2020-08-26

Stories to cosy up to

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Although he now lives in Wolfville, David Mossman was born and raised in Rose Bay.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Jacket cover of David Mossman&#8217;s fifth book, Rum Tales: Down Home Yarns Around a Pot-Bellied Stove.</p>

As the season begins to change, and readers' thoughts start turning to getting cosy with a good book, David Mossman's latest offering, Rum Tales: Down Home Yarns Around a Pot-Bellied Stove, promises to be a timely and tempting read.

People everywhere are grappling with what a post-pandemic future will look like, while increasingly isolating themselves into smaller and smaller circles with online shopping and other virtual experiences; Rum Tales offers some comfort in portraying a simpler time when people gathered around a ceramic pot-bellied stove to share their concerns of the day and trade experiences.

Published by Pottersfield Press and soon to hit the book stores, Rum Tales is a collection of stories, centred around Arthur Benjamin Lohnes, who owned the small country store in Rose Bay, Lunenburg County, known locally as The Shop. From 1919 through to when the shop burned in 1957, AB, as he was called, provided a warm and welcoming haven for people to socialize on Saturday nights.

"During that time loafing was very much in vogue. It's frowned on now, but it was practised in those days to the point of ceremony," Mossman said in setting the stage for LighthouseNOW.

Although he now lives in Wolfville, Mossman was born and raised in Rose Bay. Knowledgeable in the history and community of Lunenburg County, he was "moved" to recount the "tons of memories" and stories that "need to be, or deserve to be, better known."

The tales recounted within the walls of AB's store take the reader back to a bygone era of daily poverty, local experiences amid global events and everyday adventures in the coastal Nova Scotian communities of Rose Bay and Riverport.

Mossman touches on the two world wars and the Halifax Explosion. Splicing biographical narrative into the book, he introduces grizzled old sea captains and ordinary fishermen, a postmaster and a preacher, "and, of course, rum running."

One tale describes how a local fisherman caught an enormous sturgeon off Rose Bay that was later flown to Ottawa and served at a banquet at Rideau Hall attended by Queen Elizabeth.

Although some of the stories are still circulating among the older members of Lunenburg County, according to Mossman, as time goes the tales are becoming more and more thread bare. "Like aged clothes ... faded colours and patches over rips and tears on the fabric of society."

A renowned geologist, Mossman had spent the bulk of his career studying rocks and minerals around the world, and only later turned his hand toward more local, anthropological pursuits.

Last year he released his fourth book, The Legend of Gladee's Canteen, a creative non-fiction account of a hugely popular community eatery that, over the years, touched thousands of people who lived near or visited Hirtle's Beach.

In addition to numerous scientific papers, he has written biographies of noted geologists and general interest articles on a variety of subjects, including Nova Scotia gold, tidal phenomena, carbonaceous meteorites, and the track ways of extinct animals.

His previous creative non-fiction books include Going Over: A Nova Scotia Soldier in World War I; Oceans of Rum: The Nova Scotia Banana Fleet in Rum-Runner Heaven; and Random Shots.

The author has another book on the go, tentatively titled Flashbacks, featuring snapshots of notable historical figures and developments on the world stage.

Increasingly prolific as a historical writer, clearly no moss gathers under David Mossman.

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