Edgar A. (Edgar Albert) Guest.

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Gift of Miss Helen M, Lowe

Just Folks

Just Folks


Edgar A. Guest

Author of
"A Heap o' Livin'"

Mom-WgiiiiCf r.!!iiFi;r


The Reilly & Lee Co,


Copyright, 1917


The Reilly & Britton Co.

]\Iade in U. S. A.

Just Folks



To the Little Mother and
the Alemory of the Big
Father, This Simple Book
Is Affectionatelv Dedicated




About Boys 1 70

Another Mouth to Feed 130

As It Goes 12

As It Is 156

At Christmas 144

At Pelletier's 142

Auto, The 123

Baby's Got a Tooth 172

Beauty Places, The 81

Blue Flannel Shirt, The 71

Boost for Modern Methods, A 104

Boy Soldier, The 162

Boy's Tribute, A 158

Bribed 95

Broken Drum, The 153

Bud 118

Call, The 128

Childless 52

Constant Beauty 38

Crucible of Life, Tlie 54

Curly Locks 171

Daddies 165

Day of Days, The 31

Departed Friends 59

Family's Homely Man, The 88

Few, The 183

Fine Sight, A 33

First Steps, The 85

Fisherman, The 1 74

Fishing Nooks ;^6

Fishing Outfit, The 56


Flag on the Farm, The 66

Friends 103

Front Seat, The 119

Grandpa 72

Growing Down 177

Grown-Up 58

Hand}^ Man, The 124

Hard Luck 26

Heroes 68

Hollyhocks 14

Home 41

Home and the Baby 173

Home Builders, The 96

Improvement 115

Job, The 43

June 180

Just Folks II

Lanes of Alemory, The 30

Laughter 60

Lemon Pie 65

Little Army, The 146

Little Church, The 131

Little Hurts, The 29

Little Old Man, The 82

Little Velvet Suit, The 83

Living 151

Loafing 166

Love of the Game, The 186

Lure That Failed, The 136

Manhood's Greeting 34

Man to Be. The 106


March of ^Mortality, The ' 176

Memorial Day 47

Memory 48

Midnight in the Pantry 92

]M other on the Sidewalk, The 46

Mother's Excuses 154

Mother's Question, The 70

My Books and 1 98

My Land 164

New Daj^s, The 1 26

October 109

Old-Fashioned Pair. The 140

Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, Tlie 137

Old, Old Story, The 22

Old-Time Family, The 42

On Being Broke 152

On Quitting no

Open Fire, The 114

Other Fellow, The 112

Pa Did It 74

Pathway of the Living, The 64

Patriotic Creed, A 40

Price of Riches, The in

Pup, The 23

Questions 100

Real Successes, The yo

Real Swimming 184

Reward 16

Roads of Happiness, The 178

Roses and Sunshine 188


Sacrifice 15

Sausage loi

Scofter, The 62

Send Her a Valentine 117

See It Throng-h 17


Show the Fla^^ 37

Signs 86

Since Jessie Died 24

Songs of Rejoicing 129

Sorry Hostess, The 78

Stick-Together Famihes, The 50

Success 99

Sue's Got a Baby 134

Summer Children, The 108

Thanksgiving 161

There Are No Gods 122

To the Humble 18

Toys 44

Truth About Envy, Tiie 150

Unimportant Differences 55

Up to the Ceiling 160

Vacation Time 27

Weaver, The 182

When 'Father Played Baseball 168

When Mother Cooked with Wood 90

When Mother Sleeps 181

When Nellie's on the Job 20

Who Is Your Boss? 148

World Is Against IMe, The 94

Yesterday 79

Just Folks

We're queer folks here.

We'll talk about the weather,

The good times we have had together.

The good times near,

The roses buddin', an' the bees
Once more upon their nectar sprees ;
The scarlet fever scare, an' who
Came mighty near not puUin' through.
An' who had light attacks, an' all
The things that int'rest, big or small ;

But here you'll never hear of sinnin'

Or any scandal that's beginnin'.

We've got too many other labors

To scatter tales that harm our neighbors.

We're strange folks here.
We're try in' to be cheerful,
An' keep this home from gettin' tearful.

We hold it dear ;

Too dear for pettiness an' meanness,
An' nasty tales of men's uncleanness.
Here you shall come to joyous smilin',
Secure from hate an' harsh revilin' ;
Here, where the wood fire brightly blazes,
You'll hear from us our neighbor's praises.


