Henry & Polly: Savannah’s singing parrots—1896

Quiet Corner, John Wesley Baxter house, Dublin and Hill Roads, Greenwich, Connecticut. Macaws on terrace in summer. Photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952); Created 1920 (Library of Congress Catalog Number 2007686343)

Quiet Corner, John Wesley Baxter house, Dublin and Hill Roads, Greenwich, Connecticut. Macaws on terrace in summer. Photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952); Created 1920 (Library of Congress Catalog Number 2007686343)

I imagine the article featured in this post caught the eye and captured the imaginations of many of our ancestors who read it when it appeared back in 1896. Who isn’t fascinated by talking birds, let alone singing ones? And the fact that these birds—Polly & Henry—had numerous songs in their repertoire was truly extraordinary. Are there any birds today doing such remarkable things?

I chanced upon the article, dated 20 November 1896, in The Livonia Gazette (NY), while trolling though some search results on the Fulton History site. The Chicago Times-Herald is credited at the end with originating the story. The Wave, a Long Island newspaper carrying the article, included the additional detail that apart from Suwanee River and Say Au Revoir but not Good-bye, Polly and Harry also sang Maggie Murphy’s Home and Fifteen Dollars in My Inside Pocket. I found music and/or lyrics for these popular old songs  and have located them at the end of this post.

So, Happy Saturday. I hope you will enjoy this little slice of life from 1896.

Parrots1

Parrots1Parrots2Parrots3
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I Had Fifteen Dollars in My Inside Pocket

Copyright, 1885, by Will H. Kennedy.
Words and Music by Harry Kennedy.

I’m an Irishman, now don’t mind that.
For you can’t play tag with Paddy Flynn,
In the Fourteenth Ward I claim my how’ld,
But the gang they play’d me for a skin;
They said that they’d make me Alderman,
Then they took me ’round to see Red Bill,
We were drinking rye-and-rock, till four o’clock,
And they made me pony up for all the swill.

Chorus.
I had fifteen dollars in my inside pocket,
Don’t you see, to me it is a warning;
Saturday night I made a call oh a friend of Tarn’ny Hall
And the divil a cent I had on Sunday morning.

Oh, the gang they hung around the bar,
Like a swarm of educated mice;
Oh, they made me drink a “clarinette “punch
And a whiskey “Sangaree “on ice;
They stood me on my head, when my wealth gave out,
Then they hung me on a fence to dry,
In the early morning light, for’ninst Judge White,
These words to him I plaintively did cry:-Chorus.

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Categories: Georgia, Miscellaneous, Nature, Pets | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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