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<v Speaker>[music plays] <v Speaker>[woman singing] <v Cora Bardwell>Singing and playing music have long been important recreations in Vermont. <v Cora Bardwell>These traditions are reflected in the ballad collection made by Helen Hartness <v Cora Bardwell>Flanders in the 30s, 40s and early 50s in New England, but <v Cora Bardwell>there is another oral tradition which is also included in the Flanders Collection. <v Cora Bardwell>That's the making and reciting of verse which was much more popular a generation <v Cora Bardwell>ago. Although the sources for these recitations were frequently written, <v Cora Bardwell>once learned, they were often passed on in the same way as a ballad or folk <v Cora Bardwell>song would have been. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>?John Hardhat? was a rough ?close? tiller of the soil.
<v Helen Hartness Flanders>He had become quite well-to-do through hard and constant <v Helen Hartness Flanders>toil, and the only tender spot about him was <v Helen Hartness Flanders>his buckskin purse. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>Hit him there, it would make him squirm. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>You couldn't hurt him worse, a ragged suit. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>[poem reciting inaudibly in background] All of these poems that I tell you, all of them <v Helen Hartness Flanders>were some that my mother used to say, and uh many more she knew <v Helen Hartness Flanders>that I don't. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>Uh in the evening time she'd be sewing or knitting. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>That's when my mother taught me when I was quite young, <v Helen Hartness Flanders>probably uh 8 years old, maybe. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>Uh and she gave me one verse after another to learn. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>When I'd learn one verse, I can have the second verse? <v Helen Hartness Flanders>And then I- do the first and second verse and the third verse and so <v Helen Hartness Flanders>on. He said, well, do 'em up and be darn quick about it, too. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>For I've got 19 cows to milk
<v Helen Hartness Flanders>before I go to bed. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>He took the bundle and put it on the seat and he sent the old mare <v Helen Hartness Flanders>onward at a rate it was hard to beat. <v Helen Hartness Flanders>The shades of night were falling fast. <v Cora Bardwell>The Listeners of Charlestown, New Hampshire is from is in the planner's collection as a <v Cora Bardwell>poem under the title to The Listeners of Charlestown, New Hampshire. <v Cora Bardwell>And I just was very taken by the poem because it gave a list of what <v Cora Bardwell>he was bringing in for his poll taxes. <v Cora Bardwell>And interesting to see that he wrote it out in poetry, which was a common thing in the <v Cora Bardwell>last century. People write poems about whatever took their fancy and <v Cora Bardwell>kept 'em in a little scrapbook. They're an important part of the collection too. <v Cora Bardwell>We think of the collection as songs, but there are many manuscripts of of <v Cora Bardwell>poems, songs that have lost their tunes, could be either one. <v Cora Bardwell>A lot of times people ?assign? poems to a tune they always already knew. <v Cora Bardwell>So I didn't feel too amiss when I set this poem to a tune.
<v Margaret MacArthur>[music plays] [singing] And to your list I give my poll, with one red cow <v Margaret MacArthur>that's 6 years old with one small horse, an acre of <v Margaret MacArthur>land, the soil of which is filled with sand. <v Margaret MacArthur>6 ?inaudible? <v Margaret MacArthur>and one old cap, which clears the house of every rat, <v Margaret MacArthur>one small pig and 15 sheep that jumps so hard <v Margaret MacArthur>I'm play to keep. <v Margaret MacArthur>My loving wife 'tis known full well she works like <v Margaret MacArthur>sin and scolds pell mell, three boys, two girls so <v Margaret MacArthur>smart you'll find they are a comfort to my mind. <v Margaret MacArthur>That's all I've got. I have no more this <v Margaret MacArthur>1834 to you, dear sirs, my list I bring <v Margaret MacArthur>and subscribe myself ?Elijah Fling?.