Here, that they'll never grow to doubt us,
We keep our friends always about us ;
An' here, though storms outside may pelter
Is refuge for our friends, an' shelter.

We've one rule here;

An' that is to be pleasant.

The folks we know are always present,
Or very near.

An' though they dwell in many places.

We think we're talkin' to their faces ;

An' that keeps us from only seein'

The faults in any human bein',

An' checks our tongues when they'd go trailin'

Into the mire of mortal failin'.
Flaws aren't so big when folks are near you ;
You don't talk mean when they can hear you.
An' so no scandal here is started,
Because from friends we're never parted.

As It Goes

In the corner she's left the mechanical toy,
On the chair is her Teddy Bear fine ;

The things that I thought she would really enjoy
Don't seem to be quite in her line.


There's the flaxen-haired doll that is lovely to see

And really expensively dressed,
Left alone, all uncared for, and strange though
it be,

She likes her rag dolly the best.

Oh, the money we spent and the plans that we
And the wonderful things that we bought !
There are toys that are cunningly, skillfully
But she seems not to give them a thought.
She was pleased when she woke and discovered
them there.
But never a one of us guessed
That it isn't the splendor that makes a gift
rare —
She likes her rag dolly the best.

There's the flaxen-haired doll, with the real
human hair.

There's the Teddy Bear left all alone,
There's the automobile at the foot of the stair.

And there is her toy telephone;
We thought they were fine, but a little child's

Look deeper than ours to find charm,
And now she's in bed, and the rag dolly lies

Snuggled close on her little white arm.


H oil 1/ hocks

Old-fashioned flowers ! I love them all :
The morning-glories on the wall,
The pansies in their patch of shade,
The violets, stolen from a gl^de,
The bleeding hearts and columbine,
Have long been garden friends of mine ;
But memory every summer flocks
About a clump of hollyhocks.

The mother loved them years ago;
Beside the fence they used to grow,
And though the garden changed each year
And certain blooms would disappear
To give their places in the ground
To something new that mother found,
Some pretty bloom or rosebush rare —
The hollyhocks were always there.

It seems but yesterday to me
She led me down the yard to see
The first tall spires, with bloom aflame,
And taught me to pronounce their name.
And year by year I watched them grow.
The first flowers I had come to know!
And with the mother dear I'd yearn
To see the hollyhocks return.


The garden of my boyhood days

With hollyhocks was kept ablaze;

In all my recollections they

In friendly columns nod and sway ;

And when to-day their blooms I see,

Always the mother smiles at me;

The mind's bright chambers, life unlocks

Each summer with the hollyhocks.


When he has miore than he can eat
To feed a stranger's not a feat.

When he has more than he can spend
It isn't hard to give or lend.

A\'ho gives but what he'll never miss
Will never know what giving is.

He'll win few praises from his Lord
Who does but what he can afford.

The widow's mite to heaven went
Because real sacrifice it meant.



Don't want medals on my breast,

Don't want all the glory,
I'm not worrying greatly lest

The world won't hear my story.
A chance to dream beside a stream

Where fish are biting free ;
A day or two, 'neath skies of blue,

Is joy enough for me.

I do not ask a hoard of gold,

Nor treasures rich and rare;
I don't want all the joys to hold;

I only want a share.
Just now and then, away from men

And all their haunts of pride,
If I can steal, with rod and reel,

I will be satisfied.

I'll gladly work my way through life;

I would not always play;
I only ask to quit the strife

For an occasional day.
If I can sneak from toil a week

To chum with stream and tree,
I'll fish away and smiling say

That life's been good to me.


See It Through

When you're up against a trouble,

Meet it squarely, face to face ;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders.

Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it's vain to try to dodge it.

Do the best that you can do ;
You may fail, but you may conquer.

See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you

And your future may seem grim,
But don't let your nerve desert yoi!;

Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen.

Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you.

See it through !

Even hope may seem but futile,

When with troubles you're beset.
But remember you are facing

Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;

Don't give up, whate'er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.

See it through !


To the Humble

If all the flowers were roses,

If never daisies grew,
If no old-fashioned posies

Drank in the morning dew,
Then man might have some reason

To whimper and complain,
And speak these words of treason,

That all our toil is vain.

If all the stars were Saturns

That twinkle in the night.
Of equal size and patterns,

And equally as bright.
Then men in humble places.

With humble work to do.
With frowns upon their faces

Might trudge their journey through.

But humble stars and posies

Still do their best, although
They're planets not, nor roses.

To cheer the world below.
And those old-fashioned daisies

Delight the soul of man ;
They're here, and this their praise is :

They work the Master's plan.


