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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 4, Winter 1952

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NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. VIII, No. 4, Winter 1952

“WHIRLING” AND APPLEJACK IN THE CATSKILLS
Norman Studer

IN THE process of tracking down folklore in the Catskills for the Camp Woodland archives we have found that many poems as well as songs were created in the area. These poems never moved out of the valleys where they were created, and they have reference to people who in the main now rest in mountain graveyards. They are important, however, as additional testimony to the creative fertility of the #8220;common folk,” for we have found them in every community to which we have gone.

Dick Edwards tells about the pastime of “whirling” that took place in the saloons of the Western Catskills in the Delaware River Valley, when men relaxed from hard work in the woods. “Whirling” consisted of the competitive exchange of good-natured insults in rhyme.

Pat Edwards was author of a poem about a courtship that failed. Pat was father of George Edwards, the famous folk minstrel, and a member of the clan of Edwards, Hinckleys, Conklins, and Rogers, a lusty and gregarious lot of mountaineers with ready wit, creative imaginations, and prodigious memories for old folksongs. By all who knew him Pat was described in superlatives: the best singer, storyteller, and trickster of them all. Pat was an itinerant maker of wooden scoops, a hard drinker, and jolly saloon companion. A favorite trick of his was to pick up a newspaper and pretend to read a scandalous item about some saloon habitué, the joke being that Pat couldn’t read a word. Pat knew a fabulous number of songs, and the brakemen on the 0. and W. used to persuade him to ride back and forth on their run, singing an endless flow of songs in the caboose.
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