Lyr Req: Tubby Hook (Arthur Guiterman)
Subject: Lyr Req: wash and wash til Judgment Day|
Date: 25 Aug 05 - 07:26 PM
I got email from my sister asking about "a poem about Spuyten Duyvil
and the washerwoman who used the river to do her washing, and said
'I'll wash and wash 'til Judgment Day'"
She says she learned it at school in New York City - this would have been
in the 1950s - and would like to know the words. I went to the same
school, a few years behind her, and have no memory of ever reading
such a poem, and neither of us has had any luck finding anything on
the web. Does it ring any bells?
Spuyten Duyvil is the stretch of water North of the northernmost part
of Manhattan Island. I've tried searching the web (and Mudcat) for
Spuyten Duyvil, for "wash and wash," for washerwoman, etc., without
finding anything that looks right.
Subject: Lyr Add: WASHBOARD BLUES (Hoagy Carmichael)|
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Aug 05 - 09:33 AM
The only song I know about washing clothes in a river:
(Music by Hoagy Carmichael, words by Irving Mills & Fred Callahan)
Morning comes with cloudy skies and rain.
My poor back am broke with pain.
My man's sleeping. I's rubbing.
Children weeping, clothes tubbing.
Things are creeping. I's rubbing.
All day long.
Up to the washing soap and down to that water once more,
Head down low, head low.
Up to the washing soap and down to that water once more.
Poor hands, go, oh, Lordy
So weary of washing day's dreary,
So weary of sloshing clothes.
Up to that washing soap and down to that water once more; washboard blues.
Never get me gone from here.
Scrub them dirty clothes all year.
It's them clothes, them raggedy clothes, them grimy clothes, them mussedy clothes.
That's all I knows: up and down, back and forth, all year long.
Oh, Lordy, won't you hear my song, hear my song?
Washing in a shanty on the shore,
The river swinging on by the door
Hear that river lowly calling
I's a-shivering. Night's a-falling.
Hear that river lowly moaning, moaning low.
I'm going to that river, going down to that river some day.
Hurry, day. Hurry, day. Hurry, day. Hurry.
I's going to that river, going down to that river some day,
And throw myself, my poor self, self away.
Oh, Lordy, I'm so weary of washing
Day's dreary. So weary of sloshing clothes.
I'm going to that river, going down to that river some day.
Hurry, day. Hurry, day. Hurry, day.
[Transcribed by me from Hoagy Carmichael's 1934 recording found at Red Hot Jazz.
[The Red Hot Jazz Archive has several recordings of WASHBOARD BLUES:
Red Nichols' Five Pennies, 1926.
Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra featuring Hoagy Carmichael, 1927.
The Arkansas Travelers, 1927.
Hoagy Carmichael (solo), 1934.]
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: wash and wash til Judgment Day|
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 08:14 PM
Five years on, my sister contacted Michael Pollak of the New York Times, who answered her with the following:
Michael Miscione, the Manhattan borough historian, tracked it down.
The poem is "Tubby Hook," and it is included in a 1920 book, "Ballads of
Old New York" by Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943).
The narrative poem deals not with Spuyten Duyvil (the poem that follows
it does), but with Tubby Hook, known in Dutch as Tobbe Hoeck or "the
Cape of the Tub," a rocky point in Inwood about two-thirds of a mile
below Spuyten Duyvil.
As the legend goes, a Dutch housewife let nothing stand between her and
her washing, not even Easter Sunday. "Her earthly hope/Was placed in
soap." When her husband protested that work was forbidden on Easter, she
carried her tub down to the river and vowed, "I'll wash and wash till
the Judgment Day."
"Along a river that leaped in flame/the sailing witches of Salem came."
Each witch sat in a washtub, and each had a coal-black cat. "With cries
to Satan and Beelzebub/They shaped the cape like an upturned tub!" And
beneath it, the washerwoman is still there, trying to rub the fur of a
black cat white.
The delightfully illustrated book was reprinted in 2005, and both
original and reproduction are available on commercial Web sites.