Though humble be your labor,

And modest be your sphere,
Come, envy not your neighbor

Whose light shines brighter here.
Does God forget the daisies

Because the roses bloom ?
Shall you not win His praises

By toiling at your loom ?

Have you, the toiler humble.

Just reason to complain.
To shirk your task and grumble

And think that it is vain
Because you see a brother

With greater work to do ?
No fame of his can smother

The merit that's in you.


When Nellie's on the Job

The bright spots in my Hfe are when the servant

quits the place,
Although that grim disturbance brings a frown

to NelHe's face;
The week between the old girl's reign and entry

of the new
Is one that's filled with happiness and comfort

through and through.
The charm of living's back again — a charm that

servants rob —
I like the home, I like the meals, when Nellie's

on the job.

There's something in a servant's ways, however

fine they be,
That has a cold and distant touch and frets the

soul of me.
The old home never looks so well, as in that

week or two
That we are servantless and Nell has all the

work to do.
There is a sense of comfort then that makes my

pulses throb
And home is as it ought to be when Nellie's on

the job.


Think not that I'd deny her help or grudge the

servant's pay;
When one departs we try to get another right

I merely state the simple fact that no such joys

I've known
As in those few brief days at home when we've

been left alone.
There is a gentleness that seems to soothe this

selfish elf
And, Oh, I Hke to eat those meals that Xellie

gets herself !

You cannot buy the gentle touch that mother

gives the place ;
No serv^ant girl can do the work with just the

proper grace.
And though you hired the queen of cooks to

fashion your croquettes,
Her meals would not compare with those your

loving comrade gets;
So, though the maid has quit again, and she is

moved to sob,
The old home's at its finest now, for Nellie's

on the job.


The Old, Old Storij

I have no wish to rail at fate,

And vow that I'm unfairly treated ;
I do not give vent to my hate

Because at times I am defeated.
Life has its ups and downs, I know,

But tell me why should people say
Whenever after fish I go :

*'You should have been here yesterday" ?

It is my luck always to strike

A day when there is nothing doing,
When neither perch, nor bass, nor pike

My baited hooks will come a-wooing.
Must I a day late always be?

When not a nibble comes my way
Must someone always say to me :

"We causfht a bunch here yesterday" ?


I am not prone to discontent.

Nor over-zealous now to climb;
If victory is not yet meant

For me I'll calmly bide my time.
But I should like just once to go

Out fishing on some lake or bay
And not have someone mutter : "Oh,

You should have been here yesterday."


The Pup

He tore the curtains yesterday,

And scratched the paper on the wall;
Ma's rubbers, too, have gone astray —

She says she left them in the hall;
He tugged the table cloth and broke

A fancy saucer and a cup;
Though Bud and I think it a joke

Ma scolds a lot about the pup.

The sofa pillows are a sight,

The rugs are looking somewhat frayed,
And there is ruin, left and right.

That little Boston bull has made.
He slept on Buddy's counterpane —

Ma found him there when she woke up.
I think it needless to explain

She scolds a lot about the pup.

And yet he comes and licks her hand

And sometimes climbs into her lap
And there, Bud lets me understand,

He very often takes his nap.
And Bud and I have learned to know

She wouldn't give the rascal up :
She's really fond of him, although

She scolds a lot about the pup.


Since Jessie Died

We understand a lot of things we never did

And it seems that to each other Ma and I are

meaning more.
I don't know how to say it, but since little Jessie

We have learned that to be happy we must travel

side by side.
You can share your joys and pleasures, but you

never come to know
The depth there is in loving, till you've got a

common woe.

We're past the hurt of fretting — we can talk

about it now:
She slipped away so gently and the fever left

her brow
So softly that we didn't know we'd lost her, but,

We thought her only sleeping as we watched

beside her bed.
Then the doctor, I remember, raised his head, as

if to say
What his eyes had told already, and Ma fainted

dead away.


Up to then I thought that money was the thing

I ought to get ;
And I fancied, once I had it, I should never have

to fret.
But I saw that I had wasted precious hours in

seeking wealth ;
I had made a tidy fortune, but I couldn't buy

her health.
And I saw this truth much clearer than I'd ever

seen before:
That the rich man and the poor man have to let

death through the door.

We're not half so keen for money as one time
we used to be ;

I am thinking more of mother and she's think-
ing more of me.

Now we spend more time together, and I know
we're meaning more

To each other on life's journey, than we ever
meant before.

