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A tribute to an intriguing, skilful storyteller and war hero

Halstead Gosse.
Halstead Gosse. - Submitted

Many of you know that I have a passion for researching, listening and recording our local history. This is an assignment that many people may not think is important. Some remarks that I have heard are "Sure that was years ago", "They are dead and gone" and "Why do we need to know that?"

I spent 30 years in a wonderful profession that we call teaching and have seen why our past is so important to the present. I have seen the glow in the eyes of children as they look at you and recite a story told to them by their parents, grandparents, relative or someone that they admire. It gives the child a sense of purpose and determination to succeed in their future endeavours.

Sometimes we are fortunate to interview an impressive orator. They can capture your attention and you are immediately hooked, sit in anticipation of their every word and are amazed at how fast the time flew.

I was introduced to such a person about three years ago.

I knocked on his door and heard a voice inside say "Tell him to come in."

I nervously entered the doorway and saw a tall man sitting in his chair. I explained why I was there and he said, "Sit down and I’ll tell you about that...."

However, before he got going he said, "Now I guess you are wondering about the name Halstead. Not many people in the war or around here have a name like that …"

I knew then and there that I was talking to a very special person.

He continued, "Look around and you'll see me in all those pictures.”

He pointed towards the many framed photos; one of a young man in Navy uniform and another with a veteran with medals across his chest surrounded by government dignitaries beaming with pride.

No this wasn't a man bragging about himself but a man who spoke with pride as he continued to tell me about people around the area that served in the war, worked in the woods, fished on the Labrador, and so on.

I recall finding an article a few months later about three men in the newspaper, Twillingate Sun, 1949 issue. They worked in Badger for the A.N.D company and were described as outstanding woodsmen. Two of names caught my eye because they were from our area: Halstead Gosse and George Seward.

I couldn't wait for the opportunity to visit Halstead to confirm this story. I printed a copy and carried it with me, eager to hear his version of the event. When I entered his home, he saw the paper in my hand and said, "I know what you have there."

I pressed the recorder, sank back into the chair and listened to a woodsman recall his time as a logger.

One of the lines he used caught my immediate attention.

"Back then, you didn't have a powersaw, you'd have a 36-inch sandvikens bucksaw and an axe.”

I couldn't wait to get home and search the internet for these words "36-inch sandviken bucksaw."  What a descriptive sentence, he didn't say a bucksaw and axe but a "36-inch sandviken bucksaw."

The last time I saw him he was sitting on his porch soaking-up the Queen’s Cove sunshine. I passed by but something told me to apply the brakes, back up and get out to speak to this wonderful man.

As I approached him, he said with a smile, "I thought you’d abandoned me."

It was his way of politely saying, "Do you have time for another story?"

Halstead, I would place you among one of the greatest storytellers that I have ever met and interviewed.

If I/we can learn anything from you, it would be that we should take just as much pride in our history as you did when you lived it, told it and we recorded it for future generations to read and enjoy.

You keep telling your yarns and I'll keep writing. Thanks buddy...

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