By Joyce Barkhouse
"Twelve months in anyplace, my pal, is sort of a weary whereas And turns out extra like a century whilst lived on Sable Isle ..."
So wrote Thomas Raddall on the age of eighteen, now not dreaming that a long time later Sable Island -- that "hell in the world" -- would supply a romantic heritage for one in all his maximum novels, The Nymph and the Lamp.
Traumatized by means of the horror of the nice Halifax Explosion of 1917, in a number of months via the demise of his father in conflict in another country, Tom was once compelled to depart tuition on the age of fourteen.
This short account of his lifestyles tells of his early adventures and of ways he turned one among Canada's most famous storytellers.
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Additional info for A Name for Himself. A Biography of Thomas Head Raddall
Monotony and loneliness often get the better of people stationed in isolated posts. Nerves become edgy and quarrels are common. Tom’s fight with a fellow operator — nicknamed “Sharp” — was out of the ordinary. ” He was forever bragging about how tough he was and how many men he had knocked out in fist fights. Sharp was supposed to take over Tom’s watch at midnight but he never did. Tom regularly had to go in and awaken him. The man would mutter an irritable “Okay! Okay! “but still he would not get up.
Faced with the prospect of leaving school at once to find work, Nellie was devastated. She had always excelled at school. She and her best friend, Helene Sandford, had planned and dreamed that they would enter Dalhousie University together. Now Nellie had to agree that she would take a short course in shorthand and typing and become a stenographer. As for Tom, he had always hated school. In spite of his sister’s tears and his mother’s despair, he couldn’t hide his joy. He had never been a real wage-earner.
Music was one of his father’s great pleasures. He loved to sing and put on amateur entertainments. Tom was musical, too, but his fingers weren’t long enough and his square hands weren’t the right shape to make a really good pianist. He was glad to leave behind forever his piano teacher, “a cruel old ape-faced man with side-whiskers,” who beat time with a silver-tipped baton which he also used to whack Tom’s fingers every time he made a mistake. Tom made a lot of mistakes. His sister, Nellie, had lovely long-tapered fingers.