Paddy Dougher’s Ball
As interpreted by Bill!
This topic is a bit different than earlier versions of “Bill’s Post” as this time I am posting a poem by an unknown author. At the end of the poem, I will retype each verse where I will attempt to tell you a bit about a person named therein. Maybe even have a short story about them! One very important lesson I have learnt here is that I don’t know as much about what I think I knew as I thought I knew.
You will read all about it if you wish to read this very long story. If you are from the Stromness area you may enjoy it more that others. As for verses where I do not have a name take heed with my interpretation. I remember arguing with a teacher in high school about what Shakespeare meant. He; the teacher had one opinion and I had another. How the H^*# did he; the teacher know any better what Shakespeare meant that I did?
When reading about the cast of characters don’t get hung up on the dates i.e.,1899-1959. Just skip over them. They are meant for those interested in their genealogy.
If you have or know where I can find a photo of any of the people mentioned in this article I would appreciate it if you would sent it to me with permission to use it.
Paddy Dougher’s Ball
Come hither friends and neighbours,
And listen one and all,
The while I tell just what befell,
At Paddy Dougher’s ball.
Tra le la le doodle dee,
Now what do you think,
Say’s Paddy to me,
I’ll see them all in hell says he,
When I have another ball.
At nine o’clock the house was full,
That more could scarce get in,
And from the lake they brought a cake,
From Dunnville came the gin.
Red Hall was there and calling clear,
His old familiar chant,
Now here she goes and watch your toes,
With Mrs. Hildebrandt.
In jolly mood was David seen,
Not he who wrote the psalms,
Beside the bed the dance he led,
Nor heeded Daisies slams.
When Daisy Duck a while withdrew,
Reclining on the bed,
Come Sydney Ross and with a toss
Stood Daisy on her head.
The din grew loud the music sweet,
Was floating from the skies,
When neighbour Pyle in his own style
Came loaded to the eyes.
There crossed his path a lad name Brewer,
A thirsting for a fray,
But roaring Heaps put him to sleep,
And looked for more to slay.
The fight waxed hot with one accord,
The warriors waded in,
And swore Bob Hall in spite of all,
He’d sock Pyle on the chin.
With in house in righteous wrath,
The worth matron fussed,
The kinds stood by and soon did cry,
While Paddy Dougher cussed.
To boil the coffee prompt and quick,
They long and vainly tried,
Then brought fresh wood and kindling good,
And threw the fire outside.
Through all the din without and in,
The dancers glided by,
Six pairs of shoes did Francis use
As Scott can testify.
Four stalwart swains and damsels four,
Essayed the Dip and Dive,
With all the whirls those giddy girls,
Scarce knew they were alive,
As midnight struck the lunch came in,
And so did Elmer Pyle,
The school master’s wife ran for her life,
And fled for near a mile
Verse 1 I do not believe that Paddy was the author. It took some research but Paddy is the nickname for William John Dougher 1867-1948. Paddy never married. I believe he took over the home from his father James circa1831-1897. Paddy’s home where this ball is believed to have taken place still stands today. It is the second last house on the south side of North Shore Drive heading out of Stromness towards Lowbanks. Today it is the home of Charles Alexander the son of Cheryl Barnes who is the granddaughter of George Barnes 1921-1998 and Lillian Pyle 1921-1998.
Verse 2 “Tra le la le doodle dee” This rhyme is from a 1922 musical “For Goodness’ Sake” by Arthur Francis. So, we know that Paddy’s Ball took place after 1922.
Lyrics from the song are as follows,
“Let me introduce you to Tra-la-la
For it’s time that you all knew Tra-la-la
Verse 3 From the lake came a cake. That was likely Margaret (Maggie) Evelyne McCallum 1900-1968 who married Sam Hildebrandt 1894-1965. Sam and Maggie once owned a summer store in front of their home at Beckley Beach. The now, cottage remains today being the first cottage once you enter Beckley Beach on Grand River Line. As for the gin from Dunnville, well I had no idea. However, James Dougher from Buffalo send me this. “If you research census of that era there was a James Dougher in the census records whose profession was noted as a publican, or another word for a tavern keeper! I know it’s a stretch and not factual evidence but if Paddy Dougher needed Gin, he’d likely call on a relative!”
