When I was a child, one of my dad’s favorite meals was navy bean soup and cornbread. He grew up with 7 brothers and 1 sister and bean soup and cornbread was always a hearty and satisfying meal. Plus, grandma’s cooking was always delicious -- I am sure they had to fight for their position in line to get some!
He passed his love of bean soup and cornbread on to me. Whenever I see it on a restaurant menu, I inevitably order it. My craving is usually exacerbated by the fact that my wife has an allergy to legumes and we have never been able to have any bean-containing meals in our house. So when I saw it on the menu at Milwaukee’s Cafe Benelux -- “DING! -- the bell went off in my head and I instantly ordered it. As expected, it was good (especially paired with Cafe Benelux’s Tandem Dubbel beer!).
The following morning, driving to work, I still had bean soup on the brain and I faintly remember this little ditty that my dad would sing:
The first Marine picked the bean,
The second Marine cooked the bean,
The third marine ate the bean
and shit all over the submarine!
Inky dinky parlez vous!
I never heard this song sung by anybody else in the world and I wondered of it its origin. Where’d it come from? Was it a parody? Did he write it?
As soon as I got to work I performed a Google search for “marine picked the bean” and sure enough -- I discovered a thread from 1997 where folks were discussing and wondering the exact same thing. The actual ditty is named Mademoiselle from Armenteers and was a song from The Great War (WWI). The melody seems to have an infinite number of parody versions -- my dad’s was just one of many. It appears that there are no definite lyrics, just thousands of variously bawdy versions.
I found this recorded version on YouTube:
The poster of the video says this: Otherwise known as "Mademoiselle from Armentieres", this old song lived on for several decades. This is a song sung by the WWII-era soldiers (and possibly earlier) and there are no specific lyrics. I think that of all of the versions of this song sung in terms of "cleanliness", this is the best one. Part from that, it's performed by The Four Sergeants in the album Bawdy Barracks Ballads and is available on iTunes; however, due to my own frustration with a lot of YouTube videos popping up with advertisements I decided not to include a link to purchase the song. Looks like you're on your own - sorry.
Now excuse me while I make some bean soup and write a couple bawdy verses of my own.