Talk of the town

Terry Roberts
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So far, Judy Ricketts' first book, 'The Badger Riot,' has earned her a standing ovation, loyal fans and brisk sales

It's been an overwhelming few years for Judy Ricketts.

She's been featured in a fundraising calendar, been the subject of numerous media interviews, has drawn large crowds at various events across the province and has become a familiar name in many households, especially in her hometown of Badger.

And in a few weeks, she hopes to become a Canadian bestselling author.

The unassuming grandmother and resident of Mount Pearl, who is known to her three grandchildren - Katlynn and Andrew Ballam, ages 11 and 8, and Brianna Ricketts, 9 - as "Mugga," has been on quite a literary and personal journey since the release of her first book, "The Badger Riot," in September.

Judy Ricketts (left), the author of "The Badger Riot," has been overwhelmed by the success of her book. She is shown here with her mother, Lucy Day. - Photo by Terry Roberts/The Telegram

It's been an overwhelming few years for Judy Ricketts.

She's been featured in a fundraising calendar, been the subject of numerous media interviews, has drawn large crowds at various events across the province and has become a familiar name in many households, especially in her hometown of Badger.

And in a few weeks, she hopes to become a Canadian bestselling author.

The unassuming grandmother and resident of Mount Pearl, who is known to her three grandchildren - Katlynn and Andrew Ballam, ages 11 and 8, and Brianna Ricketts, 9 - as "Mugga," has been on quite a literary and personal journey since the release of her first book, "The Badger Riot," in September.

The book has been a lifelong dream for Ricketts, who witnessed - along with dozens of other terrified children and bystanders - a riot between police and loggers in Badger 50 years ago that resulted in the death of 24-year-old William Moss, a member of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Judy Day, as she was known before her marriage to the late Felix Ricketts, was just 14 at the time.

It was an incident that shaped her life, and the lives of many in this small central Newfoundland logging town.

The riot marked the climax of what many describe as a watershed event in the province's labour and social history.

It effectively brought an end to a bitter strike by members of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA), and Ricketts vowed to one day write about that uneasy period in Newfoundland and Labrador's history.

It took half a century, including several years of painstaking research and writing, but she did it.

"The Badger Riot," published by Flanker Press, has surpassed her wildest expectations.

It's sold more than 6,000 copies and should be a Canadian bestseller by Christmas, she said.

"Once I witnessed that riot, I knew what I wanted to write," Ricketts said recently during an interview at her residence in Masonic Park.

There has been plenty written about the strike, its impact on the labour movement and the controversial involvement of then-premier Joey Smallwood.

Ricketts wanted to tell the story of a small town that was overrun by hundreds of frustrated and determined loggers, and many dozens of unyielding Mounties and RNC officers.

Her book is based on actual events, but she uses fictional characters to tell the story.

"People have written dissertation theses and papers on the ramifications of the strike. But nobody ever says, 'What about those innocent people of that little town?' That's what I wanted to write about," she said.

During her research in Badger, Ricketts was often accompanied by her mother, 86-year-old Lucy Day. Her late father was a wireless operator in Badger for many years.

"Mom helped open the door to the older generation," Ricketts said.

She was uneasy about how the people of Badger would react to her quest to write a book about an event that many had buried deep in their subconscious.

That's because after the riot, young children were told to never speak about what they saw - a tragic event that claimed a life and shattered the innocence of many.

But once people discovered that Ricketts was not trying to dig up old wounds or reopen some long ago investigation into a police officer's death, the misgivings disappeared.

During the Sept. 12 launch of her book in Badger, she received a standing ovation from a crowd that had gathered at the community centre.

"They accepted it and it was wonderful," she said.

Readers have flooded her with hundreds of e-mails about the characters in the book.

She said people are not focusing on what happened during the riot on March 10, 1959.

"They are focusing on the characters who have become so real to them, and that amazes me. They want to know, 'What happened to Ralph? What happened to Jenny? What happened to Tom?'" she said.

Ricketts doesn't want to disappoint her readers.

She's planning a sequel.

"My mind could never encompass what has happened to me," she stated.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: International Woodworkers, Flanker Press

Geographic location: Badger, Newfoundland and Labrador, Mount Pearl America Masonic Park

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Rose
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Way to go Judy!
    You sure have gift for words.

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Terry you did a great job with your story about Judy--she has proven to be a great author and we're all pround of her...

  • J. A.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    Thank you to The Telegram and to Terry Roberts for featuring my mom and I on your front page. My mom is 87 years old and lives at Masonic Park Nursing Home. You made her a celebrity on Saturday when everyone saw her in the paper:-)
    Also, I appreciated the way you wrote my story, Terry. It was represented in exactly the way that I wished it to be.
    I am grateful to you all. thank you.
    JARicketts

  • Em.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Chapters Indigo have the book.

  • J Allardice
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Hi All
    I Am interested in buying this book but can't find it on amazon could you furnish me with the ISBN No.

  • freeman
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    Enjoyed your book very much.I remember when this incident took place even though I was very young.I was supprised to see that the workers and the town of Bishop's Falls wasn't mentioned even though the Bishop's Falls devision of the woods operation paid a big part with a number of it's people going to prision at the salmonier line because of what they believed were their rights.I enjoyed your book all the same and can't wait for a sequel. Thanks

  • Mary
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Terry ,Congratulations you did a great job with this article....We're all so proud of you Judy, keep up the good work girl!!!!!!!

  • Marie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Hi Judy

    I had no idea you had written this book.
    I will definitely buy it.
    Congratulations Judy

    Marie

  • Florence
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Hi Judy

    I am so proud of my sister in law also my Mommie in law.I am still reading it.


    Wonderful

    Florence

  • J. A.
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    To J Allardice, Scotland: Re your interest in buying my book. You may order directly from the publisher and get a signed copy: Here is the link:

    http://www.flankerpress.com/badger_riot.shtml

  • Rose
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Way to go Judy!
    You sure have gift for words.

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Terry you did a great job with your story about Judy--she has proven to be a great author and we're all pround of her...

  • J. A.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    Thank you to The Telegram and to Terry Roberts for featuring my mom and I on your front page. My mom is 87 years old and lives at Masonic Park Nursing Home. You made her a celebrity on Saturday when everyone saw her in the paper:-)
    Also, I appreciated the way you wrote my story, Terry. It was represented in exactly the way that I wished it to be.
    I am grateful to you all. thank you.
    JARicketts

  • Em.
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    Chapters Indigo have the book.

  • J Allardice
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Hi All
    I Am interested in buying this book but can't find it on amazon could you furnish me with the ISBN No.

  • freeman
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    Enjoyed your book very much.I remember when this incident took place even though I was very young.I was supprised to see that the workers and the town of Bishop's Falls wasn't mentioned even though the Bishop's Falls devision of the woods operation paid a big part with a number of it's people going to prision at the salmonier line because of what they believed were their rights.I enjoyed your book all the same and can't wait for a sequel. Thanks

  • Mary
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    Terry ,Congratulations you did a great job with this article....We're all so proud of you Judy, keep up the good work girl!!!!!!!

  • Marie
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Hi Judy

    I had no idea you had written this book.
    I will definitely buy it.
    Congratulations Judy

    Marie

  • Florence
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Hi Judy

    I am so proud of my sister in law also my Mommie in law.I am still reading it.


    Wonderful

    Florence

  • J. A.
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    To J Allardice, Scotland: Re your interest in buying my book. You may order directly from the publisher and get a signed copy: Here is the link:

    http://www.flankerpress.com/badger_riot.shtml