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  • Ted Burke on Hospitality:

    I can tell you a joke. Now, me sister Millie, she used to invite us up to dinner Sunday every now and again, and we used to invite her down. So anyway, we put the big roast in the oven in the morning—and potaties and turnip and two lots of pudding, blueberry pudding and a plain putting—potaties and turnip and cabbage. Anyway, when dinner hour come, Aggie laid the table, I went up for Mill. I said "Dinner's ready now," so she come down. And—we're just sittin' down—and this knock come to the door. I sung out, "Come in, boy!" And I knows, no one coming for me—I didn't do anything wrong. He said, "Well, you got a wonderful smell." And I said, "Yes, boy." Now he was going around selling vacuum cleaners. I said, "Yes, boy, sit down and join us." And he said, "Me wife is up in the car." And I said, "Go up and tell her to come down and have a pick." I said, "Where are you from?" And he said, "From Gambo"—and he went up and when he comes back he had four more—and Aggie and we sotted at the table and we never got a pick! Now that's as true, my dear man, as you're settin' down there! And Mill used to roar laughing! Well, heavens above—her lovely dinner and never got one pick. Last thing they done, they drank the pot liquor was in the pot with the cabbage—and raved over dinner. And I said, "Yes"—I said, "If ye have done as much knocking around as I've done—you'd be delighted to give them poor people their dinner." I said, "I was glad lots of times for someone to invite me in and give me dinner." Lots and lots of times—not much odds about it, boy, if we can't help one another—what you gives you'll never miss.

    --quoted in Robert Mellin, Tilting: House Launching, Slide Hauling, Potato Trenching, and Other Tales from a Newfoundland Fishing Village, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2003.

    December 9, 2007