HEART’S CONTENT, NL — Heart’s Content has seen some significant changes over the last few decades, but its town clerk has remained the same throughout.
Alice Cumby moved to Heart’s Content in 1965. She accepted a position as town clerk three years after moving to town.
Fifty years later, Cumby still holds the position and is proud of what she’s accomplished.
“It’s just a very rewarding job, and I can’t really see myself doing anything else at this point. I really do love it here,” she said, noting the job, which was based out of what is now known as the cable museum, began with just herself, a minute book, 10 pieces of correspondence and an old, “clackity” typewriter.
On March 1, Cumby was joined by several coworkers, as well as residents of Heart’s Content, for a celebration of her dedication to the community. She sat with the Compass during this event to talk about the job and what’s kept her around for so long.
“A town clerk is basically someone who runs the town and overlooks the workings of a community, especially in a place as small as Heart’s Content,” she said. “I answer to council and carry out their decisions, and interact a lot with the people.
“In a bigger city there are going to be more people to look after it all, but in a place like this, it all comes back to the one person – me.
“That’s something I enjoy, and I think that responsibility is something that’s driven me to keep at it.”
Throughout her career, Cumby said she’s seen a lot of change in Heart’s Content. With many of her coworkers changing every four years as a result of municipal elections, she’s seen firsthand the changes that go on both behind the scenes and up front.
“It’s never the same thing,” she said. “Every day when you come in, something new and different is going on. I’m not coming in and dealing with the same subject every day, so it has that sense of excitement attached to it. ‘What am I going to do today, I wonder?’”
Love for the community and a sense of belonging in Heart’s Content certainly helped keep her around as well, she explained.
She and her family, which includes herself, husband Frank and their four children, received tremendous support and built plenty of strong relationships with fellow residents over the years.
“It really comes down to me loving what I do. I’m lucky in that way.”
She’s been involved in a number of groups as well, including the recreation committee, masonic lodge, local churches and heritage society.
“Sometimes I found it bit hard to mix all the volunteer work with work as the town clerk, but it all kept me busy and that’s what I needed,” she said. “I’d rather be busy than not. So, I think that true sense of community really helped out in the long run.”
One of the most significant goings-on Cumby remembers was the closure of the two local schools – Holy Trinity and St. Mary’s.
“The two schools closing was major for us. We’ve seen a lot of local businesses and other things like that close down too, and I think that leads to a lot of people in the younger generations leaving the area and moving to bigger municipalities. That way their own families have more opportunities,” Cumby explained.
“Right now, we don’t have a lot of kids here, but we do have some coming back. So I think the closing of the schools was probably the biggest thing that happened while I’ve been here.”
Although she said she’s not sure if she’ll manage to get another 50 years out of the job, Cumby told the Compass she’s very happy to be this far into a career she genuinely loves.
“It really comes down to me loving what I do. I’m lucky in that way, because some people are forced to work jobs they hate for their whole lives.
“But me, I’ve always loved it here. I’m happy to be doing what I do.”