"This is the day we give babies away" (1890s)
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Bapopik at AOL.COM
Fri Feb 18 08:44:14 UTC 2005
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What's the origin of the following saying? "This is the day they give
babies away with a pound of butter."
Subject: Re: origin of this aphorism
Answered By: _pinkfreud-ga_
(http://answers.google.com/answers/ratings?user=8557989531679117785) on 17 Feb 2005 21:35 PST
This line comes from an old song. Apparently the original version had
"half a pound of tea" instead of "a pound of butter." "Half a pound of
cheese" is also sometimes mentioned. According to some sources, the
song may date to the early part of the Twentieth Century. It was
widespread by the 1920s.
"This is the day we give babies away
With a half a pound of tea
You just open the lid, and out pops the kid
With a twelve month guarantee.
'The Day They Gave Babies Away,' a story by Dale Eunson that appeared
in the Christmas 1946 issue of Cosmopolitan, their most successful
Christmas story ever. It was published as a book the following year.
The reference also mentioned a soldiers' ditty circulating in the
1940s that went 'Today is the day they give babies away / with a half
a pound of tea. / If you know any ladies who want any babies / Just
send them around to me.'
I can add references in Vance Randolph's Roll Me in Your Arms:
"Unprintable" Ozark Folksongs and Folklore (Univ. of Arkansas Press,
1992) and Ed Cray's 2nd edition of The Erotic Muse (Univ. of Illinois
Press, 1992), which mention its inclusion in a Josiah Combs 1925 book
of Kentucky/West Virginia folk songs and G. Legman's recollection of
the song in Scranton ca. 1925. A Google search revealed a number of
interesting recollections and usages (including another short story)
of the song and title, one or two of which may be earlier than 1925,
possibly from the turn of the (previous) century."
from Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine: The Songfinder
Here you'll find a long thread discussing the song:
The Mudcat Cafe: Today's the day we give babies away
My Google search strategy:
Google Web Search: "day * give babies away"
I hope this is helpful. If anything is unclear or incomplete, please
request clarification; I'll be glad to offer further assistance before
you rate my answer.
_Evening State Journal _
August 10, 1928 _Lincoln,_
...of you, AND play "THIS IS THE DAY THEy GIVE BABIES AWAY" on a set of
pearly.....used In thai NeTHErlANDs. New York DAY by DAY. By O. O. Mtlntyre.
_Nevada State Journal _
(http://www.newspaperarchive.com/Viewer.aspx?img=NuHyyu1GcYSKID/6NLMW2kIbN5DJFP4VixULPCNvE2VqsC6fUmwfvw==) Thursday, June 08, 1911
...BLUE-EYED BABY I THIS IS THE DAY Tfiey GIVE BABIES AWAY. Do You Want a
Little.....THIS IS tho dtiy THEj- GIVE AWAY. onc'i ion a. lil'tle 'with..
Pg. 8, col. 6:
_WANTS A HOME_
_This Is the Day They Give_
_Babies Away. Do You_
_Want a Little Fairy?_
This is the day they give babies away. Want one?
(PROQUEST HISTORICAL NEWSPAPERS)
_Queries and Answers_
New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Jan 4, 1948. p. BR27 (1
_"Give Babies Away"_
MISS GRACE H. LIBEY, Howe, Ind.: In answer to B. E. (Nov. 16) the lines
wanted are a jingle that reads complete as follows. It was used to afvertise some
packaged tea between 1893 and 1902 and pictures of babies accompanied the
Today is the day we give babies away with a half a pound of tea.
If you know any ladies who want any babies, just send them around to me.
There are white babies and black babies and babies of every degree.
For this is the day we give babies away with a half a pound of tea.
Miss Gertrude Gordon, Matilda M. Stern of New York, and E. Bolles,
Harrington Park, N. J., answered this request.
Dr. J. Hart Toland, Philadelphia, Pa., and Mrs. Dave Reed, N. Y., wrote that
the original version of this parody was the lyric to George Rosey's
"Honeymoon March" (words by Dave Reed Jr.) published in 1895 by Jos. Stern & Co. The
Edward N. Marks Music Corporation is the present owner of the copyright. A
book titled "The Day They Gave Babies Away," by Dale Eunson was published in
November of last year.
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