It was hard to understand it! Oh, the dreary
nights we've cried!

But we've found the depth of loving, since the
day that Jessie died.


Hard Luch

x\in't no use as I can see

In sittin' underneath a tree

An' growlin' that 3^our luck is bad,

An' that your life is extry sad ;

Your life ain't sadder than your neighbor's

Nor any harder are your labors ;

It rains on him the same as you,

An' he has work he hates to do;

An' he gits tired an' he gits cross,

An' he has trouble with the boss;

You take his whole life, through an' through,

Why, he's no better off than you.

If whinin' brushed the clouds away
I wouldn't have a word to say;
If it made good friends out o' foes
I'd whine a bit, too, I suppose;
But when I look around an' see
A lot o' men resemblin' me,
An' see 'em sad, an' see 'em gay
With work t' do most every day,
Some full o' fun, some bent with care,
Some havin' troubles hard to bear,
I reckon, as I count my woes,
They're 'bout what everybody knows.

The day I find a man who'll say
He's never known a rainy day,


Who'll raise his right hand up an' swear
In forty years he's had no care,
Has never had a single blow,
An' never known one touch o' woe.
Has never seen a loved one die,
Has never wept or heaved a sigh,
Has never had a plan go wrong,
But alius laughed his way along;
Then I'll sit down an' start to whine
That all the hard luck here is mine.

Vacation Time

Vacation time ! How glad it seemed
When as a boy I sat and dreamed
Above my school books, of the fun
That I should claim when toil was done;
And, Oh, how oft my youthful eye
Went wandering with the patch of sky
That drifted by the window panes
O'er pleasant fields and dusty lanes,
-Where I would race and romp and shout
The very moment school was out.
My artful little fingers then
Feigned labor with the ink and pen.
But heart and mind were far away,
Engaged in some glad bit of play.


The last two weeks dragged slowly by;
Time hadn't then learned how to fly.
It seemed the clock upon the wall
From hour to hour could only crawl,
And when the teacher called my name,
Unto my cheeks the crim.son came.
For I could give no answer clear
To questions that I didn't hear.
"Wool gathering, were you ?" oft she said
And smiled to see me blushing red.
Her voice had roused me from a dream
Where I was fishing in a stream,
And, if I now recall it right,
Just at the time I had a bite.

And now my youngsters dream of play
In just the very selfsame way;
And they complain that time is slow
And that the term will never go.
Their little minds with plans are filled
For joyous hours they soon will build.
And it is vain for me to say,
That have grown old and wise and gray,
That time is swift, and joy is brief;
They'll put no faith in such belief.
To youthful hearts that long for play
Time is a laggard on the way.
'Twas, Oh, so slow to me back then
Ere I had learned the ways of men!


The Little Hurts

Every night she runs to me
With a bandaged arm or a bandaged knee,
A stone-bruised heel or a swollen brow,
And in sorrowful tones she tells me how
She fell and "hurted herse'f to-day"
While she was having the "'bestest play."

And I take her up in my arms and kiss

The new little wounds and whisper this :

**Oh, you must be careful, my little one,

You mustn't get hurt while your daddy's gone,

For every cut with its ache and smart

Leaves another bruise on your daddy's heart.'*

Every night I must stoop to see
The fresh little cuts on her arm or knee ;
The little hurts that have marred her play,
And brought the tears on a happy day;
For the path of childhood is oft beset
With care and trouble and things that fret.

Oh, little girl, when you older grow.
Far greater hurts than these you'll know ;
Greater bruises will bring your tears,
Around the bend of the lane of years,
But come to your daddy with them at night
And he'll do his best to make all things right.


The Lanes of Memory

Adown the lanes of memory bloom all the

flowers of yesteryear,
And looking back we smile to see life's bright

red roses reappear,
The little sprigs of mignonette that smiled upon

us as we passed,
The pansy and the violet, too sweet, we thought

those davs, to last.

The gentle mother by the door caresses still her

lilac blooms,
And as wx wander back once more we seem to

smell the old perfumes,
We seem to live again the joys that once were

ours so long ago
When we were little girls and boys, with all the

charms we used to know.

But living things grow old and fade; the dead

in memory remain,
In all their splendid youth arrayed, exempt from

suffering and pain ;
The little babe God called away, so many, many

years ago,
Is still a httle babe to-day, and I am glad that

this is so.


Time has not changed the joys we knew; tht

summer rains or winter snows
Have failed to harm the wondrous hue of any

dew-kissed bygone rose;
In memory 'tis still as fair as w'hen we plucked

it for our own,
And we can see it blooming there, if anything,

more lovely grown.

