Bagdad kids by Reg Macey

Local resident Reg Macey says:

This song arose in World War II in the suburb of my youth, when a very large contingent of the US Marines was based in Melbourne (to the Yanks, MelBORN), and the Marines compared us to the "Dead End Kids", a group made famous in films made in the US between 1938 and 1942. 

Bagdad had been the unofficial name of the area from at least the building of the Fishermen's Bend Housing Commission Estate (later changed to Garden City) which commenced in 1937. It arose from the sand dunes that existed there at that time.

The Americans must have thought that Bagdad was very appropriate for a different reason, given their experience with us - the Bagdad Kids - "Bagdad: the home of the 40 thieves".

We managed to obtain from the Yankee Sheds, one way or another, quite a supply of chewing gum and chocolate from huge stores of Military K rations which passed through the Sheds during the War.

There was no hostility from the Yanks when they called us Bagdad Kids. In fact, they often emptied their own pockets of chewing gum and gave it us when the met us in Bagdad's streets. We were, to them, real "Dead End Kids", as they had seen in films back in the States.

We are the Bagdads, down by the sea,
We can't be beaten, you wait and see,
At the end of the season, you'll know the reason,
We are the Bagdad kids.

Standing on a bus stop, a copper said to me,
If you belong to Bagdad, 
You better come with me.
He grabbed me by the collar,
And tried to run me in.
I upped with my fist, 
And knocked him stiff,
And we all began to sing.

Ham and Eggs for Breakfast,
Ham and Eggs for Tea,
A loaf of bread as big as your head,
And stale as buggery.

And if you don't like,
A piece of bread and jam,
We're all off to Pentridge,
In a Black Maria van.

WE ARE THE BAGDADS
DOWN BY THE SEA
WE CAN'T BE BEATEN
YOU WAIT AND SEE
AT THE END OF THE SEASON
YOU"LL KNOW THE REASON
WE ARE THE BAGDAD KIDS!

Image: Garden City houses, 1930s. Port Phillip City Collection pm1092

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