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Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair

GUEST,Fred McCormick 15 Mar 13 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 20 Mar 13 - 06:56 AM
maeve 20 Mar 13 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 20 Mar 13 - 07:31 AM
GUEST 20 Mar 13 - 09:38 AM
maeve 20 Mar 13 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 20 Mar 13 - 09:45 AM
maeve 20 Mar 13 - 09:51 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Mar 13 - 11:23 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 20 Mar 13 - 11:48 AM
maeve 20 Mar 13 - 12:58 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 15 Mar 13 - 12:38 PM

I'm trying to locate a song, probably called Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair. It concerns a woman whose possessions have been siezed by the bailiffs and put up for auction.

With each item that's placed on the block, the woman tells the auctioneer to take it if he must, but she begs and pleads with him to leave her her baby's chair.

Hard hearted auctioneer works his way through the entire list of items, until finally the baby's chair is the only one left. That too goes under the hammer, and the song ends:

"Then up stepped a docker, a Birkenhead docker,
And he knocked down the auctioneer."

Does anybody know it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 06:56 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: maeve
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 07:07 AM

Fred, I have done some looking for this song, but found nothing of use to date. I'm sure others will step in to help. Can you remember anything else about it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 07:31 AM

Not a blind thing unfortunately. I heard it sung once about 45 years ago during a Saturday night sing song in my local pub and that closing couplet came back to me just the other day.

Actually, I do recall that it was a music hall song and the bit about the Birkenhead docker might suggest a Merseyside origin, but I doubt it. Pretty well any port with a three syllable name would fit.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE AUCTIONEER S GIFT (S.F. Foss)
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 09:38 AM

"Music Hall"- That may indeed help! Have a look at "Delsarte Manual of Oratory by Henry David Northrop, published by W.H. Ferguson Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1895
http://books.google.com/books?id=WvgsAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA228&lpg=PA228&dq=Music+Hall++%22my+baby%27s+chair+%22&source=bl&ots=ZmVWu_pCz ... wherein I found the following poem:
*****
Grave and Pathetic Readings


THE AUCTIONEER S GIFT.

THE auctioneer leaped on a chair, and bold and loud and clear,
He poured his cataract of words,-- just like an auctioneer.
An auction sale of furniture, where some hard mortgagee
Was bound to get his money back, and pay his lawyer's fee.

A humorist of wide renown, this doughty auctioneer;
His horse-play raised the loud guffaw, and brought the answering jeer;
He scattered round his jests like rain, on the unjust and the just :
Sam Sleeman said he "laffed so much he thought that he would bust.

He knocked down bureaus, beds, and stoves, and clocks and chandeliers,
And a grand piano, which he swore would " last a thousand years; "
He rattled out the crockery, and sold the silverware,
At last they passed him up to sell a little baby's chair.

"How much? how much? come make a bid; is all your money spent? "
And then a cheap, facetious wag came up and bid, "one cent."
Just then a sad-faced woman, who stood in silence there,
Broke down and cried, " My baby s chair ! My poor, dead baby's chair! "

" Here, madam, take your baby's chair," said the softened auctioneer,
" I know its value all too well; my baby died last year;
And if the owner of the chair, our friend, the mortgagee,
Objects to this proceeding, let him send the bill to me ! "

Gone was the tone of raillery ; the humorist auctioneer
Turned shame-faced from his audience to brush away a tear ,
The laughing crowd was awed and still, no tearless eye was there
When the weeping woman reached and took her little baby's chair.
                                                                      S.F. Foss
*****
I also found a copy of the poem in a digitized copy of the Australian
Kilmore Free Press (Kilmore, Vic. : 1870 - 1954), Thursday 23 October 1890 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/57937963 (minor differences).

The ending is different from your remembered song, but at least this may give you a better starting place for your search.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: maeve
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 09:40 AM

Sorry- that was my post, missing my now-reclaimed cookie.

