Not the good old days

Reprinted from Decks Awash, Volume 15, Number 6
November – December 1986
Photographs from MUN Digital Archives

(Click on photo to enlarge)

George and Mary Langor, 1986

We meet George Langor by the beach at Gooseberry Cove while we’re taking photos. George is a bit of a photographer himself. When the canopy on the government wharf was washed away in a storm a few winters back, George was on hand to record it. He’s also interested in historical things and he invites us back to his home, itself an interesting artifact.

“This place goes back about 70 years,” says George showing us his home. “I bought it in 1951 for $350 from some people who were resettled from St. Jones Without. I went there, took it down, and rebuilt it here. What I’m looking at now is all antique. Take those doors,” he says, pointing to some nicely painted, panelled doors, “This day and age with the money people have on the go, they don’t have these doors. They chuck them out in the garbage.”

George lives with his wife Mary. He recalls his earlier days.

“I fished six summers on the Southern Shore and one summer on the Labrador. It wasn’t for me. Maybe if I’d been making money at it I’d have stayed at it, but in 1945 it wasn’t worth much. I was getting 2¼  cents a pound splitting cod to sell to a buyer who would salt it, and I wasn’t a very good splitter. So in 1951,1 gave it up.

“I then went ship’s carpenter for about 20 years, not steady, but whenever there was work. I started at Clarenville Dockyard when they were building the splinter fleet. When I went there I was getting 40 cents an hour and when I left in 1969, I was getting $1.90. Not much of a raise in 20 years.

“Now people will say that years ago the dollar was wonderful, you could get so much out of a dollar—some will say you could get a barrel of things out of a dollar. Well what I say to that is, how come we never had no rich people around in the 1930s and 1940s?

“In the 1930s when you lived on welfare, you got 6 cents a day. A pound of sugar cost 5 cents, a pint of paraffin oil was 5 cents, and a gallon of molasses was around 40 cents. Rich indeed! Things got much better once the Commission of Government come along.”

George is retired now. A carpenter is only as strong as his back and a slipped disk at the shipyard in 1958 put him in hospital for a month.

“They patched me up, but in 1973 it gave out completely. I haven’t been in the labor force since.”

The last two years George has been having some trouble with his blood pressure but the doctor has given him some pills and he still gets around, at a reduced speed.

“If I get up too quickly, I get dizzy. I thought you only had ears to hear with but I understand now you need them for balance, too.”

George did profit from one thing—his fishing licence.

“I paid $1 for it in 1950, and in 1984 I sold it for $750. A good investment that,” he remarks with satisfaction.

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Transcribed by Wanda Garrett, August 2019

These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material