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TINA COMEAU: Long before the Meteghan Chase the Ace, there was my grandmere Comeau

The Meteghan Fire Hall where people have been chasing the ace.
The Meteghan Fire Hall where people have been chasing the ace.

METEGHAN, N.S. – So I haven’t won the Chase the Ace in Meteghan. 

Neither has Mrs. Walker.

Or Mr. Walker.

Who are the Walkers? They were the personas my husband and I adopted many years ago at an Atom A hockey tournament in Barrington, during a season when he and I kept winning more than our fair share of the game 50/50 draws.

At first the other parents were excited for us. Then after awhile there was less and less enthusiasm whenever it was announced that one of us had won…again.

And so at that tournament when my husband won and they asked what name to announce, he said, “Mr. Walker.”

And when I won the 50/50 in the next game and they asked for my name I sheepishly replied, “Mrs. Walker.”

Of course winning $61 or $74.50 is a far cry from what is up for grabs in the Chase the Ace happening in Meteghan. The jackpot after last Wednesday was $436,196 and would no doubt climb by the time the next draw is held on Sept. 6.  There was no draw this week to give volunteers a much-needed and well-deserved rest.

The Chase the Ace is a fundraiser for the Meteghan Fire Department.

My father grew up in Meteghan and we have a family camp there.

I have fond memories of the Meteghan Fire Department – that is, the old building it used to be housed in.

Tina Comeau's grandparents Ambrose Comeau, who used to be a chief of the Meteghan Fire Department, and Regina Comeau, who used to organize picnics as a fundraiser.

The old fire station (as opposed to the larger, more modern one that exists today) was located in Meteghan next door to the house of my grandparents – Ambrose and Regina Comeau.

When we were kids (me, my sister and my cousins), and we would visit their house, I’d often find myself with my face pushed up against the window of the fire station, peeking inside. Sometimes our grandpere would bring us inside. We’d climb onto a truck or sit inside one pretending to drive. I vaguely remember a fire pole, although I can’t recall if I ever slid down it.

Other times I’d try on my grandpere’s fire helmet when my sister and I were playing dress up with some of their clothes upstairs in their house. It was heavy and clumsy and didn’t fit the head of a nine-or-10-year-old kid very well, nor did it match the flower frock or faux fur shawl belonging to my grandmere that I’d be wearing.

My grandpere served as chief of the fire department for a while. As the story goes he wasn’t at the meeting when he was voted to be chief. Since he wasn’t there, he couldn’t refuse.

My grandmere, meanwhile, used to help organize the picnics that were fundraisers for the fire department. These were big events back in the day. We’d attend the picnics, or, I remember, there were always lots of prizes for the games being prepared, dropped off or stored at my grandparents’ house.

My grandpere died many years before my grandmere did. When she died in 2008, I remember being brought to tears at the funeral home in Meteghan when in through the door, wearing their formal uniforms, entered a line of firefighters to pay their respects. Based on what I guessed to be some of their ages, I suspected some of them were quite young when my grandmother helped fundraise for the fire department they served with.

I was very moved, and even more so the next day when an older model fire pumper was waiting outside the funeral home to escort the hearse, carrying my grandmere’s casket, to the church as a final gesture of thanks.

The first picnic my grandmere helped organize in 1948 raised $1,300.

And in 37 years she helped to raise $31,866.35 for the fire department. Obviously her efforts never came close to the major fundraiser the Meteghan Fire Department is seeing these days with Chase the Ace.

But her efforts were no less appreciated.

Every dollar earned back then was just as important.

And as we’re witnessing these days, those dollars all add up.

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