By Mark Squibb | Vol. 12 No. 11 (May 30, 2019)
You can take the boy out of the bay, but you can’t take the bay out of the boy.
A fairly common expression in Newfoundland, and one which Chris Morry felt fit his late father Thomas Graham Morry perfectly.
“He lived until he was almost 90, and more then half of that time was spent here in Ontario, but he was a true-blue Newfoundlander ‘til the day he died,” said Morry. “He just couldn’t get enough of it.”
He found the expression so fitting that he used it as the basis for his father’s memoir.
You Can Take the Boy Out of the Bay: The Memoirs of Thomas Graham Morry of Ferryland was published by Amazon on April 30.
May 1 marked 11 years since his father passed.
Thomas Morry was a public servant in pre-confederation Newfoundland, who spent much of the Dirty Thirties in the ‘States after graduating high school in Ferryland.
When the Second World War came around, he wanted to enlist in the army, but his two brothers beat him too it, one in the Royal Navy and one in the Royal Artillery.
“They wouldn’t take a third son in those days. It was just too risky. They had lost too many like that in the first war,” explained Morry.
Working as an auditor, Thomas automatically became a Canadian public servant once Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.
“He rose to the top of his ranks in what was then the Unemployment Insurance Commission,” said Morry. “In order to progress, he’d have to come to Ottawa. No choice.”
After finishing his education, Chris Morry turned his eyes back to his father’s homeland of Newfoundland, landing a job with Fisheries and Oceans.
“I invented a term, a CBFA. I was a CBFA— Come Back From Away,” laughed Morry.
He told the Irish Loop Post that his father had left behind handwritten memories and cassette tapes, with the will that Chris see them published.
“He left me a manila folder with about 150 pages of it handwritten, and said, ‘Over to you Chris, it’s your job now. Publish this.’”
Morry said he doesn’t expect the book to become a best-seller, but that he hopes it’s enjoyed by his audience.
“It’s got a pretty narrow audience appeal— people from Ferryland primarily,” said Chris.
The book begins with a dedication to his father.
“For Dad and his brothers and sisters… Not because they were all different from the others with whom they grew up, but precisely because they were much of a kind — a generation now gone, unique in almost every respect compared to the generations before and since,” it reads.
“They were not terribly aware of anything else going on in the world. They lived their lives … as if the world revolved around the little village in which they lived,” explained Morry. “And that was wonderful. You don’t see that anymore. Kids growing up today in Calvert or Ferryland or any of those other places now are all tuned into the internet, and the world is their oyster. Which is okay, but I personally, and maybe it’s just nostalgia, like to think back on the days when their village was their world. And that’s the way it was for those people. That, plus the fact that they had a very unique sense of humor, which I unfortunately don’t think it exists anymore. Maybe it does, maybe I’m being too critical. I think that the people back in those days made their own pleasure and own enjoyment. They told funny stories and laughed about things you or I wouldn’t even think was funny.”
Morry said many of the stories and anecdotes relayed in the book are humorous, the kind of stories you might hear at old family gatherings.
One story, he recalled, found the family sitting quietly during Mass when a man and his wife walked in late. The woman had a fish hook hanging to the back of her coat, and Thomas’ brother Reg, in his big, booming voice, blurted out that she looked like she just fell off the trawler.
Morry, who moved to Ontario when he was only four years old, said he continues his father’s tradition of making an annual pilgrimage back to the island.
“I drive down the Southern Shore Highway 10, and I get to that place where you’re coming out of Calvert and you’re coming into Ferryland and my God I can practically cry, when I pass that graveyard there,” he said. “It’s just like coming home.”
Morry is in talks with Downhome about distributing the book locally.
He would like to see it hit the shelves in time for Ferryland’s Come Home Year in July — which of course, he will be attending.
He said the book is the third and final chapter of the non-fiction Morry trilogy, which began with the release in 2014 of When the Great Red Dawn is Shining, and then The Last of the West Country Merchants: The Life and Times of Matthew Morry (1750-1836), a story about one of the last generation of merchant adventurers in the Newfoundland fish trade.