22 März 2009

The Gap Between Myth and Life

I used to listen to a children's record of this. One day I asked my own grandfather, who had been born in New York, whether he as a youth had actually hunted in the woods. His response: "What are you, stupid?"


Great-granddad, when the land was young,
Barred the door with a wagon tongue,
For the times was rough and the redskins mocked,
And he said his prayers with his shotgun cocked.

He was a citizen tough and grim.
Danger was duck soup to him.
He ate corn pone and bacon fat.
Great-grandson would starve on that.

Great-granddad was a busy man;
Cooked his grub in a frying pan.
He picked his teeth with his hunting knife,
He wore the same suit all of his life.

Twenty-one children came to bless
The old man's home in the wilderness.
But great-granddad didn't lose heart,
The boys hunted rabbits and they ketched right smart.

Twenty-one boys and how they grew,
Tall and strong on the bacon, too.
Slept on the floor with the dogs and cats,
And hunted in the woods with their coonskin caps.

Twenty-one boys and not one of them bad;
They never got fresh with their great-granddad.
If they had, he'd have been right glad
To tan their hides with a hickory gad.

He raised them rough, but he raised them well.
When their feet took hold on the road to hell,
He straightened them out with an iron ramrod,
And filled them full of the fear of God.

They grew strong in heart and hand,
Firm foundation of our land.
Twenty-one boys and a great-grandson,
He has a terrible time with that one.

Great Grandad was gaunt with toil,
His face was lined with the sun and soil.
Great Grandson is slick and clean,
And he rides to work in a limousine.

Great Grandson now falls asleep,
And he fears no harm in the darkness deep,
For Great Grandad has fought and won
And made the land safe for his great grandson.

Second through last stanzas by Lowell Otus Reese; music by Romaine Lowdermilk