all alone; this is our honeymoon, was is wrong? If she got off at the last stop, I better get off at the next one.” In panic he walked up and down the train and found Joyce in a compartment, asleep “with her head bobbing up and down”. He sat beside his bride for hours until she awoke, and “all was well”.

Touring Winnipeg was fun, until walking down Port de Prairie St. the wind caught Joyce’s hat and away it sailed. Joyce cried out “Save my hat!” Gerald, acting like a “macho newlywed,” started crossing the lanes of traffic. “Brakes screeched, fists arose, horns beeped,” Gerald said. “The more lanes I crossed, the harder the wind blew, carrying the hat further and further. Then it started crossing the lanes coming in the opposite direction. That pill box hat was light pink and difficult to see on the snow.”

He finally picked it up and risked his life to re-cross the 10 lanes of traffic.
“The joy and gratitude on Joyce’s face made it all worthwhile,” he said.

But Joyce then announced that as soon as they got to Montreal, she was not going another inch on a train: “We are flying home.” Gerald had no option but to hide his fear of flying and succumb to her wishes. He held his breath all the way home. As soon as they touched down on land again, he thought of the Pope, and why he always kissed the good earth when he landed. 

--Maelissa Watson

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