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 6: Bike Dike

The River Shannon is the longest river in Ireland. In the past few hundred years, it has been reengineered with locks and canals, and it now carries a lot of commercial traffic. Laetitia took her group to the source of the river on Cuilcagh Mountain—where it is little more than a trout stream—and followed it downstream until it became more commercial than scenic. Along the way, Laetitia stopped to talk to some of the residents in the area, who gave her a story that became the day’s limerick.

On the banks of the Shannon young Mike
And young Tess made wild love on a bike
And they thought it was swell
But it didn’t end well
When they rode off the edge of the dike.

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.