Subject: Lyr Add: TUBBY HOOK (Arthur Guiterman)|
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 08:41 AM
From Ballads of Old New York by Arthur Guiterman (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1920), page 165:
About two-thirds of a mile below Spuyten Duyvil, at the old settlement of Inwood from where the Fort Lee ferry carries picnic-parties across the Hudson to the Palisades, there is a rock-edged cape which, before filling-in operations changed its rounded outline, by its appearance alone justified its old Dutch name of "Tobbe Hoeck"—the Cape of the Tub—now rendered "Tubby Hook."
After much inquiry I finally learned from the bearded lips of an old settler the true explanation of this promising name. And as the memory of the narrator extends back to the time "when Canal Street was 'way down to the Battery," his authority on legendary matters is plainly indisputable.
Mevrouw Von Weber was brisk though fat;
She loved her neighbor, she loved her cat,
She loved her husband; but, here's the rub—
Beyond all conscience she loved her tub!
She rubbed and scrubbed with strange delight,
She scrubbed and rubbed from morn till night;
Her earthly hope
Was placed in soap;
Her walls and chimneypiece fairly shone,
Her skirts were starched so they stood alone!
By mop and duster and broom she swore.
She scrubbed the floor
Until she wore
The oak in channels from door to door.
The flood she reveled in never ebbed,
And hill to dale
Retold the tale
That both her hands and her feet were webbed!
Now Hans, her husband, was mild and meek;
He let her scrub through the livelong week;
But when the sud of her washtub churned
On Easter Sunday!—the earthworm turned.
"Nay, vrouw," quoth he,
"Let labor be!
This day when all of the world's at feast
Thou'lt wash no more—in my house, at least!"
She stopped her toil at her lord's command.
Without a sound
She flaunted round
And took her tub to the river strand,
Where Hans, who followed in dark dismay,
Could hear her vow,
His angry vrouw,
"I'll wash and wash till the Judgment Day!"
Along a river that leaped in flame
The Sailing Witches of Salem came.
(They ride the waters, that evil crew,
Wherever the Duyvil hath work to do.)
And every witch in a washtub sat,
And every witch had a coal-black cat
That steered the course with a supple tail,
A shift for sail,
A shell to bale,
A thread to reef when the wind blew strong,
A broom to whurry the bark along.
They hailed the vrouw on her spit of sand;
She waved them back with a soapy hand.
Cried one whose face was a Chinese mask,
"This dame is sworn to a goodly task!
Come, friends that ride on the crested swell,
We'll charm the spot with a lasting spell
That here she'll stay
And scour away,
And never rest till the Judgment Day!"
With cries to Satan and Beelzebub
They shaped the cape like an upturned tub!—
Beneath its dome and the shifting sands
That busy vrouw at her washtub stands,
While day and night
She bends her might
To scrub the fur of a black cat white!
When down the river the norther scuds
The waves are flecked with the rising suds.
When clouds roll black as a Dutchman's hat
You'll hear the wail of the injured cat!
So heed her fall,
Good housewives all,
And take this truth from a ragged song—
That super-cleanliness may go wrong!
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Tubby Hook (Arthur Guiterman)|
Date: 26 May 10 - 01:29 PM
How lucky I am to have found this! I remembered reading long ago about a washer woman "trying to scrub a black cat white", and wanted to cite it (in reference to trying debug a horribly designed computer program).
This site is the only one that contains the poem. This is definitely going into my small collection of treasured poems.
Thank you, Gerry and Jim.
Subject: Tubby Hook (Louis Untermeyer)|
From: GUEST,Ruthy DeHolton
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 11:08 PM
This poem is also contained in the anthology "This Singing World", edited by Louis Untermeyer, and published in 1926.
I still have the copy of "This Singing World" that I had in my 5th grade home-schooling course (Calvert Course). I loved this particular poem and for years could recite the whole thing.
It's interesting to note that the introduction to the poem in "This Singing World" is almost exactly the same as the intro in Guiterman's "Ballads of Old New York", except that the ferry has a different name!
"About two-thirds of a mile below Spuyten Duyvil, at the old settlement of Inwood from where the Dyckman Street ferry carries picnic-parties across the Hudson to the Palisades, there is a rock-edged cape which, before filling-in operations changed its rounded outline, by its appearance alone justified its old Dutch name of 'Tobbe Hoeck' -- the Cape of the Tub -- now rendered 'Tubby Hook.'