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Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box

DigiTrad:
SKUNK HOLE
TURKEY IN THE STRAW
TURKEY IN THE STRAW 2


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Turkey in the Straw (G Wettlin-Larsen) (13)
American Indian Turkey in the Straw (11)
Tune Req: little skunks hole (12)
Lyr Req: Turkey in the Straw (39)
Lyr Req: alternative turkey in the straw (26)
Lyr/Tune Req: Turkey in the Straw (6)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Old Geezer (Traditional American Folk Songs from the Frank & Anne Warner Collection, #182)
There Was an Old Soldier
There Was an Old Soldier (Sandburg) (from Carl Sandburg's American Songbag)


Descamps Olivier, belgium 04 Jan 97 - 12:47 AM
MMario 28 May 03 - 01:16 PM
MMario 28 May 03 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,renou-laurent@wanadoo.fr 18 Feb 05 - 05:33 PM
Peace 18 Feb 05 - 05:37 PM
Peace 18 Feb 05 - 05:41 PM
Peace 18 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Feb 05 - 08:57 PM
Lighter 19 Feb 05 - 10:43 AM
GUEST 26 Sep 05 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,Kate 01 Jul 10 - 03:23 PM
Joe Offer 01 Jul 10 - 06:46 PM
Neighmond 02 Jul 10 - 04:08 AM
Joe Offer 02 Jul 10 - 10:38 PM
Joe Offer 02 Jul 10 - 10:40 PM
Joe Offer 03 Jul 10 - 02:05 AM
Jim Dixon 26 Jul 10 - 01:40 PM
Cool Beans 26 Jul 10 - 05:17 PM
Lighter 26 Jul 10 - 05:34 PM
Cool Beans 26 Jul 10 - 05:57 PM
Lighter 26 Jul 10 - 07:16 PM
Lighter 26 Jul 10 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,guest too 09 Nov 10 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Frd Mccormick (cookiless) 09 Nov 10 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,joeman 14 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM
PHJim 22 Oct 11 - 05:14 PM
Richie 22 Oct 11 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,ExitB 13 Jun 12 - 01:51 PM
GUEST,adavis9879 02 Feb 13 - 05:34 PM
GUEST 17 Mar 13 - 10:39 PM
GUEST,Julia L 21 Nov 14 - 10:49 PM
GUEST,Bchris 14 Jul 15 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Martha 17 Oct 15 - 02:00 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Oct 15 - 05:01 PM
GUEST 17 Oct 15 - 07:12 PM
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Subject: Lyric request: there was an old soldier
From: Descamps Olivier, belgium
Date: 04 Jan 97 - 12:47 AM

I am looking for the lyric of: - "Cumberlan gap" (trad.). - "There was an old soldier" (trad.) ... and he had a wooden foot ..) - "When the war is through" (used in the soundtrack of the film Custer of the West (by the composer Bernado Segall). - "When will love rule the world"(lyric + composition) also in the soundtrack of the film "Custer of the West" (by the composer Bernado Segall). Thank you for your help.

Olivier Descamps Nivelles, Belgium

E-mail: descaoli@mail.interpac.be


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Subject: Lyr Add: THERE WAS AN OLD SOLDIER (from B Kincaid)
From: MMario
Date: 28 May 03 - 01:16 PM

THERE WAS AN OLD SOLDIER

OH, I had a little duck and he had a web foot,
And he built his nest in a mulberry bush,
And he ruffled up his feathers to keep himself warm,
Another little song wouldn't do us any harm.

O, there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg,
He had no tobacco, but tobacco he could beg;
Another old soldier as sly as a fox,
He always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.

Said the one old soldier, won't you give me a chew?
Said the other old soldier, I'll be danged if I do;
Just save up your pennies and throw away your rocks,
And you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box.

Wel the old old soldier was a feelin' very bad,
He says, I'll get even, I will, egad;
Then he goes to a corner, takes a rifle from his peg,
and stabs the other soldier with a splinter from his leg.

O there was an old hen and she had a wooden foot,
and she made her nest by a sycamore root,
and she laid mere eggs than any hen on the farm,
Another wooden foot wouldn't do her any harm.

