Thursday, November 12, 2015

For Those Of Us Of A Certain Age - A Great Christmas Poem!

All this talk about Starbucks and Christmas has made me realize that Christmas is just around the corner.  Hard to believe it's going to be upon us soon (even though Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away).  How is it possible that it's Christmas again?  Didn't we just have it ...?
It all got me thinking about back when it seemed like Christmas would never come. Back in the '50s on Gallaher Street in Huntington, WV.  Back in the days when "boys were boys", and we got into everything that we could, most of it our mothers would have described as "mean-ness". 

There were sling shots and BB Guns.  Double Bubble Gum and Bazooka Joe, Turkish Taffy, RC Cola and Moon Pies.  There was stealing tomatoes from Mr. Black's garden, and buying cigarettes for 35 cents from the machine at the Dairy Cheer and smoking them behind the Beverly Theater.  There was the daily ritual of throwing of crab apples at the Curtis girls on the way home from Gallaher School.  And who remembers climbing over the fence after dark  and skinny dipping in the swimming pool they set up on the school playground every summer?  There was lots of stuff to get into, and we did what we could, but sure enough, when it got down to this time of year, there was a marked change in our behavior.

After all, Christmas was coming.

You know the line, "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good, for goodness sake!...".

Santa Claus was coming and we knew there had to be a marked change in our behavior.  When it was Christmas time, a guy HAD to be good.  And it was tough.

Years later, as a young father, myself, those memories were brought back to me by Carl D. Taylor, when we worked together in an Automobile Dealership in Ashland, Ky.  At Christmas time, Carl was prone to quote a poem, a long one he had learned by heart at a young age, It harkened back to the days (even back before the '50s) with a narrative by a young boy who understood what each of us went through at Christmas time when we had to be "as good as we could be"!

I haven't seen Carl in years, but through the miracle of Google, I did find that old poem recently.  In the spirit of the coming season, I thought I'd share it with you today.  Hope it brings back some sweet memories to you.

Jest 'Fore Christmasby Eugene Field (1850-1895)
Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl---ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes, curls, an' things that 's worn by Fauntleroy!

 Love to chawnk green apples an' go swimmin' in the lake---
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for bellyache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round, there ain't no flies on me,
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be!

Got a yeller dog named Sport, sick him on the cat;
First thing she knows she does n't know where she is at!
Got a clipper sled, an' when us kids goes out to slide,
'Long comes the grocery cart, an' we all hook a ride!

 But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an' cross,
He reaches at us with his whip, an' larrups up his hoss,
An' then I laff an' holler, "Oh, ye never teched me!"
But jest 'fore Christmas I 'm as good as I kin be!

Gran'ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,
I 'll be a missionarer like her oldest brother, Dan,
As was et up by the cannibuls that lives in Ceylon's Isle,
Where every prospeck pleases, an' only man is vile!

 But gran'ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,
Nor read the Life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she 'd know
That Buff'lo Bill an' cowboys is good enough for me!
Excep' jest 'fore Christmas, when I 'm good as I kin be!

And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemn like an' still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin': "What's the matter, little Bill?"
The old cat sneaks down off her perch an' wonders what's become
Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!

 But I am so perlite an' tend so earnestly to biz,
That mother says to father: "How improved our Willie is!"
But father, havin' been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When, jest 'fore Christmas, I 'm as good as I kin be!

For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes, an' toys,
Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty boys;
So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's and q's,
An' don't bust out yer pantaloons, and don't wear out yer shoes;

 Say "Yessum" to the ladies, and "Yessur" to the men,
An' when they 's company, don't pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin' of the things yer 'd like to see upon that tree,
Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!


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