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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

The Days That Are No More

Tales of Kent County New Brunswick

by (author) Loney Hudson

Crossfield Publishing
Initial publish date
Oct 2020
Personal Memoirs, Post-Confederation (1867-)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2020
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 11 to 18
  • Grade: 6 to 12


The Days That Are No More chronicles people from Kent County, New Brunswick during the 1920s through the 1980s in communities of Targettville, Main River, Bass River, Smith Corner, Emerson, Harcourt, Clairville, Beersville, Fordsmills, Brown’s Yard, West Branch, South Branch, Mundleville, and Rexton. They tell of a time when most of the people of Kent County had large families, and children left home at a very young age to find work wherever it could be found. Life was often hard. They lived through war and poverty, and experienced hardships and modernization. This immersive collection of lives tells of a time that no longer exists, except in the heart and minds of booklovers.

About the author

Loney grew up in Targettville, New Brunswick, the daughter of William and Ruth (Thompson) Donaher. She has lived in this community all her life and enjoys the rural way of life where people make much of their own entertainment and know most of their neighbors. Growing up in a family with eight brothers and sisters, she can relate to the people whom she writes about. As a child in school, history was, and continues to be, a favorite subject for Loney. She is the sixth generation of James Donaher who emigrated from Ireland sometime after his birth in 1785. He died in 1855 at the age of 70. Loney is married with three grown children and is a homecare worker. She enjoys painting, music and of course, a good story.

Loney Hudson's profile page

Excerpt: The Days That Are No More: Tales of Kent County New Brunswick (by (author) Loney Hudson)

