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The Cremation of Sam McGee

Just a family story. When I was a kid, we would BEG my mom to read this to us kids. If the power went out or my Dad was out working on a stormy night (telephone company in the 60's) it was total fun for us all. My Mom just passed away and I found this in some of her stuff. I wrote it down and then read it aloud, brought back a great feeling. Just thought I'd share. If you read it, read aloud and really ham it up! Enjoy, or maybe not but what the heck! THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE There are strange things done in the midnight sun, by the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold; The northern lights have seen *** sights , but the queerest they ever did see was that night on the marge of lake lebarge I cremated Sam McGee. Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows. Why he left his home in the south to roam ‘round the pole, God only knows. He was always cold. But the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell; Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d sooner live in Hell. On a Christmas day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail. Talk of your cold through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see; It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee. And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow, and the dogs were fed and the stars o’erhead were dancing heal and toe, he turned to me and “Cap” says he, I’ll cash in this trip, I guess; and if I do , I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request . Well he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he’d say with a sort of a moan: “It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone”. No a promise made is a debt unpaid and the trail has it’s own stern code. In the days to come, though my lips were numb, in my heart how I cursed that load. In the long long night by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring, howled out their woes to the homeless snows, O God! How I loathed the thing. And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavier grow, and on I went , though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low; the trail was bad and I felt half mad but I swore I would not give in; And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it harkened with a grin. Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge and a Derelict there lay; It was jammed with ice but I saw in a trice it was called “Alice May”, and I looked at it, and I thought a bit and I looked at my frozen chum; Then “here”, said I with a sudden cry “is my crematorium”. Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire; Some coal I found that was lying around and I heaped the fuel higher; The flames just soared, and the furnace roared - Such a blaze you seldom see; And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal and I stuffed in Sam McGee. Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so; and the heavens scowled and the huskies howled and the wind began to blow. It was Icy cold but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I didn’t know why; And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky. I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear; But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near; I was sick with dread , but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside” I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked; .......... Then the door I opened wide. And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm in the heart of the furnace roar;And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close the door. It’s fine in here. But I greatly fearyou’ll let in the cold and storm--------- Since I left Plumtree down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve felt warm.

Comments

  • gmill880gmill880 Posts: 5,947
    That was pretty cool - thanks for sharing
  • bigharpoonbigharpoon Posts: 2,963 ✭✭✭
    Oh man, that's great. There is an old documentary from the north Maine woods in which one of the two main characters tells that story from heart next to the fire in his tar paper shack. I looked all over for a clip of it but couldn't find it. Here's a clip from the same documentary, Dead River Rough Cut, which describes how to be your own dentist:

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