Thursday, April 17, 2008

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Nothing to do with genealogy, but this is a great memory my siblings and I share: my dad reading to us from The Family Book of Best Loved Poems, edited by David L. George. Published in New York City by Doubleday & Company in 1952. This book was originally owned by my Hoekstra great-grandparents, and it made its way to our home in Alaska after they passed away. Our favorite poem was The Duel by Eugene Field, and I know we all had it memorized!


The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think?)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-ow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh dear! what shall we do?"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw--
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate!
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat,
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars sole that pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: They ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I come to know.)

--Eugene Field


Thomas MacEntee said...


I remember this poem and that book too. Like you, even though it was published in 1952 before I was born, I found the book at my great-grandparents' house.

Miriam Robbins said...

I've never met anyone else whose had this book! Very cool!