Maeve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 09:45 AM

Maeve. Many muchos! That is undoubtedly the one, the version I heard presumably having been doctored to reflect the harsh reality of living in Mersyside.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: maeve
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 09:51 AM

Wonderful. I wonder if you might find a sung version on youTube or one of the sites dedicated to old recordings?

I did run across a site full of Music Hall song lyrics which might be of use to someone http://monologues.co.uk/musichall/Songs-A/Alpha-A.htm
although I didn't find your song there.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 11:23 AM

Nice work maeve.

I did have a look in all the usual places for "baby's chair" (with and without auctioneer) a few days ago - without success.

Foss' poem seems to have originated in 1892 in the author's Back Country Poems (poem here: The Auctioneer's Gift, with illustration). There's also a picture of the author near the front of the book.

The book starts with a poem called The Volunteer Organist, which is not the song written by William B. Gray & H. Lamb in 1893, but seems to have a very similar story line. I wonder if Gray had seen Foss' poem or if the story was going the rounds at the time. (I've just done a search on that and Malcolm Douglas noted this poem in a local thread on Lyr Req: The Volunteer Organist (Gray/Spaulding)).

I've had a quick look at some sources and can't find a setting version of The Auctioneer's Gift. (search on auctioneer's gift at Roud, BL, LOC, NLA, Bodleian, Duke, Indiana, Mississipi and Farne)




Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 11:48 AM

The poem seems to be earlier than 1892. There's a reference to it appearing in the Australian Journal in 1890. Fiction Mags Index).

Elsewhere I found a copy saying reprinted from The Yankee Blade with permission of the author. The Yankee Blade seems to have been a paper published in Waterville, Me, 1842-95 (info from LOC), but it doesn't seem to be digitized at LOC yet, so I can't get a date for the poem's publication there. However it was also reprinted in The Livonia Gazette(pdf) (that's a google link I haven't bothered to unravel!) on Friday, Aug 29, 1890 from The Yankee Blade, so I would guess it appeared sometime round about 1890.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Please Don't Sell My Baby's Chair
From: maeve
Date: 20 Mar 13 - 12:58 PM

Interesting...Some of the sources I checked specified not S.F Foss, but S.W. Foss, which does seem to be correct. Some information on him:

"Sam Walter Foss, a poet, journalist, and humorist, was born into a rural New England farm family June 19, 1858. When Sam was four years old his mother died, and young Sam had to mature quickly and do his share of chores. He graduated from Portsmouth (New Hampshire) High School, and obtained a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1882. As owner and editor of the Lynn, Massachusetts Saturday Union newspaper, Mr. Foss produced a humor column once a week. He became skilled at cranking out his popular homespun verse and his poetry was soon being published across the country. In 1891 moved to Boston where he wrote first for the Yankee Blade and later the Boston Globe. Sam Foss was also a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor until his death in 1911. Foss is best known for this inspirational poem, "The House By the Side of the Road." "http://www.ebay.com/itm/HOUSE-BY-THE-SIDE-OF-THE-ROAD-by-Sam-Walter-Foss-ART-NOUVEAU-Reverse-Glass-Print/300791361654 No source is given for this biographical information- though it may be from the Dictionary of American Biography.
*****
"...With the help of a librarian, Mary Johnson (a friend of mine in Alton), I did find him in two places: American Authors 1600-1900 rather patronizingly calls him a "verse writer," but the Dictionary of American Biography honors him as "poet, journalist, humorist, and librarian."
Foss was a country boy from New Hampshire, worked on his father's farm, went to school in the winter, lost his mother at age four, graduated from Brown University in 1882, then got into writing as publisher, editor, and journalist. He was the librarian of the Somerville Public Library in Massachusetts from 1898 till his death in 1911. He married a minister's daughter and they had a daughter and a son. The son died in World Was I on the fields of France. He attended College Avenue Methodist Church in Somerville, Massachusetts, which is a church still in existence and active..."John Hoad, Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Society of St. Louis
*****
Another link regarding the author's work: More by S.W. Foss "The Song of the Library Staff"


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