Tag Archives: American South

The Goat-Man Of Pope Lick Creek

Informant’s Background:

My informant, AH, was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, but now lives in Los Angeles where she attends undergraduate study at USC. She is 21 years old.

Context:

The informant is a close friend and former roommate of mine. I asked her if she had any folklore from her hometown in Kentucky she could share with me. For the purposes of this performance, she is labeled as AH, and I am labeled as AT.

Performance:

AH: “So there’s this creek, pretty close to my house, probably about like ten minutes away, it’s called Pope Lick, I don’t know why, but uhm me and my friends would go there pretty often because there’s these like train tracks that run up above and underneath there is where the goat man is supposed to be. So the goat man he’s supposed to be like legs of a goat, top part of a dude, and what he’s supposed to do is if you’re there at night (which we were pretty often), he’d go and like either like lure you down and then go and like grab you and eat you or he’d like fucking jump down and get you. But that was his whole thing like (*in spooky voice*) oooOOhhh we’re hanging out, and we might die! Someone’s gonna get killed by the goat man! But it was very fun, yeah, that’s most of the stuff.”

AT: “Where did you first hear about it?”

AH: “So I first heard of it… my uh-my girlfriend at the time she was like “oh, have you heard of the goat man?” and I was like “no” and she was like “yeah so if we go here at night we might see this like goat man person thing.” And that was like when I first heard about it and then we went together and we didn’t see anything, but it was definitely kind of like a creepy vibe, like abandon fucking train tracks, kind of creepy.”

Thoughts:

The first thing that came to mind upon my hearing about this was Ray Cashman’s article Visions of Irish Nationalism, which we read in class, more specifically where Cashman discusses how a seemingly innocuous location can hold a special meaning to the locals of the area or to those properly informed (Cashman, 373). In this case, the location is seemingly mundane, a railroad trestle bridge, yet there it has a different meaning to those that live in the area that are “in the know”. According to my research, there actually have been a number of deaths as recently as 2019 at the location, as it is actually not abandoned and is a major railway for trains. So in this case we see an example where depending on the time of the visit, and how safe they were being, the informant and their partner could easily have been seriously injured by going to a location that is actively dangerous and prohibited of entry to the public, yet the myth surrounding the location provides a new meaning to the location, and makes it a desirable destination to visit for locals.

Cashman, Ray. Visions of Irish Nationalism. Journal of Folklore Research, Vol. 45, No. 3. Pp. 361-381.

Sweet Potato Pie

Main description:

The following ingredients were provided by the informant via text message.

RD: “sweet potato, butter, brown sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and pre made pie crust”

AB: “So, who did you learn this recipe from?”

RD: “My mom taught me. She makes them, I think, every year around the holidays, like around Thanksgiving or Christmas mostly, and I think that’s it. But she makes a ton of them. Like seven or eight  huge-ass pies because they’re everyone’s favorite. I know she learned it from my dad’s mom, so her mother-in-law and my grandma, and I think she makes them even more. Like, all the time. Every time we visit her she has a sweet potato pie in the oven because, like I said, it’s everybody’s favorite.”

AB: “What makes your guys’ sweet potato special from, I guess, a normal pie?”

RD: “I mean it’s a normal sweet potato pie. My mom, my grandma don’t use measurements or anything, they just kinda no. That’s why the recipe doesn’t, doesn’t have any. We don’t add anything special if that’s what you mean. Well, I guess my mom uses brown sugar instead of white, which I guess some people don’t. But like what makes it special is that you’re supposed to melt the butter and sugar together in pan before you mix it into the rest of the pie.”

AB: “And that makes it taste different?”

RD: “I mean, yeah. It’s literally everyone in my family’s favorite food. There was this one time my cousin, who was just this little eight or seven year old girl, ate a whole-ass pie by herself. Literally the whole pie. We were all like… how. I guess she just really loved that pie.”

Informant’s interpretation:

AB: “Does this pie have a special meaning to you and your family?”

RD: “I mean, that pie is so much work. You know what stirring potatoes is like, like it’s just so thick that my mom always needed all of us to help. So I guess to me it means all the times that my family has worked really hard together and then all enjoyed the same pie at the end.

