Whiskey in a jar

You may not know this, but St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday in Newfoundland. No, honestly it is. I only know this because of the time well wasted I spent with a motley assortment of Newfoundlanders when I attended Dalhousie University in Halifax. I guess in Newfoundland culture, going to Nova Scotia to get an education is the equivalent of ‘goin’ down the road’ . But that’s not the story.

In 1978, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday. As I recall, we didn’t have many classes on Fridays. This was a good thing. After toiling in the morning at some challenging library science task, like learning how to load microfilm into a reader, we gathered at the Grad Club to grab lunch and begin the day’s festivities. Since we were one of the few gaggles of girls in the place, we soon got an invitation to a gathering at the dental student’s frat house. What could possibly be wrong with that?

At about 2 in the afternoon, the proto-dentists were well into party mode. It never occurred to me at the time, but I am sure they had access to all kinds of substances not normally found on the shelf at Shoppers Drug Mart. Which may explain some things. Anyhow, the beer was flowing, a band was playing in what passed for the living room, and there were at least 5 dogs and 4 children running round the house. And, showing their festive best, everyone was decked out in operating greens. There was also a courtesy stack of attire in case anyone else wished to assimilate to the dress code.

We hung out for a few hours but decided to leave after the first police visit, which was probably a good idea. Anyhow, next stop was Newfoundland night at the law fraternity where at least there was the promise of some food. Unfortunately, dinner turned out to consist mostly of fish and brewis. In case you have not encountered this delicacy, it consists of salt cod and hard tack that have been soaked in water overnight then boiled. It is then garnished with fried salt pork before serving. If you are lucky, you will also get some nice boiled potatoes to go with it. All I can say is apparently large quantities of beer and salt cod are not a match made in heaven.

The moral of the story is do not underestimate the capacity of Newfoundlanders to enjoy their unofficial national holiday. The outstanding question is why on earth I was not able to snag either a dentist or a lawyer in the process. Alas, some mysteries will remain unsolved. However, just remember if you are ever offerred fish and brewis, just say no.