Stories

Below you’ll find a collection of stories about Grampy Brown by his family and friends. If you’d like your story to be here, send it to us on the contact page.

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An InspirationComments Off

September 29th, 2017 by Justin

My earliest memories of Grampy Brown are of a pipe-smoking, cardigan-wearing grandfather who I learned to love because my mother did so much. I remember playing with an old tractor dinky in the sun room while she spent precious time with him. I remember the gruff exterior he carried, but the way you knew he cared about his family and was always glad to see you. Cookies in the kitchen, and fall leaves around the red house.

Mom was always very intentional about making sure we knew that Grampy and Nanny were important and special people in her life, and so in ours. As I grew older, her fascination continued to wear off on me, and I was always interested to hear about where he came from and his life here. His story of being abandoned in England, coming to Canada as an orphan, not only surviving a hard life but thriving, and founding this large family is one I find both hard to hear at times, and also vastly inspirational. The adversity & hardship he overcame makes me realize my own troubles aren’t so bad, and inspires me to try and acheive greater things in my own life.

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Standard Paving … party boy?Comments Off

August 4th, 2010 by pat

Sent in by Albert

I remember Grampy was going to a Standard Paving party at the Jubilee Boat Club.  Nannie wasn’t feeling well so she couldn’t go.  Grampy asked me to go with him and I said yes.  I didn’t drink or dance, just listen to the music.  Grampy didn’t dance but he had quite a few drinks.  By the time we got ready to go home, he shouldn’t be driving, so one of his friends talked to him and told him he shouldn’t drive home and asked him for his keys.  Grampy gave him his keys and his friend passed the keys to me and said “here, you take him home.”  We went to the car, I opened the driver’s side door, and got behind the wheel but Grampy came on the drivers’ side too and he opened the door and pushed me over to the other side, as the seats were bench seats at that time.  Of course, Grampy was 6′ tall, 220 lbs and I was 5’4″  and 140 lbs.   So, we were on our way home and with a few prayers we got home alright.  I must say that was the first time I ever saw Grampy that way and never saw him like that again.  Grampy wasn’t a big drinker.  He liked a bottle of beer a day and a drink of brandy.

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Big cigar!Comments Off

August 4th, 2010 by pat

Sent in by Albert

Grampy was working for the Standard Paving and they were paving in the Valley.  On my days off, I used to go with him.  On the way, Grampy would take out a big cigar, light it and open his window.  There I was, on the other side, getting all the smoke.  I was a non-smoker and that’s the way it was,  going and coming.  I did it for Grampy.  He was very good to Joyce and me and the kids.  Grampy was good to everybody.

Darrell’s 1995 eulogy to GrampyComments Off

July 31st, 2010 by pat

Eulogy to Grampy

Hi, my name is Darrell (or DAARrell as Grampy used to call me).  I’m Grampy’s grandson, funny how that works.  Anyway, Mom and Aunt Joyce asked me to say a few words about Grampy today.  I initially said no, but I thought how proud Grampy would be to know that one of the grandsons got up to say how much we, the family, loved and respected him.  Then I thought what an honour it would be for me to have the opportunity to give that tribute.

We are all so proud of how long Grampy lived.  He ushered in the 1900′s and then saw the century draw to a close.  He was born in England or Wales;  we haven’t quite come to a concensus on that point.  Anyway, at the age of nine, he was brought to Canada as part of Dr Barnardo’s orphan relocation program.  He was settled on the “farm” in Orangeville, Ont.  We all knew about that because he talked about the farm a lot.  He married Nanny there and then passed the depression travelling across Ontario, going where the jobs were.  This eventually led him to Nova Scotia, building highways in Cape Breton, Maitland, and eventually in Halifax.  Grampy held his family dear to him and they supported each other right up to his last breath.

Grampy played a big part in our lives and we all have our own special memories which we hold dear to our hearts.  I asked Mom what she would like everyone to remember about Grampy.  She immediately said that he was a good man who took care of Nanny when she got sick.  I knew that she really respected Grampy a lot for that.  But then she added, by way of explanation, that it was amazing considering that he had never done a dish in his life and that he was, by nature, such a cranky man.

