By John Glawson – Nanton, Alta.
My grandfather never owned a car. He had an old buggy and his horses. If he had to go long distances, he would get the bus.
He owned land off the Back Road of Albro Lake, Nova Scotia. I have no idea how much, but I know he lived just off the Back Road. My older aunt and uncle lived farther back on the other side of his big hayfield.
In the middle of the big field was their well. I can still remember the well; it had a wooden box built around it and a crank with a rope, and bucket built over that.
If someone went for water, they carried the water bucket from the house and went to the well. They lifted the lid and took the bucket that was tied to the rope, turned it upside down and dropped it into the water at the bottom of the well. That water must have been down 10 feet.
Dark and forbidding at night
The bucket hitting the water upside down made the bucket sink into the water. Then you could crank the crank and the rope holding the bucket would wind around the drum and come up.
You would dump that bucket of water into the house bucket and carry it back to the kitchen. I still remember that crank on that well squealing. Squeak, squeak, squeak, on every turn.
The field between my grandparents’ and my aunt’s place was a dark and forbidding place at night. I don’t think it was a bad place, but our superstitious parents and grandparents made it so.
They told their stories of a lady in white who could be seen from time to time walking towards the well in her white dress. Some said it was her wedding dress. There was no story as to why she was there.
If we were at my aunt’s at night, she would sometimes scare the bejeebers out of us by saying things like: “May, May, come here. Look, I see the lady in white,” and we would all run to the window looking out towards the well. My mom, May, would say, “I think I saw her, Nin.”
I never saw her. My older sister once said she did, but I think she was just trying to act big.
“Nobody is there”
My aunt was not a well woman and she didn’t get around easily. When my uncle was away at night while we were visiting my grandparents, mom would take us over to sit with her until my uncle got home.
We were there one night late and it was a full moon night, but clouds were scudding by. Every once in a while it would get very dark and then light.
All of a sudden we heard squeaking as though somebody was cranking the well. Nobody ever went to the well at night – ever! I saw my aunt’s look of fright. My mother looked scared, too. They just sat looking towards the window overlooking the field.
Mom finally got the courage to crawl to the window and peek out. She whispered to my aunt, “Nobody is there,” but the squeaking continued. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Suddenly it stopped.
Then we heard footsteps coming closer and closer to the house. The door burst open and there was my uncle. “Pop is out there to give you a lift as far as Windmill Road,” he said.
The squeaking was one of the wheels of my grandfather’s old buggy. It needed grease.