Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Forgotten Wartime Musical Favorite: I Am Coming Back to Kansas

Contributed by James Patton

I Am Coming Back to Kansas
© Nellie Blanche Smirl 7 Sept 1918, E 432374  



When I have time to dream about you,
Pleasant mem'ries I'll recall,
For I've lived in many places,
But you're dearest of them all.
I can see the rolling prairies
And can breathe the fragrant air,
And Kansas-land shall be my home
When I get thro' over there.

Chorus:
I am coming back to Kansas,
Tho' I am so far away,
There is no place so grand,
It's the fairy land, Of the whole world, I say.
But when duty calls I'll follow,
Follow all the way;
Glad to fight for Uncle Sam with all my might,
But I'll come back some day.



Click Here to Play Music


The same old moon I see a-shining,
And he makes me think of you,
For he heard that lass in Kansas
As she promised to be true.
So while birds are sweetly singing
And the sunflow'rs fringe the way,
And wedding bells have rung for us,
I'll be there to always stay.

Chorus:
I am coming back to Kansas,
Tho' I am so far away,
There is no place so grand,
It's the fairy land, Of the whole world, I say.
But when duty calls I'll follow,
Follow all the way;
Glad to fight for Uncle Sam with all my might,
But I'll come back some day.



"I Am Coming Back to Kansas" was composed and published on 31 August 1918 by Nellie Blanche Smirl (24/11/1889–3/11/1986),also Mrs. Clarence G. Smirl, a 28-year-old homemaker with a six-year- old daughter named Mildred, who lived in the small central Kansas city of Ellsworth in the county of the same name.

There is no record of any other music published by Nellie Blanche during her long life. Although all census records available describe her as a housewife, in 1940 she stated that she had income of $200 per year, which was not small change in an era when the minimum wage was 30 cents an hour. Her obituary in the Wichita Eagle described her as a "retired teacher." She has an entry in the Social Security Death Index, so at some point in time after 1935 she registered, presumably because she got a job. Another detail from her obituary is that she parented a niece and a nephew, the children of a sister.

Nellie Blanche may have been motivated to write her work to honor the service of her brother-in-law, Harry L. Smirl (1893–1978), who survived the war and died in Los Angeles.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this! I am enjoying learning the songs of 100 years ago.

    ReplyDelete