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An Exile's Toast, Annotated

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At each Phi Gamma Delta chapter's annual Pig Dinner, graduates and undergraduates alike gather to rekindle the ties of brotherhood. "An Exile's Toast" by Frank Norris (California 1894) is traditionally read before the banquet. A fake German accent, arcane terms, and names of brothers long gone? Many a brother has wondered what exactly it means.

Beside the inside jokes and the sentiment of this toast, what made it funny?  And why the parody of a German accent?


The source appears to be "The Katzenjammer Kids," a popular comic strip distributed nationally through the Hearst papers. The protagonists were Hans and Fritz: two mischievous, rebellious boys with this same accent. The cartoon began in 1897 and continues today as the world's oldest syndicated cartoon strip. We can imagine that the antics of the "Kids" reminded Norris of the pranks and 'stunts' practiced by his Delta Xi brothers in the 1890s, as explained in the articles about Pig Dinner Origins and Norris as an undergraduate. Thanks to Tim Harlan (Indiana State 1972) for the lead about the Kids.

Not a small part of the pathos of this poem is the fact that Frank Norris would die in October, 1902, less than two years after writing this poem.
 

Roselle N.J. Nov 20 1900

An Exile's Toast

To the Committee:

Gesundheit! Ach mein lieber vriendts, dot note she gome today,
You're dinin' bei der Poodle in der same ol' jolly vay;
While me, ach Gott, du Lieber Gott, I've sit me down undt wept
Dat your kindt invitationing I cennot yet accept.
Der Poodle! Do and I know der blace, say blind mein eyes oop tighdt
Undt standt me bei der Plaza on, I findt der haus alle righdt.
Der glass-ware I've ge-broken dere, der sboons I hef ge-stole!
Der vhiskey Chimmie Vhite hef drunk; from ous der sugar-bowl!
Ach dose were days, Der Gibbs he knows, undt Mairsch he knows ut too
Undt Hethauern could ree-member yoost a leeddle ting or two
Undt dot poy Earnie Hoentersohn, he's leedle put oh my,
He nef'r sets his schooner down until he's drunk her dry.
Undt ulzoh Wallie Every-bit, who alle-ways knows ut alle;
Undt Gibbons - 'Loaf-of-women'; He leads Shermans at Lunt's Halle,
Undt den, Ach hoch der Vaterland; dere is der soldier man *
Der terror oaf der Sbanniards in der charge of San Joo-an,
Der Awful Captun Sailfridge, he's a howlin Martinet,
(Vhen speakun to him, touch der cap, he loafs dose Etiquette)
Undt Brooksie Balmer he gomes too, dot quiet leedle poy
Dey galls him vhen he's vairy goot, der Sewing Circles Joy.
Undt Hoomphries he's der sly one, undt he knows der historie
Yon efry Fiji chapter in der landt from Sea to Sea.
Undt Pilly Schmidt undt Emory, Dey does deir leedle stunts
Fallutin mit der "Younger Set" each Saturday at Lunt's.
Hi aile you Grads, you lucky Grads who dis T'anksgiving Day
Cen shtop at home joost tink oaf us, der Exiles far away.
Dere's Chunky in Geneva, undt dere's Corbett in Paree,
Undt Doodle's gone to Noo Orleans, undt in New York, dere's me,
Undt Hooston's in St. Louis undt dere's Rethers-- Gott knows Vair
Ve sits undt vaits undt vatches undt ve groan undt tear der hair;
Ve reckons oudt der difference in der time undt everyone
Ve says oudt loud "Dey hef kicked off, der game hef joost begun"
Undt we aindt dere to see ut played, undt we aindt dere to yell
Undt we aindt dere to see der team joost knock em into Hell.
Vail, vhen you all sits down again to eat dot Poodle lunch
You alle joost try to vancy dot we're mit you in der bunch.
Here's to der Team; Bei Gott - stand oop - dis aindt no usual drink,
Stand oop - Hands round - between us alle it is der gommon link
Stand oop. It is der Exiles Toast we're mit you alle today
We're back once more in der ol' blace, undt back again to stay
Stand oop, Stand oop; From East undt West we've gome to be mit you
We're dinin at der Poodle joost as once we used to do
Dis day we show our colors undt let alle der Eagles scream

For

We're dinin at der Poodle undt we're drinkin to der Team.
Very Fraternally

FRANK NORRIS
* These lines to be accompanied by the discharge of musketry.

