My Poppy Sturge is 92 years old today. I’m very fortunate because both of my maternal grandparents are still alive (shout out to Nanny Sturge!).
So many people know Art Sturge – from pretty much every corner of Newfoundland and Labrador. He’s had some interesting jobs over the years and I’ve always enjoyed hearing his stories.
Throughout my childhood, I was very fortunate to spend time with Nanny and Poppy. They had a trailer up at our summer place at Bull Pond and that meant there were many weekends (rain or shine) that they were there and I was able to enjoy lots of activities with Poppy. From berry picking, to going for long walks in the woods (or at least they seemed long to me), and our version of trawling the pond in his aluminum boat with our fishing lines hanging off the sides of the boat as they were dragged along – there was lots to do.
One fish, two fish
Fishing with Poppy was something I remember fondly. We would go out for great lengths of time. And this was before cell phones. So if we were gone for a while, it’s not like my parents were calling to check and see if we were still afloat… they just knew we were fine. At a young age I was taught the importance of boat safety – always wear your life jacket; do not randomly stand up; when you do stand up, stand with your legs and lower your centre; respect the boat and don’t act silly or get carried away. He also made sure I knew how to start the motor… just in case something ever happened to him.
We often caught something when we were out – which is pretty amazing given the fact that I was (and still am) a talker; I should have scared away a lot of the fish! Sometimes when we hit a little cove on the pond, Poppy would shut off the motor, get out his fly fishing rod, stand up in the boat and give a few flicks to see if he could catch something. I usually sat there in awe. The fact he was standing (!!!) in the boat without falling and he was maneuvering that crazy fishing pole, I would just sit and watch; loving every minute of it.
As an extended family with my parents, aunts uncle and cousins, we also enjoyed going to Bull Pond in the winter with Nanny and Poppy. There was one adventure that involved (frozen) ice fishing… but that’s a story for another day.
Playing the cards you’re dealt
On the rainy days at Bull Pond, a walk could still happen, but playing cards was more likely. Nanny and I played a lot of Queens, and they both played more than one game of scat and of course Go Fish! They even taught me how to play Cribbage at one point; it was also fun just watching them play Cribbage. They were patient when I wanted to practice shuffling cards and to this day, I can shuffle like a boss thanks to all of that practice.
Fear of boats
I also credit Poppy for helping me overcome my fear of boats. Despite seeming like I’m half fish, there was a time I was terrified of getting into a small boat. When I was around nine years old, there was an incident in Sandy Cove, NL, where I fell out of a dinghy and into the ocean (we’ll gloss over the exact details for now). That experience left me a little traumatized to say the least. Well, Poppy wasn’t going to sit back and have me terrified of boats when we had a perfectly fine pond and multiple boats at Bull Pond (and let’s not forget that we lived on an island!).
So what did he do? Well he convinced me to go out into is aluminum boat with him and when we were not far from the wharf, he turned off the engine, he stood up, and started rocking the boat back and forth. I screamed! I screamed like a banshee freaking out. But he assured me that the boat wouldn’t tip over and that the rocking was fun. Eventually I calmed the hell down and since then, my fearlessness of boats is going strong. And now, I’m passing on the importance of boat safety to Miranda whenever we’re at Bull Pond.
92 years young
Happy birthday Poppy! You’ve played a significant role in creating our amazing extended family that reaches far and wide across the province, country and the globe. You’re the dog-whisperer baby-loving storyteller of our family and we all love you very much. ❤
Here’s a video I created for Poppy’s 90th birthday celebrations two years ago. Since then, we’ve had more great-grandchildren arrive (with more to come this month and in May!) and even more photos capturing memories with family and friends.