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Wednesday 5 March 2014

Pop Pretty, Part 1: Tarring the Roof

Some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather Pretty; my brother and I called him Pop. Mom, Dad and I lived with my grandfather and his housekeeper, Juanita, from the time I was born until I was two or so.  At that time my grandfather worked at the roundhouse in St. John's, still employed with the railway, but not as an engineer, as he had been until 1949. He worked shift work and when he came home from work in the morning, I wanted to be with him. He took me into his bed and I jumped and climbed over him. He loved it and so did I.  Juanita always tried to take me away so he could get some sleep. Pop would gesture her away. (Juanita was deaf.) I loved my Pop from an early age.

                                                 Samuel Pretty 

Samuel Pretty only had one given name according to his birth certificate. However, he is listed as Samuel Bernard Pretty in the marriage announcement when he married Ida Stewart, my grandmother. I learned this information long after my Pop's death though. He wasn't one to talk about things, unlike my mother. While he wasn't talkative, Pop had a commanding presence. The grandfather of my childhood was tall, with a huge belly, and white hair which was balding on the top. He had a light complexion and burned easily in the sun.  My father had a dark complexion, more like his mother.

Pop had a good sense of humour and my grandmother O'Brien always enjoyed any time she spent visiting with him. He always had a joke or story and he kept her laughing with that silent shaking laugh of hers.

If Pop was at our house and I came home from school and asked where Mom was, his response would always be,

"She's up tarring the roof."

It was his catch phrase for every query about someone's location.

Recently, I asked Claire what her plans were for the day. "I'm going up tarring the roof now in a few minutes," was her cheeky reply. She and I both laughed. We knew!

Three generations later, Pop's phrase is still in use in his family, and has taken on a wider usage than he had for it. Evolution!

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