Tag Archives: log

Professor Thompson’s Alaskan Log Story

A fellow classmate and I went to Professor Thompson’s office hours to ask him for any folklore. ME is the classmate, PH is myself, and TT is the informant.

PH: We were wondering if we could collect folklore from you for the project.

ME: Specifically, any stories about Alaska, the Alaskan wilderness, maybe about animals

TT: Stories… You’re looking for something kind of traditional I suppose, um. There’s a story my dad told to me that was told as, somewhat traditional, he got it from someone else who got it from someone else… I got a few stories, probably somewhat true. So here’s, uh, um, uh uh um, there’s one from my hometown, I’ll give you one of those from my hometown, it’s not really an animal story but it’s one from my hometown. So, I grew up in, uh, what was at the time kind of transitioning away from a Native village, it was a Native village when I was born there, but then they discovered oil and a lot of people came in, but just a few years back it was more of a Native village, kind of a Russian Native outpost since the 1700s, this is in Kenai. So, um, my dad moved out there a few months after World War II, uh, and he hung out with a lot of people and collected stories, not that he was a folklorist he just liked talking to people and it was a small town but uh there were a lot of stories from the small town. One that was on my mind um, just recently… Are you ready for it?

PH: Yeah, it’s recording

TT: Back in the day, everybody had little cabins, it was a small little town, and everything was, all the heat was woodpower, everybody had to cut their own wood, there was just wood stoves, and at one point, some guy became aware that somebody in the town was stealing his wood and he didn’t know who, um, you know it’s hard to stop because everybody had their log pile right in front of your house and he just started noticing his log pile going down further than he was burning it, and he couldn’t figure out how to… how to catch the thief so he came up with an idea and he invited everybody over to a party and um, pretty much the whole town… It’s pretty cold in the winter so if someone throws a party everybody shows up, and, uh, they had food, drink, or whatnot, and at one point, he kind of just casually announced to the party, “Yeah, you know, somebody’s been stealing my wood, but that’s okay, I fixed it.” And everybody’s like, “Oh, how did you fix it,” you know, like, “Did you find out who it is?” Like, “No, no, I took care of it.” …like, “How’d you take care of it?” and he’s like, “Well. Here’s what I did, I hollowed out one of the logs and I crammed it full of dynamite and plugged it back up…so….and I noticed that piece of wood was gone last night, sooo, as soon as that…pretty soon we’re going to hear a big bang, and somebody’s fireplace is going to explode.” Yeah, he waits a couple a minutes, pretty soon this one guy says like, “Uhh, I have to get going” and he looks out the window and he sees the guy running as fast as he can home, so..”

All of us laugh

ME: How old were you when you were first told this story?

TT: Probably quite young, and I heard it many times over the years

Weather Log

Title: Weather Log

Category: Folk Object

Informant: Tony Walker

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 60s

Occupation: Construction Foreman— Blue Collar, etc.

Residence: Columbus, MS

Date of Collection: 4/21/18


A weather log is a short, truncated stick about the size of 3” attached to a piece of twine with a laminated card attached. The card reads similar to the following:






The list can continue. The weather log is meant to inform the owner what the weather is outside in a comical sense. This object is usually given/received as a joke or gag-gift.

Personal Thoughts:

My crazy Uncle makes weather logs to give to family members as a joke gift. He seems to find them extremely hilarious. These logs are hung from a tree outside close to the owner’s window. If nothing else, they’re a reminder of him and his humor.

“When the Log Rolls Over We Will All Be Dead”

“Ok, this one: on the 13th floor, there is a room—said to be haunted—they can never rent it out to anyone, because anyone who does rent it out… dies. One day, a very rich man, well dressed, comes up to the counter and says, ‘I need a room for the night.’ And he says, ‘I’m sorry sir, we’re all booked up, the only room we have is room 13 and it’s haunted.’ The rich man says, ‘pfftttt, I’m not afraid of ghosts.’ Rents the room and, uh, goes up  to get ready for bed. He goes up and changes his jacket and pajamas, and he hears: ‘if the log rolls over we will all be dead!’ The man is petrified, and he jumps out the window, lands in the street and dies.”

“A couple weeks later, a very rich woman comes to the hotel and says ‘I need to rent a room.’ The man behind the counter says, ‘I’m sorry ma’am, we have no rooms to rent except room 13 and it’s haunted. One man died in that room a couple weeks ago.’ The woman says, ‘Pffftt, I’m not afraid.’ And she goes and rents the room. She’s just about to go to the bathroom and rent a shower and she hears: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ She is so scared, she runs out the door, down the stairs, and out the lobby and into the street and she gets hit by a taxi and dies.

“A couple week later… a rather common man comes to the hotel… shabby dress, not a lot of money… he very well may have been living off the street. He goes to the counter and says, ‘I’d like to rent a room.’ The man says, ‘I’m sorry sir, we’re all booked up except for room 13 and it’s haunted. Two people have died there in the last month.’ The man says, ‘I’m not afraid.’ He goes and rents the room. He’s about to take a shower, and he hears: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ Instead of being scared, he thinks, ‘that sounds like it came from the bathroom.’ He goes to the shower: nothing there. He hears it again: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ He thinks, ‘is that coming from the taps?’ He goes to the sink: nothing there. He hears it again: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’ And he thinks, ‘That couldn’t be coming from the toilet?’ And he goes to the toilet: nothing there. He looks into the tank of the toilet: nothing there. Finally, he opens the lid. He sees a huge log of shit just floating in the water, and about a dozen ants perched on that log of shit, and every so often, the ants perch their heads up and chant: ‘If the log rolls over we will al be dead!’”


The informant is not sure where it comes from, but thinks his sister, who was around ten at the time they began making a ritual of telling this story around campfires (the informant was around six) learned it from her Girl Scout troop. At least once every camping trip since the first it’s retold. He likes it because they thought it to be hilarious, and they could also recite it from memory after the first time they heard it. He finds humor the fact that the rich people and the poor man just distract from the joke. He also likes the visual produced by the final scene (the informant says he imagines it as a single frame comic strip with the ants on a log and a speech bubble).

The structure of this story is so memorable it makes it extremely easy to retell. The groups of three (the right man, rich woman, and poor man; the three recitations of the “log rolls over…”), which occur frequently in folklore originating in Europe may be a result of their being so memorable. The repetition that occurs in the dialogue also makes it easier to remember, but perhaps what makes it so sticky is that the real joke of the story has almost nothing to do with the lengthy set up (which in itself is funny because it’s completely unexpected).