Tag Archives: Vermont

Red River Valley Folk song (lullaby)

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age:
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context: Context: SF is a USC sophomore studying journalism and he’s also my classmate in Anthropology class. I decided to have a zoom meeting with him and talk about some folklore from vermont. 

YM: Tell me some folklore 

SF: My mom use to sing a lullaby that her pops sang to her 

YM: Let’s hear it, how does it ? 

SF: Down in the valley, valley so low

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow  

Hear the wind blow blow 

Hear the wind blow

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow  

YM: Aww thats nice, do you know where it comes from ?

SF:I think it’s from the south west.. It’s definitely a folk song

YM: Does it have a name ?

SF: Yeah it’s called Red River Valley

YM: Awesome

Background info: SF was born and raised in Vermont. He’s from Irish, Scotish and German descent  and for the first years of his life his mom sang him a folk song to go to sleep. 

Analysis: This sounds like a typical soothing lullaby one would sing to a baby. It also runs in the family, SF’s mother who sang it to him used to hear it from her father and I imagine he also heard it from a parent. After having done some research this is a folk song  that goes by two names: Down in the valley, and Birmingham Jail. The song is an american folk song and a ballad. It’s interesting that this was passed down as a lullaby in SF’s family. The origin of the song is said to come from a Guitarist named Jimmie Tarlton who was incarcerated in an Alabama jail in 1925. Like all folk songs, the lyrics are sometimes changed depending on the artist that decides to record. For examples instead of using, “Hang your head over, hear the wind blow, “ artists have used, “Late in the evening hear the train blow.”  ****

For another version of this song, please visit, https://www.balladofamerica.org/down-in-the-valley/

Champ

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age:
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context: SF is a USC sophomore studying journalism and he’s also my classmate in Anthropology class. I decided to have a zoom meeting with him and talk about some folklore from vermont. 

SF: Vermont has this big lake named Lake Champlain which is the next biggest lake after the great lakes.. Between vermont and new york

SF: People believe there is this dinosaur or sea monster named champ living at the bottom of the lake because there have been a bunch of sightings… uh and like some very fake pictures.. But you know people like to believe 

SF: And uh yeah the local baseball team is named after him and they’ve scanned the lake for it but um I don’t think they’ve found anything yet

YM: They’ve actually scanned it ? 

SF: Yeah they scan like part of it, it’s really murky and for a really long time it was really badly polluted by paper mills.. So there’s a lot of algae blooms and it’s really hard to see in it which is kinda disgusting but also adds to the mystery of it 

SF: It’s supposed to be like yeah kinda the same humps in the water and then the head, loch ness sorta vibe.. Big dinosaur

YM: Do you know of anyone who claims to have seen it ?

SF: My cousin and I thought we saw it but we were like seven hahaha 

YM: ahahah awww

SF: It was definitely a stick.. The people are into it.. It’s a cool story to have.. But uhh yeah no proof yet

YM: who did you hear this from 

SF: My grandparents actually lived by the lake and they told me about it when I was a kid… but it’s very prevalent in the community and you’ll see little cartoon drawings of it in Burlington which is the main city, every now and then

Analysis: Champ is a mythical creature that lives at the bottom of Lake Champlain, it seems to be an important part of the community since a lot of people believe in this lake monster to the point where the lake has actually been scanned. There have been more than three hundred sightings of this creature since 1609. Real or not it has definitely been something that distinguishes Vermont, since not all states have a “20 ft long serpent, thick as a barrel.” The belief in this creature has also been passed down for generations and has even created a revenue generating attraction since the local baseball team uses it as their mascot. After some research, there is even a “champ day” on the first saturday of every August. It’s clear that this monster brings a sense of identity and representation for people in Vermont. 

Vermont Maple Syrup Foodway

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age:
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context: SF is a USC sophomore studying journalism and he’s also my classmate in Anthropology class. I decided to have a zoom meeting with him and talk about some folklore from vermont. 

