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Folklore: the wampus cat

DigiTrad:
JOVIAL HUNTER or SIR LIONEL
OLD BANGUM
SIR EGLAMORE
WILD BOAR
WILD BOAR (3)


Related threads:
(origins) Wild Boar: History, Lyrics & Discussion (102)
Lyr Add: Wild Hog in the Woods (15)
Lyr Add: Wild Hog's Den (10)
Chord Req: Wild Hog in the Woods (4)
Lyr Req: Wild Hog in the Woods (4)


Kent Davis 30 Jul 07 - 12:20 AM
Susan of DT 30 Jul 07 - 09:16 AM
EBarnacle 30 Jul 07 - 10:13 AM
EBarnacle 30 Jul 07 - 10:14 AM
EuGene 30 Jul 07 - 12:03 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Jul 07 - 12:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 07 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Arkie 30 Jul 07 - 03:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 07 - 04:03 PM
EuGene 30 Jul 07 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,Lighter at work 30 Jul 07 - 05:25 PM
Cool Beans 30 Jul 07 - 05:29 PM
philgarringer 30 Jul 07 - 07:19 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 07 - 07:41 PM
Cool Beans 30 Jul 07 - 07:48 PM
EBarnacle 30 Jul 07 - 10:15 PM
Kent Davis 30 Jul 07 - 11:59 PM
Sorcha 31 Jul 07 - 12:08 AM
GUEST,Ar 07 Aug 07 - 02:24 PM
SINSULL 07 Aug 07 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Gene - class of 76 21 Mar 08 - 03:50 PM
open mike 21 Mar 08 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 22 Mar 08 - 07:46 AM
Kent Davis 22 Mar 08 - 09:41 PM
GUEST,JR Clark 18 Jun 08 - 06:16 PM
Jim Dixon 18 Jun 08 - 08:44 PM
Jayto 07 Sep 08 - 11:01 PM
Jim Dixon 15 Sep 08 - 08:37 PM
GUEST,cinnamonape 21 Mar 10 - 03:34 PM
Valmai Goodyear 22 Mar 10 - 03:07 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 22 Mar 10 - 03:53 PM
LadyJean 22 Mar 10 - 06:20 PM
Valmai Goodyear 23 Mar 10 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,David Grinstead 17 Aug 11 - 10:19 PM
GUEST,tracy smith 24 Feb 13 - 10:30 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: WILLIE AND THE WAMPUS CAT
From: Kent Davis
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 12:20 AM

When I was a young child, in the 1960s, my grandfather would tell stories about hunting the "wampus cat". It was a fierce, panther-like beast, and I believe he said it was horned. Granddady was born in 1910 in North Wilkesboro, N.C. Who else has heard of wampus cats and what have you heard?

At a family reunion yesterday, I sang the song below in honor of Grandddaddy and his stories. Any feedback on the song would also be appreciated.
^^
WILLIE AND THE WAMPUS CAT

TUNE: "BANGUM WENT TO THE WILD BOAR'S DEN"

Something's up in yonder tree, run all night, fight all day,
Someone's up in yonder tree, chase it far away,
Aileen's up in yonder tree,
Squallin', "Someone, please help me,
Chase him down, cut him down, kill him if you can.

Hear it out in yonder wood, run all night, fight all day,
Crashing 'round though yonder wood, chase it far away,
Wampus cat in yonder wood,
Will cut your throat, drink your blood,
Chase him down, cut him down, kill him if you can.

Willie, will you hunt and ride, run all night, fight all day,
Willie, won't you hunt and ride, chase it far away,
Willie, oh please, hunt and ride,
With a sharp ax by your side,
Chase him down, cut him down, kill him if you can."

Followed that wild cat to his den, run all night, fight all day,
Tracked that wild cat to his den, chase it far away,
Chased that wild cat to his den,
Found the bones of a dozen men,
Chase him down, cut him down, kill him if you can.

Reached his den at morning light, run all night, fight all day,
Fought that cat to end of light, chase it far away,
Ax and claws by evening light,
On and on in dying light,
Chase him down, cut him down, kill him if you can.