We all remember Grampy’s famous Sunday drives.  He always looked like he was driving by himself, until when he got a bit closer, you could see Nanny’s head peering over the dash.  Then, as he pulled closer, you could normally see a couple of kids in the back seat. Another one of the things Grampy really liked was a good cigar. So every Sunday, you could see Grampy chugging down one of Nova Scotia’s highways, the windows closed tight, and the car shrouded in smoke.  Grampy was a big, gruff man and we, being so small in comparison, were all a little bit scared of him.  Deb remembers those drives.  No matter how much the car filled up with smoke she was too scared to asked Grampy to open the window.  Dougie, could never get up the courage either but after Doug threw up all over Nan and Gramp, Gramp suddenly developed a love for fresh air.  By the time I was taking drives with Gramp, he had started asking what colour the traffic lights were.  Even more nerve wracking than that was when I started driving for him.  It was like taking Sunday drives with the Driver Examiner.

We were also proud of Gramp being such a big man.  When we were small, we thought of him as a giant.  Christine, after visiting the NS Museum, told her teacher that Gramp was as big as Giant MacAskill.  I’ll never forget Grampy’s immense hands: I can see him wrapping them around us when we came to visit or sticking them in the pocket of his blue cardigan, searching for matches.  He always sat in his rocking chair.  The chair would creak as it moved across the kitchen floor while he sipped on his evening beer.

Gramp was a generous man.  When he had guests, he couldn’t do enough for them.  I still laugh at the mischevious look on his face when he’d slip Justin a cookie behind Pat’s back.  And he was always slipping us money for treats at the store.  He loved having us near, helping him around the house. He’d never let us do anything but he liked pretending that he couldn’t do a job without our help.  And of course we never minded because all we wanted was to be with him anyway.

When we think of Gramp, we always think Gramp and Nan: they came as a set.  The both of them loved having company and they had A LOT.   We spent our lives gathered in Nanny’s kitchen.  There was the rocking chair for Grampy, the red vinyl step stool for the first kid in the room, and a kitchen chair stacked high with cushions for Nanny.  Funny, even sitting on that mound of cushions, Nanny still only made it up to the table.  For us, it was a haven.  The older kids would go up and sneak smokes with Nanny.  Me, I was more the cookie type so I kept a close eye on the yellow metal bread box which was always filled with warm tea biscuits.  Every evening we would all pack into Nanny’s kitchen for crackers and Black Diamond cheese.  We’d normally play a round of 45′s.  Nanny was pretty quick, but as she got older she got less quick and more sneaky, slipping herself an extra draw when she was dealer.  Nanny was a great cook and we’d stay for any meal we could get.  And then there was Christmas.  We would  all pick one toy to take with us, get dressed in our new Christmas outfit, then head up to Nan’s and Gramp’s for Christmas dinner.  I remember the dinner and decorations: the candles glowing red in the window sill and the glass snowman with the styrofoam head, filled with candy.  They were happy times for us.

Gramp began his life as an orphan, alone.  He died surrounded by a loving family.  Along the way, he made a lot of children happy.  I was driving to Bedford yesterday.  The Basin was remarkably calm with no more than a slight stirring on the surface.  The water reflected the world back up: blue sky and snow.  It made me think of Grampy and how the Basin for that day was at peace, like Grampy was at peace.  It was a very striking symbol for me and made me think how natural Grampy’s passing was and how content he must now be to be finally at rest with Nanny.

Goodbye Grampy, I love you.

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Joe Louis and Confessions of A Juvenile Tea Biscuit ThiefComments Off

July 31st, 2010 by Justin

From Darrell

Nanny, My confession.

40 years ago I snuck into your kitchen one day while you were fixing things in the living room and snooped through your yellow bread box for anything sweet.  I’m proud to say, though, that I didn’t take anything (for some strange reason, your goodie supply was empty).   Boy was I nervous though!   I don’t know why since you would have gladly stuffed me with anything my heart desired.

My only defense is that I wasn’t meant to live in a family where the only sweets available were store-bought marshmallow cookies and cheesecake made from a box.