Verse 4 Red Hall or Red Bill has been a problem. The best information I have on him is that he called the square dances at the Stromness Hotel which remains there even today – just at the north east edge of the village. I also learned that he once lived in the home in Stromness where Sylvia Putman nee Barnes now lives. Mrs. Hildebrandt is mentioned again. I believe this is Margaret or Maggie McCallum mentioned above. She is the daughter of Senator Lachlan McCallum 1823-1903. From what I have been told Sam and Margaret Hildebrandt were very sociable people and I can imagine her taking the cake to Paddy’s Ball.
Stromness Hotel as it is today
Verse 5 This is David France Livingstone 1889-1965 whose father owned the Stromness Hotel. David’s wife was Daisy Clem 1884-1934. David’s father was also David Livingstone 1850-1934. David France’s mother was Rosannah Kenney 1852-1934. I mention Rosannah as she is the great aunt of Carroll (Carl or TC or Soft Coal) Kenney 1909-2002 whom I have often written about or used information from for my stories.
Verse 6 When I started this story, I didn’t know anything about Daisy mentioned above. I believe she was Daisy Clem 1884-1934. I do not know why she is referred to as “Daisy Duck”, but off to Ancestry.ca where I find some info on Daisy. She was born in St. Louis Illinois and was married twice before she married David Frances Livingstone. I do not know who her first husband was but her second was Frank Mcqurk who she divorced six months prior to marrying David Frances Livingstone. She then married David Frances Livingston in Detroit Michigan on May 31, 1924. Now this is odd given the year this occurred. What was odd about it is that David Frances Livingstone’s family were devout Roman Catholics and divorce was a no no, especially to a twice divorced! As for Sydney (correctly spelled Sidney) Ross 1909-1984; I am not sure what the author meant when he said that Sydney “with a toss Stood Daisy on her head.” Something tells me that Daisy was a bit of a character whom I should end any description here. I have only a slight memory of Sydney. I do remember his daughter Susan who was my seating partner in grade one at Stromness. I thought Susan was the most beautiful girl in the school. Unfortunately, her family moved to Dunnville while we were still in grade one. I have had a number of conversations and email exchanges with Susan over the past few years but to my memory have not seen her since she left me in 1954!
Verse 7 “When neighbour Pyle in his own style Came loaded to the eyes.” I believe neighbour Pyle is a reference to George Elmer (Heaps) Pyle 1897-1952. I don’t know much about Heaps but do recall hearing that he and Harry Siddall 1891-1958 were drinking buddies and it is obvious at least in this poem that Heaps was not afraid t put up his dukes. I was reminded by James Dougher that heaps is a common synonym for piles; get it?
Verse 8 There crossed his path a lad named Brewer etc. But roaring Heaps put him to sleep, Heaps would be George Elmer Pyle as mentioned above but I have no idea who Brewer was. It seems that Heaps wasn’t finished. More about him later.
Verse 9) This verse simply tell us that all hell broke out with Bob Hall getting his licks in on Heaps. My research tells me of no Bob Hall in Stromness during this time.
Verse 10) I will leave it up to you to make your own determination as to the meaning of this verse, but I read it as Paddy was becoming a bit concerned for the welfare of his home and cussed liberally at those who were destroying his home.
Verse 11) Time to sober up a bit and make coffee. This ball would have happened sometime between 1924 to 1934 so it was unlikely that one couldn’t turn on the electric stove so wood and kindling was gathered for a wood stove located outside. Maybe Paddy was just sober enough to know not to let anyone light a fire in the inside cookstove.
Verse 12) I have not got a clue what any of this means. Francis in middle English was gender neutral. I am not familiar with any female Francis’s in Stromness or Sherbrooke. However, it may mean Frank, or maybe the author was referring to David Frances Livingstone. As for Scott, I have no idea who he was.
Verse 13) For stalwart swains and damsels four- I suspect the author was using some Jane Austen reference here as a swain is a male in service from middle English while a damsel is an unmarried woman in middle English. This is a line very similar to one in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Beyond this I do not have a clue what the author intended.
Verse 14) There were two Elmer Pyles. The father who I mentioned earlier as Heaps and a son of Heaps. The second Elmer was Ronald Elmer 1916 – 1987. So now I am not so sure that the Elmer above was Heaps or was he Heaps’ son??
I would like to thank the following people for assisting me with this story:
- Betty Neal Nee Hicks
- Gloria Lawrence Nee Barnes
- Susan Siemens Nee Ross
- Dan Hall
- James Dougher and his sister Sandra
- And whomever else I forgot.