My memory often wandered back when I was but a lad,
When the boats came in from fishing, I ran to meet my dad;
He would take his old sou'wester off and throw it ashore to me,
And I would put it on my head, how happy I would be.
My father's old sou'wester he wore in days gone by,
And every time he put it on his face would beam with joy;
It reminds me of the happy days, those happy days of old,
I would not part with that old hat for the full of it in gold.
He wore it every Sunday, he never liked a cap,
He wore it every Monday when he went to haul the trap;
He wore it in the sunshine, he wore it in the rain,
On Sunday and on Monday he wore it just the same.
If that old hat could only speak, what stories it would tell,
Would tell you of many's the time he fought the raging swell;
It would tell you of the happy time out on the squiddin' ground,
Wherever that my father went, it was perched upon his crown.
And now he's dead and laid to rest, he'll wear it nevermore,
For there's no stormy weather over on the other shore;
He said to me before he died, "There's one request I'll make,
Go take my old sou'wester hat and wear it for my sake."
Back in 1984 I was researching an old radio programme (from the 1930s) when I interviewed Bill Hollett about his songs, particularly My Father's Old Sou'wester. He wrote that song as a teenager for the radio show The Irene B. Mellon in 1934; it was put to music by the renowned accordionist Jimmy Ring. It is one of the classic songs of Newfoundland nowadays and it comes as a surprise to many people to learn its author is still alive. A couple of weeks ago, Bill's son Bob contacted me and I went to visit Bill and his wife Lily again, now in their room at a local old people's home. Bill is 90 and his memory for those times is failing, though still sharp in many ways. He recited several of his songs and poems during my visit.From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Afterword: Sadly, just three weeks after his 92nd birthday, Bill died in late March 2008. He'll be missed.