Willie pulled his pocket knife, run all night, fight all day,
Opened up his pocket knife, chase it far away,
When he threw his pocket knife,
That was the end of the wild cat's life,
Chase him down, cut him down, kill him if you can.
He chased him down, he cut him down, that Willie, what a man!


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Subject: Lyr Add: WILD BOAR and WILD HOG
From: Susan of DT
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 09:16 AM

Interesting variant of the Wild Hog in the Woods, Child #18. It is not just the same tune, Kent. The verses are clearly from there, too. The last line in some of the Appalachian versions have moved from the pseudo-latin "killie quo quom" types into "Cut him down, Kill him if you can"

Some of the versions that will be appearing in the Digital Tradition:

***********************
WILD BOAR (7)

There is a wild hog in yonder woods
        Diddilie down, diddle o day
There is a wild hog in yonder woods
        Diddilie down o day
There is a wild hog in yonder woods
He'll cut your throat and he'll drink your blood
        Won't you cut him down, cut him down
        Kill him if you can

There is a wild hog in yonder marsh
Cutting his way through oak and ash

Bangum, will you hunt and ride
Sword and pistol by your side

He followed that wild boar day and night
Before he'd take that wild boar's life

Bangum went to the wild boar's den
He found the bones of a thousand men

He fought that wild boar sword and knife
Afore he'd taken that wild boar's life

They fought four hours in that day
The wild boar stomped and he ran away

Bangum threw his wea-pon knife
And that was the end of that boar's life


Child #18
Roud-20
recorded by Pamela Goddard
@animal @hunt
filename[ WLDBOAR7
SOF
*************************************

WILD HOG (8)

There is a wild hog in these woods
        Diddilo down o day
There is a wild hog in these woods
        diddilo
There is a wild hog in these woods
He eats men's bones and he drinks their blood
        Cam o kay, cut him down
        Kill him if you can

I wish I could that wild hog see
And see if he'd take a fight with me

There he comes through yonders marsh
He splits his way through oak and ash

Bangum drew his wooden knife
To rob that wild hog of his life

They fought three hours in that day
At length that wild hog stole away

They followed that wild hog to his den
There they saw the bones of a thousand men


@animal @hunt
Child #18
Roud-20
Recorded on Far in the Mountains by Eunice Yeatts MacAlexander
filename[ WLDBOAR8
SOF
*********************************

WILD HOG (11)

There's a wild hog in these woods,
        Diddle o down, diddle o day,
There's a wild hog in these woods,
        Diddle o down today,
This is a wild hog in these woods
That kills men and sucks their blood,
        Kill him tell, cut him down, kill him if you can.

Do you see him a-comin' through yonders mash(marsh),
        Diddle o down, diddle o day,
See him a-comin' through yonders mash,
        Diddle o down today,
See him a-comin' through yonders mash,
Splittin' his way through oak and ash,
        Kill him tell, cut him down, kill him if you can.

I fought him with my wooden knife,
        Diddle o down, diddle o day,
I fought him with my wooden knife,
        Diddle o down today,
Fought him with my wooden knife,
Before I'd take that wild hog's life,
        Kill him tell, cut him down, kill him if you can.

I followed that groundhog(!) to yonders bend,
        Diddle o down, diddle o day,
I followed him to yonders bend,
        Diddle o down today,
Followed that groundhog to yonders bend,
And there lay the bones of a thousand men,
        I kill him tell, cut him down, kill him if I can.

Not only has the wild boar become a groundhog in this version, but the action has become first person as well. I wonder if there is a crossover version somewhere that mixes with the song "Groundhog". You could almost sing some of the "Old Bangum" versions to the tune of "Groundhog", if you dropped the refrains.
Here is a Virginia version, from Carroll County, from Miss Ruby Bowman, of Laurel Fork. This was recorded on aluminum disk by A.K. Davis, Jr., on August 11, 1932, just about 70 years ago. It is on page 77, of Davis' MORE TRADITIONAL BALLADS OF VIRGINIA. The tune looks to be similar to that of Dwight Diller's version, although I don't read music very well.

