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Old Grandma when the West was new,
She wore hoop-skirts and bustles too
When infants came and times got bad
She stuck right on to old Granddad.
She worked hard seven days a week
To keep Granddad well-fed and sleek,
Twenty-one children came to bless
Their happy home in the wilderness.
Twenty-one boys, oh, how they grew
Big and strong on bacon too,
They slept on the floor with the sheep and the goats,
And they hunted in the woods in their oil-skin coats.
Great Granddad was a busy old man,
He washed his face in the frying pan,
Shaved his beard with a hunting knife,
And he wore the one suit all his life.
Twenty-one necks Grandma would scrub,
Twenty-one shirts in the old wash-tub,
Twenty-one meals three times a day,
It's no wonder Grandma's hair turned grey!
She knit socks and sixty pair,
Twenty-one suits of underwear,
She sat outside ten times a day,
She smoked her pipe and she drank her tea.
She cooked and scrubbed, hung out a wash,
She could take her likker too, by gosh!
Great Grandad once skinned a goat,
And old Grandma made a new fur coat.
Great Grandma had a broody hen,
She got it from her cousin Ben,
In a pair of pants she made a nest,
And the hen hatched out a coat and vest.
She could make good mountain brew,
Home-baked beans and Irish stew,
Grandma she could read and write,
She was deaf but she had good sight.
And what she did was quite all right,
She worked all day and she slept all night,
But young girls now are the other way,
They're up all night and sleep all day.
This variant was collected from Monica Rossiter [1913-2004] of Cape Broyle, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 1, pp.81-82 by The National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Kenneth Peacock noted that a similar, and probably related, song called Great Grandad appeared in frontier American newspapers in the nineteenth century. Like Old Grandma it concentrated on the humourous aspects of pioneer life. As far as Peacock knew, this Newfoundland variant is the best and most complete version to be collected from oral tradition.
A shorter, eight-verse variant was sung in 1950 by the same Monica Rossiter [1913-2004] of Cape Broyle, NL, and published as Grandmere in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).