By Benson Hewitt
“Suppose someone invented an instrument, say a convenient little talking tube, which, say,could be heard over the whole land…” Soren Kierkegaard -1813-1855.
In a recent piece that I wrote, I mentioned that the year 1887 was the Golden Jubilee of the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne of England, and that this year, 2012, was the Diamond Jubilee of the accession of our present monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
In that particular piece I was comparing (or contrasting) the celebrations of the occasion in 1887 with that of this year, and especially as to what happened on Fogo Island. In Fogo in 1887, there was a parade and a ball that lasted all night.
The Evening Telegram in its April 4 edition for 1887, carried a report of what happened in my ‘ole stompin’ ground’, Barr’d Islands. The spelling there was as is in the title, (Barred Island) and Joe Batt’s Arm was not even mentioned. I am making that point to ensure everyone that there is no suspicion of any bias on my part. I am pretty sure that the vast majority celebrating was from Joe Batt’s Arm, and most likely a few brave souls walked all the way from Shoal Bay. But what was happening, you must be asking?
Well, for the very first time there was a lantern slide show in those parts, and Mr. Henry J. Earle, Jane’s great-grandfather, that is, had come all the way from Fogo, most likely in his own boat, to show this particular marvel to the inhabitants of Barr’d Islands, as a way of celebrating Queen Victoria’s 50 years on the throne.
Don’t tell anyone that Fogo Islanders didn’t know how to celebrate a momentous occasion. The only thing that could be done today to compare with that would be to invite everyone on Fogo Island to the Iceberg Arena for free beer, lots of breaded chicken with wedgies and gravy, and a restricted movie on the biggest flat wide-screen TV available. I doubt, though, if that would even work now.
Meanwhile, let me get back to this ‘first’ in Barred Island (that was the way, I repeat, the newspaper had spelled it), a magic lantern show. It was ‘magic’ I am assuming, because it was unreal. Imagine, if you will, a picture of a lion or a tiger on a big screen; ‘twas enough to make some people scream. Can’t you hear someone from the Cove saying? “It almost frightened the guts out of me!”
The correspondent put it this way – “the monotony of life (in Barred Island) was agreeably broken there one evening recently by a magic lantern slide in the United Fishermen’s Hall.”