I Had but Fifty Cents


 

| Home Page | Contents | Index | Comments? |

| Chapter — Poetry |

| Next - Flower Girl |

| Back - Cowbear |


 

This poem was a favorite of my father, who apparently memorized it in about 1925, and remembered it for life. It was read at his funeral at his request.

Through the kindness of one of my readers I've learned this poem was originally published by Sam Devere in 1885. The sheet music is available at the Library of Congress American Memory.

The version my father learned is given first and the original version follows:

 

I took my girl to a fancy ball;

It was a social hop.

We waited till the folks got out,

And the music it did stop.

Then to a restaurant we went,

The best one on the street.

She said she wasn't hungry

But this is what she ate.

 

A dozen raw, a plate of slaw,

A chicken and a roast,

Some applesauce and asparagus,

And soft-shell crabs on toast.

A big box stew, and crackers too;

Her appetite was immense!

When she called for pie,

I thought I'd die,

For in my pocket I had but fifty cents.

 

She said she wasn't hungry

And didn't care to eat,

But I've money in my clothes

To bet she can't be beat.

She took it in so cozy,

She had an awful tank.

 

She said she wasn't thirsty

But this is what she drank.

A whisky skin, a glass of gin,

Which made me shake with fear,

A ginger pop, with rum on top,

A schooner then of beer,

A glass of ale, a gin cocktail.

She should have had more sense.

When she called for more

I fell on the floor

For in my pocket I had but fifty cents.

 

Of course I wasn't hungry

And didn't care to eat,

Expecting every moment

To be kicked into the street.

She said she'd fetch her family round,

And some night we'd have fun

But in my pocket I had but fifty cents.

 

When I gave the man the fifty cents,

This is what he done:

He tore my clothes,

He smashed my nose,

He hit me on the jaw,

He gave me a prize

Of a pair of black eyes

And with me swept the floor.

He took me where my pants hung loose,

And threw me over the fence.

Now take my advice, don't try it twice

If in your pocket you've got but fifty cents.

Top


 
Original version as published by Sam Devere in 1885.

If you could see the gal I took to a fancy ball,

You could span a-round her little waist so neat and very small.

I thought about two oysters sure would fill her up complete.

Such a dainty delicate little thing but this is what she eat.

A dozen raw, with a plate of slaw, and a fancy Boston roast.

A big beef stew, with crackers too, and a soft crab on toast.

Then next she tried some oysters fried.

Her appetite was immense, when she yelled for pie

I thought I'd die for I had but fifty cents.

Then after putting all this away, she smiled so very sweet.

She said she wasn't hungry a bit, she wished that she could eat.

For a little gal you bet she had a terrible tank.

She was only a little thing too, but this is what she drank.

A brandy, a gin, and a big hot rum, and a schooner of lager beer,

Three whiskey skins and a couple of gins did quickly disappear.

With a bottle of ale and a gin cocktail she astonished all the gents.

I fell on the floor when she called for more, for I had but fifty cents.

To finish it up this delicate gal cleaned out an ice cream can.

She said, "Sam I'll tell mama you're such a real nice man."

She said she'd bring her sisters along next time she went for fun.

I showed the man my fifty cents, why this is what he done.

He broke my nose, he tore my clothes, he shook me out of breath,

I took the prize for two black eyes, he crushed me half to death.

Gave me no chance, but made me dance, and he fired me over the fence.

Take my advice, don't try this twice when you have but fifty cents.

Top


 

| Home Page | Contents | Index | Comments? |

| Chapter — Poetry |

| Next - Flower Girl |

| Back - Cowbear |