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Grandma full of clever counterplots

Staunch members of the Pentecostal Church, my grandparents firmly believed that their only son was destined to become a man of the cloth.

Born in 1912, at the family farmhouse, on Chuckery Hill, Robert Thomas Jamieson was the youngest of their three children. Their daughters, Mary and Violet (my mother) had been born just 15 months apart and were eight and seven years of age, respectively when their baby brother arrived.

A busy farm wife who had been forced to undertake many additional chores, owing to my grandfather’s poor health, granny considered her family complete. However, her husband longed for a son and told her it was God’s will that he would become a minister. Granny, eventually, agreed that it would be a fine thing, indeed, to give a child to the Lord. Regrettably, Uncle Bob was left out of the loop.

In the spring of 1919, my grandparents were forced to sell their farm, because my grandfather had developed a severe heart condition. They purchased a Picton home on The Commons (Hill Street) and were preparing to move to town, when grandfather died, suddenly.

The move proved traumatic for seven-year-old Bob, who had been greatly upset by the loss of his father and the sale of the farm. Perhaps it was because of his loneliness that, after coming to town, he began to write in an old farm journal that had belonged to his dad.

A lively little boy, Uncle Bob found many creative ways to get into mischief. His journal entries frequently ended with the words “Got a lickin”.

My grandmother began to question her late husband’s firm assertion that their son was destined for the ministry. It was nearly impossible to force his attendance at Sunday School.

My mother often recalled that on Sunday mornings, it was her job to ensure that young Bobbie’s face had been washed and his hair combed, before he set out for the church. She remembered that he would kick her in the shins, vigorously, when she attempted to wash behind his ears.

My grandmother began to feel that her husband had been wrong about their son’s future calling. Any doubts she might have had disappeared one fateful day when the minister came to call.

Mother observed that her little brother resented the preacher’s lengthy stays. Granny insisted that her children sit primly in the parlour, during his visits. On the occasion of my uncle’s fall from grace, the reverend had been waxing eloquent for some considerable time. An active little boy, Bobbie had grown tired of sitting still and had begun to fidget. The minister noticed his behaviour and gave him a disapproving glance. Annoyed by her son’s behaviour, my grandmother admonished him and sent him to his room.

Angered by what he regarded as a serious injustice, my uncle decided to take revenge. In his bedroom was a large floor register that afforded him a bird’s eye view of the parlour. Using the only weapon at hand, Bobbie declared war. He pulled a full chamber pot from beneath his bed and slowly poured its contents through the ceiling grate.

Mother reported that as the minister continued to talk, granny watched in disbelief as a widening puddle formed on the floor near his feet. Puzzlement gave way to realization, then anger. Granny jumped to her feet and ran upstairs to collar the perpetrator of this foul deed. Once again, Bobbie “got a lickin.”

In years to come, Uncle Bob would engage in many devious plots to thwart my grandmother. Determined not to be bested, she responded with clever counterplots of her own. By the time her son had reached his teens, she had grown resigned to the fact that he would never be a minister. Instead, he became a car salesman, an occupation far better suited to his natural talents.

Filed Under: Margaret Haylock-Capon

About the Author: Maggie Haylock is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter who has co-authored several books with her husband, Alan Capon.

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  1. Ann Sherwood says:

    I remember reading this one in the County Guide, and laughing at Bobbie’s antics. I can certainly understand why your grandmother didn’t think it was funny, though. I can only imagine how mortified she must have been. It must have been hard for a boy growing up without a father in a house full of females, and a staunchly religious mother.

    I love the picture above the article, although it would have been nice of one of them had cracked a smile (I know they were usually told not to in those days).

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