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Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles

Kent Davis 23 Jul 11 - 03:25 PM
Kent Davis 23 Jul 11 - 03:49 PM
Kent Davis 23 Jul 11 - 04:59 PM
Crowhugger 23 Jul 11 - 05:53 PM
Neil D 23 Jul 11 - 10:55 PM
Kent Davis 23 Jul 11 - 11:19 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Jul 11 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 24 Jul 11 - 04:14 AM
GUEST 27 Nov 11 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Clara Kiser Eanes 03 Dec 13 - 02:34 PM
GUEST 21 Dec 14 - 07:35 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Appalachian Riddles
From: Kent Davis
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 03:25 PM

With an awful racket,
I change my jacket,
I change my coat and color.
I weigh much less in my new dress,
But I'm many sizes larger.

(learned at a family reunion, Bastian, Bland County, Virginia, circa 1990)

Answer will follow in a separate post.

Most of the riddles told in Appalachia today, I would guess, are the joke-riddles popular in the rest of the USA and, I suppose, in the rest of the English-speaking world. The old rhyming riddles, riddles which are not jokes but "true riddles" are still told occasionally and, once in a great while, a new one comes along. Because I haven't found it in any old collections, I suspect the riddle above is relatively new, but it has the form of the old English rhyming riddles.

Anyone else have any Appalachian riddles (or related riddles from other regions) to share?

Kent


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: Kent Davis
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 03:49 PM

Round as a biscuit; busy as a bee;
Prettiest little thing that you ever did see.

(unsure where I learned it, but probably in West Virginia in the early 1970s, possibly from SANG BRANCH SETTLERS: FOLKSONGS AND TALES OF A KENTUCKY MOUNTAIN FAMILY by Leonard Roberts, published 1974, who collected a close variation from Jim Couch, of Leslie and Harlin Counties, Kentucky, during the summer of 1952)

(answer to follow in a separate post)

Kent


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: Kent Davis
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 04:59 PM

Round as a ball; sharp as an awl;
Lives in the summer; dies in the fall.

(source unknown, but known for years; reportedly long known in the Blue Ridge Mountains around Tryon, North Carolina; do not click on the link until you're ready for the answer http://www.tryondailybulletin.com/2011/03/09/round-as-a-ball-sharp-as-an-awl/ )


Answer to "With an awful racket", the first riddle in the thread:

popcorn

Answer to "Round as a biscuit", the second riddle: pocketwatch

Kent


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: Crowhugger
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 05:53 PM

The answer to 'Round as a ball, sharp as an awl' could be any of the many prickly fruiting bodies of plants from thistle to chestnut, but I don't know enough about native plants of Appalachia to hazard a guess which particular one.

I love word games, but so far this is the only answer I might have a clue about.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: Neil D
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 10:55 PM

My father grew up near, if not in, Appalachia, southern Ohio near the river border with WVA. Here's one he learned as a boy:

While going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven kids
Each kid had seven cats
Each cat had seven kits
Kits, cats, kids and wives
How many going to St. Ives?

I suspect it has a much earlier source and may have followed the same pathways into the region as the old ballads.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: Kent Davis
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 11:19 PM

I went down to Grandfather's hall.
There I heard an old man call.
His beard was flesh; his mouth was horn;
And such a creature was never born.

(from GRANNY, WILL YOUR DOG BITE AND OTHER MOUNTAIN RHYMES, Gerald Milnes, 1990, collected in WV.)

Below is a longer, but broken-down, non-rhyming variant of the same riddle:

He was neither No-e* nor No-e's son,
but was with No-e in the Ark.
His robe was neither silk nor wool.
His beard and hair they both were flesh.
Never married, he had many wives.
And a short sermon that once he preached
that made a man go out and weep.

* Noah

(AMERICAN FOLK TALES AND SONGS, by Richard Chase, 1956)

Kent

HINT: The "short sermon that once he preached" is mentioned in Matthew 26:75.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 12:23 AM

"As I was going to St Ives" is still well-know thruout UK ~~ see Wikipedia entry. St Ives in Cambridgeshire is just a few miles down the road from where I am now; there is a pub there called The Seven Wives. There is another St Ives in Cornwall. It is unknown which is the one referred to in the rhyme.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 04:14 AM

You can hear Stanley Hicks, from NC, telling riddles on the double CD "Far in the Mountains" volumes 1 & 2 (Musical Traditions). They are also printed on the MT website.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 11 - 08:15 AM

While I was going to StIves
I met a man with 7 wives
Each wife had 7 sacks
Each sack had 7 cats
Each cat had 7 kits
Kits, cats, sacks, wives
How many were going to StIves?

ONE


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: GUEST,Clara Kiser Eanes
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 02:34 PM

A man was sentenced to prison. the judge told him if he could solve this riddle he would be set free. the riddle goes like this: As I looked over yonder on yonder hillside, bare sare in pole, pitch pole, harper tarper. sit down old mother huck tuck and give me a suck. rise a den go to trip and tred and do as your mother did. Use a fine spool of velvet through a rock through a rill through an old spinning wheel. Pluck it to pull make little fine wool and make high gene pone. Six there were and seven they sprung. Out of the dead the living come or six there were and seven there be. tell me this riddle an I'll set you free. The man thought for a few minutes and solved the riddle. A mother bird built a nest in a dead horse's skull and laid six eggs and hatched out six baby birds. 1 mother bird + 6 baby birds = 7 birds. the man was set fee.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Traditional Appalachian Riddles
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 14 - 07:35 AM

Here's an old one for you..

         What goes over the road and through the creek....it has a tongue but it never stops to drink?



                      Answer: wagon


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