Location: Caney Creek, Kentucky, USA (37°20'5"N, 82°52'32"W)
Year: Col.1925
Time of Occurrence: [Not given]
Collective Name: [Not given]


Marie Campbell
Survivals of Old Folk Drama in the Kentucky Mountains
Journal of American Folklore, Jan.-Mar.1938, Vol.51, No.199, pp.10-24.




{Aunt Susan of Caney Creek gave this fragment of "old time play acting" in 1925. She said this was the speech her pap's pap used to say in a "piece of play acting." She said she learned it from her pap and she had no idea what the rest of the play was, for it had not been "acted out since my grandpap's time." This speech of Aunt Susan's pap's pap is similar to the speech of the Turkish Knight in a play from Weston Sub-Edge, Gloucestershire. [Note 1]}

[Turkish Knight]

In comes I the Turkish man,
And in my hand a frying pan.
I thinks myself a jolly old man.
I went up a straight crooked lane.
I met a bark and it dogged at me.
I went to the stick and cut a hedge
and killed a little red dog
on tother side of a ten foot wall.
Nine days after tomorrow
I picks up the little dead red dog
and rams my arm down his throat
and turns him inside outards
and follows after him.
Last Christmas night I turned to spit,
Burned my finger and made it itch.
The sparks flew out of the cradle,
And the pot lid jumped of fen the table,
And swore he'd fight the frying pan.
As I was going along standing still,
I come to King Charles up an iron pear tree.
He asked me the way to get down.
I said, "Pitch thee poll first into a pit."
I went on a bit further
and I met two old women working butter,
and they did mum and mutter.
They asked me if I could eat a cup of cider,
and drink a bread and cheese.
And I said, "No, ma'm, thank you ma'm, if you please."
And I went on a bit further
and I come to the land of plenty
with stones of plum puddings,
houses thatched with pancakes,
and pigs running about
saying, "Who will eat me, please?"
And now if this frying pan had a tongue,
It would go on with the story and tell you no wrong.


Campbell's Notes:

p.10 - Extract from the paper's general introduction:
"The first hint that there were any survivals of old folk drama in the Kentucky mountains came from Aunt Susan on Caney Creek. One day in the summer of 1925, when I went to her house to buy eggs, she complained that I had not been there for more than a week. My excuse that I had been busy making costumes for a play during the hours I was not teaching reminded her of her pap's talk about play acting which his pap had told him about. Aunt Susan said her grandpap always acted out 'The Turkish Knight,' and that her pap had learned the speech and, when she was a child, had taught it to her. She said the play had not been given within her or her pap's lifetime, and so she knew nothing of the play except grandpap's part. She said she had never known of any 'old time play acting being done whiles I recollect.' Some time later Aunt Susan let me copy her grandpap's speech."
Note 1: "R.J.E.Tiddy, The Mummers' Play, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1923, p.167."

Indexer's notes:

As Caney Creek is the name of a watercourse, it is not possible to pin down a particular geographical location for this play. There was, however, a settlement called Caney Creek that was renamed Pippa Passes after a verse drama by Robert Browning. This is the location that is used here.
This text is reproduced here for non-profit purposes with the kind permission of the copyright holders - the American Folklore Society (
The original journal article is available online to licenced JSTOR users.

File History:

2004-05-27 - Scanned, OCRed and encoded by Peter Millington
2018-02-06 - Location note added by Peter Millington
2021-01-15 - TEI-encoded by Peter Millington


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