Monday, November 20, 2006

Hi Jolly

The anticipation of a date shake at the mid point of a long drive had me singing an old song from my youth.

Hadji Ali was a real person. While Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis imported camels and drivers to traverse the distances of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. After the experiement was abandoned Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly is a fair enough approximation for pronouncing his name) kept his train running. Miners, desert rats and the Indian Nations all benefitted from his service.

There were reports of feral camel sightings in the Arizona desert well into the 1970's. The Apache called them ga'an libah or "grey ghosts."

From the singing of the New Christy Minstrels as far as my memory can recall.

Hi Jolly
Hi Jolly, Hey Jolly, twenty miles today by golly
Twenty miles before the morning light
Hi Jolly Hey! I gotta be on my way I
Told my gal I'd be home Sunday night

Hi Jolly was a camel driver long years ago
Followed Mr. Greyson way out west
He didn't mind the burning sand
In that God-forsaken land
And he loved the pretty girls the best


There's pretty girls in Albequerque
Least that's what I hear
Pretty girls in Tucumcari too
Hush honey, I ain't blind
I don't pay them any mind
I'm savin' all my loving just for you


Old timers out in Arizona tell you that it's true
You can see Hi Jolly's ghost a riding still
When the desert moon is bright
He'll come riding through the night
Leading four and twenty camels down the hill


I loves me a good ol' singalong on a road trip.

humming off into the sunset


Anonymous Andy Woodward said...

Thanks for the words to this song. I was roaming around my house trying to remember the words and it ocurred to me that somewhere on the Web would be the words.
I grew up in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York and I listened to the New Christy Minstrels while quite young. Later on in life I learned that camels were in fact used in the Southwest. Then I moved to Arizona and one day was driving through Quartsite and saw the sign for Hi Jolly's grave. WOW !! He was a real person after all ! Just a real neat connection to my childhood.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haj Ali was a Jordanian .. and he's famous here.

3:28 AM  

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