Song or Story
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In the old days of the Maine Lumberwoods, March and April marked the end of cutting and hauling lumber for the winter. As loggers came out of the woods, either before returning for the river drives or just headed home until next Winter, many made their way to cities and went on drunken sprees that became legendary.
1. I believe it was in the Springtime of 1865, I thought myself quite lucky that I was still alive; I harnessed up my horses, my business to pursue, And I went to hauling cord wood like my Daddy used to do.
2. I did not haul but one cord when I might have hauled four, I got so drunk at Old Town that I could not work no more; The still was being open, the liquor running free, I no sooner emptied one glass when another filled for me.
3. I took my bridle and my saddle, I started for the barn, I harnessed up my horse never thinking any harm; I harnessed up my horse and I rode away so soon, That I scarce had time to breathe when I reached the top of the hill.
4. There I met an old acquaintance whose I name I will not call, She told me when and where there was going to be a ball; I was hard to be persuaded but at last I did agree, To go to that place where the fiddler’s going to be.
5. . . . Now four of us stout fellows got on the floor to dance; Our fiddler being willing, his arms being strong, Gave the sounds of old Ireland for four hours long.
6. Now my father followed after, was then I heard them say, He must have had a torch lighter for he could not find the way; He peaked in every window, a chance to see a light, For his old gray locks was wet with the dews of the night.
7. Now the morning stars are risen, boys, and we have danced enough, It will take our last half dollar for to settle up this fuss; We’ll go home unto our plow, boys, we’ll whistle and we’ll sing, For never would be caught in the drunken crew again.
8. Now come all you old women who peddle news about, Don’t you tell on us young fellows who are mad enough without; Come on you old men, you need not make a fuss, For when you was young you did the same only a damn sight worse.
P62: Men on stacked logs at a landing, c1900.
The Spring of ’65, Eddie Rollins, Moscow, Maine, lumber, lumberwoods, loggers, river drives, drunken sprees, The Backwoodsman, The Cordwood Cutter, The Green Mountain Boys, Old Town, Catskills, song
Laws, G. Malcolm, Jr. Native American Balladry. Revised Edition. American Folklore Society, Bibliographical and Special Series, 1. Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1964, 156 (C19); Cazden, Norman, Herbert Haufrecht, and Norman Studer. Folk Songs of the Catskills. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1982, 449-53; & Fowke, Edith. The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1973, 78-79.
Ethnomusicology | Folklore | Oral History
Rollins, Eddie. 1991. “The Spring of ’65.” NA2233, CD2148.6. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.