The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51174   Message #1352525
Posted By: Azizi
09-Dec-04 - 09:34 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
Subject: RE: Help: Shortnin' Bread
My last post about nothing new was in response to PoppaGator. And in that post I was referring to a version of Shortnin Bread like this one found in Dorothy Scaborough's "On The Trail Of Negro Folk-Songs":

Put on de skillet
Put on de led
Mammy's gwine to make
A li'l short'nin bread
Dat ain't all
That she's gwine to do.
She's gwine to make
A li'l coffee too.

Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin, short'nin,
Mammy's li'l baby loces short'nin bread.
Mammy's li'l baby loves short'nin, short'nin,
Mammy's li'l baby loces short'nin bread.

Three lil N---'
lyin in bed
Two wus sick
An t'other 'most dead
Sent fo' de doctor
An' de doctor said
"Give dem N----
Some short'nin' bread!"

I slipped in de kitchen,
An' slipped up the led,
An' I slipped my pockets
full ob shortn'nin' bread'
I stole the skillet,
I stole de led,
I stole de gal
To make short'nin bread

De caught me wid de skillet,
Dey caught me wid de led,
An' de caught me wid de gal
Cookin' shortn'in bread.
Paid six dollars for de skillet,
Six dollars for de led,
Stayed six months in jail,
Eatin' shortn'in' bread.

end of quote

Though I can't prove it, I think that the "I slipped in de kitchen;they caught me; spent time in jail lines are newer than the "sick in bed/almost dead lines.

And I've read that real doctors rarely visited sick Black people on the plantations, and that real coffee was rare, and shortnin bread was a treat.. So if the person was imagining having shortnin bread, maybe he/she thought "Since I'm dreaming about something good to eat, I might as well add some coffee in the dream too".

BTW, the scarcity of sugar and sweets like candy in the diet of enslaved African Americans gives added meaning to the "Who'll Take Sugar In The Coffee-o"; "He Loves {Likes}Sugar & Tea" and other such songs...

Also, Scaborough included versions of Shortnin Bread in the lullaby section of her book. Apparently, at some point, this song was became "jazzed" up {made faster}. Versions that I've heard certainly aren't lullabies.

Jerry, your verse sounds interesting. I'd love you to post it.