YM: Tell me some folklore 

SF: Oh! Every year we have a food way 

SF: So maple syrup is massive in vermont, right ? because we have a lot of maple trees and maple forest. It the second biggest producing region behind Canada quebec, just cause its bigger um but we have the highest density per capita

SF And uh there’s this big tradition called sugaring which is the process of tapping trees and getting maple syrup.. And you have to do it at the right time of year because it needs to be cold at night and then during the day.. so the sap can melt and flow down the lines 

Sf: You have to collect a massive amount, maybe 60 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup.. And then you just sit in this shareshack.. And you just sit there and boil it for a really long time 

SF: Basically an excuse to hang out.. Kinda like ice fishing .. with some buddies or something like that

SF: There’s this thing some people do when they’re sugaring, called sugar on snow.. Um that is you boil the sap beyond syrup but not all the way to sugar… and then while it’s still boiling hot and pretty thick you take it outside and you pour it on fresh snow and you take a stick and you stir it in the snow and it basically turns to maple syrup taffy

SF: And it’s so amazing tasting because it’s just sugar.. It’s just a really fun thing to do when you’re a kid or when you’re hanging out in the cold

YM: That’s really cool!

SF: And you know we are legit because trader joes sells vermont maple syrup

YM: hahaha.. So you grew up doing this? 

SF: haha yeah with buddies we would tap trees

Analysis: The making of maple syrup seems to be exclusive to Vermont and the practicing of sugaring is a form of socializing. It forms identity and cohesion within a community and the state. It is a tradition as people like SF grew up doing this to spend time with friends and family. The making of maple syrups is important in defining the culture, environment, geography and history of Vermont. 

Burlington High School’s Swim Team

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

This story was told during between friends when talking about weird high school traditions. The informant told us of a story that intrigued me because of the small town aspect, that the legend of the swim team would be able to rise and fall in popularity due to the school’s changing population. It also shows the dynamic between siblings and how families can affect a small community.

“Um so, a tradition at my high school is that you tell the incoming freshman about the swim team, and you gotta join the swim team because there’s a pool in the high school, and everyone’s like “why would there be a pool in our high school, why would there be a pool in our high school, like buh buh bah” and then you get there and some freshman asks on orientation day and some freshman asks where’s the pool and everyone’s like haha we got you awe got you we got you! And because of older siblings the joke kinda gets ruined and I do remember like hearing like, it never worked on my class because everyone had a sibling who was a year or two years older, and so we all, and because it had been pulled on them , we knew that it couldn’t be pulled on us. but then we like, and then kinda like, because it wasn’t pulled on us it kinda died out a little bit and then we were like, a big thing we talked about since 8th grade was to get BHS swim team shirts and wear them back to the middle school and be like guys you gotta get on the swim team, there’s a pool, oops there’s rumours that there’s not a pool? well there is a pool and we’re running fifth in the state, um, but we never did it”

Vermont Accents

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 01/15/17
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

This is a description of the Vermont/Milton accent that is used in Northern Vermont. The informant is from Burlington, which is one of the larger cities in Vermont and the most metropolitan.

“Um so, people in vermont, its actually a very interesting socio-economic uh little raft, because it’s a lot of very old farming families that have been there forever, so a lot of french-candadian and irish old old old families, that like, live there, and then in 60s and 70s a lot of communes popped up, and so theres was like a lot of college educated upper middle class wealthy people who moved to vermont, and so theres kind of a lot of class divisions and dynamics working out there. Um, and it kind of, there’s a division between people who have the accent and those that don’t, and the further isolated you get, the thicker the accent is, and the most isolated is in the islands of vermont, um, and that’s Milton, but if you live there is “Mil’un”, because you don’t say the T and you really hit the vowels, um, so we make, they are the butt of everyone’s jokes, the people up in the boonies,  up in the fucking islands, who like cannot speak a word of english and you can’t understand it, um, they’re seen as the dumbest hillbillies and just the like biggest idiots in all of vermont and there’s a lot of big idiots in vermont, um, and they, people do their accents, so I don’t have an accent because my parents are from upstate new york and i have a very upstate new york accent but the vermont accent is a lot of dropped T’s, Vermon’”

 

Analysis: When speaking about Vermont, it was clear that informant knew a lot about how the differences in class affect how vernacular speech is disseminated between communities. She was aware that living where she did and having the parents that she did created a difference between her and the other Vermonters who had been there for generations. She was also able to perform the accent although she doesn’t speak with it.

