The Tribune Primer

Excerpts from a parody primer, which appeared first in the Denver Tribune (1882) and were later published in book form. This was Field’s first book

The Editor’s Home
Here is a Castle. It is the Home of an Editor. It has stained Glass windows and Mahogany stairways. In front of the Castle is a Park. Is it not Sweet? The lady in the Park is the editor’s wife. She wears a Costly robe of Velvet trimmed with Gold Lace, and there are Pearls and Rubies in her Hair. The editor sits on the front Stoop smoking an Havana Cigar. His little Children are playing with Diamond Marbles on the Tesselated Floor. The editor can afford to Live in Style. He gets Seventy-Five Dollars a month in Wages.
The Bad Man
Here is a Man who has just Stopped his Paper. What a Miserable looking Creature he is. He looks as if he had been stealing Sheep. How will he Know what is going on, now that he has Stopped his Paper? He will Borrow his Neighbor’s Paper? One of these Days he will Break his leg, or be a Candidate for Office, and then the Paper will Say Nothing about it. That will be treating him just Right, will it not, little Children?
The Oyster
Here we have an Oyster. It is going to a Church Fair. When it Gets to the Fair, it will Swim around in a big Kettle of Warm Water. A Lady will Stir it with a Spoon, and sell the Warm Water for Forth Cents a pint. Then the Oyster will move on to the next fair. In this Way, the Oyster will visit all the Church Fairs in Town, and Bring a great many Dollars into the Church Treasury. The Oyster goes a great Way in a good cause.
The Unfortunate Mousie
Poor little Mouse! He got into the Flour Barrel and Made Himself Dead. The Cook baked him in a Loaf of Bread, and here he lies on the Table cut in two by the Sharp bread Knife. But we will no Eat poor Mouse. We will eat the Bread, but we will Take the Mousie and Put him in the Cistern.
The Coal Hod
Oh, how nice and Black the Coal-Hod is! Run, children, Run quick and put your Little Fat hands in it. Mercy me, your Hands are as Black as the Coal-Hod now! Hark! Mamma is Coming. She will spank you when she Finds your Hands so Dirty. Better go and Rub the Black Dirt off on the Wall Paper before she Comes.
Mamma’s Scissors
These are Mamma’s Scissors. They do not Seem to be in good Health. Well, they are a little Aged. They have considerable Work to Do. Mamma uses them to Chop Kindling, cut Stove Pipe, pull Tacks, drive Nails, cut the children’s Hair, punch new Holes in the Calendar, slice Bar soap, pound beef Steak, open tomato Cans, Shear the New Foundland dog and cut out her New Silk Dress. Why doesn’t Papa get Mamma a new Pair of Scissors? You should not Ask such a Naughty question. Papa cannot Afford to Play Billiards and Indulge his Extravagant Family in the Luxuries of Life.
The Bottle
This is a bottle. What is in the Bottle? Very bad Whiskey. It has been Sent to the Local Editor. He did not Buy it. If he had Bought it the Whiskey would have been Poorer than it is. Little children, you Must never Drink Bad Whiskey.
The Hash
It is a Chignon? No, it is a Plate of Hash. But where are the Brush and Comb. We cannot serve the Hash unless we have a brush and Comb. The Comb is in the Butter, and the Baby has put the Brush in the Coffee-Pot. Don’t Cry, Children, we will Give you some nice Molasses with Pretty, green Flies in it.
The Mud
The Mud is in the street. The Lady has on a pair of Red Stockings. She is Trying to Cross the Street. Let us all give Three cheers for the Mud.
The Wasp
See the Wasp. He has pretty yellow Stripes around his Body, and a Darning Needle in his Tail. If you Will Pat the Wasp upon the Tail, we will Give You a Nice Picture Book.
The Business Manager
Here we Have a Business Manager. He is Blowing about the Circulation of the Paper. He is Saying the Paper has Entered upon an Era of Unprecedented Prosperity. In a Minute he will Go up Stairs and Chide the Editor for leaving his Gas Burning while he Went out for a Drink of Water, and he will dock a Reporter Four Dollars because a Subscriber has Licked him and he cannot Work. Little Children, if we Believed Business Managers went to Heaven, we would Give up our Pew in Church.
The Concentrated Lye
What a Pretty Can it is. What do you Suppose is in the Can? Open it and see. Goodness me, it is a Concentrated Lye! How Nice! Are you not Glad? Let us eat it. Taste it and See how Warm it is. If you will Eat it you will not Want anything More to Eat For a Long Time.  – Eugene Fields 

Filed Under: Reflections on Disorder

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