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Nora's freezin' on the trolley...
December 11, 2008 12:47 PM   Subscribe

Yes, 'tis the season once again, and back in the day that meant the reappearance of the beloved Christmas carol in the comic pages, more specifically in the late, lamented Pogo.

Cartoonist Walt Kelly wrote many bits of doggerel for his famous strip, and even recorded some of them, but Boston Chas. is far and away the best-known. It has been recorded by such luminaries as Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. So this holiday season, take a moment to lift your heart in song. All together now: "Deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Washington and Kalamazoo..."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would just like to state for the record that Pogo is the best comic strip that has ever existed. Better than Krazy Kat, better than Windsor McCay, yes, even better than Calvin & Hobbes.
posted by echo target at 12:54 PM on December 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks to Walt Kelly, those lyrics are the first that come to mind when I hear that melody. It's hard to imagine any current newspaper comic strip to have that much influence.
posted by tommasz at 12:57 PM on December 11, 2008


tommasz: I'm not sure I could tell you what the "other" song that uses the melody is, that's how deeply ingrained in my family the Pogo lyrics are.
posted by Inkoate at 1:33 PM on December 11, 2008


I would just like to state for the record that Pogo is the best comic strip that has ever existed. Better than Krazy Kat, better than Windsor McCay, yes, even better than Calvin & Hobbes.

I couldnt agree with you more. I even have hand carved Pogo ornaments for my Christmas Tree, my fave being the redoubtable and munificent muse of the swamps, Churchy LaFemme.

La la la, la laa laa laaa laaaaa......
posted by elendil71 at 1:44 PM on December 11, 2008


Boston Charlie always make me smile. Don't forget about Good King Sauerkraut!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:45 PM on December 11, 2008


Snoo? What's snoo?
posted by RakDaddy at 2:08 PM on December 11, 2008


Not much....
posted by pointilist at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2008


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered are my homies
posted by jammy at 3:15 PM on December 11, 2008


I inherited a t-shirt from my father with Pogo Possum and Albert Alligator on it. Size Large, fair condition. If you want it, and have lots of money, Email me.
posted by Restless Day at 3:28 PM on December 11, 2008


The Noble Dog reminds you that the REAL lyrics are "Bark us all Bow-Wows of Folly".
posted by gamera at 3:29 PM on December 11, 2008


Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered are my homies

"I got four kings."
"I got five -- all hearts."
"One of you is mus' be cheatin', coz I never had no kings of hearts in no deck of mine."

I used to give my dad a couple old Pogo books for christmas every year, until the guy I bought them from at the San Diego Comic-Con finally ran out of them. Fortunately, Fantagraphics is starting a new series of collections, with the first one due out in time for christmas next year.
posted by rifflesby at 3:46 PM on December 11, 2008


Man, Walt Kelly would've had a field day the last eight years.

Not to mention what he could milk out of the last eight weeks or so.

Or the last eighty hours or so.
posted by dhartung at 3:48 PM on December 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a former resident of Walla Walla and an inadvertent fan of comics, I now realize that my lack of a pogo tattoo constitutes a tremendous oversite.
posted by stet at 4:00 PM on December 11, 2008


Boston Charlie always make me smile. Don't forget about Good King Sauerkraut!

What's "snoo"?
posted by kenko at 4:09 PM on December 11, 2008


The Straight Dope has a more reliable set of lyrics.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:39 PM on December 11, 2008


Good god I love this. Pogo is the best comic strip ever made. My brother and I would sing this with my step-mom every xmas. Great memories.

And to this day, whenever I'm asked a leading or loaded question I use my favorite Pogo line "Does you want a frank or a friendly answer?"
posted by lumpenprole at 4:57 PM on December 11, 2008


Frank. With mustard. Not that runny yellow stuff, either.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:07 PM on December 11, 2008


Better than Krazy Kat, better than Windsor McCay, yes, even better than Calvin & Hobbes.

Apples and oranges, I think. Krazy Kat was surreal, jazz-like, and frankly romantic -- the best love poetry I expect I'll ever read. Winsor McCay was from the nineteenth century, and Bill Watterson's world was never supposed to be as populated and satirical as Kelly's. (Calvin and Hobbes are the center of the universe in that strip -- not that I'm complaining, it's just how it is, and part of the wonder of it.) But of all of them, I'd pick Pogo for a desert island. Thanks to thoughtful parents, I've loved Walt Kelly since I was about five.

Man, Walt Kelly would've had a field day the last eight years.

Kelly died shortly before Watergate. Someone close to him (I forget who) later wrote that people had said, what a shame Kelly had never lived to see Watergate -- he would have had so much fun with it! But that wasn't true, the friend said. Kelly had loved America too deeply for that. Watergate would have broken his heart. Imagine, then, how he would have felt if he'd lived to be as old as Studs Terkel (whose name once appeared on the side of Churchy's skiff).

What's "snoo"?


Not that ten-year-old gag.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:13 PM on December 11, 2008


Probably the best comparison to modern comics would be Bloom County. And I loves me some Bloom County, but Pogo was still far and away.
posted by rifflesby at 5:26 PM on December 11, 2008


Boston Charlie refers to the protest folk song, "Charlie on the MTA."

Used to be, getting =on= the Subway in Boston cost nothing, while getting =off= the subway did. Poor Charlie got on the subway with only a nickel to his name, when the MTA raised the rate to a dime. Charlie, too proud to beg, can never get off the subway, and long after he's dead, rides it still, waiting for a time when his honest nickel will let him off...

This is the genesis for the distressingly ill-conceived name of the "Charlie Card" where one purchases subway fares and stores them on a mag-stripe card, and for the awesome "Charlie's" bar and grill in Harvard Square, and "Boston Charlie" in Pogo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:38 PM on December 11, 2008


Used to be, getting =on= the Subway in Boston cost nothing, while getting =off= the subway did.

Well, not quite. There always was an entrance fare, but when the MTA raised fares five cents in the late 1940s they decided, in typical Bostonian fashion, to tack the increase on the end of your ride. Hence Charlie "handing in his dime at the Kendall Square Station" to get on the train, but then being asked for "one more nickel" when he reached his destination.

Exit fares were still in effect for the last few stops of the Red Line's Braintree branch until 2007 when the Charlie Cards were fully implemented throughout the system.

The best explanation I can find for why the exit fares were initially implemented in 1949 involves the MTA not wanting to adjust the underground turnstiles for the new fare. I'll fully believe it. This is Boston, where public transit is bass-ackwards, and an urban light rail project turns into a street bus line when nobody's looking.
posted by Spatch at 6:44 AM on December 12, 2008


...an urban light rail project turns into a street bus line when nobody's looking.

That is by no means unique to Boston, either historically or recently.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:10 AM on December 12, 2008


Whenever I saw this I would become curious about the backstory between Trolley Molly and Harold. Why won't Molly return Harold's affections??! The poor, sweet man!
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2008


Just adding more love for Pogo. I much preferred the books to the newspaper. So enjoyable to immerse oneself in the swamp for hours at a time. My old books are crumbling. I should reread them soon before they, and I, return to dust.
posted by cairnish at 9:40 AM on December 12, 2008


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