Frankie’s Dance Hall - March 2007

"Are you going to the dance tonight?" This was a common question around this area in the 50's, 60's and 7O's. There was no need to say where. Everyone knew it was the square dance at Frankie Robertson's dance hall. Every Saturday, young and old would come from all over to Mundleville to attend one of Frankie's dances. In those days it was "the place to go." Good music, good friends, good food and a great atmosphere all contributed to the success of Frankie's dance hall but Frank himself played a big part in its popularity. In the words of his wife, Alberta, he was well respected and liked by all who knew him. I was so pleased to visit Alberta Robertson and talk to her about Frankie's dance hall. During many of the interviews I do for this newsletter people would tell me how they always went there to dances, so I thought it would be an article of special interest to many people. Frank was the son of Havelock Robertson and Christina (MacWilliam) Robertson and was born in Mundleville. As a young man, he went to live in the United States with his sister and her husband. He worked as a salesman; selling vacuum cleaners door to door. He was very good at it and soon became a manager. He met his wife, Alberta, in Boston and eventually in 1953, they moved back to Canada where he opened branches for Airway Sanitizer Co. in New Glasgow and Sydney. Then they moved to Saint John and Frank operated a branch there. Frankie's dance hall came into being around 1954 or 1955, although this was not Frank's intention when he built the hall. He was interested in opening a cheese factory. He figured it was an agricultural area with lots of cows; they had great spring water and everything they needed to be successful. However, the department of Agriculture disagreed and said no to his request. So Frank decided to open it as a dance hall. Alberta tells me he said, "We'll build it to give young people some place to go, we'll make it alcohol free and let the kids come in." Arthur Jaillet from Bouctouche built the hall with lumber from the Robertson land. Frank had a convertible and he would put the top down and go to the mill to get the lumber, and Alberta can remember Arthur waiting for him to return. He told her she might as well help and taught her how to drive nails. Little did either Alberta or Frank realize how successful the dance hall was going to be. They called the hall "The New Country Club”. Frank and Russell Campbell played the music for the first dances. David Hamett and Doug Beers played too. When Doug played the accordion Alberta said his feet would go and people used to say he made more noise with his feet then with the accordion! Of course, then Bert Lawson played too. Elma Campbell accompanied Bert when David was unable to. Elma said she played with Bert during 1971 and 1972. Gordie Campbell, Edwin Hudson, Ward Hutchinson, Bud Roberts, Marvin Eagers, Pat Simon, Roger and Jeannita Bastarache, Joe LeBlanc and his mother Susanne were just some of the people who provided music over the years. Emma Murphy tells me that Vincent Barlow learned to play the accordion by watching Bert play at the dances. The hall was full every Saturday night with people of all ages. "Young people danced with older people, age didn't seem to make a difference, it was a great atmosphere," Alberta said. Frank and Alberta lived in Saint John during this time and came up every weekend. She said the traveling was terrible in winter; they were caught in all kinds of weather. After three years of this she told Frank she wasn't doing it anymore so they moved up to Mundleville. The hall at that time was 30"x 60" and they enlarged it by 15 feet on the river side and built an apartment downstairs which became their home. The dances at Frankie's became so popular that Frank began holding one on Wednesday night as well. They ran a canteen called the “Gobble and Go.” Alberta and Nina Walker ran it, selling hotdogs, hamburgers and the special feature was the homemade donuts, made by Nina. ''Nina made those big donuts without any holes long before Mrs. Dunster ever did," Alberta said, ''they were delicious." Frankie's was a meeting place for many a boy and girl in this area. Alberta said that many boys met their future wives there. One couple was Jasper Cail and Juanita Mason. While home for a holiday from Ontario, he went to a dance at Frankie's. Juanita Mason, who was visiting from Saint John, was there with Albert and Dollie Beers. They danced all evening and I guess they had a great time together because he asked her to marry him before he went back to Ontario! Alberta said Frankie's was why so many girls from Kouchibouguac are married to boys from around here. They all came to Frankie's dance hall! There are many people in the area who have memories of the dances at Frankie's. Margarite Little remembers getting ready for the dance. You always wore your best party dress and of course the high heel shoes. "With a good comfortable pair of high heels you could dance all night!" she told me. (I didn't know they ever made such a thing as comfortable high heels but she assures me they did, they were the best shoes to dance in.) Elma Campbell told me that one night Treva Spencer was dancing with someone and when he lifted her up and swung her around, her high heel shoe flew off, hit Jim McKellop and broke his rib! David and Betty Harnett's kids were small then but Betty went to the dance with David every chance she got. Emma Murphy said Dave always had a carload going to Frankie's. When anyone asked for a ride, he always had room for one more. As long as you could get in and get the door shut. "They didn't always come back home with them though," Emma said. Emma and Betty told me that the dance always started at 9 p.m. and ended at 12 a.m. and closed with "God Save the Queen". Bert Lawson would never play after 12 p.m. The only exception he made was on the last night he played. Between 9 and 10 p.m. the girls didn't have much choice about who they danced with, because most of the guys were still outside. As the night went on they had more choices. If a guy asked you to dance and he wasn't a real good dancer, they'd say they were already dancing, and someone else would always ask them. (They would never say no because they might be glad to dance with him at 9 p.m the next week!) Of course sometimes this backfired and they missed out on that dance. They were always sorry to hear Frankie say, "fill'er up for the last dance," because the fun over till next week. Emma can remember in particular Pat Whalen and Leonard McPherson coming to Frankie's. Leonard brought his young daughter and Pat really enjoyed dancing. While the dancing went on inside the hall, plenty of activity went on outside the hall. Alberta told me that while they couldn't control what was going on outside they always knew who was outside drinking, fighting or lovemaking! Although no alcohol was allowed inside, occasionally someone would have a little too much liquor and would drift into the hall. If any trouble started in the hall, there were usually people there who respected Frank enough not to let things get out of hand. Elma Campbell told me that although Frank was a small man, he was plucky and he'd just grab a broom and that was it. "You weren't long in there and it wasn't long till you were out of there," she said. For a while Frank did hire a man named Bob Edgett as a bouncer. He worked at Dorchester Penitentiary. He was "a nice nice man," Alberta said. He used to coach the young man's amateur "Golden Glove" boxing club. It wasn't unusual to see folks bring their children to the dance. Alberta can recall in particular, Ann and Ernie Murphy bringing their son, Joey. "I can see him yet", she said, "In spite of all the noise, asleep on top of a pile of coats on the bench." Frank and Alberta had two children. Stephen and Dwight were often at the dance. As a little guy you would often see Dwight step dancing for the crowd. Alberta told me he did that because people used to throw him money! "Of course, he always wanted to know when the next dance was," Alberta laughed. When people came home on vacation, Frankie's was often the highlight of their visit. Rowena Budd remembers coming home from the States with her husband and going to the dance. She and Bud had bought matching western shirts and they wore them to the dance. They were black with white pearl buttons and lots of embroidery work on the shoulders. She said Dave Harnett really, really, liked her shirt. So during a break, they went outside and she got into a car and took off her shirt and she and David traded shirts. Rowena laughed and said people sure looked when Dave came back wearing her shirt! One of the funniest stories I heard involving Frankie's, was Rowena's wedding day. She and Bud were married on Saturday afternoon and the reception followed at the home of her parents, Lewis and Alvina Cail. Lewis brought out some moonshine for all the men to enjoy. Of course, everyone had to treat the groom. Unfortunately, by seven or eight o'clock Budd had passed out! Rowena, unwilling to let it ruin the evening, got in with the McKellop boys and headed for Frankie's. "I danced every dance and had a great time!" she laughed. The next day they got up and went to Church, including Bud. What a great laugh they had when sitting there, they noticed that all that was left of the boutonniere on Lewis's suit was the stem! The success of the Country Club led Frank to take his group of musicians out on tour. Alberta said they had a great group. Bud Roberts sounded just like Johnny Cash. Joe LeBlanc and his mother Susanne played the fiddle and her husband Isaac, stepdanced, Roger and Jeannette Bastrache, Elma Campbell, Marvin Eagers, Anita and Eileen Arsenault, two boys from Bay St. Anne (one who did a great Grampa Jones) and of course, Dave Harnett who sounded so much like Wilf Carter, were some of the musicians. They traveled all over the province. On Jan. 29, 1959 they went to Back Bay, St. George, and there were over four hundred people waiting in line to get in and see them! Elma laughed and said "You'd have thought we were from Nashville!" Elma told me they made $5.00 each that night. Other friends, Billy Livingston, Kenny and Verna Roberts, Theresa and Donnie Beers, Gerald Spencer and Willie Brown, often traveled with them and Frank and Alberta brought the equipment. Once, coming home from Quispamsis, they broke down and Willie Brown had traveled with them with his car. They all squished into Willie's car and he brought them home. Elma said they were nearly starved and Willie bought them all sandwiches in Sussex. Frank never got rich running the dance hall. In the beginning he charged $0.50 or a $1.00 to get in and Alberta thought they might have raised it to $1.50 later on. Sometimes they held other events at the hall such as wrestling, talent shows, variety shows and basket socials. It really was the center of the community. Alberta used to keep a guest book each week and she said they had people come from Texas, Maine, Boston, Ontario and many other places in the States and Canada. Frankie's dance hall closed its doors around 1978. Frank had kidney disease and died at the young age of 55. Aside from his interest in the dance hall he imported horses from Iowa and was well known in many places. Alberta tells me that quite often she or her children will run into someone who, upon discovering who they are, will say, "Oh, I knew Frankie, he was a great guy." They will say how much they respected him and to this day, Alberta said, "It makes me so proud."

