I've blogged before about American regional poetry and its value

in understanding the lifestyles and times of our ancestors. Every

region of the country had poets who wrote about local events

and often in the language peculiar to their region. One such

poet was Holman Day who was the author of many novels and

poems set in Maine.


The following poem talks about a Maine lumber company's "company

store". Since many of my ancestors were lumbermen, I found the

poem an interesting look into their lives.


By the way, the Second Annual "Great American Local Poetry

Genealogy Challenge" is coming. Start searching for poems that

have a connection and meaning to your family history and be

ready to share them with us on your own blog!





THE WANGAN CAMP *

* The wangan is the woods store that most of the Maine

lumber camps maintain.

The wangan camp!
The wangan camp!
Did ye ever go a-shoppin' in the wangan camp?

You can get some plug tobacker or a lovely corn-cob pipe,

Or a pair o' fuzzy trowsers that was picked before they's ripe.

They fit ye like your body had a dreadful lookin' twist;

There is shirts that's red and yaller and with

plaids as big's your fist;

There are larrigans and shoe-packs for all makes

and shapes of men,

As yaller as the standers of a Cochin China

hen,

The goods is rather shop-worn and purraps a

leetle damp,

—But you take 'em or you leave 'em—either

suits the wangan camp.


The wangan camp!
The wangan camp!
There is never any mark-downs
at the wangan camp.


The folks that knit the stockin's that they sell

to us, why say—

They'd git as rich as Moses on a half of what

we pay.

I haven't seen the papers, but I jedge this

Bower war

Is a-raisin' Ned with prices—they are wust I

ever saw.

I was figg'rin' t'other ev'nin' what I'd bought,

—by Jim, I'll bet

That a few more pairs o'larrigans will fetch me

out in debt.

For I've knowed a stiddy worker to go out as

poor's a tramp

'Cause he traded som'at reg'lar at the

comp'ny's wangan camp.


The wangan camp!
The wangan camp!
They tuck it to you solid
at the wangan camp.


Day, Holman Pine Tree Ballads : Rhymed Stories of Unplaned Human Natur'

Up In Maine (Boston, Ma., Small , Maynard & Co 1902) pp112-114



((Originally posted on "West in New England" 09/13/2010 ))

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