Sunday Morning Trivia – The Life of Riley..

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The Life of Riley, with William Bendix in the title role, was a popular American radio situation comedy series of the 1940s that was adapted into a 1949 feature film, a long-run 1950s television series (originally with Jackie Gleason as Riley for one “truncated” season, after which, it starred William Bendix for six seasons.

According to Webster: “trun·ca·ted,” (in context) To shorten by cutting off.

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(Reily,  ..Peg,  ..Babs,  ..and Junior).     

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According to my Pearlsofprofundity urban dictionary: …

“The Life of Reily.”

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An easy and pleasant life.

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Origin of the phrase…

The phrase originated in the Irish/American community of the USA, in the early part of the 20th century. The first printed citation of it that I have found is from the Connecticut newspaper The Hartford Courant, December 1911 – in a piece headed; …

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 ‘Bullet Ends Life of Famous Wild Cow’

“The famous wild cow of Cromwell is no more. After “living the life of Riley” for over a year, ..successfully evading the pitchforks and the bullets of the farmers, whose fields she ravaged in all four seasons.”

The “quotation marks” that the writer added around the phrase are often an indication that the phrase in question isn’t familiar to the readership, which is an indication of it being newly coined.

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The phrase was much used in the military, especially amongst the Irish soldiery in WWI. The first known citation in that context is in a letter from a Private Walter J. Kennedy (who surely had parents or grandparents who hailed from the old country), stationed at Camp Dix, New Jersey, which was published in The Syracuse Herald on 29th June 1918.

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The piece was headed “Great Life, Writes Soldier at Camp”:

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“This is surely one great life.” writes Kennedy. “We call it the life of Riley. We are having fine eats, are in a great detachment and the experience one gets is fine.”

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Later that year, on 22nd October, The Bridgeport Telegram published a letter from Private Samuel S. Polley, 102 Regiment, stationed in France.

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“They [German officers] must have led the life of Reilly as we caught them all asleep in their beds…”

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Who Riley (or Reilly, or Reiley) was isn’t clear. If he had been a known individual then it surely would have been recorded. The lack of any such records points to the name being chosen as that of a generic Irishman, much as Paddy is used now.

The phrase may have been brought to America by Irish immigrants, although there’s no known use of it in Ireland prior to 1918, or, more likely, it originated in the Irish community in the USA.

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There had been various Victorian music hall songs that had referred to a Reilly who had a comfortable and prosperous life; for example, there’s the 1883 song, popularised by the Irish/American singer Pat Rooney –

Researched, – no photo found.

“Is That Mr. Reilly?”

..It included in the chorus; …

“Is that Mr. Reilly, of whom they speak so highly?”

Like most other Irish songs of the era, it played to the Irish audience – this one with a dash of anti-Chinese racism thrown in for luck (the Chinese were ‘Reilly’s’ principal competitors for manual work in the USA at the time): …

“I’ll have nothing but Irishman on the police
Patrick’s Day will be the fourth of July

I’ll get me a thousand infernal machines,
To teach the Chinese how to die,

I’ll defend working men’s cause, Manufacture the laws,
New York would be swimming in wine,

A hundred a day will be very small pay,
When the White House and Capital are mine.”

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Another Irish/American sing, George Gaskin, was popular in New York around the same time. He was called ‘The Silver-Voiced Irish Tenor”, although audiences must have been rather forgiving in those days, as surviving recordings of him sound like a knife being drawn across a plate.

Researched – no photo found.

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1897 song, The Best in the House is None Too Good for Reilly, elaborated on the whimsical idea of a wealthy Irishman being treated lavishly: …

“He’s money for to pay,
So they let him have his way,

The best in the house is none too good for Reilly…”

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So, while the idea of a (notional) Irishman living the high life was current in late 19th century America, the phrase ‘the life of Riley’ isn’t found until the early 20th century. It was clearly circulating in the language, by 1911, but it was probably the lyric of Howard Pease’s popular song, …

According to Webster: “no·tion·al,” Of, containing, or being a notion; mental or imaginary.

