Saturday, September 18, 2010


I've blogged before about American regional poetry and its value in
understanding the lifestyles and times of our ancestors. Every region
of the country had poets who wrote about local events and often in
the language peculiar to their region. One such poet was Holman
Day who was the author of many novels and poems set in Maine.

The following poem talks about a Maine lumber company's "company
store". Since many of my ancestors were lumbermen, I found the
poem an interesting look into their lives. 

By the way, the Second Annual "Great American Local Poetry
Genealogy Challenge" is coming. Start searching for poems that
have a connection and meaning to your family history and be
ready to share them with us on your own blog!

* The wangan is the woods store that most of the Maine 
lumber camps maintain.
The wangan camp!
The wangan camp!
 Did ye ever go a-shoppin' in the wangan camp?

You can get some plug tobacker or a lovely corn-cob pipe,
Or a pair o' fuzzy trowsers that was picked before they's ripe.
They fit ye like your body had a dreadful lookin' twist;
There is shirts that's red and yaller and with
plaids as big's your fist;
There are larrigans and shoe-packs for all makes
and shapes of men,
As yaller as the standers of a Cochin China
The goods is rather shop-worn and purraps a
leetle damp,
 —But you take 'em or you leave 'em—either
suits the wangan camp.

The wangan camp!
The wangan camp!
There is never any mark-downs
at the wangan camp.

The folks that knit the stockin's that they sell
to us, why say—
They'd git as rich as Moses on a half of what
we pay.
I haven't seen the papers, but I jedge this
Bower war
Is a-raisin' Ned with prices—they are wust I
ever saw.
I was figg'rin' t'other ev'nin' what I'd bought,
—by Jim, I'll bet
That a few more pairs o'larrigans will fetch me
out in debt.
For I've knowed a stiddy worker to go out as
poor's a tramp
'Cause he traded som'at reg'lar at the
comp'ny's wangan camp.

The wangan camp!
The wangan camp!
They tuck it to you solid
at the wangan camp.

Day, Holman Pine Tree Ballads : Rhymed Stories of Unplaned Human Natur'
Up In Maine (Boston, Ma., Small , Maynard & Co 1902) pp112-114

1 comment:

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

I saw a historical marker on the Kancamagus Trail in the White Mountains National Forest that explained about wangans. This is only the second time I've seen that word used! Thanks for the poem.