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Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you.


I guess it’s reasonable that this being November I should be thinking about LLB.  After all, November 10th is the day he was born.

This particular memory is dated many years after that.  It’s when he and his young bride were introduced to Canada.  At that time Australia was offering immigrants passage via a beautiful cruise like ship to their lovely warm southern country for the paltry sum of ten pounds sterling.  Imagine, all those days at sea with meals thrown in! 

Canada however had its own incentive.   You didn't even need 10 pounds. Canada would underwrite the fare for an immigrant to get here by any method of transportation.  There was a small catch however: the fare advance had to be paid back with interest.  Such was the method used by LLB.  This choice was enough to send the remaining three siblings who were already here into a frenzied fit of creativity.  It was reasoned that this paucity of funds had to be acknowledged and what better way than to throw a welcoming party that would highlight this situation.

So was born the “Tramp Party”.

Invitations were extended to a wide group of friends; all good party aficionados who could be guaranteed to follow the instructions to the letter.  They were instructed to arrive dressed in their very best “down and out, hobo, tramp like” clothing.

The party decorations as I recall included newspapers as table cloths, and newly purchased ceramic chamber pots held peanuts and other snacks. The glasses for drinks were mismatched and very unsightly.  I may not remember all the little details that went into the planning for this event but I’ll never forget the outfits that made it to my townhouse basement.

One very hilarious gent came as a boating captain with jaunty cap and rumpled untidy jacket with gold coloured buttons.  However, the shirt beneath was made of paper and only covered a small portion of the front of his chest.

LS’s husband looked the most tramp like of all wrapped as his legs were in newspapers – maybe to keep out the cold.  

LS and her friend “K” were undoubtedly the belles of the ball.  They had made special long - elegant dresses with strategically torn areas.  These dresses were teamed with gloves and large raggedy hats.  Not that either Belle could ever look ugly but they did their best by blackening a few teeth.

The evening was a great success but it must have been an eye opener for the new arrivals from England, especially later in the evening.

Not everyone knew each other very well; some may only have been passing acquaintances.  Nevertheless, as the evening progressed and the liquor flowed, relationships became more open, more knowing.  This discerning and recognizing was started with an interaction between LS and the sham boating captain.  She, in a spirit of style and to be sure that everyone looked their very best, approached said captain with the suggestion that the jacket pocket sitting outside his jacket “looked very untidy”.  Then, before he could say “What?”  she had removed the offending pocket by tearing it off.

Did he say “Thank you”? No he did not.

He took it upon himself to do some styling of his own.

It seems that those “strategically torn areas” were a tremendous temptation for a man who had just had his carefully planned attire decimated.  He applied a crooked finger to one such area as he remarked:  “You seem to have a tear in your dress, dear lady.”  Before removing his bent finger he gave it a bit of a tug making the tear a good deal larger.  This of course led LS to laughingly attack his paper shirt.   And so it began. 

The next part of the evening had definitely not been planned although the behavior of the other guests belied that.  Everyone joined in the fun.  That’s everyone but the two guests of honour.  They had not been told of the dress requirements so thankfully came normally attired which saved them from any attempts of styling.  This must have been a blessing for the young bride who we later discovered to be a good deal shyer than our Covey of Cockneys.

I’ve never had what you would call a large closet full of clothes, but after that evening it was decidedly smaller because so many of my guests needed coverage to make their way home.

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