Posts Tagged ‘James Whitcomb Riley’

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.

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 JamesWhitcombRiley.com

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

HOW RILEY’S POEM “WHEN THE FROST IS ON THE PUNKIN'” ONCE SAVED HIM HIS JOB

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!

The Old Swimmin’ Hole

June 20, 2012

The Old Swimmin’ Hole

(“Greenfield, Indiana — James Whitcomb Riley’s Old Swimmin’ Hole has passed into oblivion, with the dedication of a modern bathing pool on the site.” — News item.)

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
And the gurgle of the worter round the drift jest below
Sounded like the laugh of something we onc’t ust to know
Before we could remember anything but the eyes
Of the angels lookin’ out as we left Paradise;
Now I gaze at the spot and it makes me very glum
For the hole’s been replaced by a natatorium!

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! In the happy days of yore,
When I ust to lean above it on the old sycamore,
Oh! it showed me a face in its warm sunny tide
That gazed back at me so gay and glorified;
It made me love myself, as I leaped to caress
My shadder smilin’ up at me with such tenderness —
But now marble baths shine with bright nickle showers
And they’ve rules, regulations too, an’ set swimmin’ hours!

Oh! the old swimmin’ hole! In the long, lazy days
When the humdrum of school made so many runaways,
How pleasant was the jurney down the old dusty lane,
Where the tracks of our bare feet was all printed so plain
You could tell by the dent of the heel and the sole
They was lots o’ fun on hand at the old swimmin’s hole.
But today modern plumbin’ mocks the scenes of old —
An’ it’s plastered with faucets readin’ “Hot” and “Cold!”

Now no bulrushes growed, and the cattails so tall,
Are gone with shadders that fell over all
And the worter so mottled with amber and gold
Now gushes from pipes that some steamfitter sold;
At one end o’ the place is a sign — man alive! —
That says in big letters to bathers, “DON’T DIVE!”
And no glad lilies rock in the ripples that roll
In the new bathin’ pool by the old swimmin’ hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’ hole! When I looked at the place
I shuddered to think just what time could efface;
A great marble structure now stands on the spot
Whare the old divin’ log lays sunk and forgot;
As I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be
There’s nuthin’ I see that’s familiar to me,
And there’s this that jest clutches my heart by the roots —
When the kids now swim there they must wear bathin’ suits!

Morning Herald (Hagerstown, Maryland) Jul 11, 1930

The original version from Poetry Foundation:

The Old Swimmin’ Hole

By James Whitcomb Riley

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
And the gurgle of the worter round the drift jest below
Sounded like the laugh of something we onc’t ust to know
Before we could remember anything but the eyes
Of the angels lookin’ out as we left Paradise;
But the merry days of youth is beyond our controle,
And it’s hard to part ferever with the old swimmin’-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! In the happy days of yore,
When I ust to lean above it on the old sickamore,
Oh! it showed me a face in its warm sunny tide
That gazed back at me so gay and glorified,
It made me love myself, as I leaped to caress
My shadder smilin’ up at me with sich tenderness.
But them days is past and gone, and old Time’s tuck his toll
From the old man come back to the old swimmin’-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! In the long, lazy days
When the humdrum of school made so many run-a-ways,
How plesant was the jurney down the old dusty lane,
Whare the tracks of our bare feet was all printed so plane
You could tell by the dent of the heel and the sole
They was lots o’ fun on hands at the old swimmin’-hole.
But the lost joys is past! Let your tears in sorrow roll
Like the rain that ust to dapple up the old swimmin’-hole.

Thare the bullrushes growed, and the cattails so tall,
And the sunshine and shadder fell over it all;
And it mottled the worter with amber and gold
Tel the glad lilies rocked in the ripples that rolled;
And the snake-feeder’s four gauzy wings fluttered by
Like the ghost of a daisy dropped out of the sky,
Or a wownded apple-blossom in the breeze’s controle
As it cut acrost some orchard to’rds the old swimmin’-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! When I last saw the place,
The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
Whare the old divin’-log lays sunk and fergot.
And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be—
But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin’-hole.

By Rome We’ll be Enslaved

July 19, 2009

APAstatue copy

Image from McNamara’s Blog.

The American Protective Agency‘s Oath.

Brother Jonathan Opens Fire On The A.P.A.
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY.

With his plain-patched curderi breeches, an’ his red an’ yeller coat,
He has just come up and registered and casted his fust vote,
Talkin’, tellin’ abeout the Bible, an’ our institutooshuns grand,
An’ that the Stars an’ Stripes must float from each schoolhouse in the land!

Tearin’ up an’ deown on platforms, lettin’ steam off agin’ priest,
An’ bishops, popes, and cardinals that eat heretics at feasts.
Sayin neow’s the time or never to defend the flag we’ve saved! —
Our homes, our wives an’ children, er by Rome we’ll be enslaved!