It’s funny, because until left Alabama and the South I guess I didn’t realize that sweet potato pie was also like, very much a southern thing? You know? Like I thought everybody had sweet potato pie. So now it makes me think of my family, but also of like the south and all the things that I don’t have here that are more normal in the South.”

Personal interpretation: Sweet potato pie is a common dessert in the south, but almost unheard of elsewhere in the United States. The informant lived in the South his whole life before coming to California for grad school, and this recipe has become emblematic of the cultural divide between the south and the west coast.

Decorating “Easter Trees”

MAIN PIECE

Decorating “Easter Trees”

“For some reason, we used to decorate the trees around our house like most people would Christmas trees.  Many people in the south have egg-like ornaments and easter colored string lights, like purples and yellows and greens and bright blues.  It was much more prevalent in South Carolina when I lived there.”

BACKGROUND

This informant, HA, was born in Pensacola, FL but has lived in a few different parts of the American South for awhile, specifically the Floribama coastal area.  His family has stayed in the south for as far back as he can remember.  He has learned this piece of folklore from when he moved to the suburbs of Charleston and his family were the only ones on the block that didn’t do it in their first year there.

CONTEXT

I talked to HA by inviting them onto a zoom call with a few other friends we both knew from summer vacations where I used to live in Panama City, Florida.  After the call I asked if he could stay and chat and we shared stories about our lives while I asked him questions about sayings and activities he remembered from his childhood.

THOUGHTS

There is a very heavily held belief among Americans that Southern culture is a bit more gentile and ornate than the rest of the country so it’s fascinating to see a piece of folklore that supports this idea.  What interests me is how this decorating differs between people of different financial statuses.  Looking more into it, it seems like a competitive game as well as it seems articles state that people can try and outdo other people’s easter trees.

“Sweating Like A Hooker in Church”

MAIN PIECE

“Sweating like a hooker in church”

“I believe that the saying is more of a way to describe sweating or nerves.  We probably say that down here cause we always like to make things a bit more illustrative then y’all do and we always love a church reference.  It’s not sweaty like a person whose been working all day, but more like when somebody is nervous about something that they are holding back from others like a secret or something of the sort”

BACKGROUND

This informant, HA, was born in Pensacola, FL but has lived in a few different parts of the American South for awhile, specifically the Floribama coastal area.  His family has stayed in the south for as far back as he can remember.

CONTEXT

I talked to HA by inviting them onto a zoom call with a few other friends we both knew from summer vacations where I used to live in Panama City, Florida.  After the call I asked if he could stay and chat and we shared stories about our lives while I asked him questions about sayings and activities he remembered from his childhood.

THOUGHTS

The American South has a fascinating way of coining certain terms that sound quintessentially Southern.  It seems upon further research that there are a lot more metaphors and similes used in Southern vernacular than in the rest of the United States.  HA’s relation of the quote to the church was very interesting as it made me think of Mary Magdalene as a possible referential point in how this statement came to be.  As well, variations of it are seen in other parts of the  world, but they still have enough variation where the meaning is shifted and holds itself as a different piece of folklore.  Ie. Midwesterners saying  “Praying like a sinner in church”

“Full of the Dickens” – Southern Saying

“Full of the Dickens”
Full of the Dickens. My grandma used to say that – he is full of the dickens. It means you’re silly, naughty. It was from the south, I think. Honestly, I think you’re full of the dickens, really.

Background
The informant who provided this information was born and raised in Southern California, yet her mother and that following side of the family was from the Southern part of the United States – referred to by her as, “the south”. Her mother and other relatives would use a lot of southern sayings and slang, and she likes to use it when she can, because it makes her think of her family. She also jeers at the collector with the saying, continuing the tradition.

Context
The informant who provided this information is a 52-year-old Caucasian women, born and raised in Southern California. The information was collected while sitting outside her home in Palm Desert, California, on the 20th of April, 2019.

Analysis
I really enjoyed collecting this piece from my mother – it is a saying passed down through the family to her, and now to me! This transmission of folklore is both exciting and characterizing of folklore itself. I think it is really interesting to see the specific things the informant remembers and repeats from childhood – it must mean it stuck out back then as interesting, and has lasted thus far. I do not believe I am “full of the dickens”, but if she characterizes me as such, I very well may be! I think the use of this saying helps her connect back and remember her mother and grandmother, and keeping the saying alive keeps her family alive and memorializes them, in a way.