Guest Post by
Lewis Sharrard Author Unknown
My dead grandfather
wrote typed today’s post for me. I was planning on exploring the history of margarine by tracing its definitions through 150+ years of dictionary definitions, thereby demonstrating that historically, margarine has not been a vegetarian product, and moreover the “spreadable butter” butter-canola oil mix that has recently been introduced to the market ought to be classified as margarine. That research has been mostly done, and no doubt I’ll regale you on that fascinating topic soon enough.
But, while I was browsing my dictionary collection (yes, I collect dictionaries, and no doubt I’ll explain more when I’m re-introducing the history of margarine), I stumbled across a poem
written typed by my grandfather who-knows-when, folded and tucked into the pages of his old Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition. I was thrilled to read new work by this brilliant man, and am even happier to be able to As comments at the end detail, the source of this poem is unknown, but I am glad to be able to publish this truly unearthed text as its content relates, in part, to the reforms in farming policy during the FDR administration that have led to the prevalence of agribusiness conglomerate-run factory farms that dominates our agricultural landscape today. And so, without further ado….
A Stranger Stood at the Gates of Hell
Lewis Sharrard ???
A stranger stood at the gates of Hell,
And the Devil himself answered the bell.
He looked him over from head to toe,
And said, my friend, I’d like to know
What have you done in the line of sin
To entitle you to come within?
Then Franklin D. with his usual guile,
Stepped forth and flashed his toothy smile.
When I took charge in thirty
A nation’s faith was mine, said he.
I promised this and I promised that,
And I calmed them down with a fireside chat.
I spent their money on fishing trips,
And fished from the decks of their battleships.
I gave them jobs on the WPA,
Then raised their wages and took it away.
I killed their pigs and burned their crops.
I raised their wages and closed their shops.
I double-crossed both old and young,
And still the fools my praises sung.
I brought back beer and what do you think?
I taxed it so high they couldn’t drink.
I furnished money with government loans
When they missed a payment I took their homes.
When I wanted to punish the folks,you know,
I’d put put my wife on the radio.
I paid them to let their farms stand still,
And imported foodstuffs from Brazil,
I curtailed crops when I felt real mean
And shipped corn in from the Argentine.
When they’d start to worry, stew and fret
I’d get them chanting the alphabet
With the A.A.A. and the N.L.B.,
The W.P.A. and the C.C.C.
With these many units I got their goats
But still I crammed it down their throats.
My workers worked with the speed of snails
While the taxpayers chewed their finger nails.
When the organizers needed dough,
I closed up plants for the C.I.O.
I ruined jobs and I ruined health
And I put the screws to the rich men’s wealth.
And some who couldn’t stand the gaff
Would call on me, and how I’d laugh.
When they got strong on certain things
I’d pack and head for Warm Springs.
I ruined their country, their homes, and then
I placed the blame on Nine Old Men.
Now Franklin talked both long and loud,
And the Devil stood, and his head was bowed.
At last he said, Let’s make it clear
You’ll have to move, you can’t stay here,
For once you’ve mingled with this mob
I’d have to hunt myself a job!
I’m not really familiar with many of the political references that are made in the poem, but it smacks of being current: of indignation at the policies as they were being implemented, and I really enjoy how the farm policy changes that made it tougher for family farms to survive are cited as damning evidence.
If you have a piece of food-related writing that you think belongs on Corduroy Orange, email it to me and I’ll see if I agree. All submissions are subject to editing.