Asleep at the Switch

DESCRIPTION: Tom the switchman has to work though his boy is dying at home. In his grief he falls asleep at the switch. A disaster is barely averted when daughter Nell, bringing good news, throws the switch. Tom is found dead of grief, but Nell is rewarded
AUTHOR: Words: Charles Shackford; several tunes, including Shackford's, are used
EARLIEST DATE: 1897 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: train death family disease rescue grief
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Randolph 686, "Asleep at the Switch" (1 text)
Cohen-LongSteelRail, pp. 276-281, "Asleep at the Switch" (1 text plus excerpts from other poems with the same title as well as a copy of the sheet music cover, 1 tune)

Roud #7370
Lester McFarland & Robert Gardner, "Asleep at the Switch" (Brunswick 461, 1930)
Ernest V. Stoneman, "Asleep at the Switch" (OKeh 45044, 1926)

NOTES [80 words]: Cohen notes that (at least) two other poems were written with the title "Asleep at the Switch" before Shackford published his piece in 1897. The earliest was by George Hoey, and that poem appears to have been the most popular in the wider world; it is the only one of the three cited in Granger's Index to Poetry. It can also be found on pp. 90-92 of Martin Gardner, editor, Famous Poems from Bygone Days, Dover, 1995. But it does not appear to have gone into tradition. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.0
File: R686

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