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Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Bad Boy's Diary, 1880

A Bad Boy's Diary by Walter Gray (Metta Victoria Victor)

Metta Victoria Victor had numerous pseudonyms, gave birth to nine children, and authored over 100 books. In fact, she and her husband invented the American dime novel (the first paperbacks).

In 1880 Victor's book A Bad Boy's Diary was published. A Bad Boy's Diary is about little Georgie Hacket. No matter how hard Georgie tries, he just can't stay out of trouble. It was the best selling book in the year 1880 and spawned an entire series about Georgie's misadventures.

While the book is a work of fiction, the context is set in the real world of 1880. This excerpt provides some insight into how important barbecue events were to politics in the 19th century and also in how those events were financed. Little Georgie didn't have the best grammar or spelling skills and I present the text just as it was originally written by the author. Here is the story of when Georgie and a friend decide to hold their own, private barbecue.

A Bad Boy's Diary - He Takes Part in the Election
My father has gone to a naboring villedge to hear some grate speker in the open air. He sade the fokes was going to have a barbecue to finish up the fun. I ast him what was a barbecue, and be sade it was rosting an ox hull with plenty of hard cider and uther things to be et and drunk out of dores so as to make it more golly. I. wanted to go along, but he said he would not take such a looking boy besides I had been very bad last night, he woulk leave me behind for a punishment. I felt lonesome, so I whistled for Jonny to clime over the fence wen his mother was not looking and I said " Johnny, if we had a nox we could have a barbecue all to ourselfs - and wouldn't that be fun?" He said it would be offul fun, only we had no ox. So then I said: "There is more ways than one to skin a cat - come out behind the barn an I will sho you something, Johnny."
This was about 4 o'clock. About six my mamma saw something brite shining before she lit the lamps. Everything was all red an as lite as day. She ran to the windo an scremed : "0 Bess, Bess, the stable is on fire!" But she was mistaken. It was only a big fire behind it witch me an Johnny had made to have our own privat barbecue.
It is true that the corner of the cow-shed had got in a blaze, but the nabors put that out. " The cow is safe," said Bess, " but o dear, where is the cunning little calf?" "What's that?" cried mamma turning pale. "Georgie, you notty, good-for-nothing, cruel boy, tell me this minnit - O you wicked boy !" "It's only me and Johnny having a barbecue," I answered. "A what ?" she cride. " A barbecue, mamma. If big folks roste an ox I should think little ones mite roste a teeny weenty calf. Its most done now-wont you all stay an have a piece? We've got a lot of cider, too, out of Johnny's sellar. Were going to do it up in reglar stile."
"Did you roste the poor thing alive ?" shrieked my sister. "Why no, Bess, don't you see we rosted it dead?" Its strange how little some girls know. It was unreasonable for mamma to make such a fuss about a miserable little calf. Johnny was sent home an' we neither of us got a taste of our barbecue; but papa could stuff down all he wanted, I dare say. I The older I grow the more injustice I see. 
N.B. Johnny told me in a whisper this morning he forgot to turn the fasset back, he was in such a hurry for fear the cook would catch him, so the hull barl of cider ran away. Well, there's one consolashun. I herd papa say it cost a grate deal of money to eleckt a president. He said he'd been sent some and tole to place it where it would do the most good. I suppose the calf and the cider must go in the eleckshun expenses. All I regret is they were not placed where they wood do most good, cause me and Johnny was not allowed to eat and drink em. We expect to have a lot of fun next week.