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One Photo; One Story: Belly Band.

One Photo: One Story; Belly Band.

During a recent downsizing, I came across an unexpected treasure. A small hand written lyric sheet from a parody song my mother and her sister Angela, wrote many years ago.

It was an afternoon of music and fun. I was around nine years old.

I am the oldest of seven children. The first decade of my life, babies surrounded me. Mom and dad, my grandparents, and a host of aunts and uncles were always around discussing, fussing, worrying and helping babies.

My aunt, Angela and my mother were listening to their favorite Irish music and dancing around with my youngest brothers and sisters. The Irish Rovers were blasting from the Hi Fi stereo we had in the living room. I can still hear the melody drift across the house and the laughter and joy my mom and her sister shared that day.

Goodbye Mrs. Durkin, I’m sick and tired of workin’

No more I’ll dig your praties, no longer I’ll be poor.

As sure as me name is Barney

I’m off to Californy

Instead of diggin’ praties, I’ll be diggin’ lumps of gold.

As they were singing and dancing around the house, one of the babies began to fuss. It was time for a diaper change and a new “belly band”. My mother’s word for an umbilical cord binder that was used to protect the babies stomach during those precious few months.

In those days they could be bulky and thick. They tended to get messy. The diaper was dirty and so was the “Belly Band”.

As “Mrs. Durkin” and the Irish Rovers filled the room, my mother began to sing about the dirty “Belly Band”. A song began to develop between my mother and her sister.

“Mark, Get a pencil”. They crafted this parody song, the remnants of which I found in a stack of papers in an old box.

I was transported to that moment on a sweet afternoon full of music and fun with two sisters having a laugh with their family.

I was sitting in the wooden rocking chair writing the twisted parody these two beautiful sisters crafted while they were changing a filthy diaper and dirty “Belly Band”.

To the tune of “Mrs. Durkin”, it’s the story of a man who grows up but never grows out of his need for his umbilical binder or “Belly Band”. It’s the source of a life of shame.

I work for Ulster Man pickin praties from the land

He said to me, “ You’re Fired”! Cause I saw your belly band


OH…me dirty belly band, me dirty belly band

no more will I go round with me dirty belly band.

I tried to turn it inside out to hide my bloody shame

But every where I went they all knew me by my name


I thought I’d join the IRA to fight the English Crown

They’d rather have the enemy for they

Threw me out of town.

My heart was bursting as I read my childhood penmanship and my grammatical errors. I saw a long lost memory in my heart and my mind.

I miss you mom. Thanks for the twisted look at life, the music, and thanks for saying “Hello” when I opened the box and memories poured out.

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