Thursday, 8 March 2012

Burning the Parsons House, Lush's Bight
February 29, 2012  Leap Day

On Wednesday, February 29 the Lushes Bight-Beaumont Volunteer Fire department conducted a training exercise which was a little more dramatic than their usual exercises. An old house which was slated to be torn down was given over to the LI fire department, by the children of Ronald Parsons, owners, to be used in their controlled burn.

The house was set on fire approximately 10:30 AM and it took a hour to burn down. With the flames shooting through the roof, windows and doors of the old house, it brought home, to those watching, how devastating fire can be and how very valuable the services of our volunteer fire fighters are to the community. These men and women give so freely of their time and take their job very seriously. 

This house has been a part of the community for many years and has a rich history. In recent years Ronald Parsons bought the house from its previous owners' family, Ted and Dorothy (Aunt Dot) Parsons. Ted and Aunt Dot raised their family there, children: Lorraine, Gary, Faye, Geraldine, Tom, Selby, Roland, Joy and Alwin. If I left anyone out please let me know.

The original owners were Sidney and Gladys Parsons. As I started asking questions I was fascinated by the history of Sidney and Gladys. Sidney was born in 1892 according to the 1921 census. The United Church records show that he died at the age of 42 years in 1932. If the census was correct he was age 40 when he died. By the time Sidney died he and his wife Gladys had four children, Brice( according to the 1921 census) Bruce according to my mother, Ralph, Don and daughter, Raye. 

The circumstances of his death was what intrigued me the most as I found that there was a direct connection to my family. Sidney, captain/owner of the schooner the Stanley Parsons left St. John's bound for Long Island with food and general cargo, was last seen on off Catalina by Captain Ernest Burry in the schooner Athlete II, December 5, 1932. Sometime between December 6-12, 1932 the Stanley Parsons went down taking with her Sidney Parsons, age 42 years, mate James Maye,age 51,  married with four children, cook Uriah Miller, married with six children, Alwin Parsons, married with two children. Deckhands, all single, were my mother's uncles, my great uncles, Thomas Caravan, age 25 and Wesley Caravan, age 19 and Cecil Hollett, age twenty-five. No bodies of the seven men nor any debris of the schooner  was ever found. Mom always thought there were eight men on board. My mother, Mamie Colbourne (nee Caravan) born 1928 recounts the story as she remembers it because it was told over and over as she was growing up whenever the adults, in her family, got together in the evenings. Our Grammy, as we called her, Sarah Caravan lost two of her young sons that night.

 My Grandfather, Alman Caravan,age 35 at that time, always said he knew the very night the schooner went down. His family was sitting in the kitchen on a blustery night on December 10, 1932 and they heard a loud racket. He went out, sure that the door had blown open. There was nothing out of the ordinary to be seen and the doors were shut tight. Grandfather Caravan always said after that incident that that was when the schooner and his two young brothers were lost. He even remarked, at that time, "that's it, the boys are gone."

Gladys Parsons, Sidney's wife, carried on and raised her four children in the Parsons house. She had a general store which was located on the point near where Boyce and Giselle Oake now has their cottage and between their house and Pleaman Croucher's new wharf.

When Mom( Mamie) was 17 years old she went to work for Gladys as a live in maid in September 1945. She did general chores around the house and garden. She remembers Gladys as being well-to-do because she had her business, went to St. John's once a year to buy in supplies for her store, had a lot of animals (cows, sheep, goats, chickens) so always had plenty of meat for the winter, and milk and eggs. Mom remembers picking 25 chickens on one day for Gladys. Her proof that it was in 1945 is that young Raye came home from school and told the household that they had received word at school that the war (WWII) had ended.

As for the age of the house, Sidney was drowned 80 years ago, had four children living in the house and his son Bruce was 12 years old at the time of his father's death. If they moved in to the house when they had their first-born, then the Parsons house was at least 92 years old. May be older.

If anyone has any information to add all are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story Barb ...thanks for sharing. When I was home recently, Mom and Dad (Goldie and Selby Parsons) told me that myself and my older brother Steve lived in that house for a couple of years when they were first married. Dad always told us great stories of when they grew up in Lushes Bight and in that house. Proud to be associated with this beautiful place.

    Thanks again for sharing,