Adown the lanes of memory bloom all the joys

of yesteryear,
And God has given you and me the power to

make them reappear;
For w^e can settle back at night and live again

the joys we knew
And taste once more the old delight of days

when all our skies were blue.

The Day of Days

A year is filled with glad events :

The best is Christmas day,
But every holiday presents

Its special round of play,
And looking back on boyhood now

And all the charms it knew.
One day, above the rest, somehow,

Seems brightest in review.


That day was finest, I believe,
Though many grown-ups scoff,

When mother said that we could leave
Our shoes and stockinets off.


Through all the pleasant days of spring

We begged to know once more
The joy of barefoot wandering

And quit the shoes we wore;
But always mother shook her head

And answered with a smile:
*Tt is too soon, too soon," she said.

"Wait just a little while."
Then came that glorious day at last

When mother let us know
That fear of taking cold was past

And we could barefoot go.

Though Christmas day meant much to me.

And eagerly I'd try
The first boy on the street to be

The Fourth day of July,
I think the summit of my joy

Was reached that happy day
Each year, when, as a barefoot boy,

I hastened out to play.
Could I return to childhood fair,

That day I think I'd choose .
When mother said I needn't wear

]My stockings and my shoes.


A Fine Sight

I reckon the finest sight of all

That a man can see in this world of ours
Ain't the works of art on the gallery wall,

Or the red an' white o' the fust spring flowers,
Or a hoard o' gold from the yellow mines ;

But the' sight that'll make ye want t' yell
Is t' catch a glimpse o' the fust pink signs

In yer baby's cheek, that she's gittin' well.

When ye see the pink jes' a-creepin' back

T' the pale, drawn cheek, an' ye note a smile.
Then th' cords o' yer heart that were tight, grow

An' ye jump fer joy every little while,
An' ye tiptoe back to her little bed

As though ye doubted yer eyes, or were
Afraid it was fever come back instead,

An' ye found that th' pink still blossomed there.

Ye've watched fer that smile an' that bit o' bloom

With a heavy heart fer weeks an' weeks ;
An' a castle o' joy becomes that room

When ye glimpse th' pink in yer baby's cheeks.
An' out o' yer breast flies a weight o' care,

An' ye're lifted up by some magic spell,
An' yer heart jes' naturally beats a prayer

O' joy to the Lord 'cause she's gittin' well.



B/ilEfil-llUCE HOtlfCf

Manhood's Greeting

I've felt some little thrills of pride, Fve inwardly

Along- the pleasant lanes of life to hear my

praises voiced;
No great distinction have I claimed, but in a

humble way
Some satisfactions sweet have come to brighten

many a day;
But of the joyous thrills of life the finest that

could be
Was mine upon that day when first a stranger

"mistered" me.

I had my first long trousers on, and wore a

derby too,
But I was still a little boy to everyone I knew.
I dressed in manly fashion, and I tried to act

the part.
But I felt that I was awkward and lacked the

manly art.
And then that kindly stranger spoke my name

and set me free ;
I was sure I'd come to manhood on the day he

''mistered" me.


I never shall forget the joy that suddenly was

The sweetness of the thrill that seemed to dance

along my spine,
The pride that swelled within me, as he shook

mv vouthful hand
And treated me as big enough with grown up

men to stand.
I felt my body straighten and a stiffening at each

And was gloriously happy, just because he'd

"mistered" me.

I cannot now recall his name, I only wish I

I've often wondered if that day he really under-

How much it meant unto a boy, still wearing
boyhood's tan,

To find that others noticed that he'd grown to
be a man.

Now I try to treat as equal every growing boy
I see

In memor}'- of that kindly man — the first to
**mister" me.


Fiahing XooLii

"Men vnll grow weary/' said the Lord,
"Of working for their bed and board.
They'll weary of the money chase
And want to find a resting place
Where hum of wheel is never heard
And no one speaks an angry word^
And selfishness and greed and pride
And petty mottves don't atwde.
TheyH need a place where they can go
To wa^ their sools as nidiite as snow.
They willjbe better men and trtte
If they can phy a day or two.*'

The Lord thai made the hrooks to flow
And lasluoaed rhrers here below^
And many lakes; for water seans
Best suited for a tnortal's dreams.
He ^aced about them wiOow ^ees
To catdi the mm i mu' of the hreeze^
And sent tiie hinds tisat «ng the hest

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