NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. VIII, No. 4, Winter 1952
“WHIRLING” AND APPLEJACK IN
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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