Robbery, 1920’s Version

by Edgar Guest

“Hands up!” the stranger shouted, with a terrifying curse.
“Come on, be quick about it!” Then he calmly took my purse.
I saw his gleaming pistol, and ‘twas folly to complain;
I kept reaching for the ceiling as he took my watch and chain.
But I thought as he was leaving: Well, I know the worst right now.
Though I can’t approve his methods–they’re not doubtful anyhow.

I’ll know how much is missing just the moment he is gone.
There will be no disappointment and no heartache later on.
He didn’t cite me figures on the fortunes men have made,
or say for every dollar ten would some day be repaid.
Oh, I’ve suffered many losses!  Though unarmed the others came,
and with gentler, suaver manner, the result was just the same.

As he walked away and carried off my money in his coat
it pleased me to remember that I didn’t sign a note.
And it pleased me to remember once the man had gone away
I was done with the transaction – there’d be nothing more to pay.
And I made this observation when I’d rallied from the shock:
“Well, some rob me with a pistol –and some sell me worthless stock.”

From The Friendly Way
by Edgar A Guest
© 1931 by The Reilly & Lee Co.

Additional Thoughts:

If a person takes the time to study just how things went in the 20s and what economic practices led up to the 1929 Wall Street Crash, then compare it with what happened in the 1990s , you discover that people don’t learn many lessons from history. ☹

In the 20s the stock market was so strong the banks started making collateral-free loans to people buying stocks, which pushed stock prices up and up, which led more people to get into buying and taking bigger risks.  Con men got in on this, selling stocks in companies that had little hopes of return.  Profits were easy until someone got nervous…

In the 1990s banks were encouraged to make more money available to home buyers, so they made sub-prime loans, which made for smaller monthly payments during the first few years.  This practice led to a strong real estate market.  Loans officers competed to write the most mortgages.  Until the real interest rate came due…

One Canadian bank, hearing about how easy it was to get a mortgage in the US, had someone phone and check it out.  Posing as home buyer, using an alias and an address that didn’t exist, he applied and was approved for a $200,000 mortgage in ten minutes.  No home appraisal, no credit check.

In the States if a person can’t make his mortgage payments he can walk into the bank, hand over the keys, and be free of further obligation.  Here in Canada we can give back the keys, but we’re still legally responsible for the balance of the mortgage.  If the bank forecloses and sells a $200,000 home for half that, the mortgage holder is obligated to pay the remainder.  This gives people serious second thoughts about walking away.

Wise Words for Moms on Father’s Day

“Wait Till Your Pa Comes Home”

by Edgar A Guest

“Wait till your Pa comes home!” Oh, dear.
What a dreadful threat for a boy to hear.
Yet never a boy of three of four
but has heard it a thousand times or more.
“Wait till your Pa comes home, my lad,
and see what you’ll get for being bad.”

“Wait till your Pa comes home, you scamp!
You’ve soiled the walls with your fingers damp,
you’ve tracked the floor with your muddy feet
and fought with the boy across the street;
you’ve torn your clothes and you look a sight!
But wait till your Pa comes home tonight.”

Now since I’m the Pa of that daily threat
which paints me as black as a thing of jet
I rise in protest right here to say
I won’t be used in so fierce a way;
no child of mine in the evening gloam
shall be afraid of my coming home.

I want him waiting for me at night
with eyes that glisten with real delight;
when it’s right that punished my boy should be
I don’t want the job postponed for me.
I want to come home to a round of joy
and not to frighten a little boy.

“Wait till your Pa comes home!” Oh, dear.
What a dreadful threat for a boy to hear.
Yet that is ever his Mother’s way
of saving herself from a bitter day;
and well she knows in the evening gloam
he won’t be hurt when his Pa comes home.

From Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

One day in a store I overheard a frustrated mother say to her misbehaving boy, “Your father’s going to kill you when we get home.”


