"Don't send my boy/son to Syracuse/Harvard/Texas," the dying mother said (1919)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Mar 12 16:30:36 UTC 2006

My upcoming marriage and Syracuse's basketball win in the Big East
championship brings to mind my father's (Cornell grad) favorite song: "'Don't  send my
boy to Harvard,' the dying mother said. 'Don't send my boy to Syracuse,  I'd
rather see him dead'..."
I don't know if Fred collected this very popular song.


Published On Wednesday, March 20, 1929  12:00 AM



The open season for collegiate introspection is in full  swing. Not long ago
New Haven students came out of the fog and found just where  they stood on
vital questions of the day. Now Dartmouth's seniors have resorted  to the ballot
to discover what the dope on this college business really is.  There must be a
lot of satisfaction in knowing for certain what is what. No  excuse then for
not being in the mode. Besides, such decisions lend a feeling of  solidarity
and make for college spirit.

And this time an echo of the joy  is felt in Cambridge. For the voting
seniors have taken the edge off the old  song, "Don't send my boy to Harvard". Next
to the college on the hill, Harvard  is chosen closest to the hearts in green.
Yale is Dartmouth's keenest rival: the  Indians picked Smith as their
favorite woman's college. In the choice another  significant note is discernible in
the balloting, for Dartmouth men may justly  claim the virtue of consistency.


Don't send my boy to  Harvard, a dying mother said
Don't send my boy to Michigan, I'd  rather he were dead
But send my boy to Illinois, 'tis better  than Cornell
and rather than Chicago, I would see my boy in  hell.
This popular college tune has long been sung  by O.U. students and is
regularly sung by the RUF/NEKS, an O.U. spirit  group.

"Don't send my  boy to Texas!"
The dying mother  said.
"Don't send my boy to  Texas!
I'd rather see him  dead!
So send him to  Missouri
Or better yet OU.  OU!
Don't send my boy to  OSU
For that would never do!"

4) Failing memory symptoms: Somehow, faithful  correspondent Myrtle "Toots"
Uetz Felton (1024 E. Cushmore Rd., Southampton, PA  18966) and I became
involved in a discussion of the songs that used to be sung  in the dining halls on
the Hill in our day. I complained that though I could  remember the titles,
tunes, and a few words of many, I couldn't remember the  words all the way through
of any of them. Toots came up with all the words to  "Don't Send my Son to
Harvard, the Dying Mother Said," but all I was able to  dredge up was "In
Bohemia Hall," the lyrics of the one about "Michael Finnegan  who grew whiskers on
his chinagin," and some of the lines about the young lady  who wished she were
"fascinatin' " so "we'd all be rich." I wonder if they sing  the same songs
today. If not, what do they sing? Rap?

B L  T. Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago,  Ill.: Oct 14, 1919. p. 8
(1 page)
There are so many quotations that come to mind: "Don't send my boy to
_Other  4 -- No Title_
Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963).  Chicago, Ill.: Nov 24, 1924. p. 8 (1
YALE, 19; HARVARD, 6. Don't send my boy to Harvard, the dying mother  said.
_A  LIKE O' TYPE OR TWO; MILDRED AND I. This Is the Most Unkindest Cut of
All. _
Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963). Chicago,  Ill.: Apr 16, 1929. p. 14 (1
"Don't Send My Boy to Harvard," the Dying Mother Said.
..._Other  5 -- No Title_
Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963).  Chicago, Ill.: Mar 28, 1930. p. 14 (1
"Don't send my boy to Harvard, the dying mother said---"
Chicago Daily Tribune  (1872-1963). Chicago, Ill.: Mar 26, 1932. p. 12 (1
Again we will lift our voice in our bath tub to sing our favorite ballad:
"Don't Send My boy to Harvard, the Dying Mother Said."
     _Decatur Evening Herald_
(http://www.newspaperarchive.com/Viewer.aspx?img=NUCC4daB2aKKID/6NLMW2ouHhGqnHLmJh9vS7WBRon4RXo9KEVIjaw==)  _Monday,  October
17, 1927_
(http://www.newspaperarchive.com/Search.aspx?Search="dying+mother+said"+AND+date:1927-10-17)  _Decatur,_
927)   _Illinois_ (http://www.newspaperarchive.com/Sea
rch.aspx?Search="dying+mother+said"+AND+stateid:37+AND+range:1759-1927)   ...And we shall  sing:
Don't send my boy to The DYING MOTHER SAID" Men  in this community, wno ... ..

