Posts Tagged ‘1882’

When the Frost is on the Punkin

October 18, 2012

Image from D&E Grey Wolf Photography on flickr


When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyonck and the gobble of the struttin’ turkey cock,
And the clackin’; of the guineys and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O it’s then’s the time a feller is a feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of graceous rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock

They’s somepin kind o’ hearty-like about the atmosphere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here —
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’ birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’, and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a picture that no painter has the colorin’ to mock —
When the frost is on the punkin and fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries — kind o’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermons to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below — the clover overhead! —
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

— Benjamin F. Johnson

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Aug 12, 1882

Image from

About the poem and its author, also from the James Whitcomb Riley website:


There is an interesting incident about how Riley’s job was once saved because he had written “When the Frost Is On the Punkin, and the Fodder’s In the Shock.”  It is in a book written by Riley’s friend John A. Howland entitled, “James Whitcomb Riley: Prose and Pictures.”

Riley, as a young Greenfield man, had had a hard time finding a niche in the world since he did not care to follow his father in the practice of law.  He sold Bibles, painted signs, entertained in a medicine show, always coming to a dead end.  His mother died in 1870 and he felt he could not bear to stay in Greenfield so he went here and there seeking newspaper employment.  He ran into E.B. Martindale of “The Indianapolis Journal” whom he later called, “my first literary patron,” who added him to the staff of the paper to write poetry.  Some of these poems appeared on the first page of the Journal under the nom de plume “Benjamin F. Johnson of Boone,” supposedly an old farmer.  As they were well received, Riley emerged from under his disguise, writing poems such as “When the Frost is on the Punkin.”

In a short while after Riley joined the paper, a gentleman named Halford was appointed manager of the Journal.  One of his first ideas was to cut down on expenses of the paper, and he was considering Riley as his first victim to get the ax.  It so happened that a political convention was held in Indianapolis at this very time.  One of the candidates nominated for office was a big burly fellow who had never made a speech in his life

When he got up to accept his nomination, his mind went blank and he could not utter a word.  The pounding and cheering went on until in desperation he blurted out, “The ticket you have nominated here is going to win “when the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”  This Riley poem had just been published a few days before. in the newspaper.

The applause that greeted these words showed that most of these prominent men had read Riley’s work and approved of it.  Halford kept him on, and he became an established poet.

Riley saved his job by a landscape!

Poor Imogene

July 28, 2012


Down by the river — the dark surging river,
Where the waters fretfully foam,
Where the flexile willows bend and quiver,
And the long marsh grasses sigh and shiver
And the watersnakes make their home.

There, bearing a load of shame and sorrow,
A scoffed and tainted name,
Bowed by a grief that may not borrow
A ray of peace from the hopes of to morrow
The hapless Imogene came.

Here was a face the sweetest and fairest,
Deep eyes of the softest blue,
A winsome mien and a grace the rarest;
To see her but once was to love her the dearest,
And warm was her heart and true.

And once was the life of this beautiful maiden
As pure as the angel’s are,
The wings of her morning came joyously laden,
And sweet were her thoughts as the breezes of Aiden,
Unvexed by a shadow of care.

And thus as she stood in her virginal bower
The ruthless spoiler came;
He wove round her being this treacherous power,
And then, like a crushed and faded flower,
He left her alone in her shame.

And now to her breast may come again never
The peace which innocence knows;
One moment she kneels by the deep surging river,
One moment she plunges, then darkly forever
The cold waters over her close.


The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Jul 25, 1882

Little Red School-House

June 18, 2012

Image from the Denver Photo Blog – Kristal Kraft


In the grave of the past it is buried,
That weather-worn temple of wood;
And only dank woods in the summer
Now mark the dear spot where it stood.
Oh! could all the scholars assemble
Once more in that prison-like place,
And hear the quaint school-master utter
His heartfelt entreaties for grace!

Oh! could we return to that school-room,
Untouched by the evils of years,
And find the bright smiles that have vanished
In place of the dimness of tears,
And join in the silver-toned laughter,
The gurgle of innocent fun;
The races we had going homeward
When all the hard lessons were done.

How the truant sulked in after bell-time!
So galletully heedless of ruler;
For they knew the old teacher was patient —
His stalle was the law of the school.
How pleasant this place of the children
On hot murky days in July,
When the little ones from their studies,
In the shade of the elm tree lie!

But, alas! the crude structure has fallen,
Its timbers have gone to decay;
The master sleeps there in the corner,
Where the glad children shouted in play.
God bless the dear spot that since childhood
Has grown to be sacred and still,
Where the little red school-house in glory
Once stood on the brow of the hill.

May all the scholars assemble
In heaven’s great classroon above,
And meet after life’s fitful season,
To learn the grand wisdom of love;
And see the old docile-faced teacher,
A pupil himself, as before.
In branches whose worth he commended
In the little red school-house of yore.

Freeborn County Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) Jun 15, 1882


June 9, 2012



Shady tree,
Babbling brook,
Girl in hammock,
Reading book,
Golden curls,
Tiny fee,
Girl in hammock
Looks so sweet.
Man rides past,
Big Moustache,
Girl in hammock
Makes a “Mash.”
Mash is mutual,
Day is set,
Man and maiden
Married get.


Married now,
One year ago,
Keeping house
On Baxter Row.
Red hot stove,
Beefsteak frying,
Girl got married,
Cooking, trying,
Cheeks all burning,
Eyes look red;
Girl got married,
Nearly dead,
Biscuit burnt up,
Beefsteak charry;
Girl got married,
Awful sorry.
Man comes home,
Tears moustache,
Mad as blazes;
Got no hash.
Thinks of hammock
In the lane,
Wishes maiden
Back again.
Maiden also
Thinks of swing,
Wants to go back,
Too, poor thing!