Well, of all the darn songs I ever heard made
The one I'm a singin' puts them all in the shade;
If you don't like it you can run along hum'
'cause I'm singin' this song for myself, by gum!

Bradley Kincaid - 'Favorite Old-Time Songs and Mountain Ballads' book 2


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Subject: Tune Add: THERE WAS AN OLD SOLDIER
From: MMario
Date: 28 May 03 - 01:20 PM

X:1
T:There was an Old Soldier
N:'Favorite Old-Time Songs and Mountain Ballads'
I:abc2nwc
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:G
z6G F|E2E2E2B, C|D2D2D2G A|B2B2B2G A|B2A2A2B A|
G2G2G2B, C|D2D2D2z2|B2d2d2c2|B2A2G2z2


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: GUEST,renou-laurent@wanadoo.fr
Date: 18 Feb 05 - 05:33 PM

Please, have you got the guitar chords (or the music) with the lyrics of "there's an old soldier

Thank a lot

Laurent RENOU
France


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: Peace
Date: 18 Feb 05 - 05:37 PM

Cumberland Gap


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: Peace
Date: 18 Feb 05 - 05:41 PM

When the war is through ????


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: Peace
Date: 18 Feb 05 - 05:44 PM

CD of sound track from movie available here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Feb 05 - 08:57 PM

Sandburg, in "The American Songbag," pp. 432-433, said that this was "A leading favorite of the Grand Army of the Republic, one of the healthiest survivors of the contest between the Blue and the Gray, and a widely known piece of American folklore." Often called the "Old Tobacco Box."

Is there any record, other than anecdotal, of this song's use by Civil War soldiers?
Any records at all of the song contemporary with the Civil War?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Feb 05 - 10:43 AM

All I know offhand is that the usual version is in Irwin Silber's well researched "Songs of the Civil War" (N.Y.: Columbia U. P., 1960), maybe in the "postwar" section. Can't remember his source, but I'm sure it's indicated. Postbellum, most likely: after all, it's "an *old* soldier with a wooden leg" !


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: there was an old soldier
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Sep 05 - 09:41 PM

My grandfather Otto Brewer, b. around 1870 used to bounce us on his knee as he sat on the front porch and sang
         Oh, there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg
         He never had tobacco and tobacco he would beg.
         There was another soldier just as cunnin' as a fox
         And he always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.
         Bump diddy ah dah, bump bump.
Then he would spit out his chaw precisely in a spittoon he kept nearby, NEVER missing, and we would laugh and beg him to "Do it
again!"
I am 72 years old and it is a vivid memory. --Judy W.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: There Was an Old Soldier
From: GUEST,Kate
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 03:23 PM

Here is how I learned to sing it from my grandmother:

    Oh, there was an old devil and he had a wooden leg,
    He never had tobacco so tobacco he would beg,
    But another old devil was sly as a fox,
    he always had tobacco in his own tobacco box
    Said the first old devil won't you give me a chew?
    Said the second old devil I'll be darned if I do!
    Save up your money, and pile up your rocks,
    and you'll always have tobacco in your own tobacco box.
    Oh-ohhhhh, Hell's a floatin and the devil can't swim.
    We'll all go to heaven on a hickory limb.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: There Was an Old Soldier
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Jul 10 - 06:46 PM

So, I guess the usual melody for this is "Turkey in the Straw."

Wayne Erbsen uses a tune that's somewhat different.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: There Was an Old Soldier
From: Neighmond
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 04:08 AM

My dad always used to sing:

Oh, there was an old bum and he had a wooden leg,
And he never had tobacco so he always had to beg,
There's another old bum as sly as a fox,
he always had tobacco in his old tobacco box
Said the first old bum won't you let me have a chew?
Said the second old bum I'll be damnded if you do!
Save up your money, and put it in your socks,
and you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box.

Well I went to Cincinnati and I walked around the block
I walked right in to a baker's shop
I puled me a doughnut from the hot boiling grease
and I give the lady a five cent piece.
She looked at the nickel, she looked at me,
she said "kind sir, can't you see?"
"There's a hole in the middle and it goes clear through!"
Says I "there's a hole in your doughnut too!"

