My Grandmother, Elma Fine Ingram, baked mouth-watering cookies and recited poetry. At our 1972 Ingram reunion, someone asked Grandma if she had a song. She replied that she did not have a song but she did have a recitation.
Grandma was as cute as any 12-year-old: “I don’t believe I can stay seated to say my piece.” She stood and recited “Forty Old Bachelors.”
I dreamed a dream in the midst of my slumbers, As fast as I dreamed, it was coined into numbers.
It seemed that a law had been recently made, that a tax on old bachelor’s pates should be made.
In order to make them all willing to marry, the tax was as large as a man could well carry.
The bachelors grumbled and said ’twas no use, ’twas a horrid injustice and a shameful abuse and declared to keep their own life’s blood spilling.
Of such a vile tax they would pay nare a shilling. So the rulers determined their course to pursue and set the old bachelors up of their due.
A crier was sent through the town to and fro to rattle his bells and his trumpets to blow. And to cry out to all he might meet on the way, “Ho, 40 old bachelors, sold here today.”
Presently, every maid in the town, each dressed in her very best bonnet and gown, plain, red, fair and pale, of every description flocked to the sale.
The auctioneer, then in his labors began, and crying aloud as he held up a man, “How much for a bachelor? Who wants to buy?”
In the twink every maid responded, “I, I, I,” and sure at a hugely extravagant price, the bachelors were all sold off in a thrice.
And 40 maidens, some younger, some older, each lugged an old bachelor home on her shoulder.