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TerrorComments Off

July 31st, 2010 by Justin

From Darrell

Grampy, I’ll never forget the terror I felt when my happy little stays with Nanny were interrupted by the sound of the garage door closing and the stamping of your heavy boots on the steps.  I knew that I was moments away from getting into trouble for some reason or another.    By the way, I licked my knife before I put it in the pickle jar because I thought you would be angry if I used a dirty knife to dig out the pickle.

PS, I really wish I had those big black ankle boots of yours or your cuban cigar box.

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Hot Chocolate and Sleep OversComments Off

July 31st, 2010 by Justin

From Darrell

To this day, whenever I reach in the cupboard and see the yellow can of cocoa, the memory of sleeping over with Grampy comes to mind.  In his later years, I would occasionally sleep over with Nan and Gramp.  Nan would fuss over me and the room I was to sleep in, while Grampy would fix me a carefully concocted cup of hot chocolate that he would make from scratch.  I’ll always have the image of him bent over my mug, slowly and purposefully stirring the powder, sugar and little bit of hot water into a smooth paste. One of his small pleasures of doing something special for me.

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Smile for the cameraComments Off

July 23rd, 2010 by pat

Oh didn’t Grampy love taking pictures?  He used that Brownie Kodak box camera as long as I can remember and I don’t believe he ever used anything else.  Mom and Dad didn’t “do” pictures really so Grampy became the chronicler of our lives.  I am including one photo in the Gallery he took of me after setting up this shot:  Nanny’s fur coat, his wide brim hat, red lipstick , and my long hair. Boy, did I feel “dolled up”, in a time when kids looked like kids for much longer.

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Sunday DrivesComments Off

July 20th, 2010 by Justin

by Bonnie Sadler

I also remember going for a Sunday drive with Grampy and Nanny. Although the drives could sometimes be very  long, they almost always included a stop along the way for an ice cream cone, this made it all worth while.

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Jessica RemembersComments Off

July 20th, 2010 by Justin

by Bonnie Sadler

Grampy loved ice cream cones and he  always enjoyed when he had someone to enjoy one with him. Jessica remembers when Grampy  was living in the house next to Mom and Dads and we were  visiting, he had given the girls a cone, she was really enjoying hers when Kodiak(Papas dog) took hers and ate it. It seems that Kodiak  also loved ice cream cones.

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90th Birthday PartyComments Off

July 6th, 2010 by pat

Remembered by Joyce, written by Pat:

On the morning of January 3rd, 1991, Grampy’s 90th birthday, he woke up to the news that Joyce was throwing a big party for him that day.  Grampy was so happy he started to cry….and then worry, that “Who would come?”, “No-one would show up for his party, would they?”.  It was a huge success.  All afternoon, people came and went: neighbours from Rockingham, fellow masons from the Masonic Lodge, the Pastor and friends from Birch Cove Baptist, old friends from Blackwood Hodge, and new friends from the surrounding area in Spryfield.  And of course his family – Grampy was really pleased and happy that he would be remembered by so many of us on such an important milestone in his life.

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An Old Dog New TricksComments Off

July 5th, 2010 by pat

Remembered by Joyce, written by Pat:

We would never have thought of  Grampy as a “dog” person but he did like Kodiak.  Kodiak, a pure-bred husky,  belonged to Joyce and Albert, but one wonders if he knew that.  He would arrive next door at Grampy’s back veranda  and wait for him.  Grampy would say “What do you want?” and Kodiak would jiggle his whole body, wag his tale and woof quietly.  Grampy would then go in for a cookie, while Kodiak waited.  When he returned, Grampy would say “you sit” and he would, which always got him his cookie.  The funny thing is, Kodiak wouldn’t do tricks for anyone else but Grampy.  They just loved each other and Grampy cried when Kodiak died.

