I found an old piece of sheet music in my parent's home one day. I guess my father played the song on his violin, or sang it when he sat in with a touring minstrel show that used to pass through our area. I have a picture of him in that ensemble. He also played in small dance bands, as did my great-uncle, in our southwestern New York village of Watkins Glen. I have a dance card from one celebration he evidently played for. I had often heard joyous references to "...the picnic dance." My brother told me that blacks came from all around to celebrate. "What?", I asked. He didn't know. The old dance card informed me: That "picnic dance" was one part of a celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation. Evidently, it was what is now called, in other parts of the country, "Juneteenth." He played with that minstrel troupe whenever it came through and was going on the road with them just before he was drafted into the army for WWI. That pretty much ended minstrel shows! I happily remember playing the song on our piano in the living room and wailing out the lyrics, at age 14/15. I still remember some of them. Here goes.
Old Deacon Johnson was a preachin' man.
The black sky pilot of old Dixie land.
He never missed a Sunday, rain or shine.
Was always in his pulpit right on time.
One day a brown skin gal came into town.
Somebody started scandalation round.
The Deacon studied and declared at last:
"It ain't no use, my preachin' days is past."
"I never knew just where heaven lies,"
Until the day when I looked down into"
My baby's eyes."
"It takes a long, tall brown skin gal,"
To make a preacher lay his Bible down."
For twenty years I's passed joy by,"
But now I'm gonna get mine till I die!"
I always thought that preachin' was my line,"
But when I met that gal I changed my mind."
"It takes a long, tall, brown skin gal
To make a preacher lay his Bible down!"
There are more verses: the preacher is forgiven, gets back in his pulpit, but finally has to state that he can't let anybody
"come between him and his brown."
Cause, "It takes a long, tall......etc. etc.
Maybe somebody could write some lyrics for the present day about the clergy and young men!
("You just can't leave well enough alone, can you, John?", Marguerite Patterson known as MY MOTHER)