JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

The Hoosier Poet

 

 

 

 

VIDEO AUDIO
FALSE COVER OF POEMS OF CHILDHOOD  COVER OF POEMS OF CHILDHOOD
FALSE Pictures of Riley
FALSE TOMB STATUE
FALSE ILLUSTRATION OF STORY TELLING. An’  the Gobble-uns ‘ill git you. ef you don’t watch out.
FALSE These words from his famous poem about LIttle Orpant Annie framed the entire career of this famous Hoosier poet)
FALSE Pictures of Riley NARRATOR
FALSE
FALSE Log cabin and Greenfield footage James Whitcomb Riley, like Abe Lincoln,  was born in a log cabin. He was born in the heartland of the Indiana farmland near the town of Greenfield eleven years before the American Civil War began.
FALSE James was born on Oct 7, 1849, which was, by coincidence, the same day that Edgar Allan Poe died.
FALSE Video of Main Street today
FALSE
FALSE old Main street Main Street  in Greenfield was the National Road that wound through farms and forested lands on its way to California and points West
FALSE Reuben pix Riley’s father, Reuben, was a lawyer and politician.
FALSE RILEY PHOTOS
FALSE CAPITOL Greenfield was but a day’s ride from the capital city in Indianapolis.
FALSE
FALSE national road In 1848, the year before James was born, his father Reuben was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana House of Representatives. Reuben became good friends with James Whitcomb, the 8th governor of Indiana, so he named his second son after him.
FALSE
FALSE Pic of  Liz or gravestone and kitchen footage from house. His mother, Elizabeth, was a story teller who wrote poetry as well. She baked in a hearth oven and sometimes wrote her poetry at the kitchen table while and raising her growing bevy of children.
FALSE HOUSE IN GREENFIELD
FALSE When Riley was still quite young, his father began building another home for the family in Greenfield. This is the home where James grew up.
FALSE
FALSE GWEN BETOR SHOWING LIVING AREA It is now open as a museum and manned by historical society volunteers who take thousands of visitors on tours every year.
FALSE
FALSE James schooling was sporadic. He did not graduate the eighth grade  until he was twenty-one in 1869.

His mother taught him to read and write at home, but he eventually went to a local schoolhouse.

Riley was the first to admit that his schooling had suffered. He did not know much about mathematics, or science, as he was not interested in these things.

FALSE
FALSE His parents began to worry that James would never amount to much. He   simply would not learn history, science or mathematics.
FALSE
FALSE A teacher once asked him where Columbus sailed on his second voyage and Riley replied that he did not even know where he sailed on his first voyage,

Riley was fond of saying, “I don’t take no credit fer my ignorance – jest born that-a-way,.”

