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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Newsroom “Pomes” 1914 – 1918

These poems (“pomes”) were written by the staff of the Elkhart Truth before and during the First World War. They used to type these and paste them on the wall above their desks. Enjoy!

R.E.A. = Robert “Bob” Edmond Allen
B.B. = Beatrice Boedefeld
M.M.F. = Maurice Mahurin Frink
B.F.B. = Beatrice “Fairfax” Boedefeld (Fairfax was her nickname there; Beatrice Fairfax was the well-known writer of the first newspaper advice column)
T.H.K. = Thomas H. Keene
Dickie = cub reporter whose full identity is unknown

The snow is gently falling
New York is loudly calling
But the fake coke in the fuel box
Claims me first.
  The elements are squalling
  And many orphans bawling
  But this office force in winter
  Needs me worst
So we’ll let the snow fall
And we’ll let New York call
To Hell with elements, orphans and all

The Truth force had a little fire
And it was fed on coke
But every day that fire went out.
It got to be a joke.
That joke our Robert couldn’t see
When he the fire built
And with the others of the force
He had full many a tilt.
“Why does the force love Robert so?”,
The new reporter cried
“Cause Robert makes the fire go,”
The office force replied.

The smoke goes up the chimney
Then returns as if ’twere loath
To leave this haunt of journalists
Where ne’er is heard an oath.
It circles round and round the room
It hangs upon the wall
It covers us, our clothing too
With its begriming pall.
But no complaint is ever heard
Our spirits but rise higher
For we are sure that where there’s smoke
There also must be fire.

The cost of living is going higher
Christmas time is coming nigher
Why should We worry about the figher?

Fireman spare that stove
Touch it not while peeved
At times it madly strove
To make us feel relieved
When Wintry blasts were furious
Now can’t you see, you Bloke
The trouble’s with that spurious
Blasted blank bum coke?

Damn, damn, damn the fire
That arouses everybody’s ire
That coke is sure
An awful joke
Hence this swan song
Of provoke.

[Tom Keene married Bessie Simmons in September 1914]

Oh have he went and gone and did
The thing that oft I warned him not
Oh knows he not the fate he courts
Captivity that he should bid?
He have him tied though warned I he
That thusly he should never do
I weep in vain and here extend
To him my meed of sympathy.
Dickie, newest of the gang
Tom who like Caruso sang
Alphabet did it years ago
About Be at’trice I don’t know
But there’s one thing I am sure in –

One more rhyme on the walls of time
To gaze on Tom from above.
A nice little wife is just the kind
To have, to hold, to love.

Oh warblers of the force
Who chart the joyful news
Pray save the leather of your lungs
For leather will make shoes.
And if your feet are bare you know
I think you will stand little show
Of treading the path I am to go
So Stop, Look and Listen, Bo.
The Victim.

Here is a pome on Bob’s misfortunes in love.
O am he went and are he gone
And did he leave I all alone
Oh cruel fate you is unkind
To take he fore and leave I hind

Oh am he went and are he gone
And did he leave I all alone
And will he ne’er return to I?
Oh said not such, it cannot was,

[magazine clipping:]

I’ve been a good fellow;
Earned all I’ve spent;
Paid all I borrowed;
Lost all I’ve lent.
Once loved a woman;
That came to an end.
Get a good dog, boys;
He’s always your friend.

The reporters and editors took turns writing the verses to the next pome. I am betting verse 4 was written by Bee Boedefeld.

This old world is a hell of a place,
With nothing to do but work.
There is always trouble enough for all
Be you pastor, reporter or clerk.

Newspaper work is the worst of all.
It sure is a damned hard life.
You can’t make enough to support yourself,
Let alone supporting a wife.

But cheer up my old downtrodden friend,
The worst is yet to come,
To have a wife is bad enough
But what IF you had a son?

So stop and think it over boys,
Before you cast your die.
Be assured that e’er the race of life is run,
You’ll have to heave many a sigh.

So stick your chin up in the air,
Tell your boss to go to hell.
If you don’t like the way we do our work,
Just toll the parting knell.

Here is the pome that celebrates the mistakes they found in their own paper!

There was a man in our town,
Who, being wondrous wise,
Once sat him down to read The Truth,
When this did meet his eyes:

When he had studied it for a time
And at last succeeded in gleaning
From those three scrambled lines
A vague resemblance to their meaning,

He turned him to another sheet,
The end of a yarn to see
Which the bottom line on the front page
Said was “(Continued on Page Three.)”

From northeast corner to the far southwest
That patient man scoured every line;
And at length he learned that Truth’s “Page Three”
Is often on Page Nine.

So then he turned him back again
To where he’d started from,
Thinking to read the war news,
Thus to hear the far-off drum.

A startling headline there he found,
That made his blood run cold,
Which of “line hurled back” and “claims by Russ”
And “enormous losses” told”: —

In desperation, with befuddled brain,
The poor man news and stories spurned
And, ever cheerful, hope pursuing,
He to the Want Ads turned.

’Twas there the last hard blow was struck,
For as he read them through
He found one rather puzzling, for
Which I don’t blame him. Do you?

Then the Kind Reader his tongue unloosed,
And, while one cannot praise his diction,
One must agree with his sentiment: —
“Damn if The Truth AIN’T stranger than fiction!”


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