The Sly Jackeen Sailor (Johnny Burke)

A practical joker who some say is Wynne,
Started out on the road his tricks to begin;
Potatoes and dandelion wanted to buy,
And heeled it to Topsail to get a supply.
He first struck the Lunatic on his way in,
Eighty cents or a dollar he borrowed in tin;
They gave him a reefer and other old duds,
And nicely apparelled for buying up spuds.

He got into Topsail, dropped in here and there,
And offered six shillings.... for taters that's fair;
He got but few orders to help out his lark,
And struck Kelligrews just an hour before dark.
The people with joy nearly danced in their shoes,
A wonderful order for small Kelligrews;
Potatoes he ordered some five tons or more,
Then borrowed some shiners to go up the shore.

He passed himself off as a naval reserve,
And tons of fresh dandelion going to preserve;
He ordered the people at once to go pick,
Another new joke for the people to trick.
They started to pick them, at least so I'm told,
And some to Bell Isle in the fog and the cold;
He next got a trousers to fix his disguise,
This wonderful villain who tricked all the boys.

Some stayed up all night for the order to fill,
Filling sacks with Scotch apples
and worked with a will;
And early next morning each left his abode,
Till two hundred horses were well on the road.
They arrived in the town and all wended their way,
On board of the warships at least so they say;
For he told them he wanted the spuds for the fleet,
When they found out the joker
had tricked them complete.

Some sold them in town at a price very low,
And not bring them in such a long way to go;
While others got furious looking for Wynne,
This practical joker who took the men in.
Such a dodge never played on the people before,
This double dyed villain who went up the shore;
And the best way to punish this wiley old nibs,
Is a belt of a picket nine times on the ribs.

####.... Johnny Burke [1851-1930] of St John's, NL ....####
Published in Burke's Ballads, p.36, c.1960, compiled by John White and archived at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Libraries, Centre For Newfoundland Studies - Digitized Books collection.

See more songs by Johnny Burke

From the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:
Scotch Apple - potato.

From Ben Silver Classic Style - All about Clothing Terminology:
Reefer - originally a sailor's jacket, double-breasted and fastening at the side - so centrally placed buttons would not be caught in the rigging lines when aloft 'reefing' sail. It is now the basic Royal Navy officer's jacket and is also a variation on the blazer. It has eight buttons, fastening four, as opposed to the blazer which usually shows six and buttons two. The reefer has clearly influenced the modern blazer more than has the widely striped blazers of 1880.


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