@animal @hunt
Child #18
Roud-20
filename[ WLDBOR11
JM
***********************************

Yours will be version 12.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: EBarnacle
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 10:13 AM

Interesting. As I was scanning it, I heard "Froggy went a-courtin'" as the melody line. It is possible that they came from a divergent source.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: EBarnacle
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 10:14 AM

Might also be a source of the word caterwampus or cattywampus, meaning completely disrupted.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: EuGene
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 12:03 PM

Hmmmm? Interesting to note that the High School in Conway, Arkansas has for years called their athletic teams the "Wampus Cats". I wonder what information they might have on the history behind the origin of that name. I'll try to do some checking with the authorities, librarian, alumni association, etc. to see what info they might have, including any songs associated with the name. Eu


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 12:35 PM

Don't know about origins, but back in the 1910-1920 era there was a college publication called "Wampus Kit" (a Spoonerism of "Campus Wit"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 12:40 PM

catawamp(o)us has acquired several meanings through time.
- vigorously, completely-
1834- the gineral was catawampously inclin'd tu the United States' servive (DARE)

catawampus- a peculiar or remarkable thing or person.
1833- On the way I took a squint at my wild lands along by the Big Muddy and Little Muddy to Bear Grass Creek where I had what I call a rael, roundabout catawampus, clean through the destrict. Paulding, in "Lion of the West."

catawampus- ferocious or impressive
1843- There air some catawampous chawers in the small way too. Charles Dickens in "Chuzzlewit."
1847- On the back of a catawampous grate wolf. "Davy Crockett's Alm." (unp.).

catawampus- to confuse, confound, injure or damage.
1839- A catawampussed fix. "Dictionary of Americanisms," Matthews.
1880- May I be catawampussed. ibid.

Catawampus- diagonally. 1906
catawampus- drawn out of shape.
1851- They sed that he and his wife and children had their faces so wrinkled up and turned cater-wampus like, that the skeeters couldn't lite on um long enuf to bite. "Spirit of Times."

And many variations on these. See Lighter's "Historical Dictionary of American Slang, vol. 1. Perhaps an alteration of catamount (Oxford English Dictionary).

wampus cat- a catamount (panther) or mythical creature, or undisciplined person.
Couldn't find any old quotations; prob. a contraction of catawampus.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 03:54 PM

Article from the Democrat-Gazette of a few years ago.

Wampus Cat


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 04:03 PM

Arkie, all of us here in Alberta are still in mourning for that great cat.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: EuGene
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 05:01 PM

Arkie, do you have any idea how Conway HS came up with the wampus cat as a mascot?? It seems odd since those beasts don't seem to have been native to this area. Could it have something relating to the popularity of some of those folk songs noted earlier in this thread . . . maybe in light of those songs which were carried here from east Tennessee and the Carolinas, the wampus cat appellation came to note the mountain lions/panthers once more common to central Arkansas (now pretty much limited to the Ozarks in the north of the state). Just a'wonderin'. Eu


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 05:25 PM

Um, maybe I'm dense, but my impression is that Kent wrote the song he posted and wants to know what we think of it.

At any rate, I think it's neat!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Cool Beans
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 05:29 PM

T.S. Eliot mentions "the great Rumpus Cat" in one of the poems in "Old Possum's Book for Practical Cats," the book that led to the musical "Cats." You think Rumpus and Wampus are related?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: philgarringer
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 07:19 PM

When a branch of the Rumpus Cat family came to the colonies in the late 1600's, they soon changed their surname to "Wampus". It is thought that they did this because of the bogotry of their neighbors. I think it was to avoid debts.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 07:41 PM

In much of the South, such as Geo' gia (Jo-ja), the letter R was not vocalized, hence 'ampus or wampus.

Lighter, when one wants to avoid a direct answer, one shifts the topic or changes it, as EBarnacle did. Perhaps that happened here.

