Napanee Photo Club 30th Annual Exhibition and Sale

A field trip was on the agenda. Like giddy teenagers we set off to walk the short distance to the hospital. It was the perfect day for a field trip, warm and sunny so unlike mid October.

As members of a creative writing group it was our assignment to view and critique the 30th Annual Exhibition and Sale of Photography by members of the Napanee Photo Club. At the hospital there is a brightly lite hall dedicated to displaying photos and art of local people.

In the Monochrome section the photo of “White Lake Pioneer Cemetery” by Elaine Kirsch, caught my attention. The large monuments and name indicate an older cemetery. Larger, intricate stones tell the status of the family. The trees are still small grown since the cemetery was developed. They are crowded as the sun does not penetrate. The overall feeling is one of serene quiet but not a place to tarry.

Imagination is a wonderful thing and viewing the monochrome photo spawned the following story. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

We were going to be late and Mother would not be happy with us. There were chores to be completed before supper was served. To avoid the wrath of Mother my sister, Colleen and I decided to walk across the White Lake Pioneer Cemetery to the main road to our house. Now we were very scared of the cemetery due to all the stories our grandfather had related about this place.

Grandfather worked in the logging camps and was a bit of a scrapper and drinker. Some of his favourite tales were about Irish Wakes. According to grandfather they would prop the deceased up in his casket and feed him whiskey. A room full of drunken Irish loggers found this a fitting tribute to their late buddy.

With a belly full of whiskey the deceased would be buried in the White Lake Pioneer Cemetery. Over time the alcohol would wear off and the spirits would emerge from the ground looking for more whiskey. They would wander the cemetery singing their favourite songs from the old country. Sweet Molly Malone and An Irish Lullaby could be heard at the nearby farms. Neighbourhood children were frightened away from the cemetery. Adults would avoid stopping on the road any place near the cemetery.

As Colleen and I quickly trekked through the cemetery we thought if we could sing Irish songs the spirits would know that we were friendly and leave us alone. At the top of our voices we screeched about Sweet Molly Malone.

“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first laid my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheel barrow
Through the streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh”

With grandfathers prodding we knew all the words to the song and hoped that the late drunken Irishmen buried here would appreciate our rendition.

Once we finished singing about Molly we quickly transitioned into an Irish Lullaby, a song our mother had sung to us when putting us to bed.

“Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, too-ra-loo-ra-li
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don’t you cry
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, too-ra-loo-ra-li
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby. ”

Our high-pitched voices raised into the evening air and as we finished the last verse we arrived at the main road. Running up the road we burst into the warm kitchen to fragrant smells of supper cooking. Mother looked over at us and said “you are almost late, get to your chores, Father will be up from the lower barn soon and ready for his supper”.

Colleen and I washed up. She sat the supper table while I began to straighten the kitchen, putting water on to heat for the dish washing later.

Father came through the door and immediately went to wash up for supper. Mother, Colleen and I set the hot, fluffy biscuits, the savoury beef stew, a bowl of butter and a pitcher of cold milk on the table.

When Father returned to the kitchen we all gathered around the table and he said Grace. Mother looked down the table at him and asked “you are pale and quiet this evening, is everything alright, Sean?”

Father looked around the table, swallowed and spoke in a quiet voice. “You know all the stories, Dad told about his logging days and the White Lake Pioneer Cemetery”? We all nodded and he continued.

“While I was working in the lower barn tonight I heard the most horrible screeching coming from the cemetery”. It sounded like the old Irish songs that Dad claimed the spirits would sing while looking for more whiskey”. “This chilled me to the core. I have to wonder if Dad was telling true stories”.

Colleen and I slyly looked at each other and quickly filled our mouths with biscuits dripping of butter. Now we know how these legends get started.

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby. ”

All the photos are a pleasure to view. There are many unwritten stories to be created from the display. Thanks to the Napanee Photo Club for allowing the public the opportunity to view and critique their work. There are many talented people in our community.


3 thoughts on “Napanee Photo Club 30th Annual Exhibition and Sale

  1. Lillie, Do you mind if I forward this to Jim? He may be able to put this with this photo when the exhibition is over and the photos are displayed on the photo club’s website.

    Thanks, Christine

  2. Oh Lillie this story will be the perfect accompaniment to a wonderful photo. I enjoyed the display of talented photographers. This is a great story Lillie.
    Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that’s an Irish lullaby 🙂 Hug B

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