Saint Andrew's RC Church, Judique, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia)
On another post, someone commented in light of the SSPX school that wouldn't play ball with another team who had a girl on it, if they (SSPX) would start making women and girls sit at the back of the Church (similar to what the old south use to do to African Americans who boarded public buses, which I witnessed quite frequently as a child as my mother didn't drive and we took the bus everywhere in Atlanta and Augusta between 1957 to 1967.) The implication of course is that the SSPX and perhaps even the Catholic Church discriminates against women which is equal to the situation of African Americans during segregationist period of southern history.
But that is not really the point of this post. This person's comments brought back vivid memories for me when my Dad drove the family in the hottest part of July, 1962, when I was 8 years old, from Augusta, Georgia to Judique, Cape Breton, his birth place and where the majority of his family still lived at that time.
It was a great vacation and I had the best fun on my father's farm (his brother, my Uncle Allan, then owned). The home was the very house in which my father and his siblings were born. My father was the youngest but born in that house in 1910. His mother, my grandmother, died in that house in 1912 during childbirth. But the farm experience, making hay and the fresh air was wonderful and at that time I wanted to live there.
But there were some traumatic experiences too, that have left a lasting impression. I'll count them down in order of occurrence:
1. We drove in the hottest part of July to Judique from Augusta in a small 1962 Chevy Nova without air-conditioning with five people in that car and it took us four days to get there! I remember my father saying a prayer for safety before we left home and sprinkling us with holy water, all of which really freaked me out as an 8 year old. Little did I know what was in store!
2. We stayed at all the finest motels that US 1 had to offer all the way up to Holton, Maine--I think I saw some signs at these motels that said you could rent them by the hour. I thought, how neat. I suspect my father like that as we would arrive at the motel around 6:00 PM and then depart the next morning around 1:00 AM!
3. As soon as we got into New Brunswick, Canada, things became magical and surreal for me. I was no longer in America and my father warned us children that we were not to mock the monarchy or England and that the Queen was very important in the eyes of his Canadian family and they would be offended by America's derision of the monarchy of England. And sure enough the paper money we got had the queen's image on it, the same Queen of England as the one of today, but quite young of course. I've always admired the queen since that day my father warned us.
4. I loved the Trans Canada Highway until we crossed over into Nova Scotia, when all of a sudden it turned into a gravel road, practically all the way to Cape Breton about 200 miles! That slowed us down. And on top of that a rock pierced one of our tires and we had to take all the luggage for five people out of the small trunk of that Chevy II in order to change that tire in the middle of no where. I really though big foot would attack us!
5. But the most traumatic experience for me was our first gasoline fill-up somewhere in Nova Scotia off that gravel road when I told my dad I needed to go to the bathroom and I could not find it in the normal place that filling stations in America usually had them. He pointed to a shack behind the filling station and told me that was the restroom, without further comment. Like a lamb led to the slaughter I went to that shack by myself, opened the door to the most horrendous stench I have ever smelled, saw what looked like a toilet seat on a shabby wooden box like structure with a hole leading to the ground with the droppings of how many people I don't know. Horrified and traumatized, I ran out of that outhouse panicked that I would not be able to hold going to the bathroom until we arrive at my dad's home. Of course he was laughing and told me to go and pee behind the filling station, which I happily did.
6. Thank God, my uncle's home, my father's birthplace had indoor plumbing but installed I think in the 1950's. My father's sister, my aunt, at the time had six children and lived in a very small house about two blocks away and they did not have an indoor bathroom, only an outhouse. She was very poor and her husband had died the winter before leaving her with 6 small children. But they made do and never complained about the outhouse--it was a way of life for them at that time. Today I realize that "so go I if not for the grace of God!"
7. Then on the three Sundays we were there the Mass was just like the one in Augusta, the pre-Vatican II Mass in Latin. They had a very lovely Church built around 1917 after the original one had been burned down and they had imported a very beautiful altar (similar to the one in the SSPX church in Atlanta) which was the pride of that little village. But the traumatic thing for me as an 8 year old was that the men and boys sat on one side of the Church and the women and girls on the other side (hence the reason for this post in terms of segregation). I was 8 year's old, just finished the second grade and did not want to be separated from my mother and sister who were on the other side as I had to sit with my father and older brother. I never figured out why they did this in Judique. My father only said, that's what they do up here. That ceased after Vatican II when the post Vatican II pastor gave Saint Andrews a post-Vatican II face lift and dismantled that beautiful, pride of Juidque, pre-Vatican II altar and modernized the church to 1960's sensibilities. When we returned to Judique in 1968, I was happy that I could sit with our family together but traumatized by what that priest did to that Church as was the whole of the Judique community.