The second child of Skipper Bill
raised in that old three-storey home down by the stage
that joined on to the one where his
grand dad’s children were all born and raised.
No fisher boy was he, no life at sea
he was off to school in faraway St. John’s.
Perhaps the clergy had its eyes on him at Memorial
after finishing at Normal School and St. Bon’s.
Too young to serve in the great war
and too old when that peace started to unravel.
And that cleric’s life some thought was for him
was not the path in life he ever wanted to travel
His service to his country would be set on peace, growth
and service to the community.
For a generation and a half knew Mr. Barry
as school master in a small school by the sea.
For five years Boston became his home
working for Western Electric making radios they said.
While back at home, his dad, Skipper Bill he fished the cape
in a two master western boat, always out to keep the family fed.
But from time to time St. Pierre to Boston
runs were made, Barry’s were nobody’s fools.
And that extra money was found …somewhere…
to send brothers and sisters away from home, just like him, to school.
But aside from that, for 48 years
the teacher’s life was painted by dedication.
So many grades, an impossible load, so little support
but devoted to the pursuit of education.
Lawn, Mount Carmel, Corner Brook but mostly
in that two room school on his beloved old Red Island home.
From dawn till disk doing what he must no matter what
if asked his did what was needed for the students and families in his town.
Later on two more calls: grad school then
a longing for family to complete his home.
A pretty Irish girl—they found each other
and soon they had two children of their own.
The name ‘Daddy’ was the one he loved the most
but we could always feel the old teacher’s gentle touch.
The two parts we know he gave us too
and became a part of the son and daughter he loved so much
He left us 29 years ago
and there hasn’t been a single day
that thoughts of Dad and Teacher
haven’t crossed my mind, at work, home or play.
The gifts he gave through a life well lived
marked with duty and love; a legacy of learning and service to his home
passed on to me, and my family,
the pain of loss is gone,
the treasure carried on, and more value to me than anything I can ever own.
So pack up your old book bag now
and turn the oil lamp; off one last look around
Turn on the flashlight, lock the school door,
head for home down the path along that holy ground.
Someone’s waiting patiently
supper’s on and kettle’s at the boil
And a spell of rest awaits for the old
schoolmaster maybe just for a little while.
Happy birthday ‘fadder.’