Sunday, April 15, 2018

Michael Ceraolo writes

July 30, 1881


"My belief is that we should live in the present,
with our eye on the future
yet remembering  the past
Thus laboring in the present,
with the experience of the past
guiding us as a ship is guided
by its tumultuous wake,
yet our polar star,
the great and eternal future life,
should ever be kept in view,
and thus it seems to me we may somewhat
safely navigate the sea of life
It is easy to theorize,
yet hard to practice"

I will do my best to practice it


The past,
and even the temporarily
desultory present,
are but a mere prologue
to the glorious future awaiting me
once the country realizes
what a great service I've done for her
The Death-Bed of President Garfield -- W. A. Rogers

[Michael has composed "Eighty Days," dramatic monologues for each day from July 2, 1881 through September 19, 1881 (from the day president James Garfield was shot until the day he died). ]


  1. Two folk songs concerning the assassination:

    Mister Garfield

    Me and my brother was down close to the depot
    When I heard the report of a pistol
    I hollered, "I wonder what was that!"
    He run out and come back and he said
    "That was a report of a pistol"
    And I thought I was gonna faint when he said it
    "Mr. Garfield's been shot down, shot down, shot down
    Mr. Garfield's been shot down low"

    Lord, I knew the President was supposed to be down the depot that day
    But I just wouldn't let myself believe that he'd been shot
    Me and my bother run out there and everybody was all confused
    And hollering' and running' round
    And I stepped up to this one lady and I said that
    "Ma'am what was it really that happened Ma'am?", and she said that
    "Mr. Garfield's been shot down, shot down, shot down
    Mr. Garfield's been shot down low"

    Well, it looked like everybody felt just about as bad as I did
    Everybody started drift off to home
    Me and my brother did too
    Then a few weeks later, I heard that the President was still alive
    So I told my brother, I said, "Hey let's get on a train
    And go to that Big House up there and see how the President is"
    "Let's go up there to where he's laid up hurt and sick we'd see him"
    So we went on up there and that big White House
    And there was a soldier boy standin' round upside, outside
    And, I sidled up to him and I said to that soldier boy
    I said "Who was it that did it?
    Who was it that shot the President?"
    And he said that, "It was Charlie Guiteau that shot Mr. Garfield"
    And I said, "Charlie Guiteau done shot down a good man, good man
    Charlie Guiteau done shot down a good man low
    Charlie Guiteau done shot down a good man, good man"

    That soldier boy said that
    Miss Lucretia Garfield was always at his bedside
    In the heat of the day fannin' him when he was hot
    And he said just that mornin' that he had been at the window
    And he'd overheard Miss Lucretia and Mr. Garfield talkin'
    And Mr Garfield said, "Crete, honey", he called her Crete
    He said, "Crete, honey, if somethin' worse would happens to me"
    He said, "You get yourself a good man"
    And she said, "Now James", she called him James
    She said, "James, I won't hear to that now
    'Cause I love you too much"
    And he said that "You'll make some good man a good wife, good wife
    You'll make some man a good wife gal
    Don't pull in single harness all your life, good gal
    Don't pull in single harness all your life"
    That's what he said, "Don't pull in single harness all your life"

    Well a little while later, we come back around there
    And things have changed
    The flag was hangin' halfway up the flagpole
    And everybody was cryin' and standin' 'round sad
    And I walked back up to this soldier boy and I said
    "Soldier boy, is he, is Mr Garfield?" and he said, "Yeah, he's gone"
    Gonna lay him by that cold lonesome branch down low
    Mr. Garfield's been shot down low
    Oh, Mr. Garfield's been shot down, shot down, shot down
    Mr. Garfield's been shot down low
    Have you heard the news?
    Mr. Garfield's been shot down, shot down, shot down
    Mr. Garfield's been shot down low, Lord

  2. Charles Guiteau

    Come all you tender Christians
    Wherever you may be
    And likewise pay attention
    To these few lines from me.
    I was down at the depot
    To make my getaway
    And Providence being against me,
    It proved to be too late.

    I tried to play off insane
    But found it would not do;
    The people all against me,
    It proved to make no show.
    Judge Cox he passed the sentence,
    The clerk he wrote it down,
    On the thirtieth day of June
    To die I was condemned.

    My name is Charles Guiteau,
    My name I'll never deny,
    To leave my aged parents
    To sorrow and to die.
    But little did I think
    While in my youthful bloom
    I'd be carried to the scaffold
    To meet my fatal doom.

    My sister came in prison
    To bid her last farewell.
    She threw her arms around me;
    She wept most bitterly.
    She said, "My loving brother,
    Today you must die
    For the murder of James A. Garfield
    Upon the scaffold high."

    And now I mount the scaffold
    To bid you all adieu,
    The hangman now is waiting,
    It's a quarter after two.
    The black cap is o'er my face,
    No longer can I see,
    But when I'm dead and buried,
    Dear Lord, remember me.

    Both songs were recorded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford, a North Carolinian minstrel who collected folk songs in the early 20th century. He claimed he spent "nights in more homes from Harpers Ferry to Iron Mountain than God." In 1928 he organized the 1st "folk festival," the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, at Asheville NC, and continued to do so until his 1965 stroke incapacitated him.


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