Well, I had a little hen, and she had a wooden leg
Best durn hen that ever laid an egg,
Laid more eggs than any hens around the farm,
'nother little drink'll never do us any harm!


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Subject: ADD Version: There Was an Old Soldier
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 10:38 PM

The version MMario posted is almost the same as this and has one extra verse, but I'm trying to make sure we have all the lyrics from Sandburg's American Songbag. This one is on pp. 432-433.

THERE WAS AN OLD SOLDIER

O there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg,
He had no tobacco but tobacco he could beg.
Another old soldier as sly as a fox,
He always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.

Said the one old soldier, "Won't you give me a chew?"
Said the other old soldier, "I'll be hanged if I do,
Save up your pennies and put away your rocks,
And you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box."

Well, the one old soldier was a feelin' very bad.
He says, "I'll get even, I will, begad!"
He goes to a corner, takes a rifle from his peg,
And stabs the other soldier with a splinter from his leg.

There was an old hen and she had a wooden foot,
And she made her nest by a mulberry root,
And she laid more eggs than any hen on the farm;
And another wooden foot wouldn't do her any harm.

Click to play

(and the tune isn't "Turkey in the Straw"!)


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 10:40 PM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Old Tobacco Box, The (There Was an Old Soldier)

DESCRIPTION: "There was an old (soldier) and he had a wooden leg. He had no tobacco; no tobacco could he beg." He asks a comrade for tobacco, and is refused. He is told to save; then he will have tobacco. He gets even by stabbing the other with a splinter from his leg
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)
KEYWORDS: soldier humorous begging
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,Ro)
REFERENCES (11 citations):
Warner 182, "The Old Geezer" (1 text, 1 tune)
FSCatskills 143, "The Old Tobacco Box" (1 text, 1 tune)
Brewster 93, "The Soldier's Song" (1short text)
Sandburg, pp. 432-433, "There Was an Old Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, p. 50, "The Auld Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-CivWar, p. 32, "There Was an Old Soldier" (1 text, 1 tune)
Beck 91, "The Old Geezers" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 242, "There Was An Old Soldier" (1 text)
Darling-NAS, p. 258, "The Old Soldier" (1 text)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. ,143 "The Was an Old Geezer" (1 text, tune referenced; this is a partial parody but consists mostly of traditional elements)
DT, (TURKST2)

Roud #3342
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Turkey in the Straw" (tune & meter) and references there
Notes: This piece is often sung to the tune of Turkey in the Straw, and the lyrics often float back and forth, but also exists on its own with its own tune (as was vehemently pointed out by the Warners' informant, Tom P. Smith; Jerome S. Epstein calls it similar to "The Red Haired Boy," but it's Ionian).
It is often listed as a Civil War song, and probably is, but I have not been able to find any Civil War reference to this which clearly distinguishes it from "Turkey in the Straw."
On the other hand, the Civil War is one of the few wars in which a man with a wooden leg really could be on fairly active duty. As the war dragged on, and the number of crippled soldiers rose, the Union in 1863 decided to recruit an "Invalid Corps," later renamed the "Veteran Reserve Corps" (see Bruce Catton, A Stillness at Appomattox, Doubleday, 1953, pp. 143-144). The men were classified as "first battalion" men, considered to be fit for garrison duty away from the front lines, and "second battalion" men, who were no longer fit enough even to carry a musket (they were supposed to serve in hospitals as nurses and cooks, according to Mark M. Boatner, The Civil War Dictionary, McKay, 1959, article on the "Veteran Reserve Corps").
Yet Catton, pp. 144-146, tells how 166 of these poor second battalion men were once sent out to march and fight at Belle Plain. They naturally had to travel without knapsacks (more than half the men in their unit had been unable to march at all), so it would have been perfectly reasonable, on that occasion, for a soldier with a wooden leg to be in the front lines and begging for tobacco. I doubt that explains the origin of the song -- but it *could* have happened.
(We might note that there were also a fair number of officers with wooden legs, the most senior being Confederate Lieutenant General Richard Ewell and full General John Bell Hood. As officers, however, they were permitted to ride rather than march -- Hood, in fact, had to be strapped to his horse, though Ewell was able to mount and dismount on his own. We might also add that, though both had been fine division commanders before being wounded, neither performed very well following amputation and promotion. Ewell's hesitation at Gettysburg may have cost the Confederates that battle; Hood's performance in the Atlanta and Nashville campaigns finally doomed the Confederacy.)
The versions called "The Soldier's Song" should not be confused with the song of that name which is the national anthem of Ireland. - RBW
File: FSC143

