FAST-US-7 Folklore and Folk Humor Reference
Selections from Pissing in the Snow
FAST-US-7 United States Popular Culture (Hopkins)
Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere


The following is from Vance Randolph's classic Pissing in the Snow, and other Ozark Folktales, Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press, 1976 (introduction by Rayna Green and Annotations by Frank A. Hoffmann; dedicated to Gershon Legman) — "material [which] is representative of an important realm of life for most people ... [giving] us clues to what people think about their own lives and language" (Rayna Green, Introduction, p. xvi).

In the Preface, Randolph defends printing the authentic language of the folktales despite attempts by editors to 'sanitize' it: "There are, in modern American English, some twenty-five words which refer to the excretory and sexual functions. Tolerated in common speech, these terms are considered offensive in print. About twenty of them are taboo to the extent that they do not appear in ordinary dictionaries.... Many folktales ... depend [on these words] for effect. Translate a vernacular legend into the language of the schools, and it is no longer a folktale. An honest folklorist cannot substitute feces for shit, or write copulate when his informant says fuck, diddle, roger, or tread. Why should one employ such a noun as penis, if the narrator prefers pecker, horn, jemson or tallywhacker. Many of these stories are innocent, even childish, but they do contain vulgar terms like cunt and twitchet . . . it is impossible to present a well-rounded picture of Ozark folklore without some obscene items.

The Ozark hillfolk seldom tell ribald stories in mixed company, as many city people do. They have their own ideas of propriety, and are often shocked by innocuous urban conversation. The old-timers feel that sexual and scatalogical topics have no place in casual talk between men and women, unless the parties concerned are very intimately acquainted. Most of the bawdy tales I have collected were told by adult males when no womenfolk were about, or by women who had mingled with outsiders. Such stories are not aphrodisiac, or intended to incite antisocial sex activity. They merely evoke laughter...." (pp 3-4).


1. Pissing in the Snow

Told by Frank Hembree, Galena, Mo., April, 1945. He heard it in the late 1890's. J.L. Russell, Harrison, Ark., spun me the same yarn in 1950; he says it was told near Green Forest, Ark., about 1885.
One time there was two farmers that lived out on the road to Carico. They was always good friends, and Bill's oldest boy had been a-sparking one of Sam's daughters. Everything was going fine till the morning they met down by the creek, and Sam was pretty goddam mad. "Bill," says he, "from now on I don't want that boy of yours to set foot on my place."

"Why, what's he done?" asked the boy's daddy.

"He pissed in the snow, that's what he done, right in front of my house!"

But surely, there ain't no great harm in that," Bill says.

"No harm!" hollered Sam. "Hell's fire, he pissed so it spelled Lucy's name, right there in the snow!"

"The boy shouldn't have done that," says Bill. "But I don't see nothing so terrible bad about it."

"Well, by God, I do!" yelled Sam. "There was two sets of tracks! And besides, don't you think I know my own daughter's handwriting?"


40. He Had Three Sizes

Told by Bob Wyrick, Eureka Springs, Ark., March, 1950. He heard it near Green Forest, Ark., about 1900.
One time a young fellow was going to marry a girl up on Panther Creek, but they hadn't done no screwing yet. The girl seen him taking a leak out behind the barn, so then she begun to holler that the wedding will have to be called off. "You're a-carrying more than I can take," she says, "that thing is too big for a little girl like me!" But the young fellow just laughed. "I've got three of 'em," says he. "One is lady size, another'n is whore size, and the third is mare size. I always use the mare size to piss with."

So the girl says all right, and they got married right away. The first night she tried the lady size, and everything went fine. The second night she latched onto the whore size, and that was wonderful, too. The third night she called for the mare size, and it was the best of all. Him and her both had a good time, and you'd think they would live happy ever after.

About three weeks after the wedding, the girl woke up one morning, and she just laid there and yawned. "Honey," she says, "fetch me one of the garters that is hanging on the chair." The young fellow just grinned at her. "You ain't got no stockings on," says he. "What do you want with a garter?" The girl yawned again, and snuggled up against him. "I just thought of something," she says. "If we can tie all three of them pricks together, maybe I could get some good fucking for a change!"


50. The Call to Preach

Told by Leo McKellops, Anderson, Mo., May, 1933. An old story, known in many parts of Missouri and Arkansas
One time there was a fellow come walking into town, a-hollering how he's going to quit farming and preach the gospel. He was just a big country boy, all pecker and feet, the kind of a fellow that couldn't find his butt with both hands in broad daylight. Anybody could see he didn't know enough to pour piss out of a boot, with directions printed on the heel. But he stood right up in meeting anyhow, and told everybody he had a call to preach.

