Six Horse-Power Coaker, The
DESCRIPTION: An old run-down motor that still has a lot of life left in it fails one day as the weather worsens and they have a dory in tow. An orphan boy comes to the rescue in a skiff and is able to start the motor. They take on the boy from that time forward.
AUTHOR: A.R. Scammell
EARLIEST DATE: 1940
KEYWORDS: recitation technology talltale ship rescue
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Doyle2, p. 74, "The Six Horse-Power Coaker" (1 text)
Blondahl, pp. 68-69, "The Six-Horsepower Coaker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Guigne, pp. 332-335, "The Six Horsepower Coker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy Primroy, "Coaker" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Ned Rice, "Six Horsepower Coaker" (on NFAGuigne01)
NOTES [245 words]: The author, Arthur Reginald Scammell (mistakenly spelled with one "l" in [Doyle]), has written many poems, songs and even stories with Newfoundland themes. One of his more famous songs is, "The Squid-Jiggin' Ground." Some collections of his works include: My Newfoundland: Stories, Poems, Songs (St. John's: Harry Cuff Publications, 1988) and "Newfoundland Echoes" (St. John's: Harry Cuff Publications, 1988). Collected Works of A. R. Scammell was also published by Harry Cuff in 1990.
The boy in the song is referred to as being a "bedlamer boy" which is a corruption of the French phrase, "bete de la mer" used in Newfoundland to refer to half-grown seals and boys. See: Harold Horwood, Newfoundland (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada , 1969), p. 84. - SH
Bedlamers are second year seals, not yet fully mature but able to care for themselves -- sort of the seal equivalent of teenagers. The title is a description of age; a bedlamer may be either a "harp" or a "hood." The origin of the name is uncertain; some connect it with "bedlam," because they create bedlam, others with French "bete de la mer," "beast of the sea" (Young, p. 33; StoryKirwinWiddowson, p. 37, prefer the "bedlam" sense, and first cite the term from 1766. Their second meaning, "bedlamer [boy]," refers to a youth approaching manhood; it is not attested prior to 1896. Scammell's 1940 publication of this poem is their second attestation; clearly "bedlamer" refers more often to seals than men). - RBW
Last updated in version 4.2
- StoryKirwinWiddowson: G. M. Story, W. J. Kirwin, and J. D. A. Widdowson, editors, Dictionary of Newfoundland English, second edition with supplement, Breakwater Pres, 1990
- Young: Ron Young, Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador, Downhome Publishing Inc., 2006
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