(It is a much better song that that hog stuff posted by Susan. None of that diddle-dum, quilly quo stuff from someone with a defective memory or speech defect.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Cool Beans
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 07:48 PM

Phil, I think you've hit on something. And Wampus sounds like wampum, which makes them sound like they have money, thus supporting your theory about debt avoidance. Good job.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: EBarnacle
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 10:15 PM

Q, I was merely engaged in scholarly musing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Kent Davis
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 11:59 PM

To clarify, I wrote the song in the sense that I substituted the Wampus Cat for the wild boar, my Grandfather for Bangum, and changed the "diddle dum day" refrain. That is what I intended to convey by writing "TUNE: 'BANGUM WENT TO THE WILD BOAR'S DEN'". I should have written "BASED ON". I don't mean to claim originality, nor do I mean to imply that I collected the song from someone else.
The family seemed to enjoy it. I'm hoping it will spark a little more interest in folk music. I've been doing this sort of thing at Christmas gatherings for several years, starting with "Elf of Constant Sorrow".
Thank you for your feedback and information!
Kent


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Sorcha
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 12:08 AM

My dad when I was growing up in SE Kansas used 'wampus cat' but I can't remember in what context.

And to me, 'catty wampus' means the same as catty/kitty corner. Across the street on the diagonal.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,Ar
Date: 07 Aug 07 - 02:24 PM

At the public schools in Conway they don't really have a story except for it a fictional cat with 4 legs to run with at the speed of light, and 2 to fight with all it's might.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: SINSULL
Date: 07 Aug 07 - 02:43 PM

From Tennessee:
http://ksks.essortment.com/wampuscat_rvmr.htm


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,Gene - class of 76
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 03:50 PM

The story that we were always told was that the Wampus Cat was a mythological creature that roamed the Ozarks.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: open mike
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 04:01 PM

there is a picture of one on wikipedia
here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wampus_cat
as well as this description:
The Wampus cat is a legendary creature. This is a monster of the Fearsome Critters variety, coined by the lumberjack community of the United States. According to the tale, a Native American woman disguised herself in the skin of a mountain lion to spy on the men of the tribe as they sat around the campfire and told sacred stories on a hunting trip. When the woman was discovered, the tribe's medicine man punished her by transforming her into a half-woman, half-cat, who supposedly still haunts the forests of East Tennessee.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE WAMPUS CAT
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 07:46 AM

Catawampuses, or wampus cats, have long been a mascot to me. (But they think I'm THEIR mascot.) They are invisible of course. They direct your life without you knowing it, except when they get really interfering, and then you know it all too well. (Am I only kidding? I think I am ... )

On a more? (less? - you never know) serious note, I know of just two (visible and audible) appearances by the catawampuses in old time music.

W.B. Chenoweth's Cornfield Symphony Orchestra recorded an instrumental, "Arkansaw Wampus Cat," in 1930. But the only recorded wampus song lyric I know of is Lulu Belle and Scotty's Sept.. 24, 1940 Okeh recording "Wampus Cat."

WAMPUS CAT
Written (I believe) and sung by Lulu Belle & Scotty

We heerd there was a wampus in the outskirts of this town,
We thought we'd take our shotguns and hunt that wampus down,
We thought we never would find him, but at last we did,
I took one shot and I missed him -- and the hair rose on my head.

CHO:
Ol' Wampus, please don't bother us,
Ol' Wampus, we never fight nor fuss,
HE: I'll praise her looks and eat her pies,
SHE: I'll never make eyes at the other guys,
Ol' Wampus, if you won't bother us.

He was the strangest critter that ever I did see,
My teeth began to rattle and they echoed on my knee,
SHE: His eyes were big as saucers, or dinner plates I 'spect,
HE: Well, he surely must have scared you the way you grabbed me around the neck!

SHE: I turned and I said to Scotty, Oh, what will we do, dear?
HE: I says in fourteen minutes we'll be fifteen miles from here,
SHE: And then we started runnin', I thought I was way ahead,
But when I got into the house, ol' Scotty was under the bed.

