Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Eliaphelet Oram Lyte

You lead a life of public service, you go through a war and pick up an honourable wound, you publish a number of books in your chosen field- and what are you remembered for? For being the first person to put a popular, four line jingle into print.

Sometimes Fate or Fame or whatever allegorical female is responsible for this sort of outcome seems to be having a bit of a laugh.

I'm talking about Eliaphelet Oram Lyte (1842-1913) a Pennsylvania school teacher (headmaster, even) who wrote a book in 1882 which included the definitive version of "Row, row, row your boat". He almost certainly didn't write the words because they had appeared earlier- in the 1850s, but he may have written the tune- and a very pretty tune it is too- especially if sung as a round.

Eliaphelet. I wonder if his friends called him "Jumbo"...

And if you think, as I do, that there's something a bit esoteric about the song you might be tickled to learn that- according to his obit- he was a 33rd degree freemason, according to the Scottish Rite.

Which would have entitled him to wear a white hat- or even a purple one if appointed to the supreme council...
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  • 11 comments

  • Angry

    I get angry when I feel I'm losing control of a situation. It's similar to the instinct that makes me stretch out my arms when heading off…

  • Scammers

    The house phone rings I pick up the receiver. (Once we move we won't be having a land line.) There is a pause. Then a concerned but…

  • As January Draws To An End

    Someone left a gate open yesterday morning (I don't think it was me) and three of the horses let themselves out onto the drive. There were four…