FALSE
FALSE LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE WAS ONE OF RILEY’S FAMOUS CHILDREN POEMS. IT WAS WRITTEN ABOUT A HIRED GIRL NAMED MARY ALICE SMITH THAT CAME TO WORK FOR HIS PARENTS WHEN HE WAS YOUNG. WE HAVE AN OLD RECORDING OF RILEY READING THIS POEM:
FALSE CLIP OF FURNISHINGS … NO CHILDREN ALLOWED TO MESS IT UP
FALSE JAMES WAS FEARFUL OF THE SPACE IN THE ATTIC WHERE TWO EYES OF LIGHT SHOWED THROUGH FROM HOLES IN THE ROOFING.
FALSE
FALSE CLIP OF TOUR GUIDE TALKING ABOUT RILEY’S SCHOOLING GUIDE: James tried to please his father and study the law books but his mind just kept wandering.   Those poems just kept jumping in this head, and when he grew up Reuben couldn’t understand why he did not grow out of this phase. Poetry was a thing back then. Both His Mother and Dad did it, but then they grew up and they stopped.  James  didn’t like to work, he was a daydreamer, he liked to go outside and wander around. When James became big, what did those people see he him?  He’s a lazy guy.
FALSE
FALSE RILEY PHOTO AND PICTURES OF BOOKS FOR A LAZY GUY, JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY SURELY KEPT HIMSELF BUSY WRITING BOOKS AND COLLECTIONS OF POETRY.
TRUE  
TRUE When Riley was ten the first library was opened in Greenfield. He developed a real love for literature.
TRUE James and his friends  became friends with the librarian who told them stories and read them poems. One of James’ favorite authors was Charles Dickens . Some of his poems were inspired by Dickens, such as “CHRISTMAS SEASON’  and GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE.
TRUE MISC STILLS Poetry was not just an exotic taste in literature in Riley’s day.  It was read by the common men and women of the nation. Poetry offered the reader a form of self-reflection, an expression of  their personal hopes and aspirations. It was printed in of newspapers and read by public speakers.  Poetry served as entertainment for the masses. In Riley’s time, reading poetry was as common as watching television or clicking on Internet websites.
FALSE Fairbanks Tea Party photo Riley was known as a humorist and a prankster. One of his pranks may have had the effect of electing William Howard Taft to be President of the United States. President Roosevelt was a friend of Riley’s. A t a famous tea party in Indianapolis, Riley reportedly spiked the punch. The Hoosier Vice President, Charles Warren Fairbanks got tipsy at the party and gained the reputation of being a ‘lush’ during a time of prohibition sentiment. As a result, Fairbanks was passed over as Teddy Roosevelt’s pick for vice president and Taft was picked instead. Taft later succeeded Roosevelt to the Presidency.
FALSE Mark Twain ) said James Whitcomb Riley’s “Old Soldier’s Story”  was the funniest story he ever listened to and considered Riley America’s number one humorist.
FALSE “I heerd an awful funny thing the other day – Ha! Ha! I don’t know whether I kin git it off or not, but, anyhow, I’ll tell it to you. Well! – let’s see now how the fool thing goes.
FALSE Oh, yes! Why, there was a feller one time – it was during the army and this feller that I started in to tell you about was in the war and – Ha! Ha! – there was a big fight agoin’ one, and this feller was in the fight, and it was a big battle and bullets aflyin’ ever’ which way, and bombshells abustin’ and cannon balls aflyin’ ‘round promiscuous; and this feller right in the midst of it, you know, and all excited and heated up, and chargin’’ away; and the first thing you know along comes a cannon-ball and shot his head off – Ha! Ha! Ha!
FALSE Hold on here a minute! No, sir! I’m agettin’ ahead of my story.
FALSE No No! It didn’t shoot his head off. I’m gettin’ ahead of my story.
FALSE Shot his leg off. That was the way. Shot his leg off.
FALSE And down the poor feller dropped and of course in that condition was perfectly helpless, you know. But he did have the presence of mind enough to know that he was in a dangerous condition if something wasn’t done for him right away.

So he seen a comrade achargin’ by that he knowed, and he hollers to him and called him by name – I don’t remember now what the feller’s name was… Well, that’s got nothin’ to do with the story anyway.

FALSE He hollers at him, he did, and says, “Hello, there,” he says to him; “Here! I want you to come here and give me a lift. I got my leg shot off and I want you to pack me back to the rear of the battle.” That’s where the doctors is during a fight you know.
FALSE And he says, “I need attention or I’m a dead man for I got my leg shot off,” he says, “and I want you to pack me back there so’s the surgeons can take care of me.”

Well – the feller, as luck would have it, recognized him and run to him and throwed down his own musket so’s he could pick him up.

FALSE And he stooped down and picked him up and kind of half-way shouldered him and half-way held him between his arms like, and then he turned and started back with him – Ha! Ha!
FALSE Now, mind, the fight was still agoin’ on – and right at the hot of the fight, and the feller all excited you know like he was, and the soldier that had his leg shot off getting kinda fainty like, and his head kinda stuck back over the feller’s shoulder that was carryin’ him.
FALSE  
FALSE And the most curious thing about it was – Ha! Ha! – that the feller was apackin’ him didn’t know that he had been hit again at all, and back he went – still carryin’ the deceased back – Ha! Ha! Ha! – to where the doctors could take care of him – as he thought.
FALSE Well, his captain happened to see him, and he thought it was a rather curious proceedings – a solder carryin’ a dead body out of the fight – don’t you see?
And so the captain hollers at him, and he says to the soldier the captain did. He says, “Hello there. Where you goin’ with that thing?” That is what the captain said to the solder who was acarryin’ away the feller that had his leg shot off. Well, his head too, by that time.
FALSE “So he says, “Where you going with that thing?”
FALSE Well the soldier he stopped – kinda halted – you know like a private soldier will when his presidin’ officer speaks to him – and he says to him, “Why,” he says, “Cap. It’s a comrade of mine and the poor feller has got his leg shot off, and I’m a packin’ him back to where the doctors is . And there was nobody to help him, and the feller would have died in his tracks – or track rather – if it hadn’t been for me. I’m packin’ him back where the surgeons can take care of him, where he can get medical attendance or else his wife’s a widow for sure,” he says.
FALSE Then captain says, “You blame fool you. He’s got his head shot off.”

