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Boggs brushed history

By Sherri Ellington Growing up in a small town in Newfoundland was just a normal childhood for Georgina Boggs ‘“ except the word ‘Titanic’ could never be mentioned. Her father had unknowingly watched it sink. ’My father wasn’t a fisherman ‘“ none of his father’s sons followed in his footsteps ‘“ but he had a vessel he’d hire out to take people places,’ she said. ‘They were out there watching her and didn’t know she had struck an iceberg. They heard the band and people singing and thought they were having a gorgeous time out there. He thought the flares they sent up were just to let the people know they were passing by.’ As the sounds of the Titanic faded into tragic history, George Edward Stevenson turned his boat around and headed back to the port of St. Johns. ’He got up the next morning and read in the paper that she had sunk right where they were looking at her,’ she said. ‘My father was so distressed; they could have went out and plucked people out of the water ‘“ but they didn’t know. Hundreds and hundreds of people drowned. Every time he heard the word it was like he was having a heart attack. He was a heartbroken man because he didn’t save those people.’ Stevenson owned a dry goods and grocery store in St. Johns while his wife Zelia raised their seven children. They did not marry until Stevenson was 30 so ‘the Titanic story was something we heard from others. He never did tell anything about it,’ Georgina said. ‘He was 68 when he passed and my mother lived another 20 years.’ ’I didn’t get to meet him,’ said her husband Bill Boggs. ‘He had already passed before I met Georgina.’ While the Titanic was her father’s brush with history, at age 14 Georgina had one of her own. By that time St. Johns had an airport, and being in the middle of the North Atlantic, it was a strategic one. Amelia Earhart landed there on her flight from North America to France. ’I watched her come in and take off,’ she said. ‘She was the first lady to fly solo across the Atlantic and I wanted to see her take off. My sisters asked why I didn’t get her autograph but I didn’t think of it. I was just a youngster. She didn’t speak to us but she did wave. She was a lovely lady.’ While Georgina, 90, has only one sister still living ‘“ and still in Newfoundland along with numerous cousins ‘“ she said they had much fun as a child. ‘We didn’t get spankings but my parents taught us what to do and what not to do,’ she said. ‘The weather was cold, cold, cold and then we had three months of pleasant weather. We wore coats and sweaters all year long and kept the heat on all year too. The business district of town burned down twice. I was there for the second time.’ Nothing was left of the family store but the safe, which is now at the home place. ‘When I was stationed up there a buddy and I got the notion to go skinny dipping,’ said Bill. ‘We got no further into the ocean than ankle deep. Our toes turned blue.’ ’It stays ice cold all year and often froze,’ said Georgina. ‘You know it’s cold when the ocean freezes.’ At the time, Newfoundland was a possession of England; it is now part of Canada. ’I used to tell Bill if hell is as hot as Georgia I hope I never go there,’ she said. ‘Now when I go home I nearly freeze to death. My clothes aren’t made for that kind of weather.’ When World War II started, said Bill, ‘Roosevelt and Churchill met in Newfoundland and signed a 99 year lease’ for the U.S. military base that protected supply ships from German U-boats. Bill was stationed there and after the war brought Georgina home to Barnesville as his bride. She was 23, he was 19. They have been together ever since. The Boggs learned to play the card game canasta in 1959, a few years before they built the home they still live in. They keep a table in the living room and enjoy pitting themselves against each other. ’She used to whup me all the time but sometimes now I win,’ said Bill. The Boggs have two children, Nancy, a retired teacher, and William E., or Billy. Those children gave them four grandchildren, three girls and a boy, also named William. The greatgrandchild generation numbers eight so far, with five girls and three boys, one of whom is also named William. They range in age from one year to college age. ’Gosh at the presents,’ said Georgina. ‘I miss too many of them.’ One great-grandchild is staying with them while her father works the oil fields in North Dakota. ’He says the people there talk like Granny’s sister,’ said Bill.

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