Club Poem

Improvement Jack Poem

This poem appeared in the Bremerton Searchlight 1 May 1933

“ W.H. Van Hoene a pioneer of Manette and an outstanding member of the East Side Improvement Club, came through with a poem of his own making when the club dedicated its new hall Wednesday night and received the biggest hand of anyone on the entire program. Friends and other members of the club considered the poem so good that we are printing it here.”


Through the green and towering forest,
On the shores of Puget Sound,
Came a band of surdy yeomen,
Seeking land to call their own..
There were Benders, there were Martine,
There were Petersons and Pitts,
There were Jensens; there were Johnsons,
Jacobsons, and Sheldon, Smiths,
Swedes and Irish, Scotch and English,
Sturdy folks as you e’er met.
Settled on this rocky hillside,
Said they’d call the place Manette.
Started building schools and sawmills,
Roads and bridges, slashed a trail,
Seem’d as though those hardy people
Didn’t know a word called fail.
‘Bout the time a job was finished,
Folks all tired and money spent,
Up would jump his guy Jack Martin,
Yelping “more improvements.”
Didn’t seem to make no difference,
Every place that feller went.
Wouldn’t never talk ‘bout nothing
But his blamed “improvements.”
Said there wa’n’t no use a wait’ng,
Had a town you couldn’t beat,
Had the logical location,
For to make a county seat.
Helped put in a water system,
Charged us plenty for it too.
Said he’s glad when pro-hi-bition
Made us drink it ‘stead of brew.
Folks got mighty tired of rowing,
Back and forth to Bremerton,
Jack he figgers out a system,
Do the work with gasoline.
“Twasn’t long ‘fore Jack, he figgered,
Like to drive to Bremerton,
Talked a guy named Harry Hanson
Put a ferry on the run.
Bought hisself an automobile,
Driv down Californy way,
Got a lot of new ideas,
‘Bout improvement ‘round the Bay,
One day got a bright idea,
Said there wa’n’t no reason why
We couldn’t have a bridge to walk on,
All we had to do was try.
Got some fellers interested,
Started on a big campaign,
Kept a-talkin’ bonds and bridges,
Like to druv us all insane,
Pretty soon the bridge was finished,
Folks said, “There’s Jack’s monument,
Mebby now he’ll quit his talkin’
“Bout his danged improvements.”
Did that feller shet up, no sir,
Jest set down and start’d to rub
Out a lot of new ideas
“Bout a new Improvement Club.
Talked club day time, talked it night time,
Talked it in his sleep, I guess,
Got Earl Harkins ‘lected president
(Kept hisself clear of that mess),
Come out regular to meetin’s,
Telling others what to do,
Even loaned his hall for nothin’,
Just to put the matter through.
Talked new street lights, park, and playgroundes,
Bathing beach and all sich truck,
Till the folks began to do things,
Just to shut the feller up.
That club surely thrived and prospered,
Never saw its like before,
Seems like anything they started
Was finished ‘fore the day was o’er.
Oiled the streets and put in sidewalks,
Kept the mayor on the jump,
Surely crowned theirselves with glory
When they covered Cora’s dump.
Planted flowers upon that hill-side,
Till it bloomed like Sharon’s rose,
Don’t know what else might a-happened,
For Jack Martin ups and goes.
Yes, one day he showed up missing,
From the usual haunts of men,
Said his friends, ‘Jack’s work is ended,
With the angels now he sings.”
Then there came a distant rumble,
And the earth began to shake,
All the folks rushed from their houses,
For they thought it was a “quake”
Silently they bent and listened,
Heard the old familiar yelp,
“This place surely needs improvements,
Send Earl Harkins down to help”