Dan: And it's always nice to hear from you. You are among the most constant and reliable of correspondents. It shouldn't be too difficult to find out who was the school [Duke of York's Royal Military School] drum major on Grand Day in 1957. The simplest thing is put this question to the loop; some were at school during that era. I'll also post a question on Chad Stather's web site although I don't give much hope for the chances of an answer as there's no heavy rush to respond.
Yes, C had her outing to the mouth of the St. Lawrence where there were large pods of whales waiting to catch a glimpse of her and blow their holes. She saw lots of Minki whales, Belugas, Humpbacks and dolphins by the score to entertain and watch the watchers. And so, she found the Quebec hotels, food and entertainment most enjoyable. Visiting the Maritimes is worked out well in advance. Next year, I believe, she's heading for Newfoundland where 'cod and brewis' is the order of the day. I know the place well having lived and worked there for seven years running and building hydro stations. Joey Smallwood, long since gone the way of all flesh, but once the Province's premier and the politician principally responsible for bringing Newfoundland and Labrador into Canadian Federation. He was kind to me as a young engineer and treated me well; introduced me to a Newfie special 'cod au gratin' that was so delicious I would have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever I visited the Provincial capital.
Premier Smallwood was a benevolent dictator. His outer office was always crowded, like a doctor's waiting room filled daily with petitioners who would see the premier - and they did. Can you imagine a state governor or provincial premier doing that today? Many would be there to have the premier cut their husbands off the bottle because they were drinking too much. That was an easy thing for the premier to do because all liquor bottles in those days were numbered and registered, so the liquor board knew who drank what and once a Newfie was 'cut off' it was no easy to get back on the allowed list. I was told that if the police found an discarded liquor bottle on the highway it was a simple matter to trace the owner, who was promptly brought before the local beak. Retribution was swift. Found guilty of carelessly discarding a bottle along the Province's highways and byways the culprit was fined twice the value of the bottle: once for the bottle discarded and once for a replacement bottle. Joey sure knew how to run the Province.
He said he began life as a factor's assistant. It was from him that I got the idea, though not the plot, of the story Rats and Molasses, the first piece I ever wrote and sold. It was published in the St. John's Evening Telegram, the Provincial rag, for which I was paid the handsome sum of twenty-five dollars. (Patricia can see that one somewhere on my web site.) The story Joey told me - I can't go bail for the truth of anything he told me - was that he had to collect a barrel of molasses from another factor on the far side of the lake. It was the dead of winter, so he used a sledge. Unfortunately, the bung of the barrel came unplugged when he started back, so by the time he had crossed the lake all the molasses had leaked out. His boss, the factor, said, 'That's no more good, my son' and he bade him go back and gather the spillage. I was astounded. 'How was that possible?' I asked and he said, 'The molasses were frozen in the snow, so I took a two by four to the other side and rolled the molasses on the spar like a roll of toffee, my son. That's how we recovered the spillage and not another word was said. 'It pays to use your brains, bye,' said the Premier. He used a Newfie brogue when entertaining visitors.
He told me another, which bears repeating. I must write it up one day, for it is rather funny and could only come from Newfoundland, the Newfies being a fair match for the Irish, although, for your education, sixty per cent of Newfoundlanders hail from the English West Country (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, etc) and but forty per cent are post 'potato-famine' Irish of 1846. Anyway, the gist of the tale is this.
Like many a Newfoundlander, a young fellow from a fishing outport - or outports as they say - journeyed to St. John's hoping to take passage on a schooner and make his fortune by going to Boston in the States and getting a pair of false choppers, which happened to be all the rage at the time. With the money his parents had given him to speed him on his way, he bought a new pipe and a pair of seaboots (called logans on the Island) to look the part and in this impressive plumage he tramped back and forth along the quay in the hope of seeking a berth. St. John's was normally a bustling place, but when the harbour is empty of vessels, it reverted to what it was, a quiet, compact and small place. It happened not to be a busy day and he got 'caught short' as they say. Being a stranger, he didn't know where to go, so he asked a bricklayer working on the quay, who helpfully directed him to a wooden privy perched on the edge of the dock. The young fellow hurried to the privy to let nature takes its course.
The privy was a primitive building, a one-seater wooden structure built on the quay over- hanging over the water. It was furnished with a stout pole on which the occupant sat to discharge waste directly into the water; all very hygienic for the time. So there the young fellow sat with his trousers resting about his logans, and his new pipe in his mouth, all set to contemplate the prospect of his fortune-in-waiting. He hadn't yet started smoking, but the pipe felt good between his teeth. It gave him confidence and a sense of self-assurance.
Suddenly, his reverie was shattered by a weighty rattling of the privy door that was
wrenched open and in stepped a heavy woman laden down with her week's shopping. 'Hello, my son,' says she. ''Tis a foine and blustery day if ever I seed one.' With this convivial greeting, she placed her bags on the privy floor, lifted her skirts and settled herself alongside him on his perch. The beam sagged dangerously under their combined weight, which caused the young lad from the outports to slide along the polished beam until he was snugly berthed alongside his mighty companion.
She chatted merrily away about the weather, the promise of a fresh nor'easter, and the cod fishing, a subject always good for easy conversion among Newfoundlanders. He for his part, however, was agitated beyond measure and gripped his pipe so hard that he broke the end that had fitted so comfortably between his teeth. 'Whatsa matter, b'y?' says she. 'Lost thy tongue, ha thee?' He was too mortified give answer and stared stonily to his front and was in this same stony state when, her business done, she looked about her for paper and found none.
Unexpectedly, finding the public facility so devoid of what was provided in every decent household, the woman grabbed the tail of her companion's shirt and wiped herself clean, saying, 'We has to be neighbourly, my son. We has to be neighbourly.' With that, she adjusted her garments, picked up her bags and took her leave, hurrying like the white rabbit, and muttering, 'We has to be neighbourly as I all'ays say "Hans up all them as wants jilly" and, so saying, took her leave, banging the door to a close behind her.
The poor young fellow from the outports had had a terrible experience to say nothing of the humiliation he felt, shame and indignity. He would have cut off the shirt tail and dropped it into the harbour, but had no knife. Dull indeed, however, is he who is without wit and resourcefulness. He remembered the bricklayer and thought the workman's trowel a handy instrument to sever the offending shirt tail. He therefore adjusted his dress as best he was able, stepped out of the privy and came again to where his fellow Newfoundlander was at.
'I has a problem, b'y,' he says, 'an' could do with a loan of your trowel.'
'Certainly, my son, but what's the trouble,' ' says the bricklayer, handing over his tool.
'It's like this,' says the fellow from the outports, newly arrived to seek his fortune as he struggled to sever the tail of his shirt by hacking away at it with cement-covered trowel, and told his sad tale.
The bricklayer watched in silence until, with eyes swimming in moisture, he could contain himself no longer and burst into unrestrained laughter. This unsympathetic reception to the tale of his plight so embarrassed the fellow from the outports that he took off along the quay at a stretch gallop and didn't stop until he reached Water Street, The sound of the bricklayer's booming voice sped him on his way and ever after he was haunted by those taunting words as the bricky called out at the top of his voice, 'We has to be neighbourly, my son, we has to be neighbourly' until he could be heard no more.
It's rather long, but what the heck! It will help Patricia amuse you for a while; and Ray Pearson, too, I hope. The rest can concentrate on identifying the drum major on the 1957 Grand Day parade.