The Independent (of Hawaii) on 23 June 1899 printed the following letter from a reader (one from a number of letters on the topic of Over Education):
We cannot blame the youngsters. It is a great deal more pleasant to sing Tira Mola with the accompaniment of an Ukulele, to standing over the wash tub or broiling a piece of steak. And it is far more interesting to play baseball in the presence of admiring girls than to stay at the bellows in the blacksmith shop or hit a hot iron on the anvil. It is natural for the young people to shirk work.
Then, The Jasper News in its Christmas edition (sometime after 1918) provided the following anecdote:
“Your son has settled down to hard work.”
“Yes,” said the proud father. “I’m glad now that I had confidence in the boy. When he took to playing the ukulele and ‘stepped on the gas’ when he wasn’t dancing, I got a bit discouraged, but I kept telling mother not to worry, that he’d make a man out of himself yet.”
Just seems that the ukulele is associated more with fun than work, even when the uke is only a means of recreation after a hard day at the anvil (or the English Channel).