<v Man 1>Tonight was dark on Lake Champlain. <v Man 1>The wind she blow, blow, blow when the crew of the <v Man 1>?inaudible? Julie Plant gets scared and run below <v Man 1>for the wind, she blow like hell it came by my she blows some more and <v Man 1>the ?inaudible? up on Lake Champlain. When I ?inaudible? <v Man 1>from the shore da captain walk on da front deck, he walked <v Man 1>behind deck too. He called a crew from up the hull. <v Man 1>He called the cook also. Da Cook, her name is Rosie. <v Man 1>Should come from Montreal or Chambermaid <v Man 1>?inaudible? on the grand ?inaudible? canal. <v Man 1>Da wind she blow from northeast west the south wind she blow too. <v Man 1>And cat- Rosie scream ?monsieur? <v Man 1>Captain ?monsieur?. <v Man 1>What shall I do? The captain <v Man 1>?inaudible? She ?inaudible?. Da crew we can't put on the shore because he lost his skill.
<v Man 1>The night was dark, like one black cat. <v Man 1>The waves rolled high and fast, so the captain take his <v Man 1>Rosie out and tie her to the mast. <v Man 1>And then he take the life preserve and ?inaudible? <v Man 1>off on the lake and say, goodbye, my Rosie, dear, I go drown for your <v Man 1>sake. Next morning, very early bout half past two, three, <v Man 1>four, the captain, crew and poor Rosie is corpse's <v Man 1>on the shore. For da wind she blow like ?inaudible? <v Man 1>By, she blows some more and a ?inaudible? <v Man 1>washed up on Lake Champlain one half in from the shore. <v Man 1>Now, all you Goodwood scout sailor man take warning from that storm, <v Man 1>go marry some nice French gal, live on one big <v Man 1>farm. <v Man 1>The let the wind come blow like ?hurricanes? oh she blows some more. <v Man 1>Ya can't get drowned on Lake Champlain so long you stay on
<v Man 1>shore. <v Cora Bardwell>Folk tradition was passed on orally, and as a matter of course. <v Cora Bardwell>Today there is a new awareness of this folk tradition. <v Cora Bardwell>People are actively seeking out and learning such things as songs and stories, <v Cora Bardwell>taking them out of the local environment and sharing them with a much larger audience. <v John Roberts>This is a song that Elouise Lindscott got from uh a singer by <v John Roberts>the name of Mrs. Addy Jackson Moss of Underhill, Vermont. <v John Roberts>And uh it's a funny little uh maple sugaring song that <v John Roberts>I suspect comes from the middle of the last century when uh <v John Roberts>this kind of song would have been quite popular. <v John Roberts>[singing] When you seen the vapor pillar lick the forest in the sky, you may know the <v John Roberts>days of sugar making then are drawing nigh. <v John Roberts>Frosty nights and sunny day, make the maple pulses play till contented with <v John Roberts>its sweetness. It delights still ?inaudible?. <v John Roberts>Hong bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble goes the pan furnish better
<v John Roberts>music for the season if you can. <v John Roberts>See the golden billows, watch that ebb and flow, sweetest joys indeed <v John Roberts>we sugar makers know. <v John Roberts>When you see the farmer trudging with the dripping buckets home, you may know <v John Roberts>the days of sugar making then are fully come. <v John Roberts>As the fragrant odors pore through the open kitchen door, how the eager children <v John Roberts>rally have a loudly calling more. <v John Roberts>Oh. Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble goes the pan. <v John Roberts>Furnish better music for the season if you can. <v John Roberts>See the golden billows, watch their ebb and flow. <v John Roberts>Sweetest joys indeed, we sugar makers know. <v John Roberts>?inaudible? You don't believe it? Take a saucer and a spoon. <v John Roberts>No, you're sourer than a lemon. You'll be sweeter very soon. <v John Roberts>Why, the greenest leaves you see on the spreading maple tree, though they sippin <v John Roberts>simple summer will the autumn beauties be? <v John Roberts>Ah bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble goes the pan.