Footnotes

1. "Dot Note" was an invitation to attend the Thanksgiving Eve dinner of the California Chapter. It was a big event of every chapter year and attended by many out of town Fijis. Learn how it started in the Origin of the Norris Pig Dinner.

2. "Der PoodIe" was the Poodle Dog restaurant on Bush and Grant avenues, San Francisco, where the dinner traditionally was held. (See California historic sites page.)

3. "Chimmie Vhite" was John H. White 1891, founder and headmaster of White's Preparatory School in Berkeley.

4. "Der Gibbs" referred to George Gibbs 1895, Milwaukee steel magnate, president of the company bearing his name.

5. "Mairsch"-- John Alfred March 1893, San Francisco lawyer.

6. "Hethauern"-- Ralph L. Hathorn 1893, the brother who recruited Norris, house manager, "sponsor for the original pig," and later a San Francisco lawyer.

7. "Earnie Hoentersohn"-- Ernest N. Henderson 1890, professor of philosophy at Adelphi College, mentioned in Who's Who.

8. "Wallie Every-bit"-- Wallace W. Everett, Sr. 1897, San Francisco magazine publisher and later Napa Valley fruit farmer. Both he and son Wallace W. Everett, Jr. (California 1927) were Fraternity archon councilors.

9. "Gibbons"-- Morton R. Gibbons 1895, distinguished San Francisco physician.

10. "Lunt's Hall" was a very fashionable dance hall in San Francisco. Archon Councilor Wally Everett explains that it "catered to teaching dancing to the little monsters of top society in the 1890's" and also was the location for "the highly chaperoned dances of older groups." "Shermans" refers to dances.

11. "Captain Sailfridge"-- Edward A. Selfridge Jr. 1894, listed in the 1940 Directory of Members as a lumber specialist in the U. S. Department of Commerce. In the Spanish-American War, he fought at battle of San Juan Hill as Captain of Company K, 71st New York Infantry US Volunteers; Norris was also there as a newspaper correspondent. He was also the Fraternity's section chief for the West coast when the Toast was written.

12. "Brooksie Palmer"-- J. Brooks Palmer 1892, San Francisco lawyer.

13. "Hoomphries"-- William P. Humphries 1892, San Francisco lawyer.

14. "Pilly Shmidt and Emory"-- William H. Smith, Jr. 1898, San Francisco lawyer and his brother, Emery T. Smith, '00, distinguished World War I colonel.

15. "Chunky"-- J. Russell Selfridge 1897, a San Francisco merchant and brother of Edward A.

16. "Corbett"-- Harvey Wiley Corbett 1895, nationally known architect in New York and listed in Who's Who; had gone to Paris to study architecture at the famous Beaux Arts school.

17. "Doodles"-- Seymour Waterhouse 1895, merchant in San Jose and one time roommate of Norris. It was at the Waterhouse mine in the Sierras that Frank Norris found his principal character of the dentist in McTeague.

18. "Hooston"-- Albert J. Houston 1895, celebrated ear, nose and throat specialist in San Francisco.

19. "Rether"-- Harry F. Rethers 1892, career army officer, veteran of the Spanish-American War and World War One. Retired a brigadier general.

20. California lost to Stanford in the 1900 football contest, 5 to 0. (Cal had won the previous two years by huge margins.)

 

The Original Exile's Toast





Based on "Ode On A Grecian Yearn: Norris' Nostalgic Salute to Distant Fijis Becomes Classic" with annotations adapted from Wallace W. Everett Jr. (California 1923), who got them from J. Brooks Palmer (California 1892), the last surviving brother mentioned in "An Exile's Toast". The Phi Gamma Delta, Volume 86, Number 1 (October 1963), pp.16-17.


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