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Lyr Req: Portland County Jail (from Carl Sandburg)

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PORTLAND COUNTY JAIL


Related threads:
Origins: Portland County Jail (17)
Art Thieme - Portland County Jail (9)
Tune Req: Portland County Jail (5)


Allan S. 24 Dec 98 - 07:51 PM
Art Thieme 24 Dec 98 - 09:41 PM
Art Thieme 25 Dec 98 - 02:56 AM
Art Thieme 25 Dec 98 - 03:03 AM
Joe Offer 25 Dec 98 - 03:23 AM
25 Dec 98 - 10:30 AM
Art Thieme 25 Dec 98 - 01:23 PM
Sandy Paton 27 Dec 98 - 05:20 PM
Art Thieme 27 Dec 98 - 09:18 PM
toadfrog 30 Mar 02 - 01:01 AM
toadfrog 30 Mar 02 - 01:04 AM
Deckman 30 Mar 02 - 01:17 PM
Uncle_DaveO 01 Apr 02 - 11:06 AM
Mrrzy 01 Apr 02 - 11:11 AM
12-stringer 01 Jul 13 - 04:10 PM
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Subject: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Allan S.
Date: 24 Dec 98 - 07:51 PM

Has any one ever heard of a song that starts with "Im a stranger in your city my name is Patty Flynn" He gets thrown in to jail etc.


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Subject: Lyr Add: PORTLAND COUNTY JAIL (from Carl Sandburg)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Dec 98 - 09:41 PM

It's called "Portland County Jail" and was printed by Carl Sandberg in his 1927 book of folksongs (fine collection) __The American Songbag__ It's recorded on one of my LPs on Folk Legacy Records--still available from their website on CASSETTE ONLY now.

PORTLAND COUNTY JAIL (from Carl Sandburg)

I'm a stranger in your city and my name is Paddy Flynn,
I got drunk the other night and the coppers run me in
I had no money to go my fine--nobody to go my bail
And I got stuck for 90 days in the Portland County jail.

Such a bunch o' devils no one ever saw,
Robbers, thieves & highwaymen--even breakers of the law,
They sang a song the whole night long---their curses fell like hail,
Bless the day that takes me away from the Portland County jail.

The only friend that I had there was happy sailor Jack,
He told me all the lies he knew and all the safes he'd cracked,
He cracked 'em in Seattle--he'd robbed the Western Mail,
It'd freeze the blood of an honest man in the Portland County jail.

The finest friend I ever had was officer McGurk,
He said I was a drunken bum---a no-good and a shirk,
One Saturday night when I got tight he'd throw me in the can,
And now you see he's made of me an honest working man.


Art (Gotta go trim the tree. Merry Christmas to all...)


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Dec 98 - 02:56 AM

Here's a verse for "Portland County Jail" that wasn't included by Carl Sandberg in his book. It's one I got from Jim Fritz of Mosinee, Wisconsin (October 21, 1989) on the steamboat Julia Belle Swain on the Mississippi River downbound from from an island in the middle of the river (where they'd just picked me up) after the Twilight had left me there at the Mississippi Pallisades to wait for that boat about an hour earlier. What marvelous isolation---solitude and serenity! White pelicans behind the island...on a sandbar away from the main channel.Great Blue Herons and Egrets too. One Cormorant.
(Harp, I just sent you the river cassette I made to sell on those boats.)

Art


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Dec 98 - 03:03 AM

Whew, it must be late. Here's the verse. I forgot to type it out. Got hung up thinking about those river years...

I woke up in the morning--I looked up on the wall,
The cockroaches and the bedbugs were havin' a game of ball,
The score was 4 to 20---the bedbugs were ahead,
I got so excited that I fell right out of bed.

...
...
They brought me my breakfast---the bread was hard & stale,
The coffee tastes like tobacco juice in the Portland County jail.

Art


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Subject: Portland County Jail - Oregon????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Dec 98 - 03:23 AM

Art - I've wondered for quite some time - which Portland is it? I thought it was in Maine or England. With the mention of Seattle, it makes me think it could be Portland, Oregon. Is it a western song?
I see that the database rendition of the song dutifully notes that it was recorded by a guy named Art Thieme.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From:
Date: 25 Dec 98 - 10:30 AM

God bless you, art Theime. I have been looking for the words for 60 years or so. First learned it in 1935 with out the first verse, but just picked it up last week from a friend. Thought you had the wrong song till I saw the line with "roaches and the bedbugs." Here is what I knew:

I was standing on the corner not doing any harm
Along comes a copper and takes me by the arm
He takes me round the corner and rings a little bell
Along comes the ding-dong going like hell

Six o'clock in the morning I looked upon the wall
The roaches and the bedbugs were having a game of ball
The score was seven to nothing and the roaches were ahead
When the bedbugs hit a home run that knocked me out of bed

Seven o'clock in the morning the jailer comes around
And gives you bread and butter that weighs half a pound
The coffee's like tobacco juice the bread is hard and stale
And that's the way they treat the bums at the Whalley Ave. Jail

The fact that Whalley Ave. Jail is in New Haven, CT. Could make it possible that the song is from Portland, me rather than Portland, or

Thanks again you made my day
Allan S


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 Dec 98 - 01:23 PM

Good folks,

First---Merry Christmas!

