U.S. couple anxiously awaits return to N.S.

·6 min read

SPRY BAY – During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Krause and his wife Devon Query of North Carolina have come to appreciate even more their seasonal life in Nova Scotia. Prevented from returning because of the border closure, they miss their Nova Scotia friends, their Spry Bay neighbours and their way of life on the Eastern Shore.

“Property ownership makes no difference, as far as the border closing is concerned. We understand the closing of the border and support it,” Krause told The Journal via email. “Keeping the place and the people we love safe is a priority for us. We think and talk of Nova Scotia every day and have Zoom conversations with friends on a regular basis. It’s not the same as being there, but it helps.”

In the U.S., the COVID-19 vaccine is rolling out slowly. Krause is a senior and has received the first dose. His wife, a little younger, is anticipating getting her first shot in the next month or two.

“There are way too many active cases here [in North Carolina],” said Krause. “While most people wear masks, there is a good amount of resistance to the vaccine…. Since it’s been 10 months since all this started – most of us are accustomed to living this way.

“The civil unrest takes our minds off COVID. I’m not sure which is more unsettling.

“It is our hope that having had the vaccine will enable us to return ‘home’ [to Nova Scotia] – even though quarantine might be required. Getting the vaccine is easy, painless and effective. I had no reservations about getting it. I lived through 40 years in show business, what could be more dangerous?”

Route to the Eastern Shore

While in college, Krause worked summers at the St. Louis Municipal Opera, a 12,000-seat outdoor theater. “Following graduation, I moved to Seattle to work at the Seattle Repertory Theater for four years. I moved back to New York and my ‘road’ career started,” he said.

“I did tours with the likes of Catherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Vincent Price, Roddy McDowell, Sally Struthers, Larry Gatlin, Robert Goulet, Luci Arnaz, Florence Henderson and more.”

Finding working on the road to be a difficult life; he ended it in 1998 and taught at a small private university in Lexington, Kentucky. “Upon my retirement we moved to Carolina Beach, North Carolina, when we discovered that there is no ocean frontage in Kentucky,” he said.

The couple made the decision to look for a vacation home. “We’d been all over the world – Europe, Japan [and] Russia – but those were all too far away to be practical. So, we looked at a map, spotted Nova Scotia and said, ‘Look at that, not overcrowded with people and lots of water.’”

Over the course of a month, the Krauses went camping from Yarmouth to Meat Cove. “At the end of our trip, we saw a star in the east and followed it to Spry Bay. That was 1990. We bought a cottage and then a real house; the rest is history. Our time away is spent counting the days until we can return,” Krause said.

“I miss the people of Nova Scotia … and that’s my greatest sorrow. We miss all of our friends and all that we do there.”

Community engagement

During the six months the couple is in Spry Bay, Devon teaches yoga, hooks rugs and enjoys time with friends. Krause volunteers at the community garden, is founder of Sheet Harbour Radio and serves on the boards of the Gerald Hardy Memorial Society, Chamber of Commerce and the Eastern Shore Cooperator.

Krause said, “I participate in events during the Sheet Harbour Seaside Festival and parades. I'm always available to pretend I can emcee an event at a moment's notice. I'm always looking for more opportunities to serve the community I love.”

Sheet Harbour radio

From an early age, Krause has loved radio. He always had a desire to work in that area but “… chance led me in other directions. Sheet Harbour gave me a second chance. Sheet Harbour Radio started out as an after-school activity for students at what was then DMHS [Duncan MacMillan High School].”

Krause and four students were provided with a small space in the attic of Eastern Shore Wildlife Campground lodge. “Since its inception, it has morphed into a much larger enterprise, with a low power FM license, a donated office at Gammons Home Hardware and more equipment than we ever dreamed of – a real transmitter, a stereo generator, computers, mixers, microphones and more.”

Krause credits all levels of government for the growth and success of the radio station, with grants secured through the help of Central Nova MP Sean Fraser and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) Councillor David Hendsbee.

“We have received support from the emergency management office in the form of a Sage Endec system, which enables us to broadcast emergency announcements; the Community Radio Fund of Canada and significant community support. Sean Fraser, the MP, helps us out by talking about us and consenting to interviews.

“We have dozens of sponsors who we talk about on the air and we’re always looking for more. We’re always looking for new people to work with us, as producers – no experience required; supporters – a little money required, not much; and people who talk about us and tell their friends and family,” Krause said.

Despite his continued absence from the community, he is adamant the radio station manages quite well without him. “Thanks in great part,” he said, “to Dr. Ed Empringham and Dan Goodsell. They deserve much of the credit for making the station what it is today. We Zoom, of course, and use social media to communicate on an almost daily basis. Thanks to our volunteers – Dave Josey, George Purcell, Vanessa Lowe, Roscoe Schofield, Penny Farris, Vicki Crowell, June Schofield, Patrick Ruggles – and more – we keep the ball in the air.”

Political reflections

Krause is looking ahead, optimistically, to the impact of the change of government in his country. “Without mentioning any names, I’m overjoyed that the current president will be out of office. Now things have a chance of returning to normal,” Krause said. “As I've always said, in Canada and the United States, we need all of us to make things work. Left, right, center – we all play a part. Respect and love are the keys. If each of us will do our small part – things will turn out fine.”

Krause continued, “Politics works as a pendulum. I've been around long enough to have seen it swing; from Joe McCarthy to John Kennedy to Richard Nixon to the Bush Family to Barack Obama to Donald Trump to Joe Biden. As the famous playwright Neil Simon said: ‘Without problems, the day would be over at 11 o'clock in the morning.’”

“I look forward to getting home as soon as I possibly can. I plan to be the first one at the border crossing when that restriction is lifted.”

Janice Christie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal