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Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff

03 Mar 00 - 01:41 AM (#188611)
Subject: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

Can anybody tell me the source of this phrase?
I'm John Jacob Schmidt,
and I'm rough and tough and hard to bluff
and used to many hardships.
During the five summers that I was a camp counselor in Wisconsin in the 1960's, an unusual man named Erv Kasian drove up from Chicago every week to spend a couple of days at the camp. I can't recall him doing much, other than relaxing; but he more than earned his keep by telling his incredibly corny stories at our campfires. The Erv story I liked best was the once about John Jacob Schmidt, an early settler who encountered all sorts of difficulties in the New World. Erv would describe each situation in great detail, and John Jacob Schmidt would always come out on top, saying,
I'm John Jacob Schmidt,
and I'm rough and tough and hard to bluff
and used to many hardships.
Finally, John Jacob got himself into a situation that looked almost impossible, He was captured by some villains (probably Indians, maybe pirates) who had all sorts of tortures for their captives. Jonh Jacob endured them all cheerfully. At last, the captors said that John Jacob could go free and marry the daughter of the Chief Villain if he endured one more torture, which nobody had ever survived. The Chief Villain presented Schmidt with two potato chips, chips that were harder than the hardest steel. Everyone who had been forced to bite these potato chips before had broken all their teeth, and had died the death. John Jacob cheerfully accepted the chips from the Chief Villain, and gobbled the chips with gusto. The villains where aghast, but they freed John and married him off to the Beautiful Maiden. When asked how he accomplished this marvelous feat, Schmidt replied,
I'm John Jacob Schmidt,
and I'm rough and tough and hard to bluff
and used to many hard CHIPS.
Erv was a marvelous storyteller, but there was something about this story that makes me think he got a good part of it from somewhere else. Have any of you heard of this story, or of John Jacob Schmidt (not Jingelheimer), or of the phrase?
I searched the Web and found a few uses of the phrase, but nothing that gave indication of the source of the phrase. Does anybody have an idea where it comes from?
For that matter, is there anybody here who happens to have known Erv? I think he used to work at the Boys Club in Chicago. He was quite a guy - even let me use the Honda 50 motorbike he kept stored at the camp.
-Joe Offer-


03 Mar 00 - 04:13 PM (#188927)
Subject: RE: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Sandy Paton

Well, Joe, I can't really help you concerning the "John Jacob Schmidt" recitations, but Grant Rogers, "Songmaker of the Catskills," included the "I'm rough, I'm tough, and I'm hard to bluff" phrase in a song he made up titled "Bulls-Eye Bill." It's on his Folk-Legacy album, now available only as a custom cassette: C-27. You've heard Grant singing "Granny's Old Arm Chair" on the new Ballads and Songs of Tradition CD. Pretty good for an old construction and quarry-worker, eh?

Sandy


17 Mar 00 - 02:53 AM (#196640)
Subject: RE: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

I'm not likely to give up easily on this one. I swear there has to be a story behind the phrase. I don't think the root phrase includes John Jacob Schmidt, but I think it includes the "used to many hardships" phrase - and that particular phrase makes me think there has to be a distinct source. I did find a reference to a song here (click) that includes a big part of the phrase:
Title: Waukegan cowboy.
First Line: I'm rough and tough and hard to bluff my trigger finger's jerky
Chorus: I'm the Waukegan cowboy take it from me, you can see I'm at home on the lone prairie
Music by: Roth, Howard H.
Words by: Roth, Howard H.
P/P/D: Clearwater, FL : Howard H. Roth & Co. Inc., c1947.
Location: SPC, KIRK PS 1945-1947
I did find one quote that included the "hardships" last week, but now I can't find it.
-Joe Offer-


17 Mar 00 - 07:15 AM (#196686)
Subject: RE: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Bill in Alabama

I'm still looking, Joe.


17 Mar 00 - 07:32 AM (#196687)
Subject: RE: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,John Gray / Australia.

Well, I don't know about "rough and tough and hard to bluff" but I'm the man they couldn't "root, shoot or electrocute" !!!!!!

