Reunion on the Rock

Robin Levinson
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Two long-lost friends reunite after 65 years

A gentle summer afternoon at the MUN Botanical Garden was the perfect backdrop for two friends to catch up. And there’s a lot of catching up to do. It’s been 65 years since childhood friends Juanita Day (left) and Vera Frampton have seen each other. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Separated by the Atlantic Ocean and a lifetime, two long-lost friends have finally found each other after saying goodbye 65 years ago.

Juanita Day (née Tibbo) left the small outport community of Stones Cove in 1947, determined to live a large life.

“You know there’s more out there than this,” Day said. “So you make a move.”

At 15, she didn’t think too hard about what she was leaving or who she was leaving behind.

“That’s why it’s so nice to be young and in your youth, because the world is yours and it’s there to discover,” Day said.

More than six decades later, Day finally reunited with her childhood friend, Vera Frampton (née Riggs).

Although the two had completely lost touch, they were not gone from each other’s minds.

“I was thinking about her so much,” Frampton said.

So Frampton reached out to Day’s cousin in Halifax a few years ago to find out how to get in touch.

It turns out Day’s been living in the Toronto area for more than 60 years.  

Day says she can’t even imagine why people lived in a town where the only method of transportation was a ferry.

“It’d be like living on a deserted island,” Day said.

“No violence then, not anyone home went to jail,” Frampton said.

“There was no jail, Vera!” Day reminded her.  

While Day was building her future in Ontario, Frampton got married and began to raise a family in the province.

Frampton met her future husband, Reg Frampton, the same year that Day left Stones Cove. At 16, Reg Frampton was the girls’ Grade 9 teacher.

They were the only students in their year, and he taught them along with other grades in a one-room schoolhouse.

Back then, 16 was old enough to teach Grade 9 and 15 was old enough to make your fortune.

“You’re grown up,” Day said. “You’re on your own.”

Frampton started dating her husband in 1950, and they were married in 1952.

They had five children, and after her parents died, she helped raise her younger brother. While Frampton took care of the large family, her husband studied to be a minister. In 1974, Reg Frampton was ordained as an Anglican priest.

“I didn’t get a degree myself, but I like to think I helped Reg get his,” Frampton said.

Day, on the other hand, avoided marriage for a while. She finally settled down with Harold Day in 1963, and had one daughter, Margot. She’s worked as a receptionist and public relations co-ordinator for the same development company in Oshawa for 40 years.

“Then it was like a man’s world ... and I thought, ‘no no no,’” Day said. “So I took my time.”

Day and Frampton said they were too busy when they were younger to find one another. But after their kids grew up and left home, they both began to reminisce.  

After Frampton reached out to Day, they caught up over the phone, gossiping about the lives of old friends and going over shared memories.

Finally, Frampton convinced Day to come visit her in St. John’s.

Day had seen the Department of Tourism’s advertisement for Newfoundland and Labrador, and although she no longer called the island home, the ad’s images stirred her memory.

“I could relate to the rocks ... the clothes blowing in the wind,” Day said.  

She arrived at the airport with her granddaughter, Elaine, Sunday, July 8. Since neither had seen the other in 65 years, Day’s cousin had to provide recent photographs.

Frampton and her husband have been taking Day and Elaine all over the city. Overall, Day said she doesn’t think St. John’s is very much different from Ontario.

“You can be in any mall, any town, any province: they’re all the same,” Day said.

But Day said she loved taking Elaine to Cape Spear and showing her the rugged coastline.

And she’s looking for the classic St. John’s photo opportunity.

“Jellybean houses, she wants those,” Frampton said, speaking about the rainbow row houses that dot the city.

The two women will continue their tour until Day and Elaine fly back to Ontario Saturday. Frampton and her husband plan to return the visit sometime soon.

Although they’ve loved going over their past, Day and Frampton said that they want to make new memories of their friendship.

“No more backwards,” Day said. “Forward now.”

robin.levinson@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Department of Tourism

Geographic location: Stones Cove, Ontario, Atlantic Ocean Halifax Toronto Oshawa Newfoundland and Labrador

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