Army Life – (3) The Old Man Goes To Town – July, 1942

THE OLD MAN GOES TO TOWN

Well, wife, I’ve been to ’Frisco, and I called to see the boys

I’m tired, and mor’n half deafened with the travel and the noise.

So I’ll sit down by the chimbly, and rest my weary bones,

And tell how I was treated by our “ristocratic sons.

 

As soon’s I reached the city, I hunted up our Dan

You know he’s now a celebrated wholesale business man.

I walked down from the depo’ — but Dan keeps a country seat

An’ I thought to go home with him, an’ rest my weary feet.

 

All the way I kep’ ‘n thinkin’ how famous it ‘ud be

To go ‘round the town together – – my grown-up boy an’ me,

An’ remember the old times, when my little “curly head”

Used to cry out “Good night, daddy” from his little trundle bed.

 

I never thought a minute that he wouldn’t want to see

His gray and worn old father, or would be ashamed of me,

So when I seen his office, with the sign writ out in gold,

I walked in ‘ithout knockin’ – – but the old man was too bold.

 

Dan was settin’ by a table, and a-writin’ in a book,

He knowed me in a second, but he gave me such a look!

He never said a word o’ you, but axed about the grain,

An’ ef I thought the valley didn’t need a little rain.

 

I didn’t stay a great while, but inquired after Rob,

Dan said he lived upon the hill – – I think they called it Nob.

An’ when I left, Dan, in a tone that almost broke me down

Said, “Call and see me, won’t ye, whenever you’re in town?”

 

It was rather late that evenin’ when I found our Robert’s house

There was music, lights and dancin’ and a mighty big carouse.

At the door I nigger met me, and he grinned from ear to ear,

Sayin’ “Needs ob invitation, or you nebber get in here.”

 

I said I was Rob’s father, an’ with another grin,

The nigger left me standin’ and disappeared within.

Rob came out on the porch – – he didn’t order me away;

But said he hoped to see me in his office the next day.

 

Then I started fur a tavern, fur I knowed there, anyway,

They wouldn’t turn me out so long’s I had money fur to pay.

And Rob and Dan had left me about the streets to roam,

An’ neither of them axed me if I’d money to git home.

 

It may be the way with rich folks – – I don’t say as it’s not,

But we remember some things Dan and Rob have quite forgot.

I didn’t quite expect this, wife, when twenty years ago

We mortgaged the old homestead to give Rob and Dan a show.

 

I didn’t look for Charley, but I happened just to meet

Him with a lot of friends of his’n, a-comin’ down the street.

I thought I’d pass on by him, our youngest son

would show he was ashamed of me, as Rob and Dan had done.

 

But as soon as Charley seen me, he, right ‘afore ‘em all,

Said: “God bless me, there’s my father!” as loud as he could bawl,

Then he introduced me to his friends, an’ sent ‘em all away

Tellin’ ‘em he’d see ‘em later, but was busy for that day.

 

Then he took me out to dinner, an’ he axed about the house

‘Bout you and Sally’s baby, an’ the chicken, pigs and cows.

He axed about his brothers, addin’ that ‘twas ruther queer,

But he hadn’t seen one of ‘em fur mighty nigh a year.

 

Then he took me to his lodgin’ in an attic four stairs high,

he said he liked it better ‘cause ‘twas nearer to the sky.

An’ he said, “I’ve only one room, but my bed is pretty wide

An’ so we slept together, me an’ Charley, side-by-side.

 

Next day we went together to the great Mechanic’s Fair

An’ some of Charley’s pictures was on exhibition there.

He said if he could sell ‘em, which he hoped to, pretty soon,

He’d make us all a visit an’ be richer than Muldoon.

 

An’ so two days and nights we passed, an’, when I came away,

Poor Charley said the time was short, an’ begged me fur to stay.

That he took me in a buggy an’ druv me to the train,

An’ said in just a little while he’d see us all again.

 

You know we thought our Charley would never come too much,

He was always readin’ novels, and poetry and such.

There was nothin’ on the farm he ever seemed to want to do

An’ when he took to paintin’, he disgusted me clear through!

 

So we gave to Rob and Dan all we had to call our own

An’ left poor Charley penniless to make his way alone;

He’s only a poor painter; Rob and Dan are rich as sin;

But Charley’s worth the pair of ‘em with all their gold thrown in.

 

Those two grand men, dear wife, were once are prattlin’  babes, an’ yet

It seems as if a mighty gulf ‘twixt them and us is set;

An’ they’ll never know the old folks till life’s troubled journey’s past,

An’ rich and poor are equal underneath the sod at last.

 

An’ maybe when we all meet on the resurrection morn,

With our earthly glories fallen, like husks from the ripe corn,

When the righteous SonoOf Man the awful sentence shall have said

The brightest crown that’s shining there may be on Charley’s head.

 

On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be continuing Grandpa’s Reminiscences about his early life in Mount Vernon, New York. I’ll be posting these memories through his young adulthood, his marriage to my Grandma Arla, the birth of his children, the move to Trumbull and the death of his wife. This story will be going on for months. Enjoy.

On Monday, I’ll b e posting letters written in 1945. Dan and Lad are both in France but quite a distance from each other. Dan has informed Grandpa about a young woman he has met in Calais, near the northern coast, that he is quite taken with, even mentioning the possibility of a French bride.

Judy Guion  

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