Fitted For The Helm (Buddy Wasisname)

Let me relate to one and all
The story of a man, his work, and his call;
Of how he once stood and cocked his eye
On the wooden frame that would be mine.

She lay out back, some 20 feet long,
With a rakin' stem and a keel so strong;
With a forward hook and a michie-bend,
And the stern-shaped counter
he fitted for the helm.

With back half bent, he scratched his crown,
And he took each plank right from the ground;
One by one, he nailed each rib,
Until all timbers were finally hid.

And after a cup of homemade tea,
He began the task of filling each seam;
With chisel and mallet, he pounded away,
The freshness of oakum till the end of the day.

Next day being fair and windy, too,
He tackled his gray mare
and he wandered through;
At last he came upon the merchant's store,
Where he purchased some goods,
some paint, and a door.

His box car now being filled to the brim,
He headed home where his work was to begin;
With brush in hand and paint so white,
He painted the hull to keep her tight.

Inside the frame he placed the beddin'
For his make-and-break, his gift from heaven;
A house was then made to fit,
With a sliding roof and a place to sit.

Next he placed the risins in,
Constructed thawts where men would sit in,
And top-works curved and nailed just so,
He stepped aside with eyes aglow.

And as he glanced upon the stern,
He thought of the things that he had learned;
And now that his work was finally done,
He would pass her on to his only son.

And now that he's old and feeble and weak,
He gazes from the doorstep
where he often speaks;
Where he and I discussed the days,
Of how it was in so many ways.

But he's gone now and he's left behind,
His only son and a boat that's mine;
But I often think of the michie-bend,
And the stern-shaped counter
he fitted for the helm.

####.... A recitation by Ray Johnson of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers ....####

Recorded by Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers (100% Pure, trk#11, 1993, Third Wave Productions, Gander, NL).

See more songs by Buddy Wasisname.

From the Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Box Car - box-shaped vehicle with two-wheels, drawn by horse or pony.
House - deck cabin on a vessel; wheel-house.
Risins - forms used as guides in determining the sheer of a boat or vessel during construction; rising board; rising square.
Thawts - boards across an undecked boat on which rowers sit, often with specifying word after, forward, midship; Thwart.

Notes to GEST from Ray Johnson:
Michie-bend is the middle timber of a boat, punt, or skiff; and top-works is an outport name for gunnels (gunwales) the upper outer section of a boat.

Note: Make-and-break - popular and enduring marine engine, in use since the early 20th century. It could withstand getting wet and could be repaired with a coat hanger and a pair of pliers.


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