My father sold shoes all his life from a long-gone Water Street store called Parker & Monroe. Like most families on Pleasant Street, we didn't have much, but we always had good shoes.
My father was a townie who loved the St. John's Regatta and was proud to have rowed in a Mercantile race representing "Parker's."
I say that because my father was both a townie and a proud Newfoundlander. In fact, he was as much a Newfoundlander as anyone else in this remarkable province.
I'm a proud Newfoundlander as well. From stem to stern. I may have grown up in an urban environment, and I may be more Rubber Soul than rubber boots, more Beatles than bayman, but I'm no less a Newfoundlander. As much a Newfoundlander as anyone in Twillingate or Tors Cove or Torbay Road or Torngat.
I don't eat seal. I don't eat moose, or rabbits, or turrs. I like a big Sobeys or Dominion stamp on the meat I buy.
But I'm still Newfoundlander through and through.
Not only that, I'm a townie!
In tune with my roots
I like to think I'm not the kind of townie who feels the province starts and ends where The Overpass used to be. I like to think I'm in tune with both my Townie roots and my broader Newfoundland sensibilities. Maybe that's because I spent a year exploring the Burin Peninsula and a year working in Corner Brook.
"I'm a Newfoundlander born and bred and I'll be one till I die." That's from the iconic song, The Islander.
It has become the rallying cry of many downtown St. John's coffeehouse romantics. The type who still talk the nonsense of Newfoundland "going it alone" without consideration to the realities of finding ourselves collapsed under the weight of our own debt. That kind of "wrapping ourselves in the flag" Newfoundlander may not resonate as much with people in Grand Falls-Windsor or Corner Brook. But yes, they are Newfoundlanders, too.
We are all Newfoundlanders. ("And Labradorians," as Premier Brian Tobin arranged for us to say when he had the name of the province changed.)
Some are from the Northern Peninsula, some are from the Avalon. Some are from Cape Chidley, some are from Cape Race.
I say all this in response to those who dismissed my observations about the fishery or the seal hunt as the ravings of an ill-informed townie.
Sorry, I don't own a quad
Oh, I'm a Newfoundlander all right. I'm a Newfoundlander who detests that loaded word Newfie. I don't have a camper, have never played frisbee at Butterpot Park with the lid of a beef bucket, and I don't own a quad.
'I'm a Newfoundlander, born and bred. And I'll be one till I die. I take exception to any suggestion otherwise.'
I'm also a Newfoundlander who is embarrassed and offended by Screech-ins, which I consider to be racist, and silly tourist gimmicks. We wouldn't ask African-Americans to "shuffle" when they walk, and we wouldn't ask Irishmen to drink themselves into a stupor, but somehow it's OK to have me and my family and my relatives and my fellow Newfoundlanders stereotyped as illiterate, toothless, goofy hillbillies.
No one in my family says "I dies at you" or "Deed I is, me old cock" and I resent being portrayed like that. Kissing a cod or a puffin's arse!? My Gawd, have we all lost our dignity?
But I'm still a Newfoundlander.
I'm a Newfoundlander, born and bred. And I'll be one till I die. I take exception to any suggestion otherwise.
After all, we're all in this together.