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'Deck the Halls with Boston Charlie'
It’s time for once again me to indulge my love of family holiday traditions. Well, one family tradition, anyway: Singing “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie,” as performed by Pogo Possum and his friends in the legendary Pogo comic strip.
I do this every year, and every year I hear from people who also knew and loved Pogo, and knew and loved “Boston Charlie.” Of course, we’re getting older – Walt Kelly, the genius behind the strip, died in 1973, and attempts to keep it going were unsuccessful – but our loyalty has remained steadfast over the years. We should have club meetings or something.
We loved the strip for its goofy characters, its graceful art, its lively political point of view, and mostly because it was funny. Really funny. As in spit-coffee-all-over-the-comics-page funny.
Which only stands to reason. Walt was a funny guy.
The story goes that Kelly was invited to a party at Al Capp’s house. Capp (the creator of L’il Abner) got bored and left. Yes. Left his own party.
And in doing so, he abandoned Kelly to the company of a group of Argentine visitors, none of whom spoke English (and neither did Kelly speak Spanish.) Kelly got even by giving them Capp’s grand piano.
There’s really nothing like Pogo on the comics page today. Some of the more political strips, Doonesbury and the like, approach it, but my eye doesn’t see anything like Kelly’s graceful drawings or imaginative lettering. But Kelly was also a brilliant writer with a gift for wordplay that, in my opinion, gives Lewis Carroll a run for his money. It is that which I present to you today. Feel free to sing along.
Ready? And a-one and a-two:
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don't we know archaic barrel,
Lullaby Lilla boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker n' too-da-loo!
Hunky Dory's pop is lolly gaggin' on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloup, 'lope with you!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!
Duck us all in bowls of barley,
Hinky dinky dink an' Polly Voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, Woof, Woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, Goof, Goof!
Boy, they just don’t write ‘em like that anymore.
You know, the end of the year would stink – given the weather, stink on ice, as Mel Brooks likes to say -- without all our glorious holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid, Festivus for the Rest of Us -- to remind us that there’s more to life, much more, than going to work, eating supper and falling asleep in front of the TV. Holiday traditions bind us, generation to generation, family to family, house to house.
No matter what you celebrate, no matter how you celebrate it, it’s all good, as today’s nifty teens and swinging hepcats like to say.
And so I pass to you this tradition, which has had so much meaning in my house, in the hope that you will accept it as intended – to make you smile. Boola boola, Pensacoola. Hullabaloo.
© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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