Bully Crew, The
DESCRIPTION: Every year the sealer Ranger, commanded by Henry Dawe, joins the "heroes of the slaughter with 18,000 prime young harps." Food aboard will "make the stomach rattle": flipper stew and whitecoat's hearts. And "no napkins"
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (MUNFLA-Leach); probably written 1900 (see NOTES)
KEYWORDS: hunting sea ship food humorous nonballad sailor
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
Mr. Powers, "The Bully Crew" (on MUNFLA-Leach) (2 versions)
NOTES [240 words]: There are lots of holes in the MUNFLA-Leach text but the sense seems to be like that in "The Squid-Jiggin' Ground": "If ye gets cranky without yer silk hanky, ye'd better steer clear" [of sealing.
The sealer Ranger is cited in the notes to "The Ferryland Sealer." - BS
The history of the Ranger -- which lasted longer than any other Newfoundland sealer -- is discussed in more detail in "First Arrival from the Sea Fishery S. S. Fogota, 1912." Henry Dawe of Bay Roberts is mentioned in more songs than perhaps any other sealing skipper; see "The Sealing Trip of the S. S. Greenland 1891"; "Arrival of the 'Grand Lake' and 'Virginia Lake' With Bumper Trips"; "I Am a Newfoundlander"; "The Sealer's Song (II)"; "Captains and Ships."
Dawe commanded the Ranger 1898-1902 (Feltham, p. 115). His sealing totals in those years, according to Chafe, p. 90, were 5735 (1898), 16992 (1899), 18800 (1900), 26749 (1901), and 22034 (1902). Thus the likeliest year this song was composed was 1900.
For a description of the diet experienced by sealers while at sea, see the description of a sealing voyage in England. Seal meat was obviously an important part of the diet, since it was available; England, p. 107, describes how Captain Abram Kean, at least, relished seal flippers.
Terms used in the song:
"harps": harp seals, the primary object of the seal hunt
"whitecoats": the baby harps, which had white coats during their first weeks of life. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.4
- Chafe: Levi George Chafe, Chafe's Sealing Book: A History of the Newfoundland Sealfishery from the Earliest Available Records Down To and Including the Voyage of 1923, third edition, Trade Printers and Publishers, Ltd., 1923 (PDF scan available from Memorial University of Newfoundland)
- England: George Allan England, Vikings of the Ice: Being the Log of a Tenderfoot on the Great Newfoundland Seal Hunt (also published as The Greatest Hunt in the World), Doubleday, 1924
- Feltham: John Feltham, Sealing Steamers, Harry Cuff Publications, 1995
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