Daredevil Days

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Story

Here’s one that was started and then put away for a long time before being finished. 

My eye was caught by an obituary back in 2006; I started notes for a potential song soon after reading the story.  It was a tribute to a woman who had lived to the ripe old age of 98 despite having had some very unusual and dangerous adventures in her early adulthood (not all of which made it into the song.)  Telling about her through the recollections of a grandchild was my invention, but the details of Mrs. Muse’s daredevil days come right from the obituary . . . including her explanation (at the end of the obituary) for taking the risks that she did as a young woman during the Depression.

© 2018 Steven E. Cutts

a Studio C recording, Spring 2019

Lyrics

Gran’ma had her garden; Gran’ma had her bees;

She took good care of Gran’pa; Gran’ma fascinated me.

I learned she’d had adventures back when she was twenty-one;

I’d pester her for stories to discover all she’d done.

“Please, please, please, please, Gran’ma, tell me,” I would say,

“About that crazy life back in your daredevil days.”

She’d wink and make me swear to God that no one else must hear

How wild she’d been in the Great Depression years.

 

 

“Have I told you ‘bout swimmin’ ‘round New York

In the Harlem and the East and the Hudson in the dark?

One time I swam for a whole day straight

Through the treacherous stretch they call Hell’s Gate

In water so rough I thought I’d drown,

But I made it ‘round the whole damn town!

Why would I do such a risky thing?

To taste the thrill this new adventure’d bring.”

 

“Have I told you ‘bout Alligator Jim?

I traveled ‘round the carnivals with him.

He taught me how to wrestle crocs –

Not a thing girls did a lot.

Each night Jim clutched the mic and crooned

With the orchestra; the ladies swooned.

Why would I do such a silly thing?

To taste the thrill this new adventure’d bring.”

 

“Then there were times Jim would bury me alive

In a wooden box and hope that I’d survive.

I’d lie around there under ground

For four whole days, six feet down.

Folks could check if I was dead

Through a window in the coffin’s lid.

Why would I do such a risky thing?

To taste the thrill this new adventure’d bring.”

 

 

As much as I loved Gran’ma, I sure wondered ‘bout the truth

And how much she had stretched it in those stories from my youth.

But there it was in black and white soon after Gran’ma’d died

In her obituary in the New York Times.

In the photo she was sitting on a ‘gator, and she smiled,

And the stories were the ones she’d told me when I was a child.

So I guess that Gran’ma really had a wild and restless phase;

The nineteen-thirties were her daredevil days.