h2g2 Literary Corner: Sammy Slap, the Bill-Sticker

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And now, for a musical number.

Sammy Slap, the Bill-Sticker

To each age its unusual professions. The 21st Century gives us basement-dwelling spammers. In the 19th Century, there was the bill-sticker: somebody had to put up all those notices that said 'Limited Engagement' and 'Fight the Liquor Menace Now!', while ignoring all those signs that said, 'Post No Bills'. Here's a song about a bill-sticker. Unfortunately, we don't know the tune, so you'll have to make one up. One book suggests 'Guy Fawkes', but which Guy Fawkes? Or 'Bow, Bow, &c.'. 'Bow, Bow' what? Folk song collectors give me a pain. Anyway, the words come from Beadle's Dime Song Book No. 5: A Collection of New and Popular Comic and Sentimental Songs, published in 1860. Enjoy.

A bill-sticker sticking up bills.
I'm Sammy Slap, the bill-sticker, and you must all agree, sirs,

I sticks to business like a trump1, and business sticks to me, sirs;

The low folks call me plasterer, but they deserve a banging,

Because, genteelly speaking, why my trade is paper-hanging,

Chorus. – With my paste, paste, paste,

Oh, all the world is puffing,

So I paste, paste, paste.

All 'round about the city now, when anything's the go, sirs,

You'll always find me at my post, a sticking up the posters;

I've hung Ned Forrest twelve feet high2, and did it, sirs, quite easy

And I've been engaged, too, lately, both by Mario and Grisi3.

Chorus. – With my paste, &c.

I'm not like some in our trade, they deserve their jackets laced4, sirs,

They stick up half their bosses' bills, and sells the rest for waste, sirs;

Now honesty's best policy, with a good name to retire with,

So what I doesn't use myself – my old girl lights the fire with.

Chorus. – With my paste, &c.

Sometimes I'm jobbing for the church with charitable sermons,

And sometimes for the theatres, the English and the Germans;

To me, of course, no odds it is, so long as I'm a winner –

Whether I sticks up for a saint, or hangs up for a sinner.

Chorus. – With my paste, &c.

There's Jenny Lind, I'm proud to say – sweet music's great adorner5,

I've had the honor of posting her in every hole and corner;

Alboni, too, so nice and plump6, I've stuck her up that's certain –

And I've plastered Mrs. Mowatt7, right on top of Billy Burton8.

Chorus. – With my paste, &c.

Well now before I say good-bye, permit me to remind ye,

That roundabout the city here, you're always sure to find me

And if ever you shall have a job – to show how I deserve ye,

About the town, through thick and thin, I'll brush along to serve ye.

Chorus. – With my paste, &c.
The Literary Corner Archive

Dmitri Gheorgheni

31.07.17 Front Page

Back Issue Page

1Not Donald or Ivanka.2Ned Forrest was a famous Shakespearean actor. His professional feud with fellow thespian George Macready led to the Astor Place Riot of 1849 in New York City. Yes, they rioted over Shakespeare. The theatres were way too close to Five Points, see Gangs of New York.3Giulia Grisi was a dramatic soprano with a highly chequered reputation. Mario de Candia was a singer whom she eventually married (after causing a lot of scandals). Mario was a member of Sardinian royalty, as well as a tenor, so he had that going for him.4Your guess is as good as mine.5When Jenny Lind toured the US for charity, backed by PT Barnum, she was the biggest thing ever before the Beatles. No lie. 6Marietta Alboni (1826 – 1894). Italian contralto.7 Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie (1819 – 1870), author, playwright, actress.8Naughty. Billy Burton (1804 – 1860) was a British-born actor known for 'low comedy' roles. Probably kind of like Ricky Gervais.

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