Thursday, March 27, 2014

Back to US Naval Air Station - Argentia Newfoundland 2013

Me with my Family in Argentia around 1967
with the Atlantic Ocean behind us
the shadow of our house to the right of me

It was late spring of 1969 when my family left the U.S Naval Air Station in Argentia Newfoundland, Canada.  After 22 years of service, my father was retiring from the Navy due to a chronic illness.  After being near my mother's family for the past few years in Argentia, I remember being told we were moving "back to the states", to the Chicago area to be near my father's family.  I was eight years old when we left and I have some very vivid memories of our time in Argentia.

During my recent trip home to Newfoundland, summer of 2013, I put Argentia on my list of places I wanted to visit.  Although my Flynn cousins warned me, that there was not much left of the Navy Base and there was not much to see, I found it did not prepare me for the impact of the deserted state of the once prominent Air Station, "Guardian of the North Atlantic"

We drove from St. John's on Hwy 100, through Placentia, which was about a 90 minute drive. Approaching the base we were greeted by tall fencing and an open gate, with a sign that said "Enter at Your Own Risk".  We followed what was left of a road which was extremely rough and worn.  There were a few warehouse type buildings to the right or East edge of the base which were fenced off with signs that said, "Do Not Enter" and several designated fenced areas that looked like scrape yards of material, seperated and sorted waiting to be hauled away for recycling or disposal.

We drove to the far end of the peninsula, the Northside, and came across long strips of pavement in the shape of a triangle, these were the runways or I should say what was left of the runways of the once "Bristol Field".

Front Steps of Housing Unit
Argentia Newfoundland
Me with my siblings and Neighborhood Friends
 My sister MaryLeah holding our little puppy "Cindy"
taken around 1967

I thought how nice it would be if there was someone I could talk to about the history of the base, the memory I was relying on was that of a young child. I did have a old map of Argentia that I had downloaded to my I-Pad, this gave me a visual as we continued our tour.

I stood at the far end of the Old Base and thought about the childhood memories I had of living in Argentia, I remember directly behind the housing unit we lived in, was the ocean! We had to walk a good bit through the grass and the only thing between our house and the ocean were fallout shelters that we often played around in the summertime. Then came the big rocks by the water, I loved the big rocks! I was only allowed to go down by the big rocks with my brothers or sister.  I remember climbing on the rocks as the waves from the ocean crashed into them and shot the water up to the sky making a great sound.  Occassionally, I would step directly in the water between the rocks, getting my foot completely wet. We often searched for colorful "sea pebbles" down by the rocks, which were pieces of broken glass that became round and smooth from the ocean's repetative movement, I would collect them and put them in my coat pocket, taking then out to admire the beautiful colors,  and sometimes tasting the salt from the sea.

In front of our house was the road, we had to cross the road to catch the bus that took us to school, and took my brothers to basketball practice on Saturday mornings, and to the swimming pool, bowling alley on the North-side or just about anywhere we needed to go. The bus then brought us back home letting us off right in front of our house.

My brothers, sister and I often reminisce about the special events held at the Officers Club, especially the time the "Three Dog Night" came and gave a performance in their early years, we would get to have a "Shirley Temple" non alcoholic drink, to toast the special event. Life in Argentia was really pretty good!

We got back into the truck and drove toward the entrance, I remember reading that the housing section was on the south-side, I got out and there they were, the big rocks I remembered. ( This was the only area that had big rocks) The earth in this area seemed to be out of place, possible from removal of the cement footprints of the buildings or fallout shelters. I sat for awhile just looking around and then walked down by the water. I think we were pretty close to the area where we had lived.

The US Naval Air Station was decommissioned in 1973, and land was transferred to the Canadian Government in 1975. Until 1994, the runways of the former airfield were utilized by the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. [1]

The US Naval Air Station was an important facet for my family as far as economic stability, with many family members finding employment on the base. My grandfather, Stephen Flynn Jr, who then found a job for my mother, my Aunt Agnes, "Uncle Bill" my mother's cousin who work for 29 years on the base.

Below are some photos I took during my visit, I thought they would be of interest to those who had lived on the Naval Air Base - Argentia at one point in their life. Please feel free to leave comments or memories of your time in Argentia.


A few buildings still standing

Storage Bunkers
Storage Bunkers

Old road along the outer edge
Far North-side of the Base
near old runways
Looking out over old runways - Northside
Marine Atlantic Ferry Service
Nova Scotia to NFLD
[1]  Naval Station Argentia - www. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Afternoon at Bowring Park

For me, the year 2013 will always be remembered as "The Year of Two Springs".  When I left Wisconsin in May, we had had 3 weeks of bright yellow daffodils, sweet pink apple blossoms and fragrant lavender Lilac Bushes. So, when I arrived in St John's Newfoundland, I was pleasantly surprised to find the  excitement of spring beginning all over again.

A spontaneous visit to Bowring Park one afternoon with my Aunt Doris turned into a delightful, refreshing adventure.

Aunt Doris and I - Bowring Park 2013

Bowring Park Pond
Photo from Wikipedia
Less than 10 KM west of downtown St John's Newfoundland you will find a beautiful old-style English park, Bowring Park. Visitors can enjoy feeding ducks and swans, walking or cycling the meandering trail network or view historical monuments. [1]

Bowring Park, located in the Waterford Valley, St John's is one of it's most scenic parks in the city. The park has many recreational facilities including tennis courts, swimming pool and playground.

A two hundred acre park created in 1914, July 15th.  The land was purchased and donated to the city in 1911 by Sir Edger Rennie Bowring on behalf of the Bowring Brothers Ltd, on 100th anniversary of commerce in Newfoundland, operating retail stores focused on gifts and home decor.

The Peter Pan Sculpture was erected in memory of Sir Edgar Bowring's grand daughter Betty Munn, who had drown along with her father at the sinking of Florizel at Cappahayden.  The statue was unveiled on August, 1915 with the following inscription.
"In memory of a little girl who loved the park." [2]

Peter Pan Sculpture 1987
2nd cousins - Brian, Audrey and Shannon
Peter Pan Sculpture
Bowring Park 2013

I remember seeing this Statue of Peter Pan when I was last home in 1987. My son Brian, daughter Audrey and my cousin Janet's daughter Shannon, enjoyed a visit here, as well!

Beautiful Swan, enjoying a Sunlight Bread Crumb Snack - Bowring Park 2013
                                                It was a lovely afternoon at Bowring Park,                            

[1]   Bowring Park -

[2]  Bowring Park (St.John's) -'s)  

Taking Flight - Bowring Park 2013
Looking for Lunch - Bowring Park 2013