"I was a-plowing the south forty," says he, "and all of a sudden there come a bolt of lightning, and the loudest thunder you ever heard. It knocked me down onto my knees, and I prayed for a sign. Pretty soon I seen a big smoke in the heavens, in the shape of the letter P. I just kept on a-praying, and then I seen the letter C. Them letters PC can't mean nothing only Preach Christ, so that's what I aim to do!"

Some of the folks kind of grinned when they heard that, but everybody waited to see what the regular preacher thought about it. The preacher says right off that he don't doubt the young man's word, but a call to preach is a serious matter, and it is best not to do nothing hasty. "I'll have to take it to the Lord in prayer," says he. So they all prayed awhile, and then the preacher says "Brother, the feeling of this congregation is that you ain't been called to preach, because you have mistook the meaning of the sign. The letters PC mean Plow Corn, and I believe that's what you better do," says the preacher. So then every one of them old deacons says "Amen!" and that's all there was to it.

The big country boy grumbled some because he couldn't get no license to preach, but the fellows down at the tavern give him a few glasses of beer, and pretty soon he got to feeling better. "That stuff about letters in the sky is just a made-up tale," says he. "I got a call to preach, all right. But it wouldn't do to tell them folks down at the church house."

So then the fellows at the tavern give him a lot more beer, and finally one of 'em says, "What makes you think you're called to be a preacher?" The country boy just grinned kind of foolish. "Well, I got the biggest prick in the neighborhood," says he, "and a terrible craving for fried chicken."

The crowd all laughed when they heard that, but after the country boy had went home they got to talking about it more serious. Book learning ain't everything, and neither is slick manners and fine clothes. If they'd give that big country boy a chance, maybe he would have made a good preacher, sure enough.


74. Have You Ever Been Diddled?

Told by J.L. Russell, Harrison, Ark., April, 1950. He heard this one near Berryville, Ark., in the 1890s.
One time there was a town girl and a country girl got to talking about the boys they had went with. The town girl told what kind of car her boyfriends used to drive, and how much money their folks has got. But the country girl didn't take no interest in things like that, and she says the fellows are always trying to get into her pants.

So finally the town girl says, "Have you ever been diddled?" The country girl giggled, and she says yes, a little bit. "How much?" says the town girl. "Oh, about like that," says the country girl, and she held up her finger to show an inch, or maybe an inch and a half.

The town girl just laughed, and pretty soon the country girl says, "Have you ever been diddled?" The town girl says of course she has, lots of times. "How much?" says the country girl. "Oh, about like that," says the town girl, and she marked off about eight inches, or maybe nine.

The country girl just sat there goggle-eyed, and she drawed a deep breath. "My God," says the country girl, "that aint't diddling! Why, you've been fucked!"


93. Ambrose Done All Right

Told by Clyde Harris, Tar River, Okla., July, 1927. He heard it near Huntsville, Ark., in 1910.
One time some people was having a dance up on Plow Handle Mountain, and a big half-wit boy named Ambrose come around. He was looking for a piece of cock, but the girls didn't want no part of Ambrose. When he asked Sue Merton to go out in the brush with him, she just kicked up her heels and laughed right in his face.

Ambrose kept a-pestering every woman that come along, and finally they made it up to play a joke on him. A big girl named Lulu wrapped some fresh cow-shit in a piece of gunnysack, and led Ambrose out behind the barn. She laid down with the gunnysack betwixt her legs, and when he climbed on she guided his pecker right into the cowshit. Ambrose began to bounce up and down something wonderful, and pretty soon Lulu says "Honey, I don't believe you've got it in very good." So then she reached her hand down to fix things.

"No! No! Don't you do it!" says Ambrose, and he begun to grunt louder than ever. "If you got anything better than this, I don't want it!" says he. The other girls was peeking around the corner, and they all busted out laughing. But the big half-wit has got his gun off by this time, and he didn't care if anybody seen him or not. He just walked right out before all of them people, a-wiping the cow-shit off'n his tool with a big red handkerchief. The home folks pretty near died laughing, and some of 'em talked like the joke wasn't on Ambrose at all. Lulu got pretty mad, and so did her boyfriend. There was hard words spoke, and some blood spilled, before that dance broke up at daylight.


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Last Updated 09 February 2010