Song or Story
Spednic Lake (near Vanceboro, ME)
Very similar to Q221.4.2 (Man – Sam Hall, see below – vows to recover loose boat or go to hell trying). More generally, fits Q221.3 (Blasphemy punished) and Q558.4 (Blasphemer stricken dead).
In the story heard here, the central character, when faced with a logjam early in the morning, claims he will break the jam or eat his breakfast in Hell and is subsequently killed when the jam breaks.
MacLeod: There was another drive, it comes into Spednic Lake is what they call it, it’s a chain of lakes called North Brook. And there’s a nasty little place on it, they call it “The Winding Stairs.” It was very steep and winding around like that [demonstrating]. There was a jam of logs jammed up on it one morning, this was just a young fellow, went out before breakfast and started that jam. Somebody said, “Be careful!” They called to him and one of the boys said, “Be careful!” “Oh,” he said, “I’m alright.” He said, “I’ll take that off of there or I’ll eat my breakfast in Hell.” He possibly ate his breakfast in Hell. When that thing broke he went in and we never saw him for two days before we found his body.
Ives: That happened up here you said?
MacLeod: That happened up in Spednic Lake region, up in that country there. It’s what they call the North Brook Chain of Lakes. It’s up in that country there that happened.
Thomas MacLeod, Sandy Ives, Spednic Lake, Baring, Breakfast in Hell, log jam, The Winding Stairs, Maliseet, Sandy Gray, Sam Hall, Ontario, river drive, Musquash River, Sysladobsis Lake, Chiputneticook Lakes, St. Croix River, blasphemy
Skinner, Charles M. American Myths and Legends: Vol. 2. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1903, 230-31; Shaw, Marlow Alexander. The Happy Islands: Stories and Sketches of the Georgian Bay. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1926, 57-60; Barry, James P. Georgian Bay: The Sixth Great Lake. Toronto: Clarke Irwin, 1968, 86, 176; Floren, Russell; Gutsche, Andrea; & Chisholm, Barbara. Ghosts of the Bay: A Guide to the History of Georgian Bay. Toronto: Lynx Images, 1994, 74; & MacLeod, Cameron. “The Ghost of Sandy Gray,” Mer Douce 2 (Oct.-Nov. 1922), 4-7.
Folklore | Oral History
MacLeod, Thomas. 1957. “Breakfast in Hell.” NA57.1, CD44.3. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.