Hour of midnight,
Baby squawking,
Man in sock feet,
Bravely walking,
Baby yells on,
Now the other
Twin he strikes up,
Like his brother.
By the bottle,
Emptied into
Baby’s throttle.
Naughty tack
Points in air,
Waiting some one’s
Foot to tear,
Man in sock feet —
See him — there!
Holy Moses!
Hear him swear!
Raving crazy,
Gets his gun,
Blows his head off,
Dead and gone.


Pretty widow
With a book,
In the hammock
By the brook.

*   *   *   *

Man rides past,
Big moustache;
Keeps on riding,
Nary mash.

— Author Unknown.

Freeborn County Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) Jun 1, 1882

The Society Young Man

April 29, 2012


There isn’t much in him, ’tis true;
But his eyes they are porcelain blue,
And his hands — oh, such loves!
With their delicate gloves,
That are always an exquisite hue!

But one thing about this Le Clare,
With the perfumed ambrosial hair,
That makes him the pride
Of his set far and wide,
Is his witching society airs!

He lacks a man’s inches in height,
But his linen is faultlessly white,
And the grace of his “tie,”
As he goes mincing by —
It would put a mere artist to flight!

His soft little heart knows no care;
He is fond, he is sweet, he is fair’
His voice has a squeak,
For its timbre is weak;
But, oh, my! his society air?

As he journeys through fashion’s gay street,
So small are his dear little feet,
With his feminine “three,”
Which he wears with such ease,
That his walking is something complete!

The charming Adolphus Le Clare,
Who parts in the middle his hair,
Ne’er racks his poor brains
With deep thought yet sustains
His witching society air!

The Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) May 25, 1882

Blue Blood

April 29, 2012


Two centuries and a half ago
Off trudged to work with shouldered hoe
A woman, barefoot, brown and rough,
With pluck of Puritanic stuff.
Six lusty children tagged behind,
All hatless, shoeless, unconfined,
And happy as the birds that flew
About them. Naught of books they knew,
Save one they read at twilight hour,
Brought with them in the stanch Mayflower.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

A pretty lady, thin and white
In a hammock swinging light,
Languishes, and in the shade
Devours rhyme and lemonade;
While bending near, her lover sighs
And gently fans away the flies.
She murmurs: “‘Tis so nice that we
Are neither of low family,
But of old Puritan stock
That landed upon Plymouth Rock.”

— Harvard Lampoon.

Freeborn County Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) May 4, 1882

The Highland Tartan

April 27, 2012

Image from Clan Shaw


Bear to each Highland soldier’s heart
The Tartan of his clan,
Symbol of glory and of pride
To every Highland man,
Whether he dwell ‘mid Athole’s hills,
Or where the winding Tay,
By Birnam’s glens and forests fair,
To ocean wends its way;
Or nearer to the northern star,
Where snows the mountain crown,
And towering over silver lakes,
Stern peaks of granite frown.

In every country, far or near,
Where Highland men are known,
The Tartan plaid is greeted still
With homage all its own.
Still to the Pibroch’s stirring strains
On many a foreign shore,
The Highland clans press nobly on
To victory, as of yore.
True to traditions of the past,
True to their ancient fame,
May Caledonia’s children add
Fresh glories to her name.

–[Blackwood’s Magazine.

The Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) Mar 16, 1882


April 26, 2012

Image of Camille Claudel from le mot et la chose


The path from me to you that led,
Untrodden long, with grass is grown,
Mute carpet that his lieges spread
Before the Prince Oblivion
When he goes visiting the dead.
And who are they but who forget?
You, who my coming could surmise
Ere any hint of me as yet
Warned other ears and other eyes,
See the path blurred without regret.
But when I trace its windings sweet
With saddened steps, at every spot
That feels the memory in my feet,
Each glass-blade turns forget-me-not,
Where murmuring bees your name repeat.

The Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) May 25, 1882

That is Naught

April 25, 2012

Image from Diane Waring Presents! Education That’s Relational

O, why shall we say for catched, caught,
As grammarians some say we ought?
Let us see
How things be
When this kind of teaching is taught:

The egg isn’t hatched, it is haught;
My breeches aren’t patched, they are paught;
John and James are not matched, they are maught;
My door isn’t latched, it is laught;
The pie wasn’t snatched, it was snaught;
The cat never scratched, but she scraught;
The roof wasn’t thatched, it was thaught.

If English must this way be wraught,
It soon will be natched — that is, naught.

The Sydney Mail (Sidney, Australia) Jul 8, 1882

The Fate of a Girl in Male Attire

April 25, 2012

Image from the New York Correction History Society

The Fate of a Girl in Male Attire.

Several years ago, Jennie Westbrook of New York, who had been earning $7 a week as a saleswoman in a dry goods store in that city, concluded to do better. So she donned male apparel, and passing for a good looking young man, acted as waiter in a restaurant for $15 a week, and finally became book-keeper and confidential clerk for a firm who paid her $1,500 a year.

Somehow or other, her secret became known to those embodiments of Truth and Purity, the bummer police of New York, and she was arrested, tried, and sentenced to imprisonment for the awful crime of wearing male attire and honestly working for a man’s pay.

She went to Blackwell’s Island prison, therefore; but it is a pleasure to state that in a day or two, the outrageous foolishness of her punishment had created such a fussing in the great city that she was released.

The Standard (Albert Lea, Minnesota) Mar 23, 1882