“My Name is Kelly,” – 1919, ..that brought it to the wider public:

“Faith and my name is Kelly, Michael Kelly, but I’m living the life of Reiley just the same…”

The latter part of the 19th century and a good portion of the early 20th century, the Irish population in America had a pretty rough row to hoe, ..with harsh signs displayed in many windows; “No Irish need apply.”


I’m a decent boy just landed

From the town of Ballyfad;

I want a situation, yes,

And want it very bad.

I have seen employment advertised,

“It’s just the thing,” says I,

“But the dirty spalpeen ended with

‘No Irish Need Apply.’ “


“Whoa,” says I, “that’s an insult,

But to get the place I’ll try,”

So I went to see the blackguard

With his “No Irish Need Apply.”


Some do count it a misfortune

To be christened Pat or Dan,

But to me it is an honor

To be born an Irishman.


I started out to find the house,

I got it mighty soon;

There I found the old chap seated,

He was reading the Tribune.

I told him what I came for,

When he in a rage did fly,

“No!” he says, “You are a Paddy,

And no Irish need apply.”


Then I gets my dander rising

And I’d like to black his eye

To tell an Irish gentleman

“No Irish Need Apply.”


Some do count it a misfortune

To be christened Pat or Dan,

But to me it is an honor

To be born an Irishman.


I couldn’t stand it longer

So a hold of him I took,

And gave him such a welting

As he’d get at Donnybrook.

He hollered, “Milia murther,”

And to get away did try,

And swore he’d never write again

“No Irish Need Apply.”


Well he made a big apology,

I told him then goodbye,

Saying, “When next you want a beating,

Write `No Irish Need Apply.’ “


Some do count it a misfortune

To be christened Pat or Dan,

But to me it is an honor

To be born an Irishman.

 Original version

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My father was half Irish on his mother’s side of the family, a quarter Scottish and a quarter English on his father’s side.

My father was born in 1915, “Great Bend, Kansas,” my father’s father was a farmer who lost everything he owned after the bankers and moneylenders chose to button up their pockets and go to lunch, (forcing) America to end the gold standard.

To truly understand of the “Great Depression” requires not only knowledge of the U.S. monetary system, but also the implications of the gold standard on its participatory nations.

The gold standard made the involved nations interdependent on each other’s monetary policy.


A policy, that the Rothschilds, Rockefellers and J.P. Morgan were bent on changing in order to acquire more control over the money not destined for their pockets.


Due to a fixed exchange rate, the only way to affect the demand for gold was through interest rates. For example, if interest rates were high in one country, then investors would have no reason to exchange currency for gold and the gold reserves would remain stable.

However if interest rates were low in a different country then its investors would elect to move their funds abroad where interest rates were higher.

In order to stop this from happening, each nation within the gold standard union had no choice but to raise its interest rates in correspondence with its fellow nation.

This interconnectivity of deflationary policy amongst so many nations resulted in the prolongation of the greatest economic downturn in U.S. history.

( F.Y.I. ) For those of you more prone to text or tweeter than observe who has their hands in your pockets, in 2012 the US taxpayers paid the (Federal Reserve) – $285 billion dollars in interest on money the Federal Reserve loaned the American government to fund “America’s” growing bureaucracy.

Question: Where does the Federal Reserve get the money they loan the American government?

Answer: The Federal Reserve gets the money they loan the American government from the U.S. Treasury.

Question: Who provides the money in the U.S. Treasury?

Answer: Taxpayers!

Question: How do taxpayers get money?

Answer: They get a job and work for it!

Question: What about people who don’t have jobs, where do they get money?

Answer: from Barack Obama.

Question: What’s going to happen to America when Barack Obama runs out of taxpayers money?

Answer: Maybe those of you with iPhones and iPads can trade them for a loaf of bread and a package of baloney.

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In closing, ..know this, and know it well, worth living, (motivated by commerce) …

commerce 4 the world of commerce, ..if you’re between the age of 18 and sixty-five, ..and above room temperature, ..(there are no exceptions) …

rowing team 1’re either rowing,

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..or you’re an anchor.

Think about my closing argument, ..and think about it hard, ..because when you wake up tomorrow, will be a part of history and the Rothschilds will be one day wealthier, while both you and “our” (bought and paid for) government will be deeper in their debt.

Truth forges understanding, I’ll be back tomorrow


Crusader Rabbit…

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