What a HORRIBLE thing to say to a child. As Mr. Guest points out in this poem, that father wouldn’t have appreciated the role of murderer one bit.

If she’d say, “Your dad’s going to punish you,” it might have been fitting. But kill him? Thank God she was lying! You may say it’s just an expression, but it is a lie.

Someday, about ten years down the line, I can hear her telling her son, “Don’t do drugs. Drugs will ruin your life. They will kill you.”

Will he believe her?

(P.S.: This isn’t fiction; got my Chrisses crossed today.)


Moving to a New Domain!

Hello Everyone,

This past month I’ve been seriously thinking about my blogging future. I decided to buy the domain name:

For the time being I won’t shut this blog down but will reblog things over there bit by bit. Please come and join me there!

I plan to post everything, both poems and prose, on that blog but will still post all poems on Swallow in the Wind. So if you’re only interested in poetry, you can follow me on


A special note to folks who follow only because you want to advertise your “get rich quick via internet” schemes: I’m NOT interested — so don’t bother.

Who Do You Work For?

Who Is Your Boss?

By Edgar A Guest

“I work for someone else,” he said,
“I have no chance to get ahead.
At night I leave the job behind;
at morn I face the same old grind
and everything I do by day
just brings to me the same old pay.
While I am here I cannot see
the semblance of a chance for me.”

I asked another how he viewed
the occupation he pursued.
“It’s dull and dreary toil,” said he,
“and brings but small reward to me.
My boss gets all the profits fine
that I believe are rightly mine.
My life’s monotonously grim
because I’m forced to work for him.”

I stopped a third young man to ask
his attitude towards his task.
A cheerful smile lit up his face;
“I shan’t be always in this place,”
he said, “because some distant day
a better job will come my way.”
“Your boss?” I asked, and answered he:
“I’m going to make him notice me.

“He pays me wages and in turn
that money I am here to earn,
but I don’t work for him alone;
allegiance to myself I own.
I do not do my best because
it gets me favors or applause—
I work for him but I can see
that actually I work for me.

“It looks like business good to me
the best clerk on the staff to be.
If customers approve my style
and like my manner and my smile
I help the firm to get the pelf
but what is more, I help myself.
From one big thought I’m never free:
That every day I work for me.”

Oh, youth, thought I, you’re bound to climb
the ladder of success in time.
Too many self-impose the cross
of daily working for a boss,
forgetting that in failing him
it is their own stars that they dim.
And when real service they refuse
they are the ones who really lose.

From his book Just Folks
©1917 by the Reilly & Britton Co.

Winter Whimper!

It was c-c-c-cold here this morning. When I checked the weather at 8am it was -37 C in Saskatoon with a wind speed at 16 kmph, which gives a wind chill factor of -50 C.
Translation for our Yankee friends:
A temp of -34F with a 10 mph wind makes it feel like -58 F.

Of course the weather was one subject we discussed over dinner at the Villa. (I’m cooking there today.) Wilbert Esau is living at the Villa again for a few weeks as he recovers from his broken hip. At the dinner table he talked of one morning up in the Peace River country when it was extremely cold.

He and his dad had taken the team of horses to town and the temp was -73 that day. Thankfully there wasn’t even a puff of wind! He said the horses’ puffed along and their breath just hung in the air like little white clouds, much like the jet streaks you see in the sky. All the way home again they saw these little clouds just hanging motionless in the air.

A Winter Night
by Sarah Teasdale

My window-pane is starred with frost,
The world is bitter cold to-night,
The moon is cruel, and the wind
Is like a two-edged sword to smite.

God pity all the homeless ones,
The beggars pacing to and fro,
God pity all the poor to-night
Who walk the lamp-lit streets of snow.

My room is like a bit of June,
Warm and close-curtained fold on fold,
But somewhere, like a homeless child,
My heart is crying in the cold.

Colours of the Morning


I’m getting weary of winter, anxious to move on to better things. Do you like my new look?

