For a long time, Glenn Stout would return to the province of his mother’s birth and watch as relatives got on stage to show off their musical talents.
After sitting on the sidelines for so long, the Vermont resident took it upon himself to get in the game. Picking up the bodhran, or the Irish drum, Stout started taking lessons online seven years ago.
Stout — a long-form editor with online sports outfit SB Nation and editor for the acclaimed Best American Sports Writing series of books — became enamored with traditional music on a trip to this province for a family reunion several years ago.
There, the music started in the early afternoon and didn’t end until the next day.
“I made the decision that the next time I came up I wanted to be able to participate,” said Stout. “Between then and now, I’ve taken lessons and learned to play … and when I go up there, I bring my drum and I play.”
He enjoyed the music so much he now plays in a traditional band called The Seawolves. When he plays the instrument, Newfoundland is not far from his heart. A sticker of this province’s flag is on the side of the circular drum.
Stout’s connection to this province goes far beyond a love for the sweet Irish music Newfoundland is known for. In fact, it traces back to his mother’s side.
She was a Murray from Long Harbour and attended high school in Placentia. His mother, Anne, had a large family and Stout figures he is one of 61 first cousins, many of which still live in the Placentia area.
He started visiting when he was eight-years-old in 1966. After that, it was a regular pilgrimage.
“I remembering making the trip four or five times as a kid and I remember spending a lot of time in Placentia,” said Stout over the phone from his home in Vermont. “I had four sets of cousins there. My uncle Maurice lived there with his crew.”
During those trips, Stout would spend his days exploring the rocks and crags of Placentia Bay with any number of his cousins. He remembers climbing Castle Hill before the visitor’s centre was built and partaking in other adventures around the bay.
“I remember one time my cousin Peter, we were in the gut there and he stole somebody’s dory,” he recounts. “We went paddling around for an afternoon and we get back and there is someone yelling at him for taking it as he is bringing it back.”
The group has a family Facebook page and can keep in touch with each other online.
Stout’s parents met at the former McAndrew Air Force Base in Argentia when his father – a United States serviceman — was stationed there in the 50s. His mother worked at the base.
Harold Stout, who is from northern Ohio, joined the navy out of high school and spent four years in service. Of those four years, he spent almost two of them as a member of the crash crew at the Argentia base.
“That’s where he spent the bulk of his time in the navy,” said Stout. “He was in Chicago for a little bit, but most of the time he was up there.”
Harold and Anne met while she was working
“The story was there was another Anne Murray in town. Her girlfriends kept pointing out my father to her, and my father kept calling her, but she thought he was calling the other Anne Murray,” he said. “She got sick of him calling. Apparently, he called every day for two weeks. Finally, she said yes.
“They went out and I guess, that was that.”
Stout is the author and editor of over 80 books and has served as series editor for The Best Sports Writing in America since the first edition was published in the early 1990s. He helped launch the long-form portion of SB Nation in 2012, and since then, the site has published 170 stories on a cavalcade of subjects. There have been stories on boxing, baseball, NASCAR and other sports.
“That’s exciting to me. To help another write, mentor them a bit and then have a really good result at the end,” said Stout, who studied creative writing at Bard College in New York state and published articles and columns in The New York Observer, ESPN.com, Runner’s World, The Sporting News, USA Today’s Baseball Weekly, Baseball America, Sports Illustrated, The New York Daily News, The Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine. “I still do my own writing but I never knew I would enjoy this so much."
For those who don’t know, long-form journalism is dedicated to telling longer, fuller stories and pieces are generally fall between a traditional article and a novel in length.
“We get to tell really good stories and tell them completely,” said Stout. “We can get into the weeds of writing. We’re not just pushing something out where you don’t get time to spend on it.”
Stout is returning to Newfoundland in late July and early August for a family reunion. There he plans to bang out a couple of tunes with his cousins and enjoy the natural beauty of this province.
The way he figures it, before long he could be living in this province. After moving from Ohio to Vermont, he keeps moving closer.
“I keep edging myself that way,” said Stout. “Maybe someone will need a long-form editor in Newfoundland.
“I’d love to do a Newfoundland story. It’s inevitable.”