"Our Gurl Mary" was pictured in later editions of "Panama Patchwork."

Our Gurl Mary

By James Stanley Gilbert


She's the "chupidest" gurl we ever knew,

     Is our gurl Mary;

She always does what she oughtn't to,

     Does our gurl Mary;

She's lazier far than Lethe's stream—

She meanders 'round in one long dream—

'Twould take a Titan's death-bed scream

     To wake up Mary!


In the morning at our coffee-time—

     "Mary, OH, Mary!"

Our hearts sink deep in damning crime—

     "Mary! Oh, M-A-R-Y!"

What is the matter, Mary . . . Dear!

Been looking for you far and near!

"Most eight o'clock—no coffee here!

     John Rogers, Mary!


Just look at the lid of that coffee pot

     Now will you, Mary?

Why on earth can't you get it hot!

     Why can't you, Mary!

This stuff's cold as a puppy's nose

Or a lonely, shivering, early rose

That blooms in the snow as the March wind blows!

     Understand, Mary?


Now then, Mary! It is twelve o'clock!

     The breakfast, Mary!

Where did you get that smudgy frock—

     Good gracious, Mary!

Oh, NO!! The steak comes after fish!

And Say! We've one more darling wish:—

Don't serve cheese in the butter-dish!

     Now don't! Don't, Mary!


Tea-time, Mary! You've been told before,

     Haven't you, Mary?

The hour is Four—not half-past Four!

     Fiddlesticks! Mary!

"No biscuit?" Of course! The same old way!

Do you think we're here to hear you say:—

"De biskit finish yisterday?"

     Great Heavens! MARY!


     [Dinner-time, every day:—]


No salt! No spoons! Ice if you please!

     Mustard, Mary!

You've spilled the gravy on my knees!

     N-E-V-E-R   M-I-N-D, Mary!

Oh, let's shut down the blooming mess!

We'll starve, perhaps, but nevertheless

Be quit of the fathomless cussedness

     Of our gurl Mary!

Gilbert paints a picture of two cultures colliding in Panama: the New England Yankee fixed in his right and proper way of doing things, and the descendent of slaves, raised in poverty in the West Indies. Many male "Bajuns" were brought to Panama as badly-needed labor for the Canal project. Their wives, common-law wives, mistresses, girlfriends and other females also came to Panama provided domestic help for the Americans, who were most likely able to afford maids, a practice which continued through the American era.

John Rodgers A mild curse, most likely the name of the first Protestant martyr burned at the stake by the Catholic Queen Mary I ("Bloody Mary") of England in 1555. See John Rogers. Gilbert was raised in a largely Protestant New England, colonized by many fleeing religious persecution.

Lethe's stream In the heart of Hades, through the Elysian Fields, flows Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness.

Titan A giant.