Sunday, November 6, 2011

"The Sloganist Extraordinary of the United States" Mr. G. Herb Palin and Josephine - Part I of III

A tale straight out of our imaginations, a time when little boys and girls dreamed of traveling around the world and living a life of glitz and glamour complete with glittering lights, beautiful gowns, and important people. Beginning with a young boy from the south, born in Savannah, not willing to give up his desire to be a poet, his vocation takes him across the United States and around the world. He rubs elbows with the elite of Los Angeles and Hollywood at a time when everyone flocked to see the faces behind the names of the movie industry, and several French and Italian proprietors of some of the most lavish restaurants in that era were his neighbors in the 1920s.

Cousins of mine from Longview, Bobby and Sue Moore, sent me a poem written about Mineral Wells. They thought I might like to share it with my readers. Many have probably read it in the pages of the Star News Centennial Edition 1857 - 1957 submitted by Bob Jessup at Rootsweb on Ancestry.com. I had never seen the poem, however, and I was enthralled with the charm and beauty of it. As many of you know, Mineral Wells is my home town.

In the year 1857, the Commercial Club of Mineral Wells contracted with Mr. G. Herb Palin to pen a poem about our fair city. Mr. Palin was paid $200 for the poem, the highest price ever paid for a poem in the South. He was a contributor to all of the leading magazines of the time and Farquson Johnson reported in the February 22, 1919 edition of the Advertising and Selling publication that he was known as the highest paid writer in the world.

Davis Foute Eagleton, editor, New York: Broadway Publishing Company, 1913:
The following poem is respectfully dedicated to President Theodore Roosevelt, with the earnest hope that at the expiration of his political life he will visit the new Texas health resort and abiding there, renew all the vigor of his youth.

The poem appeared in the Mineral Wells Daily Index of May 10, 1908 after Mr. Palin handed the poem to the Commercial Club on a visit to the city.


"The Legend of Mineral Wells"

I'll tell you a story strange and quaint,
But a story, they say, that's true;
Of healing wells where strong health dwells
'Neath Texas skies of blue.

Tis a wonderful tale as the legend runs
Of a beauteous Indian maid
And a warrior brave, who his life to save,
To a sun kissed valley strayed.

It happened, oh, ever so long ago,
Far back in the dimming past
That Running Fawn one day at dawn
A glance 'cross the prairie cast.

As the sun rays brightened the eastern sky
And the gray dawn turned to day,
She saw War Cloud and his warriors proud
To the war trail ride away.

The war paint gleamed on each bronzed face
And the war plumes waved on high,
While the war steed neighed and the war plumes swayed
As the warriors passed her by.

Far out on the prairie then they rode,
And War Cloud waved his hand
To Running Fawn then he was gone,
To fight in a far off land.

Then the maiden waited for moons and moons,
While the green corn turned to gold,
And the hot sun beat in summer heat,
She waited 'till days grew cold.

She gazed from her lodge 'cross the rolling plain
From dawn till the night birds sang;
And her love was true and stronger grew
As she thought of the war bow's twang.

And the moon grew old and the moon grew young,
The moon grew old again;
From the green corn dance to the great bear dance
She waited, her heart in pain.

Then Running Fawn from her lodge set forth
Her lover chief to find,
And far 'cross the plain in sun and rain
Her tribe was left behind.

She journeyed afar o'er hill and dale,
Crossed rushing streams, and sand,
Past deep abyss where serpents hiss,
To a strange and mystic land.

The seasons changed as she wandered on,
And faltering grew her tread,
But her love was strong the whole time long,
As she passed through the land of dread.

To a starlit plain at last came she,
In the midst of a witching night,
Lying billowy green 'neath the ghostly sheen
Of the pale moon's amber light.

She found him there, her chief, War Cloud,
With his warriors all around;
Lying still and weak, unable to speak,
At the top of a green clad mound.

The braves no more would war whoop shout,
No more their arrows fly;
They had fought their fight that very night
And died as warriors die.

Then Running Fawn by her chieftain knelt,
She kissed his hair, his face;
And all night long she chanted a song,
A song of love and the chase.

The flush of dawn was in the sky,
When War Cloud raised his head
And gazed at his love, at the skies above,
At his warriors lying dead.

A mist that was dark dimmed eyes once bright,
His red blood darked the ground,
But the glory of fight, of that hard fought night,
Still filled his ears with sound.

No light in his eye for Running Fawn,
No thought of the breaking day;
Not a shadow of thought for his tribe who sought
For them both in the far away.

