A Belfast Poem
I’ll speak to you, dear stranger, if you really want to know,
So listen , and I’ll tell you why I love this city so.
Belfast is an Ulsterman with features dour and grim,
It’s a pint of creamy porter and a Sunday morning hymn;
It’s a grimy little cafe where they serve you dainty teas.
It’s fish and chips in paper, or vinegar with peas.
It’s a banner on July the twelfth, a sticky toffee apple,
A righteous little Gospel hall, a Roman Catholic Chapel;
It’s a Telly boy with dirty face, a piece of apple tart ,
A fry upon a Saturday, or a coal breek on a cart.
It’s a Corporation gas man, complete with bowler hat,
It’s wee shop at the corner, a friendly bit of chat;
It’s an oul lad in a duncher, a woman in a shawl,
A pinch of snuff, a tatie farl, a Loyal Orange Hall;
A tobacco smell in York Street, a beg of yella man,
It’s an easter egg that’s dyed with whin, a slice of Ormo pan,
A youngster with some sprickly backs inside an oul glass jar,
It’s a meeting at the Customs House, or an old Victorian bar.
It’s mudbanks on the Lagan when the tide is running low,
It’s a man collecting refuse, bonfires in Sandy Row;
It’s a bag of salty dullis, a bowl of Irish stew,
A goldfish bought in Gresham Street, a preacher at the queue,
It’s a portrait of King Billy upon a gable wall,
A flower-seller on a stool, outside the City Hall;
A half moon round the door step, a pollis man on guard,
A man whose crying “Delf for Regs”, a little whitewashed yard.
It’s the market on a Friday, the ships lined at the docks,
It’s a shiny polished fender, a bunch of green shamrocks;
It’s herrings fried in oaten meal, with a drink of buttermilk;
It’s a snowy linen handkerchief as soft as finest silk;
It’s a bap with country butter, a dander round the zoo,
A climb up tough Ben Madigan to get a splendid view;It’s a bunch of savoury scallions, a plate of buttery champ,
The hopscotch on the footpath, a swing around a lamp.It’s delf dogs on the mantel piece, the wee man from the Pru,
It’s a chimney sweep on bicycle, coming to do the flu;
It’s the ever present vista of the hills of Castlereagh,
It’s the deathless hush on Saturday when Linfield play away;
It’s by Killarney’s Lakes and Fells, on the bells of the Assembly Hall,
It’s spikey broken bottles stuck on the backyard wall;It’s bacon boiled with pamphrey, served when piping hot,
With Skerry spuds, like balls of flour, cracked laughing in the pot.It’s the smell of Mansion polish on the lino in the hall,
The Sunday school excursion, a treat for one and all;
It’s the Islandmen who build great ships that take us far to sea,
It’s the S.D. Bells in Ann Street where they sell the best of tea;It’s friends home from America, who have been thinking long;
The Salvation Band on Sunday to save the sinnin’ throng;
It’s a wee walk up the Lisburn Road and back by the Malone,
It’s the Albert Clock in High Street, with its rich and mellow tone.It’s a Barney Hughes hot cross bun, a canary in a cage,
An old man talking in the park, of a past and better age.
It’s the sharp expressive dialect of everyone at large,
It’s a ton of coal on the Lagan afloating in a barge;
It’s wemen on the windy stool when the summer sun shines down,
It’s a V of Apple Tart or a wee race into town;
It’s a needle to an anchor in Smithfield’s famous mart,
I think I’d better call a halt before I break my heart.And that’s the answer stranger and now I’m sure you’ll see,
Why Belfast is the only place in all the world for me.
Based on an original idea
By Bill Nesbitt
My grandmother passed away this morning. We visited Friday and Saturday and had a great time telling her all about our trip CA (us), school (Eli), and FL (mom & dad). She was among the last of a dying breed…the product of finishing school and Columbia…she was simply elegant. I recall her using a swear once in my life, and that to scold a table full of men (dad, Dr. Weaver, Granddaddy and Uncle Milton) who were discussing *very* disgusting things (she said, as I recall, “Damn it, I will not have this language at the dinner table”).
Irene Marie Sommer Gamble
Tenants Harbor – Irene Marie Sommer Gamble, 94, widow of Wilfred Gamble, died on February 21st at Quarry Hill after a long illness.
Born on May 20, 1915, she was the daughter of John Sommer and Marie Haantz Sommer of North Bergen, New Jersey. She was educated at Hoboken Academy, Centenary College for Women in Hackettstown NJ, and New College at Columbia University in New York, where she received a Masters Degree in education, speech and dramatics.
She met her husband, Wilfred Gamble, at Columbia when he tried out for a play she was casting. After their marriage in 1939, she joined him as a teacher at the school where he was principal, the Lincoln School in Marion, Alabama. This was a groundbreaking private school for African American children, with a biracial faculty, run by the Congregational Board of Home Missions. She maintained close contact with both staff members and students throughout her life.
Upon Wilfred’s discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1945, the Gambles moved to Southbury, Connecticut, where they were involved in town, church, and school activities for over thirty-five years. Irene taught fifth grade for many years in nearby Woodbury. Towards the end of her career she became speech therapist for the Woodbury school system.
The Gambles summered in Maine, and in 1980 they moved to Tenants Harbor. They became active members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Rockland. Irene was very involved in the PBMC Auxiliary, working on many aspects of the annual Christmas Fair. For several years she ran the ornaments group and organized production of the advent calendars that are still used in so many homes in the midcoast area and beyond. She was an avid reader and was part of the Tenants Harbor book group for many years, where she is remembered for her excellent “book reports.” She kept up to date on anything concerning education and gave the education reports at meetings of the American Association for University Women. She loved crossword puzzles, travel, good conversation, her old houses in Connecticut and Maine, and above all, her family.
She is survived by her daughter and her husband, Patricia and Richard Kahn of Tenants Harbor, with whom she has lived for the past eight years, by her grandson Ian Kahn and his wife Suzanne Hamlin of Portland, Maine, by her granddaughter Gillian Kahn Hargreaves and her husband Andrew Hargreaves of Landing, New Jersey, and by great-grandchildren Aidan Kahn, Elijah Kahn, Oliver Hargreaves, and Madeline Hargreaves. They will always remember her as “Greenie.”
Arrangements are under the direction of Burpee-Strong Funeral Home of Rockland. A memorial service will be held in the Spring. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Penobscot Bay Medical Center, Six Glen Cove Drive, Rockport ME 04856, the Unitarian-Universalist Church, 345 Broadway, Rockland ME 04841, or to the Lincolnite Club, Inc. PO Box 434, Marion, AL 36756.
My grandmother passed away today (more on this in another post), 12 years and one day following my grandfather. We have spent the day going through her photos, letters and the bits of ephemera that swirl around you after 94 years. It has been, pleasingly, great fun…reveling in her life (and that of my grandfather’s) rather than mourning. Best of all, we found some things that she more or less hid to protect us.
Whereupon I explained that my best pal is a goddam Irishman and therefore there is no foolin’ around. He retaliated or reiterated (I forget which) and gave me the following:There was a young Chinese named RhodaWho kept an immoral Pagoda;Festooned on the wallsOf the halls were the ballsAnd the tools of the fools who bestrode her.Meantime his pal was thinking hard and having thunk sprang this one upon us (the dirty slob):There was a young man of BombayWho modeled a cunt out of clay;But the heat of his prickTurned the clay into brickAnd wore all his foreskin away.Followed almost immediately by the young man from Thermopylae,Who found he couldn’t pee properlyHe said, “Pax vobiscumWhy the hell won’t my piss come?My semen must have a Monopoly.”