The version I did on my LP was one that was sung for me in 1968 by a barber named George (don't know or don't recall his last name) in Depoe Bay(correct spelling), Oregon. His lyric didn't have the verse(s) about the bedbugs. It's great to have those---Thanks Mr. Allan S.

A good version of the song was done by Ed McCurdy (Canadian--late '50s) with banjo backup by Eric Darling (the man who first replaced Pete Seeger in the Weavers). McCurdy's LP was on Elektra---BLOOD BOOZE AND BONES---and I think it was his best album out of the over 50 albums he made. I learned more today than you did! There's a song that says: "Love is something when you give it away you wind up having more!" Goes for songs too here at Mudcat.

(Everyone--check out that new THANKS TO MUDCAT thread that Dick started. I DO wish I knew all of you personally!)

Art


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 05:20 PM

You know, I think we're dealing with two songs here. Some twenty-five years ago, I started adding the verse about the bedbugs to "Portland County Jail," just for fun, but I'd taken it from another song, namely, the one referred to above with the reference to the New Haven jail. I learned "Portland County Jail" from Russell Nye, fellow wheat harvester in Larned, Kansas, in 1945. No bedbugs. But got the bedbug song from another guy up in Seattle (can't remember his name) a few years later. The verse I squoze into the "Portland County Jail" text went:

I woke up the other night
And there upon the wall,
The bedbugs and the cooties
Were having a game of ball.
The score was one to nothing,
The cooties were ahead,
When a bedbug hit a home run
And knocked me out of bed.

This verse shows up almost verbatim in a song included in Gardner & Chickering's collection, Folksongs of Southern Michigan, as taken down from the singing of a young resident of a juvenile detention facility (if my memory serves me right).

And now a confession. I sing an additional verse in "Portland County Jail," but it ain't authentic. I made it up, based on a woeful experience in Burns, Oregon, many years ago. (But that's another story.) I make it the second verse of the song. 'Tain't much, but you're welcome to use it, if you wish.

They hauled me to the courthouse;
The judge looked down and frowned.
He said, "I don't know where you've been, boy,
But I know where you're bound!"
He said I'd never get no better
Unless'n I changed my ways.
To give me time to make up my mind,
He gave me ninety days.

Those were the days, my friends.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 09:18 PM

Hey Sandy,(and all)

Did a gig for the town of Larned, Kansas several years ago---Me and a huge roast pig with an apple in his mouth on the 4th of July---big to-do!

The fields are still there--wheat too---and the view from Pawnee Rock is wonderful in early July. Heading back to Illinois later that day---sky darkening from twilight's pure blue to starry black---gliding into Missouri out o' Kansas with Bill Staines on the cassette player singin' his "Missouri Road Song" (a Folk Legacy recording) and all of the towns along the interstate (one by one) showing me their fireworks as I buoyantly glided East!! Never will forget it.

At Larned (pronounced Larn--ed) they wanted to hear "The Big Combine" over & over...

Art


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: toadfrog
Date: 30 Mar 02 - 01:01 AM

Joe: The only place I ever saw the song was in the IWW songbook. A Wobbly song, which means it has to be Portland, Oregon.


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: toadfrog
Date: 30 Mar 02 - 01:04 AM

Only, when I think about it, Portland is in Multnomah County. I've wondered about that myself. It could mean, "the County jail in Portland."


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Mar 02 - 01:17 PM

I've also wondered about which "Portland". As you say so accuratly, Portland, Oregon is in Multnomah County. I recall reading in Stewart Holbrooks wonderful book, "Holy 'Ol Mackinaw", that as the logging, and the loggers, moved East from Maine, they continued to use the same town names for the new towns they formed. There are many Saginaws and Bangers, for example. Perhaps this song came from another "Portland." CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 11:06 AM

Note the distinction between Portland County Jail and Portland county jail. The first is the jail maintained by Portland County; the second is that county jail which is Portland.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: I'm a stranger in your city-Patty Flyn
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Apr 02 - 11:11 AM

I had this by Ed McCurdy on some record, still have it somewhere... if I can find where I'll post the attribution. Only the original verses as typed above by Art.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Portland County Jail (from Carl Sandburg)
From: 12-stringer
Date: 01 Jul 13 - 04:10 PM

Bill Cox and Cliff Hobbs, "The Whole Dam Family," recorded in 1937 for ARC, includes the vermin verse, this time "The skeeters and the bedbugs was havin' a game of ball."

Cox's song is adapted pretty loosely from an early 1900s pop song of the same title, which was recorded by Billy Murray and probably others. Only the chorus is retained ("There was Old Man Dam and Mrs Dam/The Dam kids two or three/And I B Dam and U B Dam/And the whole Dam family"). The rest of the lyrics are new, probably by Cox, who also supplies a melody better suited to guitar accompaniment.

I wonder if this verse appears in any of the versions of "Eleven More Months and Ten More Days"?


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