Grandma’s Singing Heart

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You may or may not have heard of Methodist Foot. I can assure you that, at one time at least, it was a real thing, reported on by friends and neighbours about their friends and neighbours. Almost always with an understanding twinkle in the eye, a smidgen of sympathy, and considerable affection.

I can only speak, you understand, with any authority, about the situation some time ago in a certain village of a hundred (counting dogs and cats), that was near a town of a thousand people (it had an actual, if small, grocery store) that, in turn was close to a much larger town (a bedroom community now) that was itself a quite a piece – as the expression went – from what was even then an actual city, whose Fall Fair had Bumper Cars, a full-size Ferris Wheel, an Octopus, and everything.

In those days, before amalgamation, the Methodist church was a prominent Protestant denomination around here.

They did not believe in playing cards, although there did seem to be, among some, a footnoted exclusion for euchre.

Nor in gambling on horse races. A number of these good people did, however, raise, and sell, for a good price mind you, exceptionally fleet Standardbreds.

Nor in social dancing.

Still, it has been reliably reported that, when some Methodists were taken by surprise by a lively piece of music, these virtuous folks could barely stop their feet from bouncing up and down. Picture them seated in straight back chairs on the sidelines. Not actually dancing, notice. That would be wrong. But sort of stepping in place. Methodist Foot in all its glory.

In later years, and especially in larger communities, this restriction against social dancing largely disappeared. But for this particular Grandma, soon coming for a visit, the tradition lingered. And the grandchildren required suitable instruction. So:

You’re not allowed to boogie in the basement
You’re not allowed to foxtrot in the hall
You’re not allowed to samba in the sun room
or shake your shoulders,
or drum the wall

Grandma will be coming here on Tuesday.
that white-haired lady whom we all admire
She hotly disapproves of courtly waltzes
so your shakes and squirms
would set her hair
on fire.

Our home back then was near the U.S. border
We knew the words to “Oh say can you see”
The W’s were where we watched our programs
on channels JBK and XYZ

Grandma, she ran a strict and sombre household
No jitterbugging there.
Hah. No sirree.
But Lawrence Welk, his music sparked her young soul
And she surrendered to him weekly on TV

Joe, the Irish tenor, hit the high notes
The Lennon sisters sang sweet harmonies
Alice Lon, the show’s first Champagne Lady,
sat down, and crossed her legs,
and, goodness, showed her knees

So, no, you cannot cha-cha in the kitchen
When Grandma’s here she says what’s right and wrong
but sing some old songs with her softly
and watch her gray young eyes dance right along


Grandma's Singing Heart

Born, raised and living again in Sarnia, Ontario, Bob Boulton began writing poetry, short stories and humorous articles for his high school newspaper in the period just after dinosaurs roamed the earth. After a break of about 40 years, he reactivated his passion for writing, including his blog “Bob’s Write from the Start” aimed at new and renewing writers. Bob’s Write From The Start blog can be found at
6 Responses
  1. author

    Ada Grier2 years ago

    Hello Bob Boulton,

    It’s about your story, “Grandma’s Singing Heart.”
    Whata’ hoot 🙂

    Your run-on sentence is simply the best ever…and it’s been
    so long since anybody explained a place, “quite a piece away”
    that I winced as I read it.

    So many old Methodist concerns are tucked away in that piece.
    My brother’s foot pounded the floor…while playing his accordian,
    Just never knew that had a name 🙂

    Who did the illustration?

    What else have you written?

    Your Irish/Scottish soft have
    shined-up to a fine patina. The best.
    Loved it,

    What else have you written?

    • author

      The Story Quilt Team2 years ago

      Hello, Ada. Thank you for your comment. The illustration was made by Louisa, from the Story Quilt team.

  2. author

    Bob Boulton2 years ago

    Hello, Ada Greer. Your comment on “Grandma’s Singing Heart” is very much appreciated. Yes, the illustration was splendid – I can say that because I had zero to do either with creating it or asking Louisa to do it. (Hello. Nice to meet you, Louisa.)

    You might be interested to know I needed to check with some older (which is saying something) relatives and other folks to make sure I had heard “Methodist Foot” correctly in my youth.

    You might look for “The Weight of the Ink” and “The Red Cardinal Glass” in Story Quilt. I must confess, though, I’m not all all certain what “Irish/Scottish soft skills” might be, so I am not in a position to say if anything else I have written might reflect those.

    Again, Ada, much appreciated.

    • author

      Anonymous2 years ago

      Can’t locate , The Weight of the Ink…where is it, I wondered? Coming from a Scottish/Irish background with, “bitsa” this and that edged in…your writing brings a smile 🙂

      • author

        Bob Boulton2 years ago

        My apologies, Ada. “The Weight of the Ink” was published in Story Quilt’s sister publication (print): Issue 120 April / May 2018. Page 22. I cannot, unfortunately, locate it in the Canadian Stories archive section. I was pleased that “Maria’s Musings” in Volume 121 said she “liked” this little verse. I’m going to try to copy and paste it here — not sure if that’s OK with the publishers. Let’s see.

        The Weight of the Ink
        by Bob Boulton

        You don’t really think
        About ink
        But it’s something you used to buy at the store.
        Oh, I suppose you will say there are some who still do
        Like your uncle the artist
        Who used blue when he drew
        Or the fellow who gave
        Your new girl
        That tattoo.
        Youngster, now listen
        I’ll tell you no tale
        Our old teacher transported
        Ink bottles like pails
        Struggling to fill up
        Our ink wells each day
        It was heavy
        And messy
        And sometimes she’d yell when the blue stuff spilled out
        A little
        A lottle
        Because of the weight of that ink in that bottle.

        Or, perhaps they can locate the verse in their archives. Cheers. Bob.


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