Waste Not, Want Not
(You Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs Dry)
1. When a child, I lived at Lincoln, with my parents at the farm,
The lessons that my mother taught to me were quite a charm;
She would often take me on her knee, when tired of childish play,
And as she pressed me to her breast, I've heard my mother say:
Waste Not, Want not, is a maxim I would teach,
Let your watch word be dispatch and practice what you preach,
Do not let your chances like sunbeams pass you by,
For you never miss the water till the well runs dry.
2. As years rolled on, I grew to be a mischief-making boy!
Destruction seemed my only sport, it was my only joy;
And well do I remember, when oft-times well chastised,
How father sat beside me, then, and thus has me advised:
3. When I arrived at manhood, I embarked in public life,
And found it was a rugged road, bestrewn with care and strife;
I speculated foolishly, my losses were severe;
But still a tiny voice kept whispering in my ear:
4. Then I studied strict economy, and found to my surprise,
My funds, instead of sinking, very quickly then did rise;
I grasped each chance, and always "struck the iron while 'twas hot,"
I seized my opportunities, and never once forgot:
5. I'm married now, and happy, I've a charming little wife,
We live in peace and harmony, devoid of care and strife;
Fortune smiles upon us, we have little children three,
The lesson that I teach them as they prattle round my knee:
From the singing of Helen Schneyer, who got it from Sigmund
Spaeth's book "Read 'Em and Weep" Spaeth says: Let it never
be said that the ribald songs of the Nineteenth Century
outnumbered the virtuous. For every lyric endorsement of
intemperance, there was an equally powerful presentation of
the advantages of the restrained and moral life."Adage songs"
were very popular as stimulators of uplift and the best known
of the lot was You Never Miss the Water Till the Well Runs
Dry. There is practically no answer to this argument, and even
though the chorus mixes its metaphors a bit, it remains one of
the world's most intelligible treatises on economy. Rowland
Howard was the author, and Hamilton S. Gordon the publisher.