Then the maiden lifted her voice and sang
To the Spirit Great above;
Just chanted a prayer while kneeling there
For the life of her long lost love.

As the soft notes rang thought the morning air,
And the sun the sky did greet,
An open trail through the misty veil
Appeared at War Cloud's feet.

Then Running Fawn grasped the Chieftain's hand.
And led him along the way;
With tenderest care from every snare,
In the light of the newborn day.

To a valley of green came they at last,
Where the birds sang loud and free,
Where sweet flowers grew of gorgeous hue,
Each kissed by the honey bee.

A soft wind blew from the hills around,
And the sky gleamed bright above;
'Twas a valley of rest by Nature blest
A valley of rest and love.

In the midst of it all, clear, sparkling, bright,
A spring from the white sands welled,
'Twas a Fountain of Youth in very truth,
A fount where strong health dwelled.

They knelt on the gleaming sands, the two,
And drank of the waters clear;
Just splashed in the pool, in its healing cool,
With never a thought of fear.

Then, lo! with a shout they sprang afoot,
A mystic thing was done;
Their blood coursed free, they danced with glee,
For health and strength was won.

Then strong in youth and hand in hand,
With never an ache or pain,
They started away that very day
For tribe and lodge again.

Came they at last to their tribe one day,
'Twas a day in the warm, sweet Spring,
And told of the fight, of the valley bright,
Of the cure that its waters bring.

They sang of the water's healing power
They told of its mystic worth,
'Til fame ran wide on every side,
And spread throughout the earth.

Then far away from fair Castile
Great Ponce de Leon came
To seek out the truth, the Fountain of Youth,
For he had heard of its fame.

The red men guarded the secret well,
He searched, but never found;
And for many a day it was hid away
By the green clad hills around.

But the white man searched till he found at last
The wonderful fount that heals;
And Mineral Wells, the story tells,
The secret now reveals.

 The late Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
"My dear Mr. Palin: I am really obliged to you for sending me "The Legend of Mineral Wells." This story I shall (always) keep." Etc.

The Colonel evidently considered the word "always" redundant and had struck it out with his pen when he signed the letter.

Mark Twain wrote of "The Legend of Mineral Wells" that it was "the most beautiful advertisement ever penned in English."

When Palin turned the poem over to the Commercial Club it was reported that he was born in South Carolina, but I have found evidence that he was born in Savannah, Georgia. He traveled to so many cities he probably was not clear when he said he had come from South Carolina. Maybe he had just come from a meeting there recently.

Even as a child, George Herb Palin found it easy to make rhymes. He thought phonetically, memorized easily, composed readily, and often gave answer in rhyme. His mother was pleased that he wanted to be a poet, but his father said no. George decided to keep his vocation in mind, but graduated as a civil engineer. He wasn't happy with that work but it did please his father. He didn't want to build railroads nor juggle mathematics.

At about that time, trying to remember the number of days in a certain month, he quoted: "Thirty days hath September," etc. Here he saw a chance to hook up his rhyming propensities to advertising and make them both of more practical use. Why not condense the advertising message into the fewest possible words and put it in rhyme?

He decided to read law for a while and he even railroaded for two years. He did this to broaden his knowledge and gain good basic material for his future work in advertising. His advertising jingles began selling, and selling for large amounts of money. He began writing for newspapers and magazines all over the country, including the Philadelphia North American and the New York World.

Some of the familiar slogans coined by Palin are "See America First"; "You can Afford a Ford"; "Put Your Sweeping Radiance in a Bissell Appliance"; "Diamond Edge is a Quality Pledge"; "Save Your Back with a Cadillac"; and the famous "Send the Cross of Red to the Fields of Dread".

I do not want you to lose interest in G. Herb Palin so I will end my post here. I will pick up his story next week in Part II. I think you will find him as intriguing as I did.

SOURCES:
Writers and Writings of Texas, DAVIS FOUTE EAGLETON, ed., NEW YORK: BROADWAY PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1913.
Advertising and Selling, Volume 28, edited by Albert A. Reed, Kate E. Griswold, George French, James Barrett Kirk, Leroy Fairman, 1918 - 1922, accessed 3 November 2011.
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txpalopi/oddsnends/1857-1957news/mwpoem.htm

4 comments:

Thomas E. Youngblood said...

Loved this.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Thanks, Tommy!

Sue said...

Very good! That is an interesting story - Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt and all. Look forward to the nest installment. Thanks for including us, but you didn't have to. You did a great job.

Judith Richards Shubert said...

Thanks, Sue! I got all wrapped up in researching Palin.

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