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD: The Old Geezer (Warner Collection)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Jul 10 - 02:05 AM

Here's the version from Traditional American Folk Songs from the Frank & Anne Warner Collection, #182, pp. 411-412
As stated above, the Warners' informant, Tom P. Smith insisted that the song should NOT be played to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw."


THE OLD GEEZER

O there was an old geezer and he had a wooden leg,
And he had no tobacco, but tobacco he would beg.
Another old geezer, he had a wooden crutch;
He always had tobacco, but he never had much.

Said geezer number one, "Won't you give me a chew?"
Said geezer number two, "I'll be durned if I do!
If you'll always save your money and not throw away your rocks,
You will always have tobacco in your old tobacco box."

singer: Tom P. Smith, 1949

Click to play


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Subject: Lyr Add: THERE WAS AN OLD GEEZER AND HE HAD A...
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 01:40 PM

This was quoted in a novel, The Kidnapped Millionaires: A Tale of Wall Street and the Tropics by Frederick Upham Adams (Boston: Lothrop Publishing Company, 1901), page 56:

There was an old geezer and he had a wooden leg;
He had no tobacco, no tobacco could he beg.
Another old geezer was as cunning as a fox,
And he always had tobacco in his old tobacco box;
Yes, he always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.

Says Geezer number one, "Will you give me a chew?"
Says Geezer number two, "I'll be damned if I do;
Go save up your nickels, and save up your rocks,
And you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box;
Yes, and you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box."


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Cool Beans
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 05:17 PM

Throw away your rocks? Pile up your rocks? Save up your rocks? What's with the rocks? Something to do with clearing your land? Where do you throw 'em? Onto the next guy's land? Keep 'em and build a stone wall? Thoughts, anyone?


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 05:34 PM

"Rocks" meant money, cash. Spondulix.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Cool Beans
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 05:57 PM

Then why would you throw 'em away, as so many versions have it?


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 07:16 PM

Because those versions don't know what "rocks" means.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Jul 10 - 08:00 PM

Seriously: the original words are "Put away your money and save up your rocks."


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,guest too
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 01:29 PM

Interesting. When my Uncle (born in 1907) used to bounce me on his knee and sing it, the lyrics were
O there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg
And he had no tobacco; no tobacco would he beg;
So he saved up his boodle and he saved up his (and here I'm missing a word which, if it's not actually 'rocks' - which makes no sense in context - sure sounds like it,is why I'm looking for lyrics in the 1st place)
And he always had tocacco in his old tobacco box.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,Frd Mccormick (cookiless)
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 02:58 PM

It was recorded by an ex-miner from the Southern Appalachian (Kentucky?) called George Tucked, and issued on Lp on Rounder. George Tucker. Rounder        0064.

I can't access either the LP or my database at the moment, so apologies for the vagueness. However, GT's version was pretty much as above, except it had a verse about one of the soldiers putting his false teeth in his back pocket. Guess what, "The doggone teeth bit him when he sat down".


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,joeman
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 12:53 PM

my dad tells me my greatgrandfather always sung
"there was a little duck and he had a wooden foot
an he lived in the hollow of a mullberry root
he ruffled up his feathers to keep him self warm
an another lil drink wouldnt do us any harm


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: PHJim
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 05:14 PM

We always sang this to the tune of The Red Haired Boy.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Richie
Date: 22 Oct 11 - 11:18 PM

I sing it to the tune of red-haired boy and published it with that tune. We play it now under the title "Duck Chewed Tobacco."