JG / FME


17 Mar 00 - 11:03 PM (#197037)
Subject: RE: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Bill D

funny how in folk music words & names get re-used...I figured this song would be in the Database, I have no idea how the Schmidt boys are related.


23 Nov 09 - 10:06 AM (#2771762)
Subject: RE: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Jim Dixon

References to the phrase "rough, tough, and hard to bluff" are surprisingly rare, and mostly recent. These are the oldest I could find:

"Then there were some from Waukegan, who were 'rough, and tough, and hard to bluff' who expected to win six or seven championships for Hillsdale...."
--from The Winona (Hillsdale, Mich.: Hillsdale College, 1925).

"Bogie (that's what everyone calls him) may be rough, tough, and hard to bluff before a camera, but, face to face, he's pleasant and friendly...."
--from The American Magazine, 1943.

"They are the prisoners who must prove 'rough and tough and hard to bluff.'"
--from The Journal of Criminal Law, Criminology and Police Science, 1954.

"...Read all about it/We've got a team/And we're proud to shout it/We're rough, we're tough/We're hard to bluff/Conesville Vikings/Strut your stuff..."
--from Cheerleader Handbook by Carolyn Frances Bruce (Fond du Lac, Wis.: National Sports Co., 1960).


23 Nov 09 - 10:27 AM (#2771772)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Amos

I've heard that tale, or one of the same general pattern but without the John Jacob Schmidt, whose name is also used in a children's song with the middle name Jingleheimer IIRC.

But I don't remember what name WAS used in the version I heard orally, many decades ago. Sorry I can't be more help but at least you know it's not just you, Joe!


A


23 Nov 09 - 01:34 PM (#2771936)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Appears in Australia-
"Economists, being the rough and tough and hard to bluff people we are..."
In a Senate paper, Parliament of Australia.

A couple of websites include the phrase as "something their grandfathers said," but no dates.


23 Nov 09 - 01:45 PM (#2771947)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: catspaw49

Jim, you are really amazing man........You do these unfound and often ancient threads and need some sort of award! I have none except my congratulations for a fantastic job!


Spaw


23 Nov 09 - 02:11 PM (#2771969)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Amos

Title: Waukegan cowboy.
First Line: I'm rough and tough and hard to bluff my trigger finger's jerky
Chorus: I'm the Waukegan cowboy take it from me, you can see I'm at home on the lone prairie
Music by: Roth, Howard H.
Words by: Roth, Howard H.
P/P/D: Clearwater, FL : Howard H. Roth & Co. Inc., c1947.
Location: SPC, KIRK PS 1945-1947

IN a book called Out West, Dayton Duncan (in around 2000) meets a man in his sixties who tells him that in his youth he was rough and tough and hard to bluff, but he isn't anymore.


(no date given)

The Cardinal School Song



(Sing), tune of Minnesota Rouser
Fayette High School,
Hats off to Thee!
We're all for you
Fight on to Victory.
Make a touchdown.
Run up the score.
Rough and tough and hard to bluff.
Fayette High School got the stuff.
Fight on for Fayette High.

(Cheer)
Go, Cardinals, Go!
Go, Cardinals, Go!
Hit 'em high.
Hit 'em low.
Go, Cardinals, Go!
(Repeat song.)


03 Apr 10 - 10:57 PM (#2879164)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Daniel

I'm not sure of the source of the phrase, but I may be able to shed some more light on Erv Kasian. In the early 1970s I lived in a rural part of north central Illinois and whenever we took a field trip into Chicago, the school would hire a charter bus company to drive us. Every time we started the trip, the bus driver (who was always the same guy) would tell the exact joke mentioned at the beginning of the thread. It makes me wonder if the bus driver was Erv. BTW-Is this thread really 10 years old?


04 Apr 10 - 03:28 AM (#2879211)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

Yes, this thread is really ten years old, and I'm still wondering about old Erv. He had a kind of squarish face with scrunched-up features, and he wore dark-rimmed glasses - a very unusual-looking fellow. His stories were very corny, but kids loved them - because Erv loved those stories.
Erv kept a Honda 50 at camp, and asked me to watch over it - and in return, I got to ride it. Wow!

Erv also told a story about an adventurer named Shortcake, who ended up marrying an Indian princess. After a number of adventures and misadventures, Shortcake died. The chief asked, "Who bury Shortcake?" The princess answered, "Squaw bury Shortcake."

And then there was the Indian chief's son, Falling Rock. Falling Rock went out to seek the secret of life, and travelled all over North America (giving the storyteller the chance to give a geography lesson). But Falling Rock does not return, so the chief sends out braves to find him (repeating the geography lesson at least twice). And to this day, they are still looking for him - I'm sure you've seen the signs: "Watch for Falling Rock."

Come to think of it, that "Falling Rock" story might not have come from Erv - but if he had heard it, he would have told it.

But Daniel, you really did hear the line, "Used to many hard chips"? Gee, that must have been old Erv. He was a really ancient guy - must have been at least 40....


-Joe-


16 Apr 10 - 12:08 AM (#2887667)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Rowan

To my ears, "rough and tough and hard to bluff and used to many hardships."
rings the sorts of bells that the chorus to Barnacle Bill the sailor also rings;
"I'm old and rough and dirty and tough," cried Barnacle Bill the sailor.

If one were trying to entertain polite company and avoid the earthy activities of Barnacle Bill, Joe's phrase would just about scan similarly and also allow the same accumulative narrative.

Cheers, Rowan


16 Apr 10 - 08:37 PM (#2888278)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Artful Codger

To me, "rough and tough and hard to bluff" reminds me of cowboy boasts like "I'm a wild wolf and it's my night to howl!"

Knew a little girl who used to say, "I'm rough and tough and ladylike."


23 Apr 10 - 01:44 AM (#2892541)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Jim Dixon

I once heard someone describe a certain toddler as "rough and tough and hard to diaper."


09 Sep 10 - 09:01 AM (#2983057)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST

Joe, Erv Kasian worked at Camp Waupaca For Boys in Waupaca Wisconsin from 1970 - 1979. WHile I cannot help with any lyrics, or any stories, I can tell you that we have located Erv in a military cemetery near Milwaukee. Here's a link to the story: http://www.campwaupaca.com/Erv1.html


09 Sep 10 - 06:24 PM (#2983487)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

Thank you very much for the information about Erv. He was a terrific storyteller, and a good man. I worked with him at Camp Villa Jerome in Hubertus, Wisconsin, from 1966-70. He worked two or three days a week, and I think he was in Chicago the rest of the time. I had the impression he had worked at Villa Jerome many years before I was there, but maybe not. I think he had also worked at a Boys Club camp near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Erv was generous to a fault, an unbelievably kindhearted man. I don't think there ever lived another man with such a corny sense of humor.

Rest in peace, Erv. It's nice to finally learn a little of what happened to you.


-Joe-


02 Nov 10 - 04:17 PM (#3021937)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST

I knew Irv..........I also worked at the camp for 4 summers late 50s to early 60s.........remember the honda 50......used to borrow it from Irv and ride at around the lake to Wally and Bea"s tavern.

Larry Clore


02 Nov 10 - 04:25 PM (#3021947)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

Larry, send me an e-mail, and let's see who else we knew in common.


Joe Offer
joe@mudcat.org
(boating instructor at Villa Jerome 1966-70)


06 Nov 10 - 11:01 PM (#3025665)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Heather

So, Joe, did you ever find the original source of this saying? My mother used to say it to me every time I complained about anything, whether it was raking the leaves, doing the dishes, or getting dumped by my high school boyfriend: "Well, Heather," she'd say, "you've gotta be rough and tough and hard to bluff and used to many hardships." It used to drive me crazy, but eventually it became a sort of family motto that we now repeat to one another -- often in unison -- whenever the situation requires. I'd love to know where it comes from! (I did ask my mother, and all she can tell me is that her mother used to say it to her, too, which pushes it back at least to the 1940s.)


06 Nov 10 - 11:42 PM (#3025673)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Heather-
I heard the phrase from only one man, storyteller Erv Kasian from Chicago. Through this thread, I learned what happened to my old friend Erv. But when I heard this story when I was in my late teens, I wasn't smart enough to ask Erv for background information. The folklorist in me didn't come alive until I was in my 40s.
I heard this story five times a summer for five years, and I suppose I might have gotten tired of it. Gee, what I'd give to hear Erv tell it once more.


-Joe-


07 Nov 10 - 10:45 AM (#3025868)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,MarkF

"Rough and tough and used to hardships" has been my signature (if annoying) story-telling party piece for a couple of decades. But my version is quite different from Erv's. The hero is Ivan Ivanovich, a poor but honest nineteenth-century Russian boy who faces a host of Old World difficulties: jailed by the Tsarist police, deported in chains to Siberia, captured en route by Cossacks, then by Caucasian bandits, re-captured by the secret police and goes to the salt mines. Etc. Finally he escapes and after a few more misadventures makes his way across the Pacific from Vladivostok to San Francisco as a cabin boy on a clipper ship. They send him up in the rigging to the crow's nest, and a terrific storm hits...

The story is told in broken English with a strong Russian accent. After each adventure, one worse than the last, the reprise is -- "But this did not bother poor Ivan Ivanovich, for he was rough and tough and used to hardships!" The story can go on for half an hour, and (mercifully) ends when the great storm breaks the tall ship's mast and Ivan Ivanovich comes crashing down to the wooden deck, surely to meet a sorry end: "But this did not bother poor Ivan Ivanovich, for he was rough and tough and used to ... hard (pause) ships."

[Groans].

Does seem like it must be related to Erv's! I've never been to summer camp in Illinois, and for the life of me I can't recall where I got it.

Mark


14 Nov 10 - 11:09 PM (#3032347)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Heather

Wow, that's a great version, Mark -- it seems stories with bad puns are universal! Ha!

Joe, my mother was raised in Iowa, and what with Erv being a Chicagoan, there may be a Midwestern origin for this phrase....but I guess we may never know!

Heather


15 Nov 10 - 01:30 AM (#3032391)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe Offer

I think that's the basis of a great story: a very simple plot that lets the storyteller improvise as he/she goes along. I haven't found as many of those as I'd like, but I've had fun with them. You can tell the story over and over again, and never tell the same story.
But Erv told the story the same way every time, almost word-for-word. After five years, I almost had it memorized - but it didn't really "work" for me, so I never told it. But I'd sure like to hear Erv tell it one more time.
-Joe-


15 Nov 10 - 02:05 PM (#3032833)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: JohnInKansas

Some time ago I worked with fellow whose prior job had been with a major US paper manufacturer. He related that anyone travelling on company business was expected to bring home "samples," especially of the toilet papers found at various places around the world. Documentation of the time and place of collection were of course required.

As he described it, they would have "group sessions" where the various samples would be passed around for examination and discussion.

He reported that at one session someone described "a British sample" as "Real John Wayne Paper."

"It's rough and tough and don't take sh*t off of anybody."

About a decade later the "John Wayne Paper" description had become fairly well known, but his story was the first place I heard it, ca. 1959.

John


06 Dec 10 - 07:16 AM (#3047335)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: ScoutingDad

I heard this story for the first time at a canoeing camp called Keewaydin, summer 1969. The main character was Palooski Kowalski, and he was abandoned by his parents the day he was born. He faced horrifying situations every day (but he was rough, tough and used to hardships). The story went on for three days until we heard about the "hard ships."

About five years ago, I told the story at a scout troop campout - in my version, Palooski Kowalski was one of our scouts "a few years ago." Every year since then, I've started the story and the scouts finish it, based on their "personal recollections."

