Sung by: Mary Frances (Mrs. G.H.) Caldwell
Recorded in Pine Bluff, AR 11/10/62
Click here to listen to the original recording
I have seen its saddest side.
Fortune has not deigned to help me,
Though my level best I've tried.
Some but get the milk and water,
Others get the richest cream.
Oh, the memory of my boyhood
Comes back to me as a dream.
How well do I remember
A young lad named Harry Adair.
Bright and gladsome were his features;
Bright and golden was his hair.
He was everybody's idol,
Softened even Master's heart.
When young Harry got in trouble,
Everybody took his part.
Some few months ago I met him;
His hair was ghostly gray.
When he saw me, with a shudder
He turned off another way.
Years ago he'd robbed employers,
Been in prison as a thief,
Sought to drink and dissipation,
But he never found relief.
Chorus: Playmates were we.
Little we thought it then,
How we should change
When we should all be men.
Our sweet boyhood days,
Free from each care and pain.
I wish we were boys again.
Sometimes I have grown weary
Of this world and of its strife.
Out of work and out of money,
Dark and dismal seems this life.
So one day by chance I wandered
Past a mansion in the west.
"Dr. Jasper" on the doorplate,
On the steps I sank at rest.
Presently the door flies open;
Could it be my Jack of yore?
"Dr. Jasper, my old playmate,
Don't you know me? Look once more.
I'm starving, homeless, friendless.
Help me, oh hear my piteous tale."
"No," says he, "I pay my taxes.
Seek the poorhouse or the jail."
Well, this was some few years ago, boys,
But remembrance cannot die.
Neither in the jail or poorhouse
Have I yet been forced to lie,
But I've been inside the poorhouse;
I was sent for yesterday.
Someone dying wished to see me,
And I went without delay.
When I reached that wretched bedside,
There lay, gasping for his breath,
Dr. Jasper, my old playmate,
Almost at the gates of death.
"Tom," he whispered, "I have fallen
From my wealth and grand estate.
For my cruelty forgive me.
Don't say nay; we once were mates."
(Dr. Wolf: "Good. Where did you learn that one?"
Mrs. Caldwell: "Oh, I learned that one when I was oh, just a kid, I reckon. I learned most of these songs, though, when I was over there around Fordyce. I'd hear my brother-in-law sing them, you know."
Dr. Wolf: "Did you learn that 'Man She Loved,' the one you sang just . . ."
Mrs. Caldwell: "No, I didn't learn that over there. I think I learned that from one of my sisters. My older sister."
Dr. Wolf: "Was that at Fordyce?"
Mrs. Caldwell: "No, I was up in Missouri at that time."
Dr. Wolf: "Whereabouts?"
Mrs. Caldwell: "Around Charleston."
Dr. Wolf: "Where did your father come from?"
Mrs. Caldwell: "Well, from Kentucky and Tennessee, him and my mother both were raised over in there. Now, I don't know . . . As I was telling Mary Frances the other day about my Daddy, I never did see any of my father's people. I never did. My father, though, had a lot of Irish in him, 'cause I've heard him talk about the old country and, uh, about the old Bible."
??: "What was his name?"
Mrs. Caldwell: "Horton.")