Well, I’ve stood an’ I’ve listened till he got his rantin’ through,
An’ last night I stood in meetin,’ an’ I sez: “Why, who by you?
Never heard on ye till yesterday! — since that time I riz the axe
On my ole man at Concord an’ ye run to Halilfax!

Ye were mighty still when Sumter’s guns went shakin’ up the land,
An’ I had my Irish regiments march in an’ take a hand!
Great strappin’ fellers, shot right deown, with a shamrock on their breasts,
The Stars and Stripes above um, and a cross inside their vests!

‘The last guard of McClellan, an’ Burnside’s furthest dead! —
No, I guess not stranger — jest yit, I ain’t goin to lose my head!
Like ’nuff in goin’ to heaven, our roads may be apart,
But in pintin’ to the general end, we’re all the same at heart.

Some of my folks were Catholics as fur back’s ’76!
An’ thirty six years later helped me out ev a nasty fix!
An’ as fer Irish — in Mexico — of all Zach’s bloodiest fields,
He found at Cerro Gordo his biggest hoss was Shields!

But the way you’ve been talkin,’ St. Peter raves an’ swears
When comes along an Irishman that kneels and says his prayers.
But now I come to think on’t an’ look ye in the face,
I’ll be hanged if you ain’t Irish — no credit to the race!

But if you come to the United States to jest kick up a stew,
‘Tween Abner Jones an’ his man Mike, and neighbor Donahoe.
Tell ye here, right sqeea an’ how, ye’d better shack fer home!
I don’t want imported patriots to help me to keep out Rome!”

The News (Frederick, Maryland) Jun 3, 1895

*****

Oh, the irony!

wedding-bells

A.P.A. WEDS A CATHOLIC.
Member of the Ohio “Inner Circle” Astonishes His Brethren.

Monday evening a wedding took place at Toledo, Ohio, that caused a genuine sensation in A.P.A. circles. The contracting parties were Joseph D. Batch, charter member of Council No.2, A.P.A., and of the order of Zodiacs, commonly called the “Inner Circle.” present state secretary of the A.P.A. order, and Miss Tessa Cracknel, a pronounced and devout Roman Catholic. Rev. Father Barry of the Church of the Good Shepard performed the ceremony. The groom says he will resign his position as state secretary of the A.P.A. and will withdraw from the local council.

Carroll Sentinel (Carroll, Iowa) Jul 08, 1897

Benedict XVI and Roger Cardinal Mahony, leading the flock across the Rio Grande.

Benedict XVI and Roger Cardinal Mahony, leading the flock across the Rio Grande.

Image from Dyspeptic Mutterings

AN AGGRESSIVE ORDER.
The A.P.A. Busy Propagating Their Ideas in This Country.

BUFFALO, N.Y., Sept. 21 — The American Protective Association is putting forth every effort to increase its membership in this city. Two sets of circulars have been distributed here that clearly explain the purposes and workings of the order. One set of circulars was distributed quietly among the avowed opponents of the Roman Catholics and another secretly among those who have taken the obligations of the order. The first circular recites that the order is about two years old; that in that time it has grown to a million membership; that in certain Western cities every official from the mayor down is a member; that it is aggressive without financial benefits and political, yet non-partisan; that it is a secret order, fighting a secret foe — the Jesuits. The circular concludes:

“The charm of the order seems to be in the fact that it means fight. The members are sick of apathy and supineness so prevalent in Protestantism. Of Americans generally who allow Rome to trample in the dust their most cherished institutions without a word of protest; and allow the many tentacled monster to seize and control city after city without a murmur. This is the grand reaction; a revolution, if you will, and if properly guided and controlled it means the annihilation of the dominancy of the old parties in 1896 and a new political heaven and earth.”

The Daily Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) Sep 21, 1893

1897 Model (Image from /www.winchestercollector.org)

1897 Model (Image from /www.winchestercollector.org)

The Mayor Got a Winchester

TOLEDO, O., Feb 24. — The suit heard in a local justice’s court of A.J. Rummel, dealer in firearms, against G.W. Ostrander and others, members of council No.2, of the A.P.A., has revealed the fact that among those who purchased Winchester rifles wherewith to repel an anticipated invasion by Catholics last Labor Day, was Mayor Major. Among others who obtained guns were Police Commissioner Doville, James W. Caldwell chairman of the Republican city committee, Workhouse Superintendent Brown, Joseph D. Batch, Joseph Doville, W.C. Harris, G. Ostrander, and George H. Jay Republican candidate for street commissioner.

Daily Advocate (Newark, Ohio) Feb 24, 1894