In case you’re wondering, I can pinpoint for you the centre of the universe. For those who wish to know precisely, it is atop a hill just off the main road in Brig Bay, Nfld. — just past the branch where you turn left and, because the ravages of time and change have spared no one, veer right instead of pulling into a steep parking lot on your left (’cause you’re continuing on up the incline toward Bird Cove Hill).
It is from this lesser hill, where you would no longer stop for commerce, the Co-op store presided for many a year, drawing good people unto itself for the dispensation of the necessities of life, sometimes described in terms of nourishment or shelter not connected in any way to terms of purchase. Some climbed the stairs to conduct business, yes, or just to hang out, but you were just as likely on winter nights to trip over hockey players recovering from a beating and frostbite, or a newsbearer winding up in gusts of urgency to rival the whipping wind those Orrs and Espositos were hiding from.
I have been a newsman most of my life. This fascination with the news and its components — not to mention the warring sides of every issue — didn’t start with the Humber Log, The Western Star, The Gander Beacon or the Northern Pen, or any of the mainland newsrooms I would later land in, for that matter. These early ones were just finishing schools, where I honed my skills and figured out the craft. The real insight had come from watching and listening, while waiting to be tended on at the Co-op store. Continue reading