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JIM: A heartrending cautionary tale

By Jim

This heartrending cautionary tale of a wayward child appeared exactly fivescore years ago today - November 16, 1904 - in the Adair County News. Although the News attributed it simply to The Irrigator (likely the source from which the News reprinted the poem), it was penned by James Barton Adams and appeared in a volume of poetry, Breezy Western Verses (1899).

Bill's in Trouble
I've got a letter, parson, from my son away out West,
An' my ol' heart is heavy as an anvil in my breast,
To think the boy whose futur' I had once so proudly planned
Should wander from the path o' right an' come to such an end!
I tol' him when he left us, only three short years ago,
He'd find himself a plowin' in a mighty crooked row;
He'd miss his father's councels and his mother's prayers, too,
But he said the farm was hateful, an he guessed he have to go.

I know that's big temptation fur a youngster in the west,
But I believed our Billy had the courage to resist,
An' when he left I warned him of the ever waitin' snares
That lie like hidden serpents in life's pathway everywheres;
But Bill he promised faithful to be keerful, and allowed
He'd build up a reputation that'd make us mighty proud;
But it seems as how my counsel sort o' faded from his mind,
An' now he's got in trouble of the very worstest kind.

His letters come so seldom that I somehow sort o' knowed
That Billy was a trampin' on a mighty rocky road,
But never once imagined he would bow my head in shame
An' in the dust'd waller his ol'daddy's honored name.
He writes from out in Denver, an' the story's mighty short:
I jess can't tell his mother--It'll crush her poor ol' heart!
An' as I reckoned, parson, you might break the news to her-
- Bill's in the Legislatur', but he doesn't say what fur!
(The page of the News from which this was transcribed has a tear across the top, so the first two lines were taken from another source. - JIM)

This story was posted on 2013-11-16 07:53:28
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