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Jingle Club History


History of the Jingle Club, excerpt from the book, "Wildcat."[1]

As Ezekiel and Anna Hunn’s children were growing up, naturally they did not want them to "run the streets" of Philadelphia. So to keep them entertained at home, Ezekiel and his mother, Lydia, in whose house they all lived together  [in Philadaelphia, PA], instituted the Jingle Club, a family affair, which met every Saturday evening.

Each person attending brought an original poem or bit of doggerel or even a two-lined verse on a given subject. Then as everyone sat around the dining room table after supper, E. Hunn read the poems aloud and everyone tried to guess who had perpetrated them. Each member had a nom-de-plume. When all the poems had been read and light refreshments were being served (cake and lemonade or occasionally ice cream), each member wrote an impromptu verse. These quick silly verses were read and laughed over. The boys and girls of the family often brought their friends to these Jingle sessions and many a romance took place and was recorded in the lines written. Much holding of hands went on under the table and many sly glances were exchanged as my father read the verses aloud.

Some of the poems written by E. H. III and his mother reflect the political trends of the time and record current events. It was inevitable that Wildcat was frequently lauded, as everyone’s heart was always at the farm. And the first subject given about which to write was inevitably "Wildcat." None of us could help writing about it. Nothing very wonderful was ever produced but it helped to knit the family closely together and created an appreciation of rhythm. If there were any errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, or rhyme, we were made to correct them immediately as E. H. III was a stickler for good English and would brook nothing short of it. In spite of this strict discipline, we all had barrels of fun, maybe by just being together.

Any member of the family who happened to be away from home loyally sent his poetic contribution by mail. The club continued from 1895 to 1914 and then folded up as all the children had grown or died or married, and I was the only one left. But in eleven years time, in 1925, my brother, William Roland Hunn, instituted the same procedure in his domicile in Morton, Pennsylvania for the same purpose. This Junior Jingle Club lasted another fifteen years until his five children were grown and married and was reborn in 1973 in Moylan, Pennsylvania where it continued until the 1980s.

Many of the poems included here were the product of this club. Children who could rhyme two lines or more were expected to contribute and were permitted to stay up until their poems were read and refreshments were served. Then, wailing, they were whisked off to bed.

And here is the history in verse:

The History of the Jingle Club in Rhyme

[Margaret Hunn Perkins, daughter of Roland, provided ALJ with the following poem in 1995.]

History of the Jingle Club

Katherine Hunn Karsner

Bob Hunn[2] has asked that we put into rhyme
The Jingle Club History, if we have the time.
Well, no one has time, but I’ll make a start
For it’s something that’s always been close to my heart. 

It commenced long ago, before I was alive
On a Saturday evening, eighteen-ninety-five,
Thought up by Lydia Jones Sharpless Hunn
And a prominent lawyer, her dutiful son.

Philadelphia, the City of Brother Love
Was the home of this family, mentioned above.

The purpose? To keep the Hunn boys off the street.
At first they all thought it not much of a treat
For they were all lively and given to noise
But none of them blessed with much avoirdupoise.

So each Saturday evening to keep them at home
And prevent them from being tempted to roam
With the gangs in the alleys where things could be rough
They were made to stay in: write a verse. That was tough!

Reluctant at first, it soon got to be
A most pleasant event, as you will soon see.
For the girls of the family lured boy friends to come
And the Hunn boys soon learned to fetch girls, not so dumb!

Each brought a short verse which was then read aloud
By Ezekiel Hunn to the listening crowd.
They signed nom-de-plumes which were often guess-able
As they sat in the dining room all ‘round the table.

Then refreshments were served – ice cream, lemonade,
Crackers, cookies or pretzels or cake freshly made.
There was holding of hands by the young folks in love
Without benefit of mitten or clumsy old glove.

Pens and paper were passed to the crowd as they ate.
Each scribbled a word for his next seated mate
To write an impromptu, some short, a few long.
They were silly but fun; all were read, some were sung.
And "Good nights" were delayed in the big house of Hunn.

Alas, on vacation, when down on the farm
They were coaxed to write jingles and send them straight home
And the Club was exultant each time one would come.

E. Hunn, the stern father, a stickler for rhyme,
Punctuation and spelling was careful each time
To have them corrected, a nuisance, I fear.
But the Jingles were bound in a BOOK once a year.

This pattern continued till nineteen-fourteen.
Then the Jingle Club died, it was plain to be seen.
What with war and some married and living away
It was hard to assemble. Granny Hunn passed away.

The Club remained dormant till nineteen-twenty-five.
When Roland, who now had five kids of his own
Decided to do what his father had done
Resurrected the Jingle! It grew wildly alive!
"We’ll start it again, a jolly new Jingle
While all of our children are still living single.

Keep them home off the streets, each Saturday night;
Invite in the neighbors!" And to his delight
The kids all responded — wrote verses galore,
Had impromptus, food, music and danced on the floor.

They met once a month as the children matured.
Neighbors, friends of the family and others were lured.
It grew bigger and better in Faraday Park
Where this Hunn family lived, during lightness and dark.
The Junior Club lasted till nineteen-forty and then
Roland sickened, and so we could NOT meet again.

A much longer span now sped on its way.
Some twenty-four years had fleeted away.
But in seventy-four in Moylan, Pa.
It rose from the dead ashes and is growing each day.
We hope it will live and continue for aye.

Now we’re fifty-two people!!! We started with ten.
Women and children and plenty of men!
In various houses big enough for the fun.
Mostly belonging to the family of Hunn.

All those who are scattered in various places
But want to be counted, if not by their faces,
Send their Jingles by wire or mail or by tape.
Written in icing one came on a cake.

From Grandparents-in-law, and the last brought by the stork
They are sent in from Engle, California, New York,
From Alaska, and Florida, Jersey, as well,
New Mexico, Maryland, Massachusetts and Del.

Six generations held together by verse!
(It could be a blessing, it might be a curse.)
But the rhyming gets better — and couldn’t get worse!

Like this!

All of the jingles were bound in permanent books and both sets are extant today. The original club’s volumes are in Alaska in my (Katherine Hunn Karsner's) daughter Mary Ann Kegler’s house[3]. Alan Hunn of Wildcat has the volumes of the Junior Jingle Club. 

[1] Wildcat was the family farm in Delaware. It was sold to the County of Kent in 2005 for a public park and Freedom Center.
[2] Bob Hunn’s name was Ezekiel Hunn 5th but he didn’t like the name. As a teen-ager he rebelled and added Roberts, his maternal grandmother’s maiden name, as a middle name and from then on was known as Bob.
[3] After Mary Ann died, her husband, Ted Kegler, mailed the bound volumes to Margaret Perkins, daughter of Roland Hunn.