Billy Graham Center


Excerpts from a poem by one of the Zamzam passengers, written a few days before the ship was sunk.
The poem is quoted courtesty of Lemuel Blades III, grandson of Mr Laughinhouse


With the Usual Apologies to Rudyard Kipling

By Ned Laughinghouse, aboard S/S Zam Zam
[South Atlantic - Friday, April 11, 1941]


If you are starting on your maiden voyages
Booked on the floating derelict Zam Zam
And see all your dreams and and grand anticipations
Vanish like fog or smoke and not say damn!

If you can be delayed when in a hurry
By incompetence like such you've never seen
And listen at the lies of these Egyptians
And don't let it get right done into your spleen.
If you are fat and have to share a cabin
Whose dimensions are a spacious seven by five
With bunks that are so doggoned narrow
That when you turn over you must cross your eyes.

If you can lay your head upon a pillow
That's like a brick and has a dirty case
And suffer heat amid those damned conditions
And still retain your honor and your grace
If you can like poor service and bad cooking
And Ev’n in your water taste some oil
Then have to swallow food that is repellent
And not got sore enough to burn or boil.

If you can chew stale hard bread they give to you
That breaks your jaws and loosens your old teeth
Aud enjoy the half-cooked meat and fowl they hand you
And eat starchy foods until they hurt your feet


If you can never find your cabin steward
Altho you loudly ring your bell and bawl
You'll have to send some messanger to find him
And like as not he'll never come at all.
If when you got him he can never savvy,
The simple thing that simply must be done
Then you go indulge in some self-service
And be sport enough to call this pastime fun.

If you can spend your weeks within the tropics
With cold-salt-water just to fight your old B.O.
And then not fear that all the other people
Will think you just a dirty "So-and-So."
If you can take your afternoon siesta
With forty kids playing by your door
And still stay in a grand and glorious humor
And keep it from their parents that your are sore.

If you can like an hourly delayed schedule
Which daily seems to give you more delay
And no news thats flowing through the other
Nor know the whys and wherefores of the day.
If you can like these cussed nightly blackouts
Enjoy the many bumps and oft bruised shins,
Endure the persecution that they hand you
And then not feel quite guilty of your sins,

If you can mingle with missionaries
Who take the whole damn ship from stem to stern
Who look at you with great and vile malevolence
If you slip a little damn or durn.
If you can listen to their dryish lectures
When you're imbibing one small evening drink
And enjoy the message in their holy glances
Which plainly says to you "I think you stink".

If you can watch the lads who go to make up
This unit called just plain B. A. A. C.,
Who are leaving homes and loved ones on a mission
That should help some wounded fighters o'er the sea,
If you can watch them read and drink and study
And try to smile when they are feeling punk
I think that most anyone would then excuse them
If now and then one threw a real good drunk.

If it were not for some broad minded people
Who thank the Lord are facing this trip
I fear yours truly simply could not take it
But just go nuts and jump from off the ship.
If you can sea the virulent nostalgia
That lays upon the face of misery
Even if you were cold and plumb hard-hearted
At times you’d have a spark of symathy


If you can make this awful southward passage
And enjoy each lengthy day from sun to sun
You'll certainly impersonate perfection
For really, pal, you'll be the only one!


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Last Revised: 5/1/07
Expiration: indefinite