Itjen's Poetry and Puns
| Martin was a yarn spinner of the highest order. A number of his poems and puns have been preserved and are shared here.
“Ruminations of a Roulette Dealer”
by Martin Itjen
In the early days of Skagway, in
ninety-eight and nine,
When the sport and tinborn gambler
Off teh rough-neck used to dine,
I was one among them and like the rest
I made a living dealing Roulette, at the Old
Board of Trade.
In those days things were booming,
The "bright lights were aglow,"
The city fined the gamblers
And the "girls up on the row."
...click to read the complete poem
A conversation between Mae West and Martin Itjen
“Did you ever see Service in Alaska?”
“Lady, I’ve seen plenty service in Alaska,” Martin said. “Juneau, Fairbanks”
“Sure, I know Fairbanks, both of ‘em,” Mae declared. “What’s that got to do with it? Is Alaska built much?”
“ Nome,” countered Martin. “Not like some parts of the West. Yukon take that from me!”
“Martin's Glimpse of the Highlights”
by Martin Itjen
"Come up and see me sometime."
This was the invitation.
I put my street car on the boat
And sailed for the Movie Station.
I will tell the details:
In Ninety-eight one day,
I heard of a great gold rush
Three thousand miles away.
I packed my pack for Skagway,
Where I arrived in June,
Worked at everything worth while
And mined for many a moon.
After my ground got worked out,
I led a different life;
I started to work the tourists
And took unto me a wife.
After many years of labor
I thought I needed a rest,
So I made a man like Soapy Smith
And we headed for the Southwest.
When we got to Seattle
We took in the picture show,
And renewed our old acquaintance
With many a sourdough.
Many of these old-timers
Live near a little town.
they have bought a farm, got married,
And raised kids to make a town.
One old guy advised me,
If I was going to make a trip,
To have my longhorn moustache
Shaved off'n my upper lip.
He said: "If you go to Hollywood
and want to see Mae West,
You should patronize a manicurist
And try to look your best."
I told him I had worn this moustache,
Almost all my life;
And if I had it shaved off
I'd surely lose my wife.
If it is ever taken off
It will be done by force,
For the loss of it will surely
Cause proceedings for divorce.
So I stepped upon the starter,
Sped blithely on my way,
To take in the movie studio
And make a date with Mae.
When I hit the Movietown
Where the lights were all aglow,
I got so flusterated
I didn't know where to go.
I found a place to park my car
And put up for the night;
then browsed around until I found
A place to eat a bite.
Next day I got my bearings,
So I'd know which way to go;
Then bought some chalk to mark the trail
to the Movie Studio.
A big policeman bawled me out,
For marking with the chalk;
But he listened with amusement,
when I began to talk.
I said I'm a Cheechako here
And I know darned blame well
I must use this here chalk to find
My walk back to the hotel.
So, I mushed out to the movie lot
Dressed up in my best,
I tipped a page to take my card
In to my star, Mae West,
I dated her up that very night,
And we went out and dined
In the swellest night-club
A guy could wish to find.
After dinner was over,
We paid a formal call,
On a bunch of Movie notables,
At a celebrated ball.
At this affair we cut some ice,
And cut some champagne capers;
Next day the consequences were,
Our pictures in the papers.
I camped down there a couple months.
And don't regret my stay;
I took in everything worth while,
And made a friend of Mae.
She said to me, "Now Martin,
If it wasn't for your wife
I'd take you and your moustache
For the rest of your sweet life."
"But I'm different from other movie gals
For I took a solemn vow
that I would never come between
A husband and his Frau."
So I started back home to Skagway;
And when I got off the boat,
I found to my amusement
That I was darn near broke.
Then I wandered on up home
And was welcomed by the cat;
And as the door was open
I just throwed in my hat.
I had a great vacation,
I saw the movie side of life;
But, it can't compare with Skagway,
My friends, my home and wife.