<v John Roberts>Furnish better music for the season, if you can. <v John Roberts>See the golden billows, watch their ebb and flo. <v John Roberts>Sweetest joys indeed we sugar makers know. <v John Roberts>And for ?inaudible? love or any kind of sickness is the thing. <v John Roberts>Takin' allopathic doses and repeated every spring until everyone you meet, <v John Roberts>if at home or on the street will be half a mind to bite you for <v John Roberts>you look so very sweet. <v John Roberts>Oh, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble goes the pan. <v John Roberts>Furnish better music for the season if you can. <v John Roberts>See a golden billows, watch their ebb and flow. <v John Roberts>Sweetest joys indeed we sugar makers know. <v John Roberts>[inaudible speaking and singing] <v Cora Bardwell>?inaudible? George of ?North Montpelier? sang The Diamonds of Derry for Marguirite Only,
<v Cora Bardwell>who was Flanders very able assistant. <v Cora Bardwell>He sang it for her in 1944, said he learned it from a lumberman, <v Cora Bardwell>Matt Nelson, in Craftsbarry around 1898. <v Cora Bardwell>[inaudibe singing] [recording cracking] <v Cora Bardwell>Elmer George is one of the finest singers in the collection. <v Cora Bardwell>Every time I listen to tapes of his singing, I- just tears come to my eye.
<v Cora Bardwell>Very beautiful, beautiful singer. <v Cora Bardwell>And he was lumberman, sang the songs in the woods, and in the lumber camps. <v Cora Bardwell>[music plays] <v Margaret MacArthur>The diamonds of Derry are dismal today. Since my lovely ?Jerry? is gone far away. He's gone to ?inaudible?, strange <v Margaret MacArthur>to see. <v Margaret MacArthur>May the ?good lord? ?inaudible? send him safe home to me. <v Margaret MacArthur>Oh Jimmy, lovely Jimmy, ?inaudible? <v Margaret MacArthur>on the day when you rapped on my window now you've gone far away. <v Margaret MacArthur>?inaudible? Tell me the reason you've left me alone.
<v Margaret MacArthur>The second time, you courted me twas in ?inaudible? <v Margaret MacArthur>green grove. The daisies <v Margaret MacArthur>grew around where we stood. <v Margaret MacArthur>With your strong arm around me to keep me all warm. <v Margaret MacArthur>?inaudible? this young heart of mine. Oh <v Margaret MacArthur>love if I courted you, twas with not my breath. <v Margaret MacArthur>I never intended to make you my best. <v Margaret MacArthur>I never intended to make you my wife, <v Margaret MacArthur>ne'er would I do so all the days of my life. <v Margaret MacArthur>?inaudible? Young man, I have one word to say,
<v Margaret MacArthur>perhaps you and I will be judged by ?inaudible? <v Margaret MacArthur>A day is approaching and awarded you will be, for <v Margaret MacArthur>the lies and false promises you made unto me. <v Cora Bardwell>As traditional songs are brought to a wider audience, so are traditional practices <v Cora Bardwell>like dowsing, which has been made popular by the American Society of Dowsers <v Cora Bardwell>in Danville, Vermont. The traditional method of finding water, lost objects <v Cora Bardwell>or what have you has expanded into a popular science. <v Man 3>Dowsing is, in my way of thinking. <v Man 3>Uh well, I used to say the sensing of of information, <v Man 3>in other words, it's a sensing system that we all possess.
