My dad used to go around singing war songs. He was in World War II, but the songs he sang were WWI tunes. His mother was of the age that she identified with that war and taught the songs she remembered to Dad and his two brothers. They were fun songs like, “Good morning Mr. Zip, Zip, Zip, with your hair cut just as short as mine,” and “Be kind to our web-footed friends, for a duck could be somebody’s mother.”


(Grandma Connie Francis with my brother, Billy, 1943)

“Good Morning Mr. Zip, Zip, Zip, 1918”

We come from ev’ry quarter,
From North, South, East and West,
To clear the way to freedom
For the land we love the best.
We’ve left our occupations
and home, so far and dear,
But when the going’s rather rough,
We raise this song in cheer:


Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as mine,
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
You’re surely looking fine!
Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,
If the Cam-ls don’t get you,
The Fatimas must, (cigarettes)
Good morning, Mister Zip-Zip-Zip,
With your hair cut just as short as,
your hair cut just as short as, your hair cut just as short as mine.


“Be kind to our web-footed friends”

Be kind to your web-footed friends
For that duck may be somebody’s mother,
She lives in a nest in a swamp
Where the weather is always damp.

You may think that this is the end,
Well it is, but to prove we’re all liars,
We’re going to sing it again,
Only this time we’ll sing a little higher.


(My dad and his older brother, John.)

I loved hearing Dad sing those silly tunes, but my favorite was, “They were all out of step but Jim.”

Jimmy’s mother went to see her son marching in a parade. He was wearing his uniform and carrying his gun. She came home and asked the neighbors if they had seen little Jimmy marching with the soldiers up the avenue. Then away he went to live in a tent over in France with his regiment. Were you there, she asked and did you notice? They were all out of step but her Jim.

Now isn’t that just like a mom?

Several years ago, when my Uncle, Chuck Francis, passed away, Nancy Parish, a very talented Murdo girl, sang, “They were all out of step but Jim,” at Uncle Chuck’s service in New York.

In my humble opinion, music brings back more memories than anything else in life…even photographs. I will hear a song and the feeling that has been assigned to it comes over me before the memory of the actual event does. It’s usually a good feeling, but a song can have all kinds of emotions tied to it.

I cry every time I hear my old school song…

5 thoughts on “

  1. Bill Francis August 20, 2018 / 2:18 pm

    I certainly remember “Good Morning Mr. Zip Zip Zip.” And I remember Nancy Parish’s song, but not the other!


    • Mary Francis McNinch August 20, 2018 / 3:47 pm

      Dad sang it a little bit differently. Be kind to your friends in the swamp where it’s always cold and damp (domp) was the way he sang the second verse.


  2. sanjuan831 August 15, 2018 / 9:05 am

    Such great old songs. I used to listen to old 78 records my Dad’s family had and two songs you mentioned were on records plus Over There. Music does take us to dreamland and places of the heart.


  3. countrygirl57 August 14, 2018 / 10:23 pm

    I don’t know Mr Zip, but I do Know “Be Kind to your Web Footed Friends”. Love the story.

    Sent from my iPhone



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