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Question 20 - - - - - - - - - - - - -  - -
Dear Uncle Ezra,
My grandfather (Cornell class of '42)  has many fond memories of Cornell and
loves Cornell songs.  He  remembers some of the lyrics to "don't send my boy
to harvard."  A  friend of mine wrote out recent lyrics for the song, the way
the glee club sings  it (my question for you comes after all the lyrics):

The Itsy Bitsy  Spider (according to the Cornell Glee Club)

The itsy bitsy spider went up  the water spout. Down came the rain and washed
the spider out. Out came the sun  and dried up all the rain And the G-d damn
son-of-a-bitch went up the spout  again...

Oh Harvard's run by Wellesley, Wellesley's run by Yale. Yale's  run by
Vassar, Vassar's run by tail. Princeton's for the pretty boys and  drunkard's go to
Penn But far above Cayuga there's a race of hairy  men.

Oh we are the race of huh (deep masculine grunt while hitting  your
neighbor on the chest)  hairy chested men huh, hairy chested men huh, hairy
chested men Oh we are the  race of huh, hairy chested men We are from Cornell.

"Don't send my boy to  Harvard," a dying mother said. "Don't send my boy to
Syracuse (hold the "s" in a  hiss). I'd rather see him dead." (an alternative
to Syracuse is "Yale  or
Brown") "Don't send my boy  to Princeton, but better still Cornell." "And as
for Pennsylvan-i-a (sing "eye,  ay" and hold the "a"), I'd see him first in
hell..." To hell, to hell with  Pennsylvania, To hell, to hell with
Pennsylvania, To hell, to hell with  Pennsylvania, To hell with U of P.   (Shout "P. U.")

(Now  hushed and make a halo over your head with your fingers) We were only
only  foolin' We were only only foolin' We were only only foolin' (Now shout)
The hell  we were P.U.!

(Now Spoken) Peaches and cream, peaches and cream Let's  have a cheer for the
Haahvad team. We're not rough and we're not tough, But boy  can we crochet!
That's knit 1, pearl 2, Haahvad boys, Yoo hoo! (wave a napkin  over your head)

That's (making the letters over your head i.e. Y.M.C.A.  format) "H" "A"
"aah," "H" "A" "aah," "H" "A" "aah," with a "V." "V" "A" "aah,"  "V" "A" "aah,"
"V" "A" "aah," with a "D."

Haahvad. Haahvad. Rah (hold out  the "ah" and wave a napkin over your

However, the  only verse here that seems to be an original is the one that
begins 'don't send  my boy to harvard, the dying mother said.'  I was wondering
if perhaps  you or one of your many contacts might know of any more verses,
perhaps ones  that my grandfather would recognize. He (and I) would enjoy them
very  much!!  Thanks so much,


-a musically inclined niece

Dear Musically Inclined Niece,
The lyrics seem to be  complete, according to Keith Johnson in the Archives
(krj2 at Cornell.edu) and  Elsie McMillan '55 at the CORNELL MAGAZINE
(em33 at Cornell.edu).  Keith  learned "Don't Send My Boy" with slight variations:  the dying
father,  Princeton and Harvard reversed, and the second half starting, "Oh,
send my boy  to Harvard, or better yet Cornell."
The CORNELL MAGAZINE library  has two books of song lyrics, published by the
Classes of '51 and '48, both of  which have lyrics for "Don't Send My Boy To
Harvard."  Elsie didn't  find additional verses in either of them.
The Class of '48 book  includes all the old sing-along favorites. It occurred
to Elsie that you and  your grandfather might enjoy having a copy; she found
that just leafing through  it made tunes leap into her head that she'd
forgotten for forty years and  more!  The books was produced by Bob Persons '48, who
is the class  correspondent, and Elsie called him to ask if he has copies
available.  He said yes, and authorized Elsie to pass along his name  and address
so you can contact him to obtain a copy:  Robert Persons  Jr., 102 Reid
Avenue, Port Washington, NY 11050.
Elsie  adds:  "Singing was such a big part of social life in those decades,
and I enjoyed being reminded of the songs themselves (many of which are wildly
 politically incorrect in the 1990s)."  Thanks for your help and your
memories, Keith and Elsie!
Uncle Ezra

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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