By Benson Hewitt
This past week my wife and I were invited to a story-telling session in the old Orange Lodge in Barr’d Islands. There were a dozen or more of us in attendance and we sat around in a circle, more or less, and listened to stories told by some, and a few songs sang by others, with a few doing both. It was indeed a pleasant evening, and a respite from inane TV programming that would have been the fare had we stayed at home.
Roy Dwyer read a passage or two from his book, “A Fisherman’s Legacy” Clem Dwyer told a story, where, he could say with Mark Twain, that ‘the reports of his death were greatly exaggerated’. Bob Blake read a poem, the imagery of which was spell-binding. Sharon King-Campbell told a story called “Frank and the Barrel” which had a surprise ending, or perhaps it’s better to say it didn’t have an ending at all. It was funny, though.
I was more intrigued, I suppose, with her singing the song “Willy Taylor”. First, I have a special liking for unaccompanied singing and without a microphone, and it was that, but I totally enjoyed the refrain. Like yodelling, the words or sounds were nonsensical and had no meaning at all, and as far as I could tell, had no obvious relation to the subject. Don’t ask me why I enjoyed that part!
Lillian Dwyer read a piece that she had written about her mother-in-law and her mat-hooking expertise. Aaron Cobb sang several songs and recited a recitation written by ‘the bard from Barr’d Islands’, his late father, Chrissy Cobb.
Me? I told a story about Cinderella; yes, the very one who went to a ball. I should have been kicked out, but there was polite laughter. After the stories were told and the songs sang, as in days of yore, we had a lunch. I mentioned earlier that this was held in the old Orange Lodge, and for me that was rather special, too.
That building is now more than a century old, and since its recent facelift, it looks as I remember it more than 60 years ago, and this event, with my once again sitting in it, brought back some pleasant memories.
When I was in my very early teens, I joined an organization called by the OYB. OYB stood for Orange Young Britons (not ‘Britain’ as I saw on a flag on display there) and was open to teenagers, generally. The big social event of the year was our annual parade, when, with our sashes firmly in place, and flags flying, we would parade around the harbours with the senior lodge members and come back to the hall for a feast, and dancing all night.
But, we were more than that; we were part of a special brotherhood that extended beyond the meetings. I can remember on a few occasions when there might be a row or fight between two members at school, or on the roads, and another member would say the words, ever so softly, ‘brotherly love’ and the skirmish would end.
Excepting during the summer, we would meet once a week and I do remember some lively discussions. There were two that I remember well for expressing their views, and they were the late Dorm Brown and the late Jack Decker. The one thing that I remember especially was the strict adherence to parliamentary procedure and members were always put in their place, if they took any liberties with the rules. For years after, when attending teachers’ meetings or church meetings, it always bothered me when basic rules of order were not observed.