Poem ‘brought down the house’ at concert

From our January 2013 issue

By Wilf MillerKeremeos, B.C.

Back in the years before the 1900s, my mother learned a poem that she taught to me to say at a school out in the country where my oldest sister was the teacher.

My mother said she would give me 50¢ which was a fortune in the ‘30s. I was shy and wouldn’t do it. Well, my sister said she would give me another 50¢ if I did it, so I said I would do it, but no one could get me to practice, because I wasn’t going to say it anywhere else. They let it go at that.

When I got up to say it at the Christmas concert at her country school, the house was packed. Here’s how it goes:

The Shingle
As she leads me to the bedroom,
gently lays me on her knee –
then I know that I will catch it as I listen
to the patter of the shingle on my britches.
At a sudden intermission which appeared my only chance,
I cried “Strike gently mother or you’ll split my Sunday pants.”
She stopped a moment, drew a breath, the shingle held aloft
she said, “My son, I had not thought of that, you may just take them off.
“Holy Moses and his angels cast thy pitying glances down!
And the kind old family doctor, put a good soft poultice on!”

I brought the house down.

Another remembrance… in the ‘20s and ‘30s, Ken McKay was a young student at a country school. His teacher said when she got to school in the morning the blackboards were covered with the most intricate drawings that she hated to rub them out. Ken was just a natural born artist. He wanted to marry my sister so he spent considerable time at our farmhouse.

When we couldn’t afford a phone we had it removed and it left a big space on the wall. Ken painted a beautiful picture there of my sister on a swing.

In our bedroom the glass was broken in a window and we had nailed some heavy cardboard over the hole. He painted a beautiful painting on that, and it didn’t take him long. As time went on, Kenny moved away, ran a large sign painting shop and did very well. He was just the kind of person who shouldn’t be forgotten.

When my brother went to see him years later and was talking to him he had a piece of material in his hands. When he was going to say good-bye he handed my brother a sign with my brother’s name and information on it to fasten to my brother’s truck door.