<v Man 3>It's a sensing ability that we all possess. <v Man 3>But more and more, I think we're thinking about it as uh <v Man 3>leading into ways of um making changes. <v Man 3>Uh and this is seen in well, in a simple way of <v Man 3>uh sensing water veins and then diverting water. <v Man 4>I think it's uh sort of a ESP process, it's uh, we think it's a <v Man 4>mental process. When deer need water, no one has to tell them where to go to find <v Man 4>water. Their senses tell them where to go to find water. <v Man 4>And uh we feel that uh everyone has that ability. <v Man 4>It's just a matter of developing it. <v Betsy Albright>A dowsing rod is just it's nothing magic at all. It's simply an extension of yourself. <v Betsy Albright>It's a tuner... <v Betsy Albright>Amplifier, I guess it's what you call it. <v Betsy Albright>It's it can be anything. There's nothing- people spend loads of money buying fancy <v Betsy Albright>dowsing rods. But the good old forked stick works as, or a coathanger
<v Betsy Albright>or any old thing. So there's nothing magic about that at all. <v Man 5>Uh it is done with an apple forked stick <v Man 5>or a hazel stick. <v Man 5>And whatever it is, I do not know. <v Man 5>But there can be no doubt that the hazel wand or the apple <v Man 5>uh y, will turn down in the hands of a good dowser, <v Man 5>and nobody is strong enough that I have met to prevent it turning. <v Man 5>In fact, I've heard stories of where it turned with such violence that the bark <v Man 5>came off the fork. <v Man 5>And my neighbor down the road was a dowser and put a a <v Man 5>dime in the end of a forked stick to go look for some money <v Man 5>they had lost just as his father had taught him to do when he was a boy. <v Man 4>I use uh the y rod and l rods to search for water, and I use the
<v Man 4>l rods to tell me the direction of the flow of the ?main? <v Man 4>and the y rod to detect the depth and the amount of flow. <v Man 4>I can tell people how deep it is and how many gallons per minute they're gonna get. <v Man 4>'Nother thing that I do is divert water. <v Man 4>If you have a well that's dry and I can find a vein of water within 30 feet <v Man 4>of of uh the well that's shallower than the well, I can divert <v Man 4>the water from this main into your well so that you don't have to dig another hole <v Man 4>or if you have water running through your basement, you wanna get rid of it, I can drive <v Man 4>the water away from the basement and I've I've never missed on this diversion <v Man 4>things. I found water for one man that had uh built a home. <v Man 4>Then he started looking for water and he drilled two 500 <v Man 4>foot holes, no water. <v Man 4>So he went to the Vermont state geologist and and uh he went up <v Man 4>and found the site that would probably produce water and they got a different well and <v Man 4>uh drilled two more 500 foot holes.
<v Man 4>So by then, the man had 10,000 dollars and four dry holes. <v Man 4>Someone told him he oughtta get a dowser, so he drove to Danville and looked me up and I <v Man 4>went up and found him all the water he needed at 13 feet. <v Man 3>Some people use dowsing to localize problems <v Man 3>in various parts of the body. <v Man 3>I have seen it used in a number of different ways, for example, <v Man 3>um a um practitioner having a client <v Man 3>lying face down on a table and using one's <v Man 3>sensing hand to go up and down the spine, <v Man 3>for example, and using a pendulum in the other hand to <v Man 3>get some yes and no other answers uh as to what's going on <v Man 3>beneath the skin. <v Man 4>A lady in Colorado Springs dowsed a map of the world <v Man 4>and located all of our 41 Polaris submarines on the map <v Man 4>and sent this to the Navy Department and the Pentagon.
<v Man 4>And uh they sent uh 14 people out to spend two weeks with this lady <v Man 4>and they wouldn't tell her whether she was right or not, [chuckles] but she must have <v Man 4>been pretty close to cause that much of a stir and they searched her house for radio <v Man 4>equipment, so forth. And each day while they were there, <v Man 4>she would dowse changes in location of these submarines somewhere in dry <v Man 4>dock. And she had those pinpointed and the ones that were moving, she- each <v Man 4>day she found the new locations for them. <v Man 4>So it's it's nothing new. <v Man 4>As a matter of fact, a lot of people think Moses was dowsing when he struck the rocks <v Man 4>with his cane and uh produced water. <v Cora Bardwell>Not only are folk traditions like dowsing passed on from one generation <v Cora Bardwell>to the next. They also change. <v Cora Bardwell>A couple from the younger generation brought up on the old songs and fiddle tunes <v Cora Bardwell>carry on a tradition in their own way. <v Cora Bardwell>They sing about their uncle, a fiddler who was always in demand at local gatherings.
