“A Diller a Dollar a Ten o’clock Scholar” is one I faintly remember from a childhood spent in the same house as three individuals born in the 1860s and 1870s. Back in the old days people had all kinds of things committed to memory, not like now when if we’re really on top of our game we can maybe recall the words to a jingle or two. (Our brains don’t seem to store stuff anymore. We might as find a way to pop them out and use them to sponge off the counters.)
I bought the book this picture is from back in the fine old summer of ’78, after my first baby and before my second one when I had all those widely-flared hip hugger pants and hair like Farrah Fawcett’s (well, as long as it wasn’t raining.) I tried to read it to my 18-month-old. thinking the music in the nursery rhymes would be nice, but of course the cartoons were totally beyond her.
I still have the book and last month tried reading it to my little grandsons. “We don’t like this book” the seven year old told me in no uncertain terms. Looks like his momma, my former baby, remembers the book and having looked at it in adulthood, has pronounced its tone not fitting for little ones.
I’m looking at it again here, seeing what the little badger’s words are to the schoolmaster. “Sir if I may be permitted to say so, sarcasm has no place in the classroom,” he is saying. So it looks like irony has no place in the classroom either, still less the nursery. Live and learn I guess. Live and learn.