Saturday, July 27, 2013

Humor in the Trenches — The Songs My Mother Never Taught Me

[1] “Madelon – Madelon Madelon!!”
[2] Composer-performer John Jacob Niles.

by E.M. Sanchez-Saavedra
This delightful 1929 compilation was published by The Macaulay Company of New York. It was the work of three men: John Jacob Niles (Jack, 1892-1980, composer, performer, folklorist), Douglas Stuart Moore (Doug, 1893-1969, composer, educator, author), and Abian Anders Wallgren (Wally, 1891-1948, artist, official cartoonist of The Stars and Stripes, AEF).

[3] The book’s front cover.
Aficionados of the folk music renaissance of the 1940s-60s remember John Jacob Niles’ eerie voice, dramatic and emotional presence and oversized Appalachian dulcimer. He may be seen and heard performing his best-known composition, Go ‘Way From My Window — HERE.

[4] Composer Doug Moore.
In addition to his books of folk music, Niles co-authored with fellow air service Lieutenant Bert Hall One Man’s War; The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille (New York: Henry Holt, 1929). It is difficult to picture the intense folklorist of later years as a devil-may-care member of the Army Air Service, Officer Reserve Corps, but his work on The Songs My Mother Never Taught Me is proof positive of his lighter side. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Niles learned music theory and folk songs from his mother. Before his enlistment, he had spent a number of years collecting Appalachian music and writing his own songs.

[5] The book’s endpapers.
After his stint in the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant (Junior Grade), New Yorker Douglas S. Moore studied music in Paris, then continued his studies and began composing classical pieces in Cleveland. In 1926 he joined the music faculty at Columbia University. He collaborated with Stephen Vincent Benet on the opera The Devil and Daniel Webster. He eventually wrote music for orchestra, ballet, theater and film, and wrote two books on music.

[6] Artist Wally Wallgren.
Poles apart from Niles and Moore was Philadelphian Abian Anders Wallgren who signed his art Wally. He began cartooning when a teenager and had two strips running in the Sunday papers at the age of 16. Among the first Americans to enlist in 1917, Wallgren flouted regulations and was usually in trouble with the M.P.s for such offenses as smuggling cognac into camp. As an army sign painter he painted “Latrine” and “Officers Only” signs throughout the American sector, until he joined the staff of the American Expeditionary Force’s newspaper, The Stars and Stripes

[7] “U.S. Air Service.”
He created Hoosegow Herman, Inbad the Sailor and The Saluting Demon, among others. Wallgren received high praise from General John J. Pershing for his contribution to morale. Like his BEF contemporary in WW I, Bruce Bairnsfather, and his World War II counterpart, Bill Mauldin, Wallgren captured the essence of the combat experience with a mix of pathos and wry humor.

[8] The book’s title-page.
 [9] The song list.
[11] “Mad’moiselle from Armentières.”
[12] “She got the palm and the croix de guerre.
[13] “We hope to Christ it breaks his back.
[14] “The doughboy he went over the top.
 [15] “Mad’moiselle from Armentières. Wally cartoon.
[16] “Dempsey helped to build the ships.
[17] “Twas a Hell of a war, as we recall.
[18] “The folk song of the war.
[19] “If you want to know where the privates are.
 [20] “If you want to know where the officers are.
[21] “Marine Song.
[22] “Jamais de la vie.
[23] “The French they are a funny race.
[24] ‘Rollicking Soldier Songs.’ Appraisal in The Saturday Review of Literature, January 4, 1930.

See Humor in the Trenches — The Wipers Times HERE.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Demon Cat; A Naval Melo Drama

[1] Art by William Ralston, 1889 (detail).

Hester Viles sent me a little memoir about a favourite comic picture-book in her family, about an incredibly catastrophical cat, nicknamed The Demon. A large-sized book (9.5 by 12 inches, 24 by 30.5 cms) fully titled: The Demon Cat; A Naval Melo Drama By C.W. Cole and W. Ralston. Illustrated in black-and-white with some pages in color. First published in December 1889 by Simpkin, Marshall & Co. in London / John Menzies & Co. in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Hester did note:
The book is very damaged and the front and back pages are glued onto the outer covers, I could not see the dates. The book belonged to my father in law, but judging by the state of it, I would not be surprised if it came from Edward Viles. Dad probably got it from his father who probably received it from the family. Dad loved it and the two of us often sat together, laughing ourselves silly over the story…

Antiquarian bookseller Rooke Books, in Bath, England, offers a good copy for sale HERE that has at least two more pages than Hester’s copy:

[2] Two pages from Rooke Books’ copy.
[3] A Chinese Admiral pays us a visit. “PRESENT ARMS!’

The particular copy of the book reproduced below belonged to Walter Richard Viles, grandson of Walter Percy Viles, the Victorian author of penny dreadfuls and boys’ stories. The boards and pages are heavily damaged and pages seem to be missing from it.

Artist William Ralston (1848-1911) illustrated several children’s books and an 1890s edition of Thackeray’s novel Barry Lyndon, and was a contributor of many strips and illustrations to periodicals like Punch, The Illustrated London News, The Cornhill Magazine, The Graphic, The Daily Graphic, and The Sporting and Dramatic News.

[4] A well-worn front cover.
[5] The Demon boarded us.
[6] During the night.
[7] To catch a wasp.
[8] Rest of the afternoon.
[9] To stalk a gull.
[10] Negative success.
[11] Kind-hearted young seaman.
[12] Wrung out.
[13] On the awning to dry.
[14] The chief engineer’s stuffed birds.
[15] Quiet nap in a ripe Stilton.
[16] The use of cat gut.
[17] The “breakage book”.
[18] The gun “loaded and left”.
[19] A trail of curses.
[20] Its final ricochet.
[21] Hunted “by order”.
[22] Through a skylight.
[23] “Con——!!!”
[24] In the surgeon’s berth.
[25] Refuge below.
[26] Requies-Cat in pieces.
[27] A well-worn back cover.
Thanks to Hester Viles.