A few months ago I was contacted by a lovely lady who was enquiring on behalf of a 99 year old Gentleman from Malmesbury.
His name is Mr Ernie Walker and this is what he asked “My father, active in the Seven kings and Goodmayes Gramophone Club, amused our family playing a 4″ 78s record, but this object was destroyed by a V2 rocket bomb in 1945 when our home was damaged. Pieces were seen but not retrieved as I had to return to my army unit, and my parents were evacuated for the second time…”
He was trying to find a copy of the Ma-Might song from the 1920’s. It was an early advert for Marmite and only came on small gramophone records, this is pre radio and apart from live advertising in theatres, this was the only other way to have vocal advertising. Ernie was trying to remember how the advert went to share with other residents of the home where he lived.
She contacted us at the Marmite Museum because she searched the internet and found that we had a copy of that gramophone record in our collection. The only problem was that we didn’t have a digital copy of this record, so touched by the story, we felt we had to get this record digitised as soon as possible. Time was against us here as the gentleman was 99 years old, so the stops were out. We had to find a gramophone and someone to digitalise, and as it happened, we knew where to obtain both and within 5 days we had MP3 copies of the A and B side.
The quality wasn’t the best, but the fact that it survived the last 90 to 95 years, when these are so delicate, is a miracle.
I sent the MP3 files to the woman who enquired feeling quite pleased that I managed to get this done and was surprised to get the reply with a full disclosure. This lady was an archivist that worked for the Unilever Archives in Port Sunlight and they were really so enamoured by the story that she decided to try and find a copy of the advertisement in her own time. They don’t usually do private searches, but the story was just too hard to just push to one side. They didn’t have a copy of the gramophone record at the archives so she found us. She put me in touch with Ernie’s Daughter in Law who gave me permission to write this blog post and let me know that Ernie was over the moon in hearing the advert again, and sang along with it. I was sent lovely emails from her and now have permission to use a wonderful photograph of Ernie with his son. She told me that Ernie had always been very charming and smart man, and NEVER went out unless he was dressed immaculately as it shows in the photo.
It was a real pleasure and honour to do this for Ernie and his family, and that I could be a part of something quite special.
Here are the words.
The Ma’might Song by Albert Whelan
I’ve just been down the doctors to-day.
He said I’m getting too thin.
He made me keep quiet and gave me a diet.
And this is how I’m to begin
Little Jack Horner who sat in the corner, said
Friends, I’m going on strike,
This nursery rhyme gives me pie all the time
But I’ll tell you what I would like.
On Monday I might have a sausage and mash
And MA’MIGHT too,
On Tuesday a sandwich, on Wednesday some hash,
And MA’MIGHT too
On Thursday I’ll fast ’till Friday is past,
On Saturday I might have a stew.
With Maudie and Carrie, and Tom, Dick and Harry
And MARMITE too.
The artist, Alan Whelan, was born in Australia in 1875, he came over to the United Kingdom in 1901 and was very prominent on the stage and early movies and made quite a number of gramophone advertisements. He died in 1961.
Here is a photo of him during the filming of This is your life, in 1957 being given the Big Red Book by Eamonn Andrews