Thursday, February 21, 2013

Courage and Patience and Grit

Songwriter Mark Walker was born in Tickle Cove, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, in 1846. A fisherman who also served as the first postmaster in the community of Sweet Bay, Walker penned several of modern-day Newfoundland and Labrador's favourite songs, among them "Fanny's Harbour Bawn", "The Girls of Sweet Bay", "The Antis of Plate Cove" (about the forces that opposed Confederation with Canada), and "Down by Jim Long's Stage", but perhaps his best-known and most-beloved song was "Tickle Cove Pond", a song that tells the tale of an incident that took place in Tickle Cove in the spring of the year.  It was first recorded by Canadian folksinger Allan Mills in 1963. To listen to a recording of the song performed by Jesse Ferguson, click here. The lyrics follow. 

In cuttin' and haulin', in frost and in snow
We're up against troubles that few people know
And it's only by courage and patience and grit
And eatin' plain food that we keep ourselves fit
The hard and the easy we take as it comes
And when ponds freeze over we shorten our runs
To hurry my haulin' with spring coming on
Near lost me a mare out on Tickle Cove Pond
Lay hold William Over, lay hold William White
Lay hold of the cordage and pull all your might
Lay hold of the bowline and pull all you can
And give me a lift with poor Kit on the pond
I knew that the ice became weaker each day
But still took the risk and kept haulin' away
One evening in April bound home with a load
The mare showed some halting against the ice road
She knew more than I did as matters turned out
And lucky for me had I joined her in doubt
She turned round her head, with tears in her eyes
As if she were sayin', "You're riskin' our lives"
All this I ignored with a whip handle blow
For man is too stupid; dumb creatures to know
The very next moment the pond gave a sigh
And down to our necks went poor Kitty and I
For if I had taken wise Kitty's advice
I never would take the shortcut on the ice
Poor creature she's dead; poor creature she's gone
I'll ne'er get my mare out of Tickle Cove Pond
So I raised an alarm you could hear for a mile
And neighbours turned up in a very short while
You can always rely on the Overs* and Whites
To render assistance in all your bad plights
To help a poor neighbour is part of their lives
The same I can say for their children and wives
When a bowline was fastened around the mare's breast
William White for a shanty song made a request
There was no time for thinkin', no time for delay
Straight from his head came this song right away
Chorus Final
Lay hold William Over, lay hold William W
Lay hold of the cordage and pull all your might
Lay hold of the bowline and pull all you can
And with that we brought Kit out of Tickle Cove Pond
*It seems the surname Oldford, often associated with this song, is not one of long standing in Tickle Cove.  The name Over, originally Ovier, was referred to in the song when it was penned by Walker.  Reference.

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