Friday, July 4, 2014

Post More Grandpa Stories (well, songs)

Well, maybe it's only going to be one song.  We'll see how well the memory works.  (Mind like a steel sieve.)

Full disclosure on Grandpas.  Emotionally speaking, I only have one.  Technically, I have either two or none, depending on how you define 'have'.  My Father's father had died long before I was born.  No one ever talked about him in front of me except my Father, and he never said anything personal about him.  

My Mother's father, although dead now, lived two blocks away from the time I was born until just when I was entering Junior High.  That's when we moved two miles away.  But he and Grandma lived a block and a half from the Junior High, so I still saw them a lot.

I recreated a couple of the songs/poems he used to sing/recite in Post  I've thought of a few more since then.  Post included the Monkey Story and the Train Story.  I think they were poems, rather than songs, but with Grandpa it was sometimes hard to tell.  [Post was updated today.  I found links to both of the stories online.  One is a poem by Kipling and the other is a folk song, sung by, among others, Cisco Houston in the sixties.  

He had a few other songs/poems for the entertainment of children.  One was the childhood classic:  Did you ever think when the hearse went by that someday you-ooo were going to die?

There was the short song (definitely a song - to the tune of My Bonnie).  

My Bonnie leaned over the gas tank,
The height of it's contents to see.
I lighted a match to assist her.
Oh, bring back My Bonnie to me.  

Then there was the Viaduct Song.  Or the Why-a-duct Song.  For some reason both viaduct and vinegar were pronounced with a W.  I only remember the chorus and snippets of verses.

Oh, I live under the viaduct
Down by the vinegar works.

They tie all the children to fences and logs
They do it to keep them from biting the dogs.

Oh, I live under the viaduct
Down by the vinegar works

They got me for murder, but I didn't care
They said they'd put me in a big 'lectric chair
They turned on the juice from my head to my shoes
But I was so tough that I blew out the fuse.

segue into

Oh, if I had the wings of an angel
Over these prison walls I'd fly
I'd fly to the house of my Grandma
And stuff up on blackberry pie

I've googled before, but googling again brings something up.  The Mudcat Cafe has a thread on it, complete with full lyrics.  Grandpa wasn't making up the double-yous, it was written in a Brooklyn accent.  Grandpa didn't come close to doing a Brooklyn accent.  He also never included anything like an intro.  

The original song doesn't include the murder and angel verses, although someone in the Mudcat thread remembers her mother singing the murder verse.  I don't know if the story evolved to add both of them or if Grandpa consolidated two songs.  I can't find the blackberry pie with the Google, though.  

First verse of the original lyrics:

I live over the wiaduct, down by the winegar woiks.
It's easy to find me; the street's full of shacks;
I live in the one that is right on the tracks.
Ev'ry night we go dancing down at O'Reilly's or Boiks.
We chains all the childrens to fences and logs
We do it to keep 'em from bitin' the dogs.
Say, I live over the wiaduct, down by the winegar woiks.

Now I wonder if he used the original melody, or something close to it, when he sang it.  There was a link to an mp3 in the Mudcats thread, but it's gone 404.  Fortunately, there are a few on YouTube, now.  That version also has variant verses.  

Here's another.  It inserts verse fragments the way Grandpa did.  Grandpa never did any side business, though.  

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