'I COULD SEE THE SKY' FOR CHORUS, CHILDREN'S CHOIR, ORGAN, AND STRING QUARTET (WORLD PREMIERE)
Text for Nos. 1-4 from Life in Newburyport, 1950-1985, collected by high school students of Jean Foley Doyle, edited by Jennifer Karin. Text for No. 5 from Newburyport: As I Lived It! by John Lagoulis.
1. The Ide of Jay
Right near our house, and this does not exist today, there used to be a little boatyard. There was only one boat in that boatyard and that boat was called the Ide of Jay. It was a beautiful sloop sailboat. Every year the Ide of Jay would get launched. It was a very wealthy man that owned it. He would go south with the Ide of Jay and in the fall he brought her back up. They would bring her back up into the shed. And I could remember it was almost a holiday when the Ide of Jay got launched. This huge boat being launched into the water. If they tied her up for a week or two before he left for the south, we would sneak up on her deck and dive off the fantail. I had a wonderful childhood.
2. I had a brother, Harold
I had a brother, Harold, they called him “Gramp.” And I had a brother, Norman, they called him “Boogie.” Don’t ask me why. And this was part of the gang. “Goat” Perkins, “Cowie” Little, “Duke” Little, and “Farmer” Hamilton. Years ago everybody had a nickname. There was “Spud” Pollard, “Fishy” Morrill and “Gumdrop” Lawler.
3. We lived everywhere
We lived everywhere in Newburyport. Most of my time was spent in the northend. The people are different from the southend; I think this still applies. There’s a difference. I always liked the southend. It was older, warmer.
4. I have lived in this house
The square, at that time, was not what you see today. I have lived in this house for eighty-five years.
5. I was looking up
I was looking up. I could see the sky and the wharf and my sisters and my brother looking down at me.
When I pulled hard on a rope to bring the dory in, it responded like a spring, the anchor was entrenched. I pulled real hard. A boulder was under the surface. I hit my head. I had a comfortable feeling like sleeping in a bed and had no desire to move. I was lying on my back at the bottom of the Merrimack River.
I was drowning and I didn’t know it.
I saw my brother leap into the water. Jumped right in after me without hesitation with all his clothes on. He lifted me up with one arm and with his other arm he held onto the same rope and pulled us toward the wharf. My sisters helped. They rolled me back and forth over a barrel. People on the river knew. It was common knowledge among sailors and people.
All my life I have been proud of my brother and sisters.