The people in this county'd give a hundred dollars down
To the man that'll catch the wampus cat and bring him into town,
I'll stay a long ways from him, and if he'll stay away from me,
We'll do our courtin' in the house, and let that wampus be!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 09:41 PM

Bob Coltman,

Thanks for that LuLu Belle and Scotty song. I think my grandfather would have liked it. (Maybe he did like it; he was born in 1910 and died in 1986, so he could have heard it.) That song reminds me of the sort of tales he told, about hunting a fearsome creature. Unlike the creature mentioned in some of the posts above, his wampus cat was not half-human.

Kent


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,JR Clark
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 06:16 PM

My sister found this link and I wanted to share our story. As children growing up in southern Alabama, our grandfather (Pappa) would tell us stories of wampus cats. In his story it was panther like and screamed like a woman. His wampus cat also ate unruly children.
What ever the wampus cat may be, it was a very effective discipline tool around our home. ;)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 08:44 PM

When I was a kid, one spring we discovered a mysterious hole in the soft dirt of our vegetable garden.

It turned out to have been caused by my pet box turtle. He had disappeared in the fall, and we assumed he had escaped and "run away"—a strange expression, I know, in reference to a turtle. Actually, when no one was looking, he had dug himself a hole, covered himself with dirt, and gone into hibernation. When he emerged in the spring, we found the hole before we found the turtle. We eventually discovered him in another part of the yard, and put two and two together, but until then, the hole was indeed mysterious.

My father remarked, on first seeing the hole, "It must have been a wampus." It was the first and only time I ever heard that word in my childhood. Of course, I must have asked, "What's a wampus?" but my father refused to explain. He just shook his head ominously, implying it was something too horrible to describe.

You can bet it made my hair stand on end. I can't remember how I figured out he had been pulling my leg.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Jayto
Date: 07 Sep 08 - 11:01 PM

I found a book today at Barnes and Noble in Evansville Indiana. Weird Kentucky was the title. You may remember a few years ago these 2 guys wrote a book titled Weird America or something like that maybe Wierd US. Anyway it (Weird Kentucky) tells odd sites and stories from around Kentucky. In it there was a pretty lengthy segment on the Wampus Cat. It said (I just did a quick glance) that there are reports from Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Nothern Tennessee about the critter. They also had Weird Indiana and Illinois for sale there as well. Anyway I saw this thread and that popped in mind. There are all kinds of legends around here about black panthers and an animal locals call "The Varmit". The Varmit is a reall interesting story and was written about in great detail in the local newspaper in the 50's and 60's. There were actual attacks as well as sightings. It was a panther type animal according to reports. I thought you might find that book interesting though. Being at a Barnes and Noble I thought it might be easy for you to locate as well. CYA


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOSE WAMPUS CAT (Eugenie E. Frohlicher)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Sep 08 - 08:37 PM

From—
The Frontier: A Literary Magazine. Vol 3, no 1, Nov 1922. Missoula, Mont: Published at Montana State University by H. G. Merriam, page 19:

DOSE WAMPUS CAT
Eugenie E. Frohlicher

Yon don' believe dat? W'y, mon Dieu,
You t'ink dat I am lie to you?
Jus' go down where de riviere back
Into dat bayou dere,
An' see dose wild axe handle track
Jus' runnin' ever'where!

An' where you fin' lots track like dat,
Right dere you fin' dose wampus cat.
You wan' to see dose animaux?
I tell you w'at you do—
Firs' go to Pierre de Rochambeau
An' get hees li'l canoe.

Get a beeg heavy hammaire, too
An' tak' a knife along weet' you.
An' w'en you're out on riviere,
Mak' hole in dat canoe.
Dose wampus cat w'at leeve down dere,
He lak' see w'at you do—

He lak' know w'at ees going on—
Or eef you swamp bateau for fon;
Mebbe he t'ink you're good for eat,
Or got some food weet' you.
Qui sait? At leas', c'est son habite—
He's curyous w'at you do.

Eh? "Curiosite", I said!
An' tru dat hole he pokes hees head.
An' w'en you see dat head come dere
You heet dose wampus cat
A great beeg whack weet' de hammaire
An' knock hees head out flat!