"I remember Palooski - especially his missing ear. He told me that it was bitten off by a bear when we was lost in the Yukon. I asked him if it hurt, but he told me that he was rough, tough and used to hardships."

Everyone takes a turn and when he runs out of ideas, the next scout takes over. Only the new scouts don't know the story - or the punch line. And they are always the most enthusiastic tale tellers the next year.


12 Feb 11 - 08:29 PM (#3094122)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Sandy in Pinebur, MS

I heard this joke while at Florida State University in 1961. It took place on a ship and the punch line had a seaman falling from the mast and saying when he hit the deck "that's alright, I'm rough and tough and hard to bluff and used to hard..ships." I couldn't remember the whole joke though and that's why I googled the punch line and found your thread. The version above about Ivan Ivanovich sounds about right, though I don't remember the name or early details in the story, just the punch line. So I was glad to see the Ivan version. Now my curiosity is satisfied and I can tell my husband the whole joke. I remember as a college freshman, I thought it was histerical.
Keep smiling, Sandy


06 Apr 11 - 09:29 AM (#3129820)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Ann

My husband and I are now 50-something, and trying to collect these great stories. He used to be able to recite the Ivan Ivanovich version straight through very well...but as time goes on...Well, I was just wondering if Mark F would be willing to write the entire verse?


09 May 11 - 01:47 AM (#3150660)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Mark F

I'm willing -- as soon as I find a spare couple of hours! Check the thread again later this summer.


16 Sep 11 - 02:46 PM (#3224346)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Tommy CDR

I don't know about the origin but the line "I'm rough, tough, hard to bluff" occurs at the beginning of the 1958 rockabilly track 'Bad Bad Boy' by Bobby Lollar. It's a great example of the genre and the line fits well with the song.


26 Jan 12 - 10:09 AM (#3296602)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Pruett, Gary - Cedar City, UT

Joe,
A witty younger brother, who was so adept with rapid retorts and 'come-backs' that we dubbed him 'the fastest lip in the west' told a similar story using the "rough, tough, hard to bluff and used to many hardships" phrase except that the main character was a guy named Gilbert, and after overcoming many hardships and enduring many adventures (all of which end in that phrase) the last scenario finds Gilbert serving in the Navy on a destroyer in war-time. Gilbert is assigned to watch for enemy submarines and is stationed 60 ft above the ship in the 'crows-nest'. He is clinging for dear life to the lip of the 'crows-nest' as the ship is being tossed to and fro in heavy seas, when suddenly an enormous wave heaves the ship so violently to one side that Gilbert is hurdled out of his perch and falls to the steel deck below. But that's OK, he is unharmed because Gilbert is, "rough, tough, hard-to-bluff and used to hard ships". He left the tone of his voice just hanging, like all the times before, and it took us just and instant to figure out that that was the end of his tale. It was a great story and I wish I could find it in its entirety. It would be fun to tell the kids when we go camping.


03 Oct 14 - 08:27 PM (#3665856)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Kegan Mahon

This evening, my 91-year old grandmother used this phrase describing my grandfather. However. if I recall, she said he was "rough and tough and hard to cuff." She said that was "as the old saying goes." She was born in 1923, and I'll ask her where she heard it, but any time between the 40s - 60s seems to be the average.


06 Jun 16 - 08:30 PM (#3794161)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Guest

I've heard the john Jacob version in scouting in the 60's
But a drinking bud would say this when tanked:
    I'm rough, tough hard to bluff,
    But easy with the women.
    There's more old drunks than there are old doctors,
    So I believe I'll have another round!


07 Jun 16 - 05:56 PM (#3794313)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: Joe_F

The line "more old drunkards than old doctors" goes back to Rabelais.


09 Feb 19 - 10:35 PM (#3975809)
Subject: RE: Origin: Rough and tough and hard to bluff
From: GUEST,Ed0882

I believe Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) said that at some point on his show “Hey Vern, it’s Ernest.” He put his own original spin on it:

“I’m rough, tough, hard to bluff, and no cream puff!
No whata mean?”