Here's my version on youtube with my old band:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw6x6udPZtg


I sing a different chorus. It's different than the version I published in 2006 here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=42bL-Ot-8gUC&pg=PA180&dq=old+soldier+matteson&hl=en&ei=e4ajTuziL4_ogQekxNCZBQ&sa=X&oi=book_resu

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,ExitB
Date: 13 Jun 12 - 01:51 PM

My dad's version when he bounced me on his knee 60 years ago teaches an important lesson on thrift and moderation.
For bouncing my grandchildren I substitute "little baby" for "old soldier" to give it more of a family values component;

Oh there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg
He never had t'bacca so t'bacca he would beg
And another old soldier just as sly as a fox
He always had t'bacca in his old t'bacca box

Say the one old soldier, gimme a chew
Say the other old soldier, the devil I do
Drink less whiskey and save up your rocks
And you'll always have t'bacca in your old t'bacca box


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,adavis9879
Date: 02 Feb 13 - 05:34 PM

The way my grandmother use to sing it to me was.

There was an old man and he had a wooden leg
He had no tobacco, no tobacco could he beg
But he saw another man and he asked him for a chew
He said get out of here you dirty kook a loo

Save of all your money save up all your bricks
and your always have tobacco in your old tobacco bix


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Mar 13 - 10:39 PM

I heard it as a poem and lesson.

There was an old soldier who had a wooden leg, who had no tabacco- no tabacco could he beg.
Said the soldier to the sailor "May I beg a little chew, said the sailor to the soldier "I'll be damned if I do".
Now this always goes to show you if you always saved your money- then you'll never have to beg, and you'll always have tobacco in your own tobacco keg.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 21 Nov 14 - 10:49 PM

Just found a Maine version about 2 sailors from 1917... did some searching and came up with this description of A Buffalo pottery, Deldare Ware humidor with covered decorated with sailors and ships. It reads "There was an old sailor And he had a wooden leg He had no tobacco, nor tobacco could he beg. So save up your money, and save up your rocks, And you'll always have tobacco in your tobacco box." signed "J.Gerhardt" and marked "Buffalo Pottery Deldare Ware 1909" on underside

Seem to be the only sailor versions I can find

cheers- Julia


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,Bchris
Date: 14 Jul 15 - 02:12 PM

Very rusty on song my dad (Born 1889) used to sing: When I was a little boy..my papa said to me...If you want to be...a Carnegie...don't waste your money on foolish things,,,,like automobiles or diamond rings....two plus two make four(lost some words here)...save up your pennies and put away your rocks....you'll always have tobacco in your own tobacco box...every little bit, added to what you got...makes a little bit more


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST,Martha
Date: 17 Oct 15 - 02:00 PM

My mother says my grandfather sang this song. He grew up in east Texas and moved to western Oklahoma about 1910. His father was a Civil War vet from Arkansas, who fought on both sides during the Civil War. He enlisted at 16, was captured by the Union, and agreed to fight for the Union if they would release him. But grandpa's grandfather was also a soldier, who enlisted in the regular army in New York in 1828 and was sent to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory. So maybe that's why the song was about an "old tarry" (sailor).

After studying all the versions, I think the original must have gone something like this:
O, there was an old soldier and he had a wooden leg,
He had no tobacco, but tobacco he could beg;
And there was an old tarry as sly as a fox,
Who always had tobacco in his old tobacco box.

Said the old soldier, Won't you give me a chew?
Said the old tarry, I'll be danged if I do;
Just dive down to the bottom and hold onto the rocks,
And you'll always have tobacco in your old tobacco box.

Well, then the old soldier was a feelin' very bad,
He says, I'll get even, I will, egad!
Then he goes to a corner, takes his rifle from its peg,
and stabs the old sailor with a splinter from his leg.

If it didn't, it should have.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Oct 15 - 05:01 PM

The TBI listed above has Cazden et al's 'FS of the Catskills'. The notes in here as always are worth reading. The version they give goes to the Irish tune, The Little Red Fox/ The Little Beggarman.


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Subject: RE: Origins:There Was an Old Soldier / Old Tobacco Box
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Oct 15 - 07:12 PM

Looks like it has the same tune as Jimmy Driftwood's "Soldier's Joy"


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