<v Cora Bardwell>[music begins] <v Man 6>[singing] Well he played for me when I was 5, the sounds were bright and clear, the fiddle was the old man's gift and music was played by ear. We both danced around the <v Man 6>?inaudible? children too. Place in time and age forgotten and the fiddle was ageless too. <v Woman 4>[singing] <v Man 6>Well he played again when I was 10, the fiddler and his friends. ?inaudible? we go back in time again. The fiddle would sound like a train or ?inaudible? ?Georgia brown?, and all <v Man 6>I knew was happiness and loving friends around. <v Woman 4>[singing] <v Man 6>Well now many years have since gone by and lives and times have changed. The fiddler is an ageless man and the music sounds the same. It brings me back in touch again with friends <v Man 6>and family. An old town home, a dusty ?bed?, but now I'm 33. <v Woman 4>[singing] <v Man 6>This song's for all ?inaudible? men that played in old town halls. That played the songs with glory and I often do recall, the times have changed since fiddler's days an example <v Man 6>to us all, that the tunes come out ?inaudible? stand tall. <v Woman 4>[singing] Let's do a ?inaudible? [fiddle playing] [inaudible
<v Woman 4>singing] <v Cora Bardwell>The song 50 Years Ago, a song sung for the Flanders Collection by
<v Cora Bardwell>Susan Esti in Bennington in 1941. <v Cora Bardwell>It's an appealing song to me because it obviously goes back <v Cora Bardwell>longer than 50 years ago. <v Cora Bardwell>Even from 1941. [music begins] <v Margaret MacArthur>I once saw the changes from 50 years ago. <v Margaret MacArthur>Where girls were wearing dresses and boys ?inaudible? clothes. Boots were made of cowhide, and socks of <v Margaret MacArthur>homespun wool. Children do a half day's work <v Margaret MacArthur>before they went to school. <v Margaret MacArthur>When girls took music lessons upon the spinning wheel display
<v Margaret MacArthur>with. <v Margaret MacArthur>?inaudible? boys ?inaudible? a thousand miles or more. ?inaudible? some 50 years ago. How well do I remember, that ?inaudible? stove. The <v Margaret MacArthur>father bought in ?inaudible? <v Margaret MacArthur>and <v Margaret MacArthur>?inaudible?. People how they wondered when they got the thing to go, ?inaudible? burst and kill us all, some 50 years ago. <v Margaret MacArthur>When people <v Margaret MacArthur>go to meetings in sleds instead of sleighs, <v Margaret MacArthur>and wagons rode as easy as ?inaudible?. ?inaudible? for people moved half as fast, some 50 years ago.
<v Margaret MacArthur>Yes, everything has altered. ?inaudible? calls. <v Margaret MacArthur>?inaudible? what on earth we're coming to, does anybody know? <v Margaret MacArthur>For everything has changed so much since 50 years ago. <v Cora Bardwell>Most Morris dance music originates in England, but there's at least <v Cora Bardwell>one exception. <v John Roberts>I learned it uh in England from um Morris Dancers. <v John Roberts>And then I got to check out the source discovered that it was
<v John Roberts>in fact from from knowledge from ?inaudible?, from a fiddle player, <v John Roberts>more ?inaudible? connected. I was quite surprised. <v Group of people>[group singing] <v Betty Smith>The producers of this program would like to thank the following people for their <v Betty Smith>participation. Reciters Cora Bardwell and Keith Wallace and Dowsers <v Betty Smith>Paul Sevengy, Peter Albright and Betsy Albright. <v Betty Smith>And we thank the following musicians Margaret MacArthur for her performances of To
<v Betty Smith>the ?Listers? of Charlestown New Hampshire, The Diamonds of Derry, And 50 Years Ago. <v Betty Smith>John Roberts for The Sugaring Song and the Morris Dance, Dudley and Faye Levitt <v Betty Smith>for the Fiddler and their uncle, the Fiddler, Edwin Wakefield and Ello Benoit <v Betty Smith>for their performance of the Gallow. <v Betty Smith>And thanks to Ron and Ronnie West for Black Velvet Waltz and Istan and Priscilla <v Betty Smith>Baker and the children of the Otter Creek School. <v Betty Smith>Our thanks to ethnomusicologist Jennifer Quinn of Middlebury College for her help in <v Betty Smith>selecting the songs from the Flanders Collection. <v Betty Smith>The tune The Old Cow Died On was sung by Mrs. E.M. <v Betty Smith>Burdett, The Diamonds of Derry by Elmer George 50 Years Ago, by Susan <v Betty Smith>Esti. And Once a Lady Loved a Pig by Mrs. Brainard. <v Betty Smith>Thanks to folklorist Linda Morley, to Bill Schubert and Mike Coacher of FlyLo Resolution. <v Betty Smith>And to folklorist Boris Beck and Director of Public Relations Ron Neith, both of <v Betty Smith>Middlebury College. Special thanks to Vermont state folklorist Jane Beck <v Betty Smith>of the Vermont Council on the Arts.
