This is a story dating back to my Halifax days, a story that remained untold for well over 40 years. However, before we set the stage and get to the core of my story, I must explain that Halifax is a city I like to visit several times a year. Perhaps the fact that four of my siblings live in the city is an incentive for me to visit. We are scattered a bit - my sister Sarah lives in Lower Sackville with her husband, Bill, and works for the postal department. My brother Vincent lives near Peggy’s Cove with his wife Bonnie, their grown children are no longer at home. He moved to Halifax 50 years ago to work for RCA Victor, as it was known then. Nil, 15 years my junior, lives with his wife Jane in the city’s north end; he is a chartered accountant by profession. Pat (Patrick) lives with his wife Cindy and young daughter in the center of the city; he is a partner of a very successful company that builds web sites and provides software development. He also writes a monthly column for a Halifax paper.
Not too long ago, I was enjoying supper with my brothers and sister at a Halifax restaurant when Pat, jokingly, brought it to my attention that I had never mentioned him, not even once, in the hundreds of features I have written over the past 40 years. I’m sure he did not lose any sleep over it; I was unaware of the omission. However, I was aware that I had written very little about the days when I lived in Halifax. Here’s the story I told them.
A dozen years or so before Sarah, Pat and Nil became Haligonians, I also lived in the historical city for three years. I went there to work as a carpenter and stayed with Vincent, at first, until I found more permanent living arrangements. It those days, Fairview and other surrounding areas were being developed and there was plenty of work for those of us in the building trade. A crew of six or seven men would build a bungalow-type house in about a week or so. In wintertime, we dressed for the North Pole and worked outside on most days. I remember shingling roofs in snow storms where one worker with a broom had to sweep out the snow for us to nail the shingles.
One late summer day, we were building a house on the outskirts of town, near the Lakeside area of Halifax County. Early one morning, a group of very excited little boys showed up saying that they had found a woman sleeping in the woods. We hurriedly followed them on a path in the woods, perhaps several hundred yards, no more. True to the boy’s words, a beautiful, well-dressed young woman, of about 25 years, was sleeping peacefully on a bed of dry moss. We shouted for her to wake up, but to no avail.
About now, I wish I could say that a handsome prince, on a white horse, galloped in, kissed her on the forehead and woke her up and that they happily rode away into the horizon. However, this is not what happened. Someone ran to a nearby house and called for help. Soon Mr. J. Albert Walker, from Walker Funeral Home, arrived with an ambulance. Walker told us to look around for an empty pill container and sure enough, we found one before he could secure the woman on his stretcher. He needed this so the hospital would know what she had taken. We each grabbed a corner of the stretcher, and being young, ran for the ambulance through bushes and mud puddles, including Mr. Walker who was wearing a business suit and dress shoes.
As the white ambulance sped away the story ended for us… leaving many unanswered questions: What had gone wrong in this young woman’s life? Did she survive the ordeal? This was around 1969 or 1970; she would be around 68 years today. I sincerely hope dark clouds turned into sunshine in this young person’s life. Who knows, perhaps there is a charming prince who kisses her on the forehead every morning to wake her up? I sure hope so. But, most of all, I have often wondered… who was this sleeping beauty?