“Si Hubbard (Hey Rube)”


Two farm boys decide to visit the circus. They raise the money and go in to see the sights. After volunteering to take part in various escapades, they end up being carried off by a balloon. When at last they land, they wind up in jail

Supplemental text

Si Hubbard (Hey Rube)
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

From Carl Sandburg, The American Songbag, pp. 350-352. Source
described simply as a "Peoria lawyer, then a Chicago lawyer."

It wuz one day, I believe in May,
    when old Si Hubbard to me did say,
"Barnum's circus has come to town,
    let's you an' I go see the clowns."

So we sold our barley, oats an' corn;
    in fact, we most cleaned out the barn;
Then went an' bought two bran' new suits,
    with white plug hats an' red top-boots.

An' when that circus got around,
    we two wuz the fust ones on the ground.
Sez Si to me, "Let's go get tight,
    pull down the tent an' have a fight."

"Not much," sez I, "I'll raise no feud,"
    for you see I wuz skeered of the old 'Heye Rube!'
So I proposed some red lemonade
    an' goober peas for which I paid.

'Twuz a jolly good cuss who kept the store,
    so we thought when he asked us to have some more.
Sez he, "I like you boys fust rate,
    so don't stand back; I'll stand the treat."

So Si an' I jist pitched right in,
    an' the way we ate an' drank wuz a sin;
But when we turned to go away
    we heard that gosh-durned sharper say:

"Four dollars, quick! you Rubes! Don't wait,
    or else to the side-show you'll be late."
So I paid the cash like a durn fool cuss,
    an' off to the side-show we did rush.

When we got inside what sights we seen
    wuz enough to turn our whiskers green.
There wuz a tattooed man all covered with ink,
    an' a dog-faced boy called the 'missing link.'

But the sight that fairly made us shake
    wuz a great big sleepy-lookin' snake.
Si pulled his jack-knife out right quick
    an' up to the cage he then did slip,

An' he stabbed that snake an' jumped away,
    but I laughed for the critter wuz stuffed with hay.
Now a parrot in a cage close by
    soon caught the gaze of foolish Si;

Si didn't know this bird could talk
    an' when it called him a country gawk
He got right mad an' jist for spite,
    he knocked that bird clean out of sight.

But a monkey who wuz in the cage,
    at Si's conduct got in a rage,
An' to show his love for his feathered friend,
    a helping hand he allowed to lend.

So he grabbed poor Si by his red goatee
    an' it made the whole crowd laugh to see
Si tug an' pull to get away,
    but the pesky monkey had come to stay.

An' he pulled Si's whiskers so all-fired hard
    that his chin wuz as long as the neck of a gourd;
All at once I seed Si smile an' grin
    an' I knew his troubles wuz at an end.

An' sure enough, with his knife so keen,
    he'd cut them whiskers off close to his chin.
When I seed that face with the goatee off,
    I coughed an' laughed an' laughed an' coughed.

An' two girls fainted at the terrible sight,
    an' the rest of the crowd all took to flight;
Then the showmen threw us out in a hurry
    an' the gosh-durned band played "Annie Laurie."

Sez I: "What's the next thing on the docket?"
    for we both had money in our pocket.
As if in answer to my question,
    we both looked in the one direction,

An' there, before our very eyes,
    wuz a big balloon of enormous size.
An' a man in the basket in skin-tight clothes sez,
    "Cut the rope an' let her go."

Sez Si to me, "I'll spoil his racket,"
    an' he grabbed a rope that wuz hitched to the basket,
An' he tried to hold the balloon to the ground,
    but the balloon wuz the strongest' so Si soon found.

An' to the horror of the lookers-on,
    up went poor Si tied to the balloon.
When I seed Si goin' I rushed to his aid,
    an' a sudden dash for the rope I made,

But my feet got tangled in the coil,
    an' I, like Si, left native soil.
Then up in the air like a rocket we shot,
    an' I called to the man in the balloon to stop;

But he only smiled into my face,
    an' asked me how I liked my place. 
"Not much," sez I, "you skinny dude."
    "Then call me down," sez he, "you rube."

Sez I to Si, "Take out your knife
    an' cut the rope an' save our lives."
An' Si in his pocket his hand did slip,
   to get his knife, but he lost his grip,

An' he lit right square upon my face
    an' then we both fell into space.
"Look out! We're comin'," I cried out loud;
    "Oh, we don't care." came back from the crowd.

But instead of alighting on the spot I meant,
    we came smack down on the animal tent;
When we lit the tent began to tear,
    an' to save my life I grabbed Si's hair;

But his hair broke off an' down I went
    with Si on top, inside the tent.
An' we lit so hard on a candy-shop
    that the whole durned band in the circus stopped.

An' then the folks came running out to see
    what the racket wuz all about;
An' one of the troupers wanted to know
    if we had paid to get into the show.

'Why, no," sez I, "We just dropped in
    to try an' hear a circus ring."
He up with a club an' he hit me a crack
    which nearly broke my pesky back.

This made me mad an' up I rose
    an' I hit him square upon the nose.
He cried, "Hey Rube!" an' to my surprise,
    Hey Rubes came arunning thick as flies.

An' they grabbed us both an' tore our clothes,
    an' said they'd teach us to steal in shows.
"We didn't steal in," sez I to the crowd.
    "Why, no," sez Si, "We dropped from the clouds."

But a constable who had a badge on,
    an' like a dog's tail he kept a wagon,
Told Si an' I to get inside
    an' with him take a little ride.

When at the calaboose he stopped,
    he showed us in an' the door he locked,
An' said for being two big Jays,
    he'd have to give us sixty days --

But once wuz enough for us,
    once wuz enough for us, we'll never go to another show,
For once wuz enough for us.


Another piece which may owe more to Sandburg's imagination than to tradition. Even Sandburg says that it came, indirectly, from a carnival barker. - RBW


  1. Sandburg, pp. 350-352, "Si Hubbard" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST San350 (Full)
  3. BI, San350


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (Sandburg)
Found in: US(MW)