Popular Songs for Boys?

Gus Williams

I found a little gem today. It’s a newspaper clipping titled “Popular Songs for Boys” pasted to the back of a hand-tinted engraving that brutally depicts Custer’s last stand. I don’t know why, but it tickles my black humor pink to think of some delicate young lady in Victorian or Edwardian garb choosing the perfect tint for that brown red blood shown pouring from the General’s mortal wounds. But I digress…

One of the featured songs for Boys is “My Vife is so Awfully Stoud” as sung Gus Williams “with great success.” Good old Gus (1848-1915) was a comedian and songwriter who did well for himself on the vaudeville stage. He did well, that is, until he didn’t…and then he ended the misery with a shot to the head. But not before he asked his sister-in-law to care for his ailing wife. Good old Gus.

Now, I know times…they were different, but was this really one of the best Songs for Boys? Not the best introduction to feminine charms…

I vonce did love a woman, dot used to be so stoud,

Und people de voud laugh at her venever she’d valk oud;

But sdill I loved her druly, I knew it vos no sin,

I dought dot in the future she vould gradually grow thin.

She vos so stoud, ven she’d valk oud,

People vould dink dat she vos a balloon

To take dem up–just like a “scup,”

Und make a small call on de man in de moon.

She looked just like an elephant, she had such a big ear,

But she could valk as lightly as any lady here;

To tell you all aboud her, I now intend to try,

Und vile I am a-speaking, I hope you vill not cry.

Spoken: I’ll never forget ven I firsd got acquainted mit her, she vos traveling mit a circus; she vos de fat woman; she veighed eight hundred pounds; I used to call her “Birdie!” her right name vos “Ostrich.” I took her oud sleigh-riding vonce, she got in, und dere vos just room for me to “cut on behind!” I looked like an icicle on a gutter. Ve drove out on de road, und stopped in front of a hotel, de proprietor came oud und told me to move avay, as no von could see the hotel vile she stayed dere. I took her bathing vonce; de moment she got in de vater, de tide went up dree foot, she asked me to float her, I tried to, but came near drowning; I told her I vos no derrick! But she could dance like a fairy, dot is, a fairy her size; I used, in valtzing, to put my arm round her vaist as far as I could, nud reach mit a boat hook de rest of de distance; und she vos an awful eater; she could eat a vatermelon just as easy as I vould take a pill. I took de size of her finger vonce to have an engagement ring made, I vent down to the jeweler. I said, “Make me a ring dis size, und I vant it to fit.” Vell,” he said, “Bring de keg down here and let me ut it on.” I don’t speak to her now because she vanted me to take her to a masquerade ball disguised as a pipe stem. I knew dot every vone vould laugh at me if I done so, for

She vos so stoud, ven she’d valk oud,

People vould dink dat she vos a balloon

To take dem up–just like a “scup,”

Und make a small call on de man in de moon.

 

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