Taking Gear In The Night (Lehr & Best)

See also: Taking Back Gear In The Night
(Kenneth Peacock)

Come all you good people, come listen you might,
It's only a ditty I'm going to write;
It's only a ditty, I'm sure it's all right,
It's all about taking your gear in the night.

John Keeping come up here to give a first call,
And with a loud shout these words he did bawl:
"Get out, jolly boys, it's a beautiful night,
All hands are bound out taking gear in the night."

For the first tick of the engine I think 'twas a-slick
Went pushing out through with a mightiful tick;
With a moon up above and the stars shining bright,
And hands are bound out taking gear in the night.

Old Sam said to Hughie, "It's a beautiful night."
"And damn it," said Hughie, "No doubt it's all right."
They put on their oilskins at one in the night,
Those boys were bound out taking gear in the night.

Well, the next man I'll mention it is little Toss,
He left about three o'clock to go across;
When the wind from the southeast it came on to blow,
And back to the island little Toss he did go.

You talk how your soldiers the battle did fight,
The same of your sailors who did all their might;
I'll put it in print, you can say what you like,
Cheerios to the man who takes gear in the night,

They work on the sea a living to earn,
And not for a squall those boys will not turn;
They'll venture their lives their families to keep,
When the stormy winds blow, and the billows do leap.

Jerry Fudge is my name, and it's I made this song,
I'll sing it to you, friends, I won't keep you long;
I'll sing it to you, it's the best I can do,
There's nobody knows what hardships they go through.

I have a-been fishing, I know what it's like,
But never did I take my gear in the night;
But now I'm not fishing, I'm keeping the light,
Cheerios to the man who takes gear in the night.

Come all you young ladies, I'll have you to know,
Don't never despise a fisherman bold;
But huddle and cuddle, fond lover's delight,
He'll tell you about taking gear in the night.

And now to conclude and to finish my song,
The boys from Penguin Islands they soon will be gone;
They're going to spend Christmas to lover's delight,
And that won't be out taking gear in the night.

Now fishing's all over so late in the fall,
And the boys are bound homeward to drink their alcohol;
And as they were leaving I heard them all say:
"Good-bye to old Penguin Islands while we are away."

####.... Jerry Fudge. Original Newfoundland song ....####

This twelve-verse variant was collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1977 from Jeremiah (Jerry) Fudge [1927-?] of Burnt Islands & McCallum, NL, and published as #105 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.180-181, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that she recorded this song from the composer, Mr Jerry Fudge of McCallum, NL, Southwest Coast. He wrote the song during his time as lightkeeper on the Penguin Islands where he spent many years. It describes the hardships that fishermen endure while risking their lives to earn a living from the sea. 'Taking gear in the night' simply means 'fishing in the dark,' which makes the work extremely hazardous.

See more songs by Lehr and Best

A five-verse variant was collected by Kenneth Peacock in 1959 from Kenneth Pink [1938-?] of Rose Blanche, NL, and published as Taking Back Gear In The The Night in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.145-146, by The National Museum Of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.

Kenneth Peacock noted that fishermen often set up seasonal quarters on off-shore islands to be nearer the fishing grounds. He wrote that 'Pemminums' is one such island near Cape La Hune on the south coast of Newfoundland, but he was unable to find it on the map and spelled it the way the singer pronounced it. Peacock went on to note that this unassuming little song tells of a group of fishermen taking back their fishing gear at the end of the fishing season in the fall. He commented that offshore islands are also very good places to set up stills, so the 'gear' was probably not completely concerned with fishing. In other variants the author's name was sung as 'Jerry' Fudge and the island was called 'Penguin' Island.

Another variant was published as #18, Taking Gair In The Night, by Edith Fowke (editor) with Keith MacMillan (music consultant) in The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs (1973).

There is also a 12-verse variant of Taking Gair in the Night in Edith Fowke's Traditional Singers and Songs from Ontario (Folklore Associates, 1965). She collected it from Albert Simms in February, 1958. Simms was born and learned his songs in Newfoundland. In her notes Fowke says that this is a local Newfoundland song that Albert Simms learned about 1928. Albert said that he knew Jerry Fudge, the man who made up the song; he was a young fisherman about 23 years of age. Fowke continues to note that although Taking Gair in the Night was a local song, it has survived in tradition for at least 30 years: Kenneth Peacock found a shorter version of it in Rose Blanche, Newfoundland, in 1959. Finally, Fowke notes that the young Canadian singer, Karen James, had recently [c.1965] recorded it as she learned it from Fowke's tape of Mr Simms.

Another variant was recorded by Simani on a revision of their original 1987 album (Music & Friends, trk#7, 1999, SWC Productions, Belleoram, NL).


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