Our guest poster blogs as Middle-Aged Mormon Man – he says we may call him “MMM” for short – with a cheeky blog about his life and interests as a, well, as a middle-aged Mormon man with eclectic interests. I’ve never seen a blog quite like it – it’s sorta like a Mormon mommy blog except, you know, written by a man, one who’s been around the block a few more times than most Mormon mommy bloggers, and so, well, I guess it’s really not like a Mormon mommy blog at all. Check it out – it’s a surprise all around.
MMM doesn’t refer to Sister MMM as his DW, but as his EC (Eternal Companion); his four children are not DD and DS, but FOML (Fruit of My Loins). He enjoys his anonymity – “Have you stopped to think that I could be your Home Teacher, or your kid’s seminary teacher, or the crazy conspiracy theorist that won’t shut up in Elder’s Quorum? I’m not – but I could be.” Not so well hidden in all the impudence are his feelings about sacred things, which you can read on his profile page.
Note: The following post may not be safe for work – you won’t be sorry you read and listened to it, but you may want to be cautious about where you are. — AEP
If you are someone who can’t read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn without a black marker in hand, turn back now!
1905 was a bad time to be a Black man in America.
1905 was a bad time to be a Mormon in America.
Why not write a song about it?
Two enterprising songwriters decided to take a stab at simultaneously offending both the Black and Mormon communities with their 1905 minstrel toe-tapper, “The Mormon Coon.” (FYI, the word “coon” is super-racist – thus the risk of offense. Be advised – we are using the word in an historical context.)
The song is a quirky little story of a Black man named Ephraim who relocates to Utah, where he finds happiness in marrying a bevy of wives of all shapes, sizes and colors.
To prove it, here is a picture of the actual record:
But wait! There’s more!
Here is the sheet music so you can play and sing along!
And the coup de grâce is that I have posted the actual recording for your listening pleasure …
[Note: The embedded link keeps erasing itself somehow. If it disappears again, the URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oyK1qLIinY ]
Now for the research-y, serious part:
I discovered this while reading a fascinating article by the Incredibly Smart Martha M. Ertman of the University of Maryland School of Law, entitled “Race Treason: The Untold Story of America’s Ban of Polygamy”. In it, she makes the case that Mormons were cast as minorities in the population, and lumped together with many other ethnic populations which were on the receiving end of tremendous racism. The Mormon persecution was more about racism, and less about religious persecution (waaaay oversimplified – read the whole article to understand better).
Even the author Jack London had a character in the novel The Jacket say, “They ain’t whites, they’re Mormons” – further illustrating this point. Because if they weren’t white (which these Mormons were), then those pesky laws and that freedom of religion didn’t really need to be applied equally.
I read a lot, and as you probably can tell by now, I know most everything. But this whole discussion of racism against the early Mormons was totally new to me. Take the time to read it.
The mere existence of this remarkable song is crazy – but to hear it 106 years later? That is webidiculous. (I just made that word up. I even checked on Google: ZERO hits.)
Hope you enjoyed this obscure snippet of history. Some might think it too nerdy or serious, but I feel the need to help you with yer learnin’. (Because I’m thoughtful like that.)
One last thought: The tune is a little catchy – Please don’t walk around church this Sunday humming it.
Webidiculous. You saw it here first.
This post originally appeared at Middle-Aged Mormon Man on 19 February 2011.
For the benefit of search engines:
A coon named Ephraim skipped the town one day.
Nobody knew just why he went away,
Until one night a friend he got a note,
It was from Eph, and this is what he wrote:
“I’m out in Utah, in the Mormon land,
And going to stay, because I’m living grand,
I used to rave about a single life.
Now ev’ry day I get a brand new wife.”
“I’ve got a big brunette,
And a blonde to pet.
I’ve got ‘em short, fat, thin and tall …
I’ve got a Cuban gal,
And a Zulu pal.
They come in bunches when I call;
And that’s not all –
I’ve got ‘em pretty, too.
Got a homely few,
I’ve got ‘em black to octoroon …
I can spare six or eight.
Shall I ship ‘em by freight?
For I am the Mormon coon.”
There’s one gal I ain’t married yet, but say,
I’m saving her up for a rainy day.
If you ain’t never heard a cyclone roar,
Come up and hear just how my wives can snore.
If you stay out late you can “con” your wife.
If I got gay that mob would have my life,
It keeps me hustling in loving line.
They all yell out, “I saw him first, he’s mine.”
Next Fall they’ll make me Gov’nor of the State;
The Parsons give me commutation rate;
I wish for ev’ry wife I had a cent,
Why, just for photographs, a house I rent.
I’ve got so many, I forget a lot.
I keep the marriage license door bell hot,
If on the street into a wife I run,
I have to ask her, “What’s your number, Hon?”