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“Your mother wants to go for a drive”Comments Off

July 5th, 2010 by pat

The last car Grampy owned was a beige-gold Plymouth Fury.  It was huge and comfortable and Grampy loved that car.  Regretfully, the time came when he had to stop driving as his eye sight worsened.  Nanny, by this time, was quite unable to care for herself or communicate very much.  But there sat the Plymouth and the road was still calling.  Joyce would step over from next door and Grampy would say “Your mother wants to go for a drive.”  Joyce would look out the window at the car she dreaded driving, at Nanny who sat silently in her chair, and out the door they would go.  Beside the car, they would lift Nanny into the front passenger’s seat, Joyce would get behind the wheel, and Grampy (unimaginably) would slide into the back.  The cumbersome Plymouth would sail out the driveway, down to the Arm and the Dingle, around the Purcell’s Cove Loop, and back home.  Nanny, seeing even less over the dash-board in those days, had had her drive!

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Here comes the “sweet-man”.Comments Off

July 5th, 2010 by pat

Remembered by Joyce, written by Pat

During the years Grampy lived in Spryfield, Thursday was grocery day.  Joyce would take him up to the Save Easy  store where he purchased his weekly supplies including a pound cake, Joe Louis cakes, sugar donuts, and raisin pie.  His favourite clerk in that store, Starr,  still remembers him.  When they saw Grampy coming into the store they would remark to each other “Here comes the sweet-man”!

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A nice place for a picnic!Comments Off

July 5th, 2010 by pat

Remembered by Joyce, written by Pat:

Grampy loved a car ride, but even better, was one that included a picnic.  When Joyce and her family were there on Sundays, he would commonly suggest a drive and  a quiet picnic.  It’s humorous to remember that Grampy’s picnic spot of choice was a graveyard – but, after all, there were shade trees, it was uncrowded, and consequently, quiet.  The perfect place for a picnic!

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Can we stop for ice-cream?Comments Off

July 5th, 2010 by pat

Remembered by Joyce, written by Pat:

Grampy’s most-loved pass-time was going for a drive in his car.  Who doesn’t remember them heading out for one of those famous drives, Grampy with his big, strong-smelling, cigar, and Nanny just peeking over the dashboard.  Joyce remembers it was the same when she and Evelyn were small.  For them the high-light would be if they could get Grampy to stop for an ice-cream.  He didn’t always co-operate so what are two young girls’ to do?  They rode in the back, of course, and Evelyn leaned over to Joyce and said “If Dad says no when we ask him to stop for ice-cream, you start to cry!”  Joyce eagerly agreed, and she says it worked every time!  Mom, that cat is definitely out of the bag!

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Remember that Christmas….?Comments Off

July 5th, 2010 by pat

Suggested by Joyce and written by Pat:

Christmas was dinner at Nanny ‘s and Grampy’s.  After the fun and frenzy of morning gift opening, the next question of the day was always what to wear  to Christmas dinner.  It was a full day affair, starting with dinner at 12 noon and lasting into the evening with a buffet style supper.  This evening meal always began with the lighting of the evergreen candles, and ending with the lighting of the Christmas chime candles.

Oh, so many dear memories:  her fresh Christmas  tree, later replaced by one of those new fangled, artificial ones, which really did look like Charlie Brown’s tree;  there was “Old Morris” and, also, Mrs. Clark, some of  many  guests over the years, because Grampy couldn’t stand for someone to be left alone on Christmas Day; a beautifully set dinner table (including a rough cotton tablecloth, screen-printed with poinsetta’s) which  expanded  over the years to accommodate their growing family; the table groaning with deliciously prepared dishes, a huge turkey and a variety of desserts featuring Nanny’s own Christmas Plum Pudding with Sauce.   But, disturbingly, we began to hear Nanny say she didn’t know how much longer she could continue having Christmas Dinner.  Trying not to hear that, we put our heads down and kept going from year to year,  hoping we could put off the inevitable.  And so another 10 years passed by and we thought our plan was working – Nanny would go on for ever being the center of our Christmas celebrations.  But, of course, they did stop and that first year was heart-breaking.

