An Old Lady Remembers
As actually told by  Effie (Euphemia) Davidson, wife of John Simpson Davidson, to her niece, Debbie Nicholson . Circa 1940

When one is very old and I am very old, it is pleasant to sit in the fire light and dream.
I am so old that in two days I shall be one hundred years old. My children and my children’s children  tell me I must rest and conserve my strength to be well for the great birthday party that is being planned for me; but there is little else that the very old can do, except rest, and my children need have no fear, I shall be with them for this birthday  and I think perhaps one other, and I then I think, no more. When one is very old, one can sometimes anticipate the future.

The fire burns with a clear, bright flame. It is made of driftwood, that white lovely wood that the seas have smoothed and seasoned. The sea - it is very calm tonight.
My son George tells me that the weather will hold, he has looked at the sea and he has looked at his glass, and when he says it will hold, I doubt not. My son knows the sea. I am glad that the weather will be calm, because they have promised to take me across the bay to my party at Eden in one of the whaleboats, and should the sea be rough I know that  they would insist that I go by launch or round the forestry  road by car, but I have a great wish to cross the bay in the whaleboat. My sons and my son’s sons will take the oars and to me the years will slip away, as the green water slips from their rhythmic blades.

My sons have been whalemen. Theirs was the wild, exhilarating trade of the harpoon and lance. My grandsons too, were born to the sea, as a bird is born to the open sky. My grandson Jim, can handle a boat and handle a horse, and there is nothing on God’s green earth that he would not dare, but my son George, who is his father, is brave with the quiet bravery of one who does not understand fear. In our small community, and beyond, he is known as “Fearless George”.

They tell me the days of Bay whaling are done. Science is taking the place of the keen eye  and the well balanced harpoon . Maybe it is taking with it too something of high adventure, and that I think is a pity, but then I am old, and perhaps I see things as by candlelight, which the world views by the hard glare of electricity.

I remember the days when Boydtown was young. I remember the mulberry trees of East Boyd when they were lusty young giants. They are old now and gnarled, but some of them still bear fruit. I remember Kiah House as it was- a friendly, homely place . We had great driftwood fires there too, great logs in the generous old fireplace; great kettles swinging over the dancing flames. I remember the music of the old piano, on still calm nights, when the river in front of the house was a sheet of black glass, reflecting the stars. The stars -the same unheeding stars, that looked down that terrible night , some years later,  when tragedy laid its cold hand on all our hearts, and we hated the river and its Bar. Back from a dance at Eden, back in the slim green whaleboat they had come: Skilled though they were in its ways, the sea took toll that night. My grandson, he who so loved music, was lost forever beneath the dreadful chorus of the sea, and with him went his little lad Roy and the bright-eyed baby.

Those that were left tried gallantly  and desperately to save them , but those that live by the sea must sometimes die by the sea, and the passing years have taken the bitterness out of our hearts and left in its stead a gentler sadness.

I remember Boyd’s lighthouse before the lightning marked it , I remember the old stone draughtsboard, were the men on lookout for whales played draughts to while away the time, in the shadow of the great tower. The draughtsmen were smoothed and fashioned by hand, from red and white stone, and I doubt not that there are still some scattered about the headland.

But most of all I remember those madly exciting days when the Killers brought  a whale into the Bay. Round and across the bay would go the whale, and round and across in hot pursuit would go the whalemen. Now assisting, now playfully hindering the chase would go the familiar Killers -Old Tom, Hooky, Humpy, Youngster- every one of the pack was known to the men.

Then when the chase had ended, ashore the men came again, my sons and my son’s sons, drenched in blood and spray, eerily triumphant. Great days, glorious days, they come to my mind, unbidden, as a dream comes, then fade as a dream fades.

How calm the sea is tonight. Softly, softly on the beach I can hear the wash of the ripples. Calm weather, still weather - “Right-whale weather” they used to say. I am so glad that as I near my hundredth milestone, the weather will hold and the glass is set fair..