A View From the North Shore by Erno Rossi

A View From the North Shore by Erno Rossi

We all know about Mary and her little lamb and how her lamb followed her to school one day. As kids we loved reciting that story and many years later I discovered that I was supposed to be saying that its fleece was white as snow. Instead I said that its face was white as snow. Interesting that no one ever noticed. The fun was in reciting and singing this tale not in correcting a kid’s grasp of ancient poetry. Then the humour arrived later when the poets played with a revised story about Mary and her lamb. It seems that Mary had a little sheep. One night she took it to bed to sleep. The sheep turned out to be a Ram. So Mary had a little lamb. Kids have never complained about Mary and her little lamb.

With poetry we can give a lot of good stuff to our kids. I remember part of a poem that said, “One, two, three, four, five---once I caught a fish alive. Six, seven, eight, nine, ten, then I let him go again. Why did you let him go? Because he bit my finger so! Which finger did he bite? This little finger on the right!” This passes on a lot of solid information to young kids in a form that is very entertaining to them.
Some of you did not have the pleasure of living during the Great Depression 1929-1945. I lived through it and received the middle name of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt for my own middle name. During the Depression and World War Two 1939-1945, I heard a lot of poetry recited that was created by veterans who were involved at that time in the war and was intended for solo or group singing. Yes, there might have been beer involved as well. Heaven forbid this simple pleasure for people who might be killed next day or even that night.

A sample of their poetry: The North Atlantic Squadron Chorus: Away, away, with fife and drum, here we come, full of rum, looking for ladies to pat on the bum in the North Atlantic Squadron. American boys we do admire, they fly through storms of snow and fire, they never ever seem to tire in the North Atlantic Squadron. Chorus: The fire-fighters have lots of fire, they never, ever seem to tire of pulling their hose and fire attire in the North Atlantic Squadron. Chorus: Into the mess we go to sup, a dirty plate, a dirty cup. The cooks should darn-well smarten up in the North Atlantic Squadron. Chorus : In Gaspe it rained most of the time, the sun was never known to shine, the fog was so thick you could set it in bricks in the North Atlantic Squadron. Etc.
What I noticed with my drinking age was that we were not allowed to sing in bars and this left a huge gap in our folk music. It seems that the alcohol prohibition from 1919 to 1933 really left us behind those countries where bar patrons could sing as individuals or groups. Even today however it’s hard to imagine a group of Irish people singing when Irish Eyes Are Smiling when everyone else in the bar wants to watch and to hear the Bills football game. Amen.

Erno Rossi is a bestselling JUNO nominated author. He is the author of White Death-The Blizzard of ‘77 book/DVD and Crystal Beach-The Good Old Days, book/DVD. Visit him at www.whitedeath.com His books are available or can be ordered through Coles, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and buffalobooks.com. He now accepts talks for his future speaking schedule. Call him at 905-835-8051, or email him at erossi@cogeco.ca

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