Drizzle again on the agenda, we bused for about an hour-and-a-half to the sounds of an easy-listening CD. In Gander, I spotted a child on the sidewalk with a white and brown Shetland pony. A rope around the pony’s neck, the child turned round and round, allowing the pony to run in a circle. Both were cute. I’ve never before seen a pony this tiny.
At Gander Airport, Francis regaled us with stories while we crowded around. On our way to the upper level, we stopped at a framed collage of stars who have passed through over the years.
The view from the upper level provided a full, though distant view of this famous mural.
In 1985, soldiers returning home for Christmas from Afghanistan crashed in Gander. The deadliest crash since WWII, 253 lives were lost.
On September 11, 2001, 39 planes landed in Gander (Operation Yellow Ribbon). Passengers were not allowed off the planes for 13 hours, information about the New York tragedy withheld until they deplaned. An American journalist, Jim DeFede, contacted and interviewed about 180 people from those flights and published a book. (The Day the World Came to Town).
- The population of Gander 10,000
- 6,600 (passengers, pilots and crews)
- Lewisporte took 800 passengers
- Mayor of Gander talked with all the passengers
- Walmart, Canadian Tire, drug stores—every store—supplied whatever was needed at no cost
- All toiletries / everything gone from all shelves
- 87-year-old woman needed underwear, clerk suggested thongs
- Hundreds of thousands of meals prepared
- Passengers organized together with their own group
- Returning from Lewisporte to Gander and home, one Nigerian missing. Gone fishing with ‘the boys.’ Comes back every year
- Shirley Brooks-Jones collected money from the passengers on her flight home
- Set up a scholarship fund for the school where passengers had been housed and fed
- Fund is 1.3 million dollars
- Took out $850,000 life insurance policy in the event of her death to fund it
Gander Quick Facts
- The Gander Airport mural (72 feet long) embodies the history of air travel.
- No aircraft illustration were allowed to be used in the work
- Opened in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth
- Talk of a new airport, but this one is still busy
- When planes fogged in in St. John’s, they land in Gander
- You can at least drive 4-1/2 drive to St. John’s if need be
- Was no direct flight to Europe from Gander. Now there is.
- Had to go to Toronto first instead
- Population over 11,000
- Cubans defected to Canada, using Gander as jumping off point to Florida, to join their families
Close off the parking lot to airport, we spied an Irving gas station. Needing to replenish our spirits, Mary ran ahead so we wouldn’t hold up the bus but returned immediately because they didn’t carry anything stronger than coffee.
On the way to the hotel we passed a golf course, which is split, half on one side and half on the other. Players use golf carts underneath the highway to cross over. Terra Nova Park was on our agenda, but it was not mentioned and we did not stop.
Our room had a balcony we would not have the opportunity to use. The dining room in the restaurant had extra low lighting. When we paid for our meals, the cashier had no change for the couple before us and then not for us either. Each time she wandered off and was gone an unusual length of time.
By ten, I was a goner. I plugged in electronics to recharge overnight and slept like the dead until the alarm went off.
* * *
On The Light Side:
An 85-year-old man, in a red Ferrari, was stopped by a policeman who had ten minutes left in his shift. “Give me a good reason why you were speeding.”
“About 20 years ago, my wife ran off with a cop. I thought you were him.”
The cop let him go.
Next on June 3rd – Trinity and Port Union
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