Jim Furlong: The Real Jellybean Row?

It is always good to “go home.” It awakens you and reminds you of who you are. I was down for a walk through my old neighbourhood last week. 

I walked down through what used to be a warren of little St. John’s streets that led down to New Gower and then on to Water Street. It is where I grew up and when I see the little Jellybean pictures and things that are used to market us to the “touristas,” I am reminded of the way it really was. 

The bottom of my street was a slum basically. The houses weren’t painted in bright cheery colours. They weren’t painted at all. It was just weather-beaten dull grey clapboard on the houses. It is not until you got up higher towards LeMarchant that paint showed up. It was invariably a brown or in the case of our own place, Indian Red. 

We were in a borderline area between poor and less poor. There were, in the west end area, some water tanks. I think Sheehan Shute had one and there was one on the street up behind where the Delta Hotel is now. That was for a few houses without running water.

The Honey Wagon

In case you have forgotten the “night soil” truck still visited a couple of houses in that area. We called it “the honey wagon.” We always did have the souls of poets. John Street, David Street, Haggerty Street and many of the rest are torn down now. They made way for a City Hall and a convention centre and a stadium. 

Where we grew up the area on New Gower between Springdale and on up past Brazil Square was home to the first of the “bootleggers.” There were many. They were the days of liquor books when government tried to control supply. Good luck with that. 

On the other side of New Gower was Princess Street which was the bootleg capital of St. John’s. Loads of places where you could get a bottle there after hours or without a liquor book. That little bit of history is lost.

Apart from being poor my old neighbourhood was alive and busy. In my immediate area of Pleasant, Springdale and New Gower there were at least three whore houses. Do they still call them that? 

There were also several places where you could buy or sell stolen goods. One of those businesses was quite famous. It is not for me to name it now. Places dealing in stolen goods were known as “fences.” 

Like prostitution and bootlegging it was a profession driven by supply and demand. Remember St. John’s was a busy transhipment port. If you couldn’t get a pair of boots stolen from cargo on the waterfront or the railway freight yard, you just weren’t trying. 

Filth and Garbage 

That was my neighbourhood. There was an atmosphere to it. The good parts I remember. The filth and the garbage in the streets and the beer parlours and all the rest I tend to forget, but not to the point of thinking of jellybeans when I wander down there.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

6 thoughts on “Jim Furlong: The Real Jellybean Row?

  1. Joan
    February 11, 2019

    Awesome/love seeing this older photo and sharing the stories of years when we were young.

  2. Ron Sullivan
    February 11, 2019

    Interesting article. Glad you didn’t call them “the good old days”.

  3. Jerome Molloy
    February 12, 2019

    My first nine years from 1956 to 64 were on Flower Hill. Well told and True Jim Furlong

  4. Margie Crimp Dawson
    February 12, 2019

    I grew up on Cabot Street; I remember when they tore down those old houses below Central Street. I remember the lion head water pump. It was the coldest water!

  5. Sandy
    February 14, 2019

    I just love reading stories like this. Please keep me informed on any stories you have like this. I love it! Thank you

  6. Anonymous
    March 23, 2020

    I remember turning 6 when we lived on Pleasant Street (about halfway down the hill) and the scent of coal, diesel and the harbour is still (wonderfully) palatable 66 years later and 2000km away. I now wonder if all that dirt and joy gave me and so many other ‘deprived youngsters’ the immune system we could all use right now?
    Very glad to see you’re still at it Jim!

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