The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #48893   Message #843532
Posted By: John Minear
08-Dec-02 - 06:57 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Limber Jim
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Limber Jim: History & Lyrics
Stilly River Sage,

Thank you very much for your comments on the possible history of "Limber Jim". I had looked through some of Harris' "Uncle Remus" tales to see if I could find any similarities to "Limber Jim", without any success.   However, I was not aware of the relationship to the Choctaw. I did a master's thesis on the Tewa Pueblo people from San Juan Pueblo out in northern New Mexico about fifteen years ago. A lot of that work had to do with their origin stories. They emerged out of hole in the ground up in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Or maybe more toward the west. Or.... It was fascinating stuff.

What you say about this makes sense to me. I think that we too often forget the Native American contributions to "American" folklore! What was the title of the book you referred on the Choctaw? I'm afraid that all I know about them is that they contributed "file" (I can't do accent marks, so I'm talking about feelay) for the "file gumbo", which is made from dried sassafras leaves. A not insignificant contribution for those gumbo lovers amongst us. But I would like to learn more. What other references would you recommend?

By the way, while "Limber Jim" was collected in North Carolina, no other versions of it have ever been found there as far as we know at this time. And Patti Newman, from whom Fletcher Collins collected "Limber Jim" in the late 1930's, had spent a good deal of time out in Missouri. The Lafcadio Hearn piece from Cincinnati is the only other reference we have.

I would be especially interested in knowing if the "jaybird" is a trickster figure for the Choctaw. He sure "travels" around a lot in many different songs.