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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Only with a Manual Typewriter

Here is a little ditty and illustration that one of Bee Boedefeld’s friends sent to her at the beginning of the United States involvement in the First World War.

I tried to reproduce the soldiers using Word’s graphics capabilities, but they’re awkward and just don’t look quite right:
Their guns should be a stronger stroke. But the computer program doesn’t know how to do that. Their arms are odd, their pants too wide. The courier font on the computer is not the same as the one on the old typewriter. The ampersand is all wrong. I can’t find a font where it looks anything like the old typewriter.

Bring me back an old typewriter. And plenty of ribbons for it too.

So, here is an update! My friend told me that this poem is actually one of a bazillion parodies of a well-known World War I song that I had not known about, “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier”—an anti-war song by Alfred Bryan and Al Piantadosi.

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1:
Ten million soldiers to the war have gone,
Who may never return again.
Ten million mother’s hearts must break
For the ones who died in vain.
Head bowed down in sorrow
In her lonely years,
I heard a mother murmur thru' her tears:

I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier,
I brought him up to be my pride and joy.
Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder,
To shoot some other mother’s darling boy?
Let nations arbitrate their future troubles,
It’s time to lay the sword and gun away.
There’d be no war today,
If mothers all would say,
“I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier.”

Verse 2:
What victory can cheer a mother’s heart,
When she looks at her blighted home?
What victory can bring her back
All she cared to call her own?
Let each mother answer
In the years to be,
Remember that my boy belongs to me!

Repeat Chorus 2x

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