Inside Front Cover - John "The Cook" MacDonald
ISSUE : Issue 9
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1974/10/1
John "The Cook" MacDonald The house was right over there. My grandfather built it. John MacDonald. They used to make coffins over there, after this house was built. There was nobody over in the old house for years. And my uncle, you know, he used to make coffins. And when I got old enough, I was working with him. And he used to hear things, you know, the saw going and boards being planed and somebody driving nails • nobody in there. He could tell you there was somebody going to die and a cof? fin going to be made there. So this night I was coming over the road and this old house over here, I heard bang, bang, bang. Well I couldn*t figure out what it was. So I came home and I told my uncle about it. "Ach," he said, "that's nothing. There'll be boards taken out of there before too long." And he told me, "You won't take them out." And it wasn't long after that either. He knew. A casket was made. Well, I guess I was working on it too. For this old fellow, he lived in that house but he was after moving over to the next house with his daughter at the time when he died. My uncle took the boards out. Three boards came out and the three bangs I heard was the three boards falling on the floor. I can't explain it. But it's running in people. That's it. My uncle used to • when he was living over in the old house • he'd have some of the tools hanging up, you know, in the end of the house • and his room was at the opposite end. And he told me, "Many's the night," he said, "that I had to get up and take them tools off the nail and put them out of ray sight. They were all lit up." And these are the tools he was using to make coffins. I was coming home one night. I was up the road when I • the barn used to be over there beyond that old house, where the old house was • and when I was just coming up right abreast of the barn where I could see the old house, I saw this light coming out from the old house. And it came out to the road that was going over to the barn, and it kept over but it didn't keep over to the house. It took a beeline down to the road about half-ways over and it kept over on the highway and it went in to the next house. And it happened that I had a flashlight. And when I turned the flashlight on, the light went out. I was after hearing these things: if you light a match or some? thing, you know, you won't see it. And I did that three times. I did that before it went to the road down there. And a couple of times after it went over the road. And I stayed right up there till it went out of sight. And I figured. Well, whoever is going to die is not going to die too soon. I didn't take the casket down that one. It was sometime in probably January. There was a lot of snow on the ground. Well, you wouldn't go through the snow. They came out from the old house on the crust, carrying the coffin, and they kept down to the road on the crust. Alex, my uncle, told me: "We went just the way you saw the light going." I went up to the post office one night. It was the old road then. Narrow road. Just something like what's going down to the shore here. And right up at the schoolhouse, I thought I heard something, behind me. And I was just stepping off the road, you know, going up towards Tommy's, to go over to D.J.'s to the post office • and I saw a horse and a sleigh. A grey horse and one man sitting on the sleigh. And it went by and it went about 100 feet beyond where I was and I looked and here was another horse coming down this way. A white horse. And the whole thing, you know, changing one thing from one sleigh to the other, only took seconds. The vjhite horse was fac? ing down this way, just in a flash. And the other horse was facing up the other way, in a flash. And the whole thing went out of my sight right there. And that came to pass. Two months after that, Neillie Shaw, he was killed out in Cobalt, Ontario • and they took his remains home in March. And that's how they took him home. There was somebody met the remains at Englishtown. They took him so far. And Donny Plaster took them from his place till he met Sandy Kenny's father up at the schoolhouse here. And Sandy Kenny's father took the remains down to the Shaws. Now I saw that as plain as day. But do you know what, I got scared. The first time I ever got scared of anything like that. It was kind of a dark night and I was pretty darned scared coming home. I was never scared out at night • seeing things, you know, like that • but I was scared that night.
Cape Breton's Magazine