Souvenir Music from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893

11. Midway Plaisance

Words and music by Dennis Mackin and W.T. Jefferson

Not much is known about this song or its composers. The cover of the sheet music claims it was made famous by a Mr. Henry Norman in the musical Ali Baba. W.T. Jefferson went on to achieve some minor success with “ragtime” songs, but nothing is known about Mackin. The narrator’s bemused reaction to the sights and sounds—and expense—of the Midway was probably typical.

View the MP3 in Omeka

PerformersChris White, piano; Brad Jungwirth, vocals.



Once I walked about the Fair, and quite by chance,
A big wide street that opened there caught my glance.
Of all the places that ever came, the joy of life to enhance,
I shall never forget its name, Midway Plaisance 

I saw a Boogie Man in half-mast pants
Skate very leisurely, skate very Caesarly;
I saw a Lulu bird from far-off France,
Grabbed him as he skated on the Plaisance 


Midway Plaisance, Midway Plaisance
I thought I’d die when they let her fly
Midway Plaisance, Midway Plaisance
I’ll get there bye and bye

Verse 2:

Thought I’d kiss the Blarney Stone. The Irish race.
Took my money and I was shown into the place.
But the keeper said to me, “Your lips, Sorr, take up too much space.
“If ye want to kiss the stone, you’ll plaze change yer face.” 

I saw a Nautch girl do a Nautchy dance
Quite like a French quadrille—quite, only worser still.
But, soon I found her out; I had a trance:
She came with Columbus to the Plaisance 


Verse 3:

Next thing that I took in was the Beauty Show
Soon found out that looking was too all-fired slow.
Raised my hat to the tattooed girl, for ha! She pleased me very much.
Guard pulled a rope, and a sign fell down, “Please do not touch.” 

I saw a yellow bear bow and advance,
Schottische with an old giraffe, give an Elephant a laugh,
I saw a crocodile do a shadow dance,
A spritz who does the splits on the Plaisance 


Verse 4:

Thought I’d ride in the Ferris Wheel—my life’s insured.
But by the lunch bell’s joyful peal, I was allured.
I had soup and a chicken neck, and I got out alive.
Nineteen men figured up my check: $10.25!

I met a little girl, with a romance
I grew dear to hear, this was clear to her.
But, when I said, “I’m broke,” the circumstance
Made her skip and leave me on the Plaisance