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Summer Camp Folksong: Mr. Johnny Verbeck

Posted By Camille Saucier On May 14, 2013 @ 9:20 pm In Customs,Folk speech,Musical | Comments Disabled

Informant: Once every week at camp cedars the dining hall would serve sausages for breakfast, little sausage patties, and uh there was a certain song that went along with the sausages about a man named Johnny Verbeck. Uh, it went a little something like:

Oh Mister, Mister Johnny Verbeck, how could you be so mean?

I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.

Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will nevermore be seen

For they’ve all been ground to sausages in Johnny Verbeck’s machine!

 

Oh once there was a Dutchman, his name was Johnny Verbeck

He made the finest sausages and sauerkraut and speck.

Till one day he invented a sausage-making machine,

Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will nevermore be seen.

 

Oh Mister, Mister Johnny Verbeck, how could you be so mean?

I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.

Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will nevermore be seen

For they’ve all been ground to sausages in Johnny Verbeck’s machine!

 

One day a boy came walkin’, a-walkin’ through the door.

He bought a pound of sausages, and laid them on the floor.

The boy began to whistle, a-whistle up a tune

And all the little sausages went dancin’ round the room!

 

Oh Mister, Mister Johnny Verbeck, how could you be so mean?

I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.

Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will nevermore be seen

For they’ve all been ground to sausages in Johnny Verbeck’s machine!

 

One day the machine got busted, the darn thing wouldn’t go

So Johnny Verbeck he climbed inside to see what made it so.

His wife she had a nightmare, went walkin’ in her sleep.

She gave the crank a heck of a yank and Johnny Verbeck was meat!

 

Oh Mister, Mister Johnny Verbeck, how could you be so mean?

I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.

Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will nevermore be seen

For they’ve all been ground to sausages in Johnny Verbeck’s machine!

 

The informant, a Caucasian male, was born in Spokane, Washington and then moved to Omaha. He is currently a student at USC and studies computer science.

The informant learned the song when he was about eleven years old “the first time we went to camp cedars so the very first summer,” and “sometime within the first week.” Camp Cedars is a Boy Scout summer camp. The informant attended the camp for about five or six years and was a counselor for one year.

When asked about the performance, the informant said “So um, everyone would know that it was time for the sausage song because before everyone even got their food, the staff members would be walking around with a sausage on their fork, like holding it in the air above their heads and during the song, at first the staff members would stand by their tables and just sing the song, but on the line ‘all the little sausages went dancing round the room’ they would do so, and just kind of skip around the room and circle all of the campers at their tables.”

The informant liked this tradition and song because it was “just something fun that would bring everyone together, and it helped build a community among the campers.”

In addition to being an entertaining song that everyone at the camp would sing, I feel it also serves other purposes. First, the song jokes about the contents of sausages. Sausages are not clearly related to whatever meat they originally came from, so they can incite parody about their contents, which in this case are cats, dogs, and even human. There is also a hint at the fear of being killed in a traumatic way such as being ground up into a meat sausage.


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