Poetry of Kansas

The Summer of Umpity Steen

When the weather is hot and the river is dry
And the corn and the taters are yellow and sear,
Some windy old dub always raises the cry
And says "O, this isn't a very dry year.
"Now back in the summer of Umpity-steen
We sure had a drought that would open your eyes;
For days and for weeks and for months I have seen
Hot weather, with never a cloud in the skies.
"That there was the year when the rattlesnakes died
Beneath the hot rays of the merciless sun;
Full many a one have I et, ready fried,
As he lay in the pathway, deliciously done.
"They say that this dry spell beats anything yet
And quote you the riggers to prove it is true,
But I claim the weather is soggy and wet
Compared to the summer of Umpity-two.
"That season I broke forty acres of sod
With a pair of dun mules that couldn't be beat.
But I ruined 'em both just by keepin' 'em shod,
For their shoes got so hot that it roasted their feet.
"Don't talk of the river and ponds bein' low;
Why, back in the summer of Umpity-four
The Babtists was holding a camp meetin' show
And people come forrerd each night by the score.
"But when it was ended a fact come to light
That made them evangelists open their eyes;
They found theirselves in a most sorrowful plight___
There wasn't no water for them to babtize.
"Then a young circuit rider of Wesleyan creed,
Who found how them converts was left in the lunch,
Made a forty mile journey down there on his steed
And roped 'em all into the Methodist church.
"No need to tell me that the season is hot;
I know what I know and I've seen what I've seen;
W'y it's pleasant compared to the weather we got
Back there in the summer of Umpity-steen."

Verdigris Valley Verse
Albert Stroud
(Coffeyville, Kansas: The Journal Press. 1917)
Pages 90-91

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June 13, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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