There is an old cliché: “We can’t choose our friends.”
It was August 2009 that Jon Wilson invited me to a service at the Belmont Baptist Church. On that occasion Rev. Leslie Jobb delivered his farewell message.
Retiring after 50 years in the ministry, a large number came to hear Rev. Jobb. The veteran minister delivered a strong gospel message and at times had the congregation in stitches with his colourful stories. Thus began a 10-year friendship with Leslie, now 86 years of age.
Also an author of short stories, his Christmas story which took place during the early 1940s, is attention grabbing.
It was a very special time in the life of an eight-year-old boy living near Londonderry, with Christmas fast approaching; exciting things were happening in and around the young fellow’s home.
Leslie was in the Christmas spirit early, partly because of a flourishing local industry. Entering the workforce at age 17, Leslie worked in the woods; he was a hired hand on a farm and he was employed in a shoe factory in Ontario.
Meeting his future wife, Donna Donkervoort, in
Upper Canada, they were married in London, Ont., in 1955. From 1956 to 1959 he attended Bible school, and then served in the ministry from 1959 until 2009 in Pentecostal, Baptist and United Churches.
In retirement, the Jobbs reside in Lower Sackville. Following is Leslie’s yesteryear story, “Christmas on Folly Mountain.”
In the early 1940s, Christmas would always start early on Folly Mountain, about the middle of November, usually before the first snowfall, when the ‘Christmas tree men’ would arrive to cut down Christmas trees and tie them in bunches, all by hand.
In those days, there would be approximately six men boarding at our house. I am not sure where we put them all. When the tree cutting came to an end, they would have my mother cook a goose (more grease than goose) and have an early Christmas get-together.
My mother always had a neighbour lady come and help her, having an early Christmas was so much work.
I remember watching the Christmas tree men and noticed a man who had only one hand, with a hook on the other hand; but boy, could he tie those trees. It was amazing to see him work. My older brother told me they would haul the trees by horse and wagon to Londonderry Station and load them on a boxcar to be shipped by train, usually to Boston, Mass. That was in the days before we had all those artificial trees, even musical trees.
My sister told me about one Christmas in particular that she remembered. She said they put real candles on the tree; you would light them and sit and watch them burn for about 10 minutes. No doubt they would crank up the old phonograph and play some carols or somebody would drop in and play some carols on the old reed organ.
Our house and barn were on the road leading to Londonderry, which is now called Base Line Road. As a result of the Trans-Canada Highway being built in 1956, most buildings have been torn down. You could travel on to Parsboro on the road, it was kept graveled by a lumber company. In the winter, bulldozers kept the road open.
Scripture that has been with me most of a lifetime would be Luke chapter 2, verses 11 and 14:
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
I recall something like this being written in a book The Talking Christmas Tree:
“To make others happy is the big job of the Christmas tree, perhaps no other thing ever grown or made by the hands of man has brought more joy to the world. This is because the Christmas tree reminds us of the joy that came to the world when Christ was born.”
So, I and my brother looked forward to every November. We watched the Christmas tree men cut down the trees, the bulldozers plowing the road… of course, all in the days before TV and the other modern entertainment.
It certainly was exciting – I’ll never forget those days in the early 1940s and Christmas on Folly Mountain.
Lyle Carter’s column appears every second week in the Truro News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.