Ozark rhymes keep the culture alive
I like little sayings and rhymes and, used to, people in the Ozarks took many of them seriously.
Thanks to the late, great Vance Randolph we have a good depository of actual verses that folks used to recite in the long gone Ozarks of the early 20th century. There is no telling how far back some of these actually went. So let's get started. By the way, you can read these in Mr. Randolph's 1947 book “Ozark Superstitions”, later reprinted as “Ozark Magic and Folklore.”
“If a woman's eyes are gray, listen close to what she's got to say; If a woman's eyes are black, give her room an' plenty of track; If a woman's eyes are brown, never let your guard down; If a woman's eyes are green, whip her with a switch that's keen; If a woman's eyes are blue, she will always be true to you.”
“Marry in white, you have chosen just right; Marry in blue, your man will be true; Marry in brown, live out of town; Marry in green, ashamed to be seen; Marry in red, wish yourself dead; Marry in black, better turn back; Marry in yellow, got the wrong fellow; Marry in gray, you'll be a widow some day.”
“Rain before seven, shine before eleven.”
“Comb your hair after dark, comb sorry into your old man's heart.”
“Monday's child is fair of face; Tuesday's child is full of grace; Wednesday's child has far to go; Thursday's child is full of woe; Friday's child is loving and giving; Saturday's child must work for a living; A child that's born on the Sabbath Day is blithe and bonnie and rich and gay.”
When you see crows flying: “One's unlucky; Two's lucky; Three's health; Four's wealth; Five's sickness; Six is death.”
“Friday night's dream on Saturday told, will always come true, no matter how old.”
“See a pin, pick it up, all day long good luck; See a pin, leave it lay, have bad luck all day.”
“Sneeze on Monday, sneeze for danger; Sneeze on Tuesday, kiss a stranger; Sneeze on Wednesday, sneeze for a letter; Sneeze on Thursday, sneeze for better; Sneeze on Friday, sneeze for sorrow; Sneeze on Saturday, a friend you seek; Sneeze on Sunday, the Devil will be with you all week.”
“Laugh before it's light, you'll cry before it's night. Sing before you eat, you'll cry before you sleep.”
“Stump your toe, kiss your thumb, you'll see your beau 'fore bedtime comes.”
“If a cock crows when he goes to bed, he'll get up with a wet head.”
“Marry when the year is new, your mate will be constant, kind, and true.”
“When the morning sun is red the ewe and the lamb go wet to bed.”
“Onion skin mighty thin, early winter comin' in.”
“When I my true love I want to see I put my shoes in the shape of a T.”
There are many more old rhymes of the Ozarks, but I don't want to give them all away here. I encourage you to look up some of Mr. Randolph's works and purchase them. Most have been reprinted. Of course, Vance Randolph wasn't the only Ozark folklorist by a long shot. A friend of mine entrusted me with about 10 plastic containers full of Ozark history and folklore books that had belonged to his mother. While I only consider myself the steward of these, it opened my eyes to just how much material is actually out there about our beloved Ozarks. Do yourself a favor and look into it. It is up to us to keep the culture alive, at least in memory.
Wes Franklin writes a column for The Neosho Daily News.