James Shaw

by Karen Bruynell

James Shaw (1886-1951) son of Daniel Shaw and Catherine Flynn. (Photo donated by Karen Bruynell)

James Shaw (1886-1951) son of Daniel Shaw and Catherine Flynn. (Photo donated by Karen Bruynell)

James is my husband’s grandfather who passed away before even my oldest brother-in-law was born in 1951.  I’ve always heard about him and knew he must have been a great guy given he raised my mother-in-law Mary and she is pretty terrific.  So I sent my husband Buddy out last week to be the roaming genealogist for me and find out about the person who was his grandfather, and this is what he discovered about James Shaw.

In the tiny village of Little Heart’s Ease, Newfoundland, James Daniel Shaw was born on August 15, 1886 to Daniel and Catherine (Flynn) Shaw. James was the third of seven children. Little Heart’s Ease was a very scenic rural village with a population of about 250 and they saw their first post office in 1896. Located to the south of Trinity Bay, it was surrounded by coves and it’s harbor considered quite secure. Many men, including James, had the occupation of fisherman and townspeople could pick raspberries, blueberries, bakeapples, black berries, and partridgeberries up in the slopey green hills above the coves.

James and Mary Shaw at wedding of  their daughter Mary to Ken Bruynell, 1949 (Photo donated by Karen  Bruynell)

James and Mary Shaw at wedding of their daughter Mary to Ken Bruynell, 1949 (Photo donated by Karen Bruynell)

In December, 1909 he married Mary Jane Shaw and their wedding was witnessed by William Shaw (of Daniel) and Mary Shaw (of James).

Like many of his relatives, James decided to move his family to Massachusetts. James arrived in Boston in January, 1924. His wife and sons Ron and Anthony (Mike) followed almost two years later, in December, 1925.

When he came to the US he lived at various locations in South Boston including 614 and 524 East 6th Street and G Street. Once settled, James and Mary Jane welcomed two more children, John and Mary Catherine. James decided he liked living in Southie and became a US citizen on the 6th of February, 1939.

James was a very small in stature and a stern man. He would never yell at you…he would just give you a look and that was enough, you knew what he wanted. James worked hard as a carpenter for a company he referred to as Sharkies and did a lot of work on the side as a carpenter.

In James’ spare time he enjoyed going to evening baseball games at M Street Park and he enjoyed playing cards…his favorite game was called 45. He also enjoyed going to Castle Island in nice weather or would take the street car to Everett to visit relatives. James never drove and therefore was always dependent on the street car to get him everywhere.

Another favorite pastime for James was playing the dogs. Oddly enough he never went to the track. Instead, he would go down to the corner bar and place his bets with a bookie! We never found out how lucky (or unlucky) he was with his bets.

James lived a simple, uncomplicated life and had minimal belongings. One of his most prized possessions was a ship that he had worked diligently to build inside a bottle.

James often hung around the local fish piers in Boston because many of those he knew were family and friends who worked on the O’Brien boats. Every week like clockwork James would bring home fresh cod off these boats, salt it and hang it on the clothesline on his back porch to dry it out for a week. When they were ready to eat the fish they would soak out the salt then deep fry it in pork fat.

James Shaw during last visit to  LHE, Nl. (Photo donated by Karen Bruynell)

James Shaw during last visit to Little Heart’s Ease. (Photo donated by Karen Bruynell)

James only returned to Newfoundland once after his son Mike got out of the service. He worked until the age of 65 at which time he died suddenly of a heart attack while at work on October 17th, 1951.