Editorial Reviews

I just finished reading Loney Hudson’s book The Days That Are No More and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is an easy read and most of the people she wrote about I knew them. From almost every story I learned something that I had not heard before even the one on my mother. Loney is a very good speaker and talks from the heart with passion. When I was teaching Home Economics at Bonar Law I had her come to speak to my Family Living Class about raising a challenged child. The class gave her very high reviews so I had her also speak to the teachers of Branch 1640 as well as the Moncton Chapter of the New Brunswick Home Economics Association. We often had speakers come in from away who were no more interesting, just more expensive.

Loney writes the way she speaks. There are a number of stories on World War II veterans which were very interesting. It saddened me that I didn’t hear more stories from my Dad who was also a WWII veteran. I cannot imagine the Hudson family, from South Branch, sending six of their sons off to the same war and all coming back alive. Two of them just by chance met in Scotland while on leave… how amazing! This reminded me a story Paula Girvan told me recently about both our fathers and her uncles meeting over there on leave by coincidence. They started fooling around and wrestling. Some of the soldiers, who did not know that they were cousins were horrified due to the fact that one of the cousins was a captain.

Almost everyone in the book came from a large family and continued the tradition. No one seemed to be rich nor unhappy. Music, dancing and playing cards, as well as hard work played a big part in people’s lives. I am sure that Loney had to do some polishing. I was just practically blown away by Rhea Fearon’s story which was actually an insert. She must have written it a while ago and it is a must read for everyone. No one, I mean no one could imagine a 10-year old girl going alone by horse and sleigh from Bass River to Beersville in the middle of the winter. It brought tears to my eyes when I read “Mom, Rhea’s coming. I can hear the bells.” I also had a chuckle when reading the story about my mother where Loney wrote that at mom house “quiet is the norm”. I can attest that it was not always the way. And who would have thought that Charlie Morton would have kept a journal. Thank you Loney for such a good read. I hope everyone enjoys this book as much as I did. By Barry Robertson