C.A. Prettyman, barber and singer, part 1

Rockwell_1936_QuartetMy uncle Dan surprised me with a wonderful historical tidbit about my great-grandfather, Charles Austin (C.A.) Prettyman. In addition to being a barber as a young man (read more here), he was apparently also a talented singer and a songwriter. And what’s more, at least two of the songs he wrote survive today in the memory of my uncle.

My uncle is a talented musician with a great voice, and his father before him was also musically gifted, having sung throughout his life including, my uncle tells me, being part of a barbershop quartet. It makes me wonder if C.A. was also in a barbershop quartet, and just how far back this Prettyman musical talent extends. Did it start with C.A., or was C.A. continuing a tradition that his father, Alfred Minus Prettyman, passed to him?

My uncle is planning to record these two songs for me, and he’s just sent me the words to Charlie’s two songs. I’d like to share those with you.

Here are the lyrics that my uncle sent me to two songs that Charles Austin Prettyman wrote and sang:



Saloon, saloon, saloon
It runs through my head like a tune
Now I don’t like cafés
And I hate cabarets
But mention saloon
And my head’s in a daze.
For it brings back such fond recollections
Of a smoky old oak sitting room
With a bar and a rail
And a dime and a pail
Saloon, saloon, saloon


Say Cuspidor

Say cuspidor and not spittoon
Don’t spit too far
Or yet too soon
It’s better for
Not to spit at all
Than to spit too far
And spot the wall


I can’t wait until I hear them in their intended 3- or 4-part harmonies!

Read more in part two of this post

7 thoughts on “C.A. Prettyman, barber and singer, part 1

  1. Oh my I remember my Dad singing the second one all the time and I just giggled. I didn’t know his father wrote it.

  2. I remember my dad (Bob) singing this too. There’s another one:
    The horses run around, their feet aren’t on the ground,
    Oh why is the shore so near the ocean?
    Go get the ax, there’s a hair on baby’s chest
    Oh, a boy’s best friend is his mother.

  3. There’s a second verse to the song I listed above:
    Looking throw the knothole in father’s wooden leg
    Go get the Listering, sister’s go a beau

    I thought this was a song Uncle Paul Gores taught the kids while living with Rose and CA

    • Thanks, Dana, I’ll look into that a bit more when the weekend comes around. Speaking of Paul Gores, do you think you could identify photos of him in his twenties? I have a few that I suspect are of Paul, but none of my immediate, living family knew what he looked like when he was young. If you think you might, I’ll put up the photos this weekend and/or send them along to you.

  4. I remembered the rest of the above verse:
    I was looking through the knothole in father’s wooden leg
    Oh who will wind the clock while we’re away?
    Go get the Listerine, sister’s got a beau
    Oh a boy’s best friend is his mother.

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