Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: Revisiting an old friend: "O Ye Jigs and Juleps"

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Revisiting an old friend: "O Ye Jigs and Juleps"

I found an old friend among boxes of books donated to the library earlier this month:   "O Ye Jigs and Juleps."

I first read OYJ&J when I was 11 or so.  Its small format and easy-to-read (and funny!) text meant that it was a "grown-up" book that I could read.   Understanding the words is one thing; fully appreciating the humor came when I read it as an adult.

It is a series of essays purported to be written in 1904 by 10-year-old Virginia Cary.   The essays were discovered years later by her daughter.  Virginia lived in a southern city and was Episcopalian, which is central to her essays.  ("Most of the things you get somebody dies so you can get it, but you have to die your own self to get Everlasting Life.  When you are dead as a doornail, God gives it to you, and you can't get rid of it. You can't buy it, or sell it, or trade it. You have to keep it whether it suits you or not.")  She has other observations:  "Personal appearance is looking the best you can for the money."  "Spring is when you draw a circle in the dirt with your finger, if you don't have a stick, and win all of the boys' marbles. My mother rubs lemon on her hands to make them white. I rub salt on my shooting thumb to make it tough."

Perspicacious, indeed. Too good to be true? Tucked inside this recently-given volume was a leaflet from the Episcopal Book Club, Summer 1962. It says the essays are genuine. (For more information on the EBC and its parent organization, The Anglican Digest, and their 'home' at Hillspeak, click here.)

As I reread OYJ&J I realized how many of the passages I've memorized. I'll close with one of my favorites:  "The Library is full of dust. Mrs. Simons sits in the middle and George Washington hangs in the hall. In the library are three kinds of books. Books people like to read. Books people do not like to read, and books people never will read. Mrs. Simons says people like books with spice. Spice comes from India....The library is where my fatehr took his check book when I broke the window. I was only trying to kill a fly. It would take too long to tell you what my mother said....In the library there are signs. Silence. Mrs. Simons must not know they are there. Mrs. Simons talks the whole long day."

Amen, and be it so!

1 comment:

  1. I finally got this book from the library after requesting it. Problem is, the 1962 copy was so delicate, the binding so splintered, I hesitated to further damage it by reading it! I carefully opened it enough to read a few pages, just so I could tell you I did!


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