Hilda Menchions

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Baby In A Mailbag

Hilda Menchions

Today Hilda Menchions is a senior citizen living in St. John's. In December of 1919 she was just a baby aboard the steamer S.S. Ethie. Her mother and grandfather were aboard when the ship ran into a storm. Captain English, acting on the advice of his purser, decided to run the Ethie aground in a sheltered cove. Little Hilda Batten was sent ashore to safety in a mail bag.

WE WERE DOWN AT FLOWER'S COVE at the time. Dad worked in the Newfoundland Customs office there.

Government was about ready to close at the end of the month, so Mother decided to come up to Norris Point in Bonne Bay and visit her family. That was how we came to be aboard the Ethie. This was in December, 1919. Later, Dad was supposed to come up on the last boat out and continue with us to Bareneed, Conception Bay.

My grandfather Joseph Batten built the Anglican church at Flower's Cove, so he was down there working. He was aboard with mother and me when the storm struck.

I heard mother say that she was in the stateroom, lying down. They had to have everything they could find piled up against her bunk, so she wouldn't roll out of it.

When the time came for the rescue she wouldn't go first. I had to go before her. Of course Mom made sure that grandfather went ashore to take me when the mail bag landed. He couldn't do anything else for me.

I did hear her say the worst time she ever felt was when she put me in that mailbag. I think it was the worst storm they had ever experienced up to that time on that coast. They had to put me down in the mailbag because you couldn't hold onto a baby and the bo'sun's chair. Grandfather went ahead, and I guess she probably followed me to make sure I was all right.

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