Let me say, first of all, my real characters have been kept anonymous.
Barbara, the first character in The Sand Clock, was a determined, feisty woman and her attitude, when young was, I-will-do-as I-like. I met the real Barbara when she was in her mid-sixties. She was the type of woman who held the family together with Christmas and/or New Year’s Eve parties. Early in her marriage, she was confidant to her younger siblings. Barbara was happily married with two sons and one daughter. Jack adored his wife and learned early the best way to make her happy would be to work with her.
As a young woman she had aspirations of teaching school but times were hard and there were other children in the family. She, as her character, held several jobs in order to save money to go to Normal School. She did meet her husband while working at a munitions factory and he was her supervisor. Jack did indeed enlist in the Canadian Navy and left for Halifax with Barbara following shortly after. Barbara was one of many young women who followed their boyfriends to Halifax. Unfortunately for some of them, the relationships fell apart and young women were stranded in Halifax.
Barbara was a smart girl in that she saved enough money not only to follow Jack to Halifax but to look after herself while living there. There was never any plan to go back home. Barbara was a beautiful young woman and on her arrival in Halifax, the train conductor advised her, “You need to watch yourself. Hope you brought enough money to return home, if you need to.” Barbara reassured the conductor, “I’m a big girl with a big mouth. Trust me, I can handle myself. I grew up with brothers.”
The episode with Jack being transferred to St. John’s, Newfoundland, Barbara following him and the episode with the many pairs of shoes actually happened. The hilarious episode of Barbara and the cod fish also happened as did Jack’s welding job on the Russian submarine. The events of their lives in Halifax and St. John’s were often recounted at family events and met with gales of laughter. Barbara and Jack did marry in St. John’s at The Old Garrison church. Angus was shipped overseas and killed.
Barbara did return to Canada and gave birth to her first son who was named after her brother who had been captured during the raid on Dieppe. The real Ron enlisted when underage and was indeed returned by the Canadian military as demanded by his mother. He never returned to England and the young nurse he loved.
Years passed, another son and daughter were born. Barbara and Jack lived in the house Jack built for them after the war. It was a small, white clapboard bungalow. At the side of the property, Jack had a small vegetable garden. He built a picnic table in the backyard for his family and on hot summer nights, he could be found, beer in hand, watching his vegetables grow.
The real Barbara watched all three of her children achieve adulthood, marry and have children of their own. She died of cancer at age sixty-eight. Jack eventually sold the family home and moved into a retirement home near one of his sons.