Instead, Nanny and Grampy began being hosted, in turn, by Evelyn and Joyce and their families.  And those wonderful Nanny and Grampy Christmas dinners of our childhood went into precious memory to be pulled out and re-lived each holiday season.  There would be cries of  “Remember the huge turkey Nanny always cooked?”, “Remember when Nanny started her Christmas baking?”, “Remember that scraggy, little Christmas tree she pulled out, year after year?”; “Remember when Nanny started saying this was her last Christmas dinner but she kept going for another 10 years?”  “Remember….?”.  What we didn’t know, and just recently found out, was that during those additional 10 years, Uncle Albert, Joyce’s husband, had taken on all those preparations himself, not saying anything to us, simply enjoying our pleasure in the continuation of that wonderful, family tradition.  Thanks, Uncle Albert, for the gift of those 10 additional happy years!

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Nanny’s TasterComments Off

July 3rd, 2010 by pat

Submitted by Pat:

I was surprised to realize that Nanny’s Plum Pudding is the only recipe of hers I have in  my personal collection.  I remember as a child hanging around the kitchen watching Nanny as she performed her magic but I had absolutely no interest in doing it myself.  She would offer to teach me but I scorned that role preferring one as  taster instead.  And I excelled in that role.  I remember running to her house after school for those hot-from-the-oven t-biscuits – my goodness they were delicious and my mouth is watering as I type.  I can see them now: towering, golden, crispy, with a dob of butter melting into that steamy hot, perfectly raised, goodness.  I know we all experienced that same bit of heaven, but in my memory it is always a solitary experience.  I don’t remember a passel of us clustered around the pan fighting for the first and the last t-biscuit.  I do remember Nanny’s flour barrel that held a 100 pound bag, a flour sifter (crumb those things are hard to work!), a fabulous double-width kitchen stove with a huge warming oven (oh, for such a beast today), and Nanny’s flour dusted full-front aprons.  Does anyone else remember her bread and rolls rising on the water heaters?  How I wish I had taken advantage of that generously offered opportunity to learn from her.  But, once I had a family of my own it became a different story and now I have my own large recipe collection: binders, recipe cards, photo copies, print-outs off the internet, magazine cut-outs:  Nanny would be proud, I think!

Nanny Brown AshComments Off

July 2nd, 2010 by Justin

By David Nicholson

Nanny had the amazing ability to smoke a whole cigarette without the ash falling off the end.  It became known as “The Nanny Brown Ash”.

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Grampy, can I borrow….?Comments Off

June 30th, 2010 by pat

Submitted by Pat:

I don’t think I was the only one of his grand-children who went to Grampy, on very rare occassions, to borrow money.  Whenever I did, I knew I had better have my story straight and know how much I wanted and what I wanted it for.  He would look at you, as if sizing you up, then hand you the money, saying “I expect you to pay this back”.  I can honestly say it would never have occured to me not to.  Whereas it was not beneath me, certainly, to avoid accepting responsibility for my actions, I wouldn’t have dared cross that threshold with Grampy.  His personal sense of honour and integrity made it an impossibility.

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Long HairComments Off

June 29th, 2010 by pat

by Pat Hebb

I had really long hair down to my waist.  Grampy used to tell me how much he admired my hair (coming from the Victorian era, I guess it was a given).  When I became pregnant with Justin I really wanted to cut my  hair but kept putting it off because I didn’t want to disappoint Grampy.  Finally I took the plunge and trudged out to Nanny and Grampy’s, perching myself nervously on the step stool they kept in the corner by the window, awaiting my doom.  I hear Grampy walking toward the kitchen from the living room.  He sees me and stops abruptly on the threshold.  After what seemed a silent eternity , he said “Now who’s that good-looking woman sitting in the corner?”  I almost burst into tears, my relief was so palpable.  I felt joy and happiness.  Grampy loved me, but only admired, my long hair.

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Nanny Hated SnakesComments Off

June 29th, 2010 by Justin

by Doug Nicholson

One time Nanny and I were out in her back yard and a garter snake slithered across her foot. Nanny never noticed it. When I told her what had happened she was really upset. If I didn’t tell her about it she would never have known. However the cat was out of the bag. Nanny wouldn’t let up until I hunted for the snake in the woods above her rock garden and killed it. I guess that makes me a snake murderer and Nanny an accessory to murder.

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