Champ: Vermont’s Loch Ness Monster

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

This story was told during a moment between friends when talking about stories and weird traditions from our hometowns:

“Okay um, so Champ. Champ is a seas monster that lives in lake champlain which is where i grew up. We, it’s like, explained as the Loch Ness Monster but in Lake Champlain, um, and it just kinda like, i think the folklore around it, it’s like, it’s not like a fun thing that we joke about, everyone is pretty sure that it’s real, like, we’re all trying to prove it. Like there’s this little Vermont boathouse that’s run by this French-Canadian family where you can get penny candy, you can rent boats for five dollars an hour, it’s like everything’s so cheap, a land lost in time. Um, his sister, who’s like the face of the operation now, um has the store and was interviewed by the news because she saw it come up on the land. And why would she lie? She’s the most trust-worthy person in all of burlington. Um, so like that’s kinda it, we’re all trying to prove that theres a seamster in the lake. Because it’s the deepest fresh-water lake in the continental US. I think in the US. It’s just so deep, not that big, but so deep. There’s gotta be something down there, it could survive. Um, it’s kinda one of those things that I don’t remember hearing about for the time, because it’s so engrained in the culture, especially in burlington which is the main tourist town around the lake and so much of the imagery around the waterfront is Champ related, um, but I can remember, like i don’t remember if this is, the most memory that I can think of is that there’s a fun little statue of champ, like very cartoony, in front of this like, like, club, but a place you’d go to have a nice dinner and listen to music, so like that, we went there one time and I saw it and I was like what’s that and my mom was like that’s Champ! but yeah, all the imagery is around champ, our vermont minor league baseball team is the Vermont Lake Monsters… so my parents aren’t from burlington, and they aren’t from burlington at all, and a lot of my friends are fourth or fifth generation vermonters, and there’s a place called Ken’s Pizza, and we call it Kens, but the real vermonters call it the pub. It was the part of the place that I get to be a part of that my parents weren’t to be a part of the folklore and be a real Vermonter.”

Champ is a local figure of Lake Champlain in Vermont and New York. Folklore surrounding Champ dates back all the way to the native populations before white settlers. Today, the lake is protected safe waters for the sole purpose of maintaining Champ’s habitat. It’s even been put into legislature! You can find out more by looking up Champ’s folklore, of which there is many.

 

Creamies

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 20
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

This was told to a group of friends during a debate of what soft-served Ice Cream is called across the US. The informant is from Vermont, on the East Coast. There was a divide between East and West coasters over what to call soft-serve ice cream, but the informant was able to give me some background on her reasoning.

“So creamies are what we call soft serve ice cream, and I truly did not know they were called something else until i was eight years old. And like it truly makes sense that that would be what they were called, and um, it makes sense because they’re like ubiquitous, um, there was a creamies, and like, I counted recently, and I worked at an ice cream store over the summer that didn’t sell creamies, and like people came in and asked everyday and asked “do you have creamies” and we’d be like no, but I could stop at four or five places between my house and where I worked over the summer and get a creamie. And I worked maybe two miles from where I lived. Um, and it’s kinda like this thing because, and I kinda realised this recently, because the main industry in Vermont besides tourism is dairy, that it’s, like, i know more than most people about dairy products and that I’ve had them in hoards all my life and it was very encouraged to eat fine dairy. We ate a lot of really good cheese, really good ice cream and really good butter. Um, and so, I guess creams is just slang for a soft serve.”