Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 01:13:42 -0400
From: "Barry A. Popik" Bapopik[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM
Subject: "Jazz" and "Hokum" in the Library of Congress
Just came back from a day trip to the Library of Congress. I did a
whole bunch of stuff, mainly on "jazz" and "hokum," but also "I'm from
VON TILZER / GUMM COLLECTION
What you do when you go down to the L. of C. is that you first check
out the computer catalog. Then, in the Performing Arts Division, you check
out the card catalog. Then you ask a librarian, and he or she tells you
about other catalogs and collections that you almost missed, and you go
The Von Tilzers (Harry and Albert) wrote an amazing number of popular
songs around the turn of the century. My favorite is "Take Me Out to the
Ball Game"--which I can still enjoy listening to once a game. I looked
through six boxes of the Von Tilzers, and THEN the librarian told me about
this special collection. It was "acquired in 1982 by a purchase through the
Heritage Bookshop in Los Angeles from an unidentified owner." A special
collections guide was made in 1993, but it was made on TWO sides of the page,
and the guide I was given was some idiot's copy of just the ODD pages. (Good
enough for government work, I guess.)
Harry Von Tilzer wrote a song called "Chief Hokum" in 1923; Jesse
Sheidlower told me he now dates this term to 1908. However, the Von Tilzer /
Gum Collection had ANOTHER one, called "Hokem." Performers included "Laugh
Provokers--Red Nosed Jokers" and "Hokey Pokers--Slap Stick Soakers." The
Oh, you've gotta give the folks a little hokum
You've gotta soak 'em--to make them laugh...
And if you ever find your act is slipping
Start ripping--...I feel a draft...
Now if a maiden says that she's not well sir
Use selzer--in the mush...
Oh you've gotta give the folks a little jokum
You've gotta soak 'em to get the cash.
Also in the Von Tilzer/Gum Collection was a song called "I Just Came
From Old Missouri." It's incomplete, but goes:
I just came from old Missouri
and you got to--show me
I am lonely awful lonely
So I asked the librarian--WHAT IS THIS STUFF? ARE THERE ANY DATES?
I was told it is what it is.
WHAT IS IT??
The Von Tilzers wrote many songs that are very similar to the 1898 song
that we have as the origin of "I'm From Missouri--Show Me." Their song
predate that one. When was this piece written? When was "Hokem" or "Hokum"
No one knows??