Residence: Central Valley, California
Date of Performance/Collection: April 24, 2018
Primary Language: English
Over the past few years, I’ve heard snippets of this friend’s crazy grandpa. Many nights, we’d eat together and share stories of our nutty families, as we both share lineage with what many would call ‘eccentrics’. Self purportedly from a family comprised of 50% white trash and 50% religious explorers, he grew up around a variety of funny saying and stories.
The following was recorded during a group interview with 4 other of our friends in the common area of a 6-person USC Village apartment.
“He had a lot of songs and stuff too. Like his, okay. His grandpa built the railroads in California, and they would like sing songs while the worked and stuff. And so he just knew all these like limericks and little poems and stuff that were always like, pretty dirty. The only one I remember – I learned it for my third grade poetry class. And got in trouble, but it was, uh, ‘Here I sit, broken hearted. Tried to shit, but only farted. So then I stood to take a chance, tried to fart, but shit my pants.’ I said ‘poop’, but yeah. Third grade.”
Ah, the classic bathroom graffiti poem. I remember reading this on the wall of a dirty little gas-station in Fresno on the drive up to San Francisco for a family vacation. In looking online, I was unable to track down a definitive source for the poem, although there are many guesses. It’s interesting to hear it linked to to the railroad builders of California way back when. Online, the only consensus anyone can achieve is that it originated with pay toilets, as a different version of the poem goes “Here I sit, broken hearted. Paid a dime and only farted. Yesterday I took a chance, Saved a dime and shit my pants”, making reference to back when pay toilets were a widespread thing across America and the world. According to a few online sources, a group called CEPTIA (The Committee to End Pay Toilets In America) arose in the 70’s and rallied against pay-toilets. They enjoyed large success, and now pay-toilets exist mainly in memory and entertainment.
For a thread on a discussion of the poem, check out: https://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/chhju/here_i_sit_broken_hearted/
For a 1973 article on CEPTIA, check out: https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=CPceAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KY0EAAAAIBAJ&pg=7338,2470934