Colours of the Morning

Blue falls from heaven,
blushes the morning glory buds;
Rose awakens drowsy roosters,
coaxes them to announce the day.
Amber fire falls on the river,
dazzles the drinking deer.

Christine Goodnough

Psalm 19:1-6

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Do Not Grow Weary…

Originally posted on Along Life's Path...:

IM000248.JPG(an acrostic prayer)

Dearest Father, we humbly come to this hour to present ourselves again as sinners in need of Your mercy.

Open us to the washing of Your grace, dear God, as You continue to gather us as a hen gathers her chicks.

No one among us is worthy to call upon Your name, Father, except through the sacrifice of Your Son.

Obstinate we are, Father. We are opinionated, unyielding, and inflexible at times. We feel adamant about our own goodness, Father. Please forgive us, Lord, as we have been too much like this world in which we live.

Tailor us to fit Your will instead of us wanting to tailor You to fit us, Father.

Grant to us the spirit to stay the course for You and not grow weary in doing Your will for Your sake, O God.

Recover us…

View original 233 more words

The Gracious Way to Get There


Does the grouch get richer quicker than the friendly sort of man?
Can the grumbler labor better than the cheerful fellow can?
Is the mean and churlish neighbor any cleverer than the one
who shouts a glad “Good morning,” and then smiling passes on?

Just stop and think about it.  Have you ever known or seen
a mean man who succeeded just because he was so mean?
When you find a grouch with honors and with money in his pouch,
you can bet he didn’t win them just because he was a grouch.

Oh, you’ll not be any poorer if you smile along your way,
and your lot will not be harder for the kindly things you say.
Don’t imagine you are wasting time for others that you spend;
You can rise to wealth and glory and still pause to be a friend.

written by Edgar Guest

From the book A Heap O’ Livin’
© 1916 by The Reilly & Britton Co.

Ben Franklin Gets Some Smarts

Pompous Doesn’t Pay

Once upon a time I was in a poetry circle and we were given a new word every day to write a poem about. For some words it’s pretty tough to come up with anything really sensible. Here’s my offering in response to the word fletcherize, which means to reduce (food) to tiny particles especially by prolonged chewing.

What is this new word fletcherize?
It brings no vision to my eyes;
its purpose I can’t crystalize;
all sense of rhythm it defies.

A word that is so obdurate,
with sounds that cannot resonate
a poet true will obviate
for fear that it would obfuscate.
—        ☺      —

According to Ben Franklin, at one point in his youth he became enchanted with impressive-sounding words. One day he told his mother, “I’ve imbibed an acephalous mollusc.”

She gasped. Thinking he’d eaten some poison she promptly dosed him with a foul-tasting concoction that made him vomit. The poor boy retched for hours. Once his stomach was settled again, he told his mother all he’d done was eaten an oyster.

“You naughty boy, scaring the wits out of me like that!” And she gave him a good thrashing.

He says this experience cured him of his liking for pomposity; that day he decided he’d never again use fancy-sounding words when simple ones would do.

Friends Never Forget

Grey doves flutter
onto rain-soaked sidewalk
to find the man who sits,
rain or shine, on a bench
all alone but for his
pocketful of seeds.
Friends never forget.

One time as we walked through a park in the city we observed a man sitting on a bench. At first it looked like a scene from “The Birds” and he was being attacked by a dozen pigeons. But we could see as we got closer he was feeding them from his pockets.
His appearance was rather seedy as well; one could easily take him for a social outcast. I had to wonder if maybe the birds were his best friends. Seems they found no fault in him.


Ornithologist’s News Flash:

I saw a bald eagle today. I drove home from work at the villa this afternoon and just as I stopped the car here at home an eagle left his perch on a tree just to the north, flew in an arc almost over our trailer so I could get a good look at him, then settled on another nearby branch. Maybe birds know that I’m one of their fans, too?