So then the feller slacked his grip on the body and let it slide down to the ground, and looked at it a minute, all puzzled, you know, and says, “Why he told me it was his leg!””

FALSE
FALSE One of the poems attributed to James Whitcomb Riley was never included in his published works.  It was called “The Passing of the Outhouse.”
FALSE      The older generations know what an outhouse is but perhaps the younger do not.  It is an outdoor toilet.  Every country home had an outhouse.
FALSE THE PASSING OF THE OUTHOUSE
FALSE James Whitcomb Riley
FALSE  
FALSE out house We had our posey garden
FALSE That the women loved so well.
FALSE I loved it too but better still
FALSE I loved the stronger smell
FALSE That filled the evening breezes
FALSE So full of homely cheer
FALSE And told the night-o’ertaken tramp
FALSE That human life was near.
FALSE On lazy August afternoons:
FALSE It made a little bower
FALSE passing 2 Delightful, where my grandsire sat
FALSE And whiled away an hour.
FALSE For there the summer morning
FALSE Its very cares entwined.
And berry bushes reddened
FALSE In the teeming soil behind.
FALSE All day fat spiders spun their webs
FALSE To catch the buzzing flies.
FALSE That flitted to and from the house
FALSE Where Ma was baking pies.
FALSE And once a swarm of hornets bold
FALSE Had built a palace there.
FALSE And stung my unsuspecting aunt –
FALSE I must not tell you where.
FALSE Then father took a flaming pole
FALSE That was a happy day –
FALSE He nearly burned the building up
FALSE But the hornets left to stay.
FALSE When summer bloom began to fade
FALSE And winter to carouse,
FALSE We banked the little building
FALSE With a heap of hemlock boughs.
FALSE But when the crust was on the snow
FALSE And the sullen skies were gray,
FALSE In sooth the building was no place
FALSE Where one could wish to stay.
FALSE We did our duties promptly;
FALSE There one purpose swayed the mind.
FALSE outhouse We tarried not nor lingered long
FALSE On what we left behind.
FALSE The torture of that icy seat
FALSE Would made a Spartan sob,
FALSE For needs must scrape the gooseflesh
FALSE With a lacerating cob.
FALSE That from a frost-encrusted nail
FALSE Was suspended by a string –
FALSE My father was a frugal man
FALSE And wasted not a thing.
FALSE When grandpa had to “go out back”
FALSE And make his morning call,
FALSE We’d bundled up the dear old man
FALSE With a muffler and a shawl.
FALSE I knew the hole on which he sat
FALSE Twas padded all around,
FALSE And once I dared to sit there;
FALSE Twas all too wide, I found.
FALSE passing 3 My loins were all too little
FALSE And I jack-knifed there to stay;
FALSE They had to come and get me out
FALSE Or I’d have passed away.
FALSE Then father said ambition
FALSE Was a thing small boys should shun,
FALSE And I must use the children’s hole
FALSE Till childhood days were done.
FALSE But still I marvel at the craft
FALSE That cut those holes so true;
FALSE The baby hole and the slender hole
FALSE That fitted Sister Sue.
FALSE That dear old country landmark!
FALSE I’ve tramped around a not
FALSE And in the lap of luxury
FALSE My lot has been to sit,
FALSE But ere I die I‘ll eat the fruit
FALSE Of trees I robbed of yore,
FALSE Then seek the shanty where my name
FALSE Is carved upon the door.
FALSE I ween the old familiar smell
FALSE Will soothe my jaded soul;
FALSE I’m now a man, but none the less
FALSE I’ll try the children’s hole.
FALSE The Old Swimmin’ Hole was a poem written by James Whitcomb Riley. H wrote it under the pen name “Benjamin F. Johnson of Boone County“. The poem was first published in 1883 as part of a book entitled The Old Swimmin’ Hole and ‘Leven More Poems. The poem is one of Riley’s most famous and perhaps the most  memorable. Riley reminisces about the Brandywine Creek where played with his friends during his boyhood. The poem has sold millions of copies.
FALSE Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! When I last saw the place,
FALSE The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
FALSE The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
FALSE Whare the old divin’-log lays sunk and fergot.
FALSE And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be—
FALSE But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
FALSE And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
FALSE And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin’-hole.
FALSE James Whitcomb Riley loved children. Every year on Riley Day, the children from the Greenfield area have a parade and bring fresh cut flowers to the Riley statue, where they hand them to adults who decorate the statue with these cut flowers. So far as I know, this is a unique event.  What poet anywhere is revered and celebrated  with such enthusiasm and appreciation?

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