An' den you haul heem in de boat,
An' w'en you see hees long black coat
Weet' spots of rouge an' green an' blue,
You get ver' mad, je sais,
To tin'k you b'leeve he lie to you,
Dat man, moi, Jean Marrier.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,cinnamonape
Date: 21 Mar 10 - 03:34 PM

One of the first fantasy computer games, created by a UMass student from California, was called "Hunt The Wampus"

http://www.dreamcodex.com/playwumpus.php

It's interesting that Greg Yob, the creator, was a DJ at his college radio station in Davis California (KCD then, KDVS now) and played a wide mix of folk music, international and avant-garde music. Make's me wonder if he knew about this folk song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 03:07 AM

'Caterwomtious' is also a Sussex word meaning disordered, untidy, disruptive. 'Caterwise' is another, closer to Sorcha's explanation. I wondered if it might be a nursery word from the children's book 'Katawampus, Its Treatment and Cure', by Edward Abbot Parry, 1895.

On the other hand, Parry might have been making use of an existing word. The Greek beginning and Latin ending make it sound as if it's a joke word for a medical condition.

Valmai (Lewes, Sussex, England)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 03:53 PM

Well, that brings up "catercorner," most often heard nowadays as "catacorner" or cattycorner" = diagonally opposite. Webster (9th New Collegiate) dates it to 1843. I suppose the connotation could be "skewed" — wampus cats tend to be.

"Caterwomtious" is close enough to be an original for "catawampus." Intriguing! I wonder, if so, when the "cat" part of the word started being understood as an animal rather than an orientation in space.

And "womtious" / wampus sounds a lot like "rumpus." Disorder again!

"Catawampus" isn't in Webster 9NC. Neither is "wampus." Webster definitely needs a wampus cat breathing hotly on his neck to give him a sense of reality about this.

Oh, well, some of us know perfectly well they exist.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: LadyJean
Date: 22 Mar 10 - 06:20 PM

Some of my dad's frequent history lessons, were disguised as stories of the "Cattawampus Hoppus". a strange creature with a head like a tiger and a tail like a kangaroo, that could hop great distances. (So he could hop to Philadelphia with Ceasar Rodney, to get him there to sign the Declaration of Independce.) I'm not sure where dad found the idea. But they were fun stories.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 05:23 AM

Bob Coltman: yes, wampus sounds like a corruption of rumpus to me. Substituting w for r is common when children are learning to speak, so again there's a possibility that this version came out of the nursery even if the word didn't begin there.

I had a brilliant but bonkers Birman cat called Womtious, a name chosen because the white parts of her paws didn't match as they should on a show quality animal. We found the word in 'A Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect', published in 1875 by a vicar and augmented in 1957 by a dotty upper-class lady. I've found the relevant page online: Caterwise comes from the 1875 edition and Caterwomtious must have been added in the 1957 version.

Valmai


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,David Grinstead
Date: 17 Aug 11 - 10:19 PM

My living family tradition (from both sides of the Ohio as early as the 1800's) kept the phase, 'he's agrinin' like a wampus cat' and 'quit grinin' like a wampus cat!', and it was thought that a wampus cat was like the cat that ate the canary as the term was used as such. No knowledge of any mythical beast was known of.
I have found the term cited once in a dictionary of slang which said that wampus cat was the same as Cheshire Cat only the term was used in the area to the south of Cheshire, which means that the term is from rural Western England and was brought to America by settlers who evolved a new meaning for it. The phase 'looking like a cat chewing gravel' was also used and that would support this earlier posting (1851- They sed that he and his wife and children had their faces so wrinkled up and turned cater-wampus like, that the skeeters couldn't lite on um long enuf to bite. "Spirit of Times.")
As for the mythological wer-woman, I think that the person who made that up was talking like a man with a paper nose.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
From: GUEST,tracy smith
Date: 24 Feb 13 - 10:30 PM

My dad sang us the Wampas song as kids and passed it to my kid. He has been writing them down for us in a book to continue passing on. His version is very close to the one Bob reported only slight variations.


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