<v Betty Smith>The engineer for this program was Sam Sanders. <v Betty Smith>The program was produced by Bonnie Morrissey and Ed Grimes with funds provided by the <v Betty Smith>National Endowment for the Arts. <v Betty Smith>I'm the executive producer, Betty Smith, and this is a production of Vermont Public <v Betty Smith>Radio.
A Hand-Me-Down Harvest
Sweetest Joys, Indeed
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Vermont Public Radio
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
This video from the A HAND-ME-DOWN-HARVEST series discusses multiple songs and poems passed down from families in Vermont. Examples include a maple sugaring song and famous love songs. This episode also discusses the tradition of dowsing in Vermont. Dowsers speak on their ability and experience.
Series Description
"The series A HAND-ME-DOWN HARVEST is a culmination of efforts begun in VPR in 1978 when it became known to us that a truly remarkable collection of folklore was archived at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. Having only the year before been transcribed by the Library of Congress, this extraordinary collection was largely unknown even within scholarly circles and had never been widely distributed to the general public. Properly referred to as the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection, it consists of 250 wax cylinders, 1500 discs and 55 tapes, as well as letters, field notes and photos of people interviews by Mrs. Flanders in New England, beginning in 1930 at the request of the Committee of Traditions and Ideals of the Vermont Commission on Country Life and continuing as Mrs. Flanders['] life work until her death in the 1950's. In 1979 we received a grant from the NEA for the purpose of studying the collection and producing a one-hour pilot program which was broadcast locally in 1980 and nationally as part of the NPR 'Options' series in 1981. Then, in cooperation with Vermont State Folklorist, Jane Beck of the Vermont Council on the Arts, we applied for a second grant from the NEA for the purpose of [remixing] the pilot into two half-hour programs and for the development of six new [segments] designed to test whether elements of the material collected by Mrs. Flanders were still a viable part of the social fabric today. 4,000 staff hours, 18,000 miles of travel and 74 miles of recording tape later, our production team, headed by Producer Ev Grimes, has demonstrated that the heritage documented originally by Mrs. Flanders is alive and flourishing in our region. This series combines archival and contemporary material in a rich tapestry of voices, songs, stories, beliefs and traditions. Recorded actualities effectively span 50 years. The series offers an unusual opportunity to participate in traditions which can be traced back literally hundreds of years. It echoes with ancestral voices which continue to enrich our lives today."--1984 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: Vermont Public Radio
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
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Chicago: “A Hand-Me-Down Harvest; Sweetest Joys, Indeed,” 1984, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 27, 2024,
MLA: “A Hand-Me-Down Harvest; Sweetest Joys, Indeed.” 1984. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 27, 2024. <>.
APA: A Hand-Me-Down Harvest; Sweetest Joys, Indeed. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from