Day 206: Hanky Pantry

Lantry is an unincorporated community in South Dakota not too far from Lake Oahe, the large reservoir created by damming the Missouri River. Today’s tour group consisted entirely of fishing enthusiasts who wanted to fish for bass on Lake Oahe, so Laetitia chartered a boat and a guide and they spent the day on the lake. They arrived in Lantry in late afternoon and did a walkabout before going to dinner and their motel. Talking to some of the local residents on the walkabout, Laetitia heard some gossip about a minister who had had to leave town.

Ministers in small towns have a very difficult time, especially if they are young. Some members of their congregation think they work only the hour each week when they are behind the pulpit. Also their lives are under constant scrutiny, and they are often held to a higher standard than other people. Laetitia felt sorry for the minister who was the subject of the gossip, but she wrote the limerick anyway.

White flour handprints on the dress
Of the preacher’s landlady, named Tess,
From a tryst in the pantry
Were a scandal in Lantry
And he soon left town under duress.

Day 108: Polka Mocha

Avoca is a picturesque village located on the Avoca River in County Wicklow. It was a copper mining and hand-weaving center in times past. Today it is probably better known, at least to BBC fans, as Ballykissangel, because that is where the series was filmed. Laetitia and her group did some hikes through the beautiful Vale of Avoca and visited the monastery at Glendalough before heading to Avoca, where they planned to spend the evening.

As usual Laetitia went early to the pub where she was meeting her group for dinner so she could think about a limerick for the day. She sat at the bar, close enough to a table of young women to hear the complaint of one of them about an encounter with a young man from Rome at a local party that featured international dance music. The woman had taken dance lessons for several years and was proficient in a number of international dance styles such as tango, rumba, jitterbug, and polka. The man was very handsome but had little English, so her attempts to have a conversation with him fell flat. When the band struck up an Eastern European dance tune and she asked him if he wanted to polka, she was dismayed when he led her outside to the shadows and tried to lift her dress. He seemed surprised when she made some indignant remarks and left the dance to go for coffee. Apparently he had picked up enough English slang to confuse “polka” with “poke,” the latter pronounced with an “a” sound at the end as Italians often do. The conversation gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

When a lass at a dance in Avoca
Asked a man from Rome if he would polka
Much to her distress
He lifted her dress
So she left and went out for a mocha.

Day 4: Tess in a Mess

With a population of around 90,000, Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland. Located on the Shannon Estuary, it was once a Viking settlement. Most Americans know the City of Limerick for the verse form that bears its name, or from Frank McCourt, who wrote Angela’s Ashes and ‘Tis. McCourt grew up in Limerick in poverty. When he was a young man, he moved to New York and taught writing in several high schools. Later he was joined in New York by several of his brothers, including Malachy, who was an owner of the bar “Bells of Hell” and a well-known raconteur. Late in life, Frank was urged by friends and former students to take up writing himself, and he did so with great success, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Angela’s Ashes. After a walkabout in Limerick, Laetitia presented the day’s limerick at dinner.

A Limerick lady named Tess
At a picnic, got into a mess
As she cooed like a dove
In the arms of her love
Naughty urchins ran off with her dress.