Root, Hog, or Die
1 `Twas on the twenty-fourth of March we got under way,
Bound to the Western Bank on a bright and sunny day:
The wind was off the land and clear was the sky;
That night we shot in Portland Dock - Root, hog, or die. (2)
2 "Now, boys, bring down your stores and fix them all complete;
Bring up your fishing lines and fix your fishing fleets."
The Captain came on board and "Ready!" was the cry:
"We'll move down Hog Island Roads - Root, hog, or die." (3)
3 "Now,boys, bring up your water-casks and carry them up on shore,
And fill them up with water till they will hold no more;
Then hoist up the boat, boys, we'll have another try
To get up on the Western Bank - Root, hog, or die."
4 We hoisted up our sails and the wind began to blow.
We cleared up our decks and then went below,
We tumbled in our bunks but scarce shut an eye,
When `twas, "Turn out and reef, boys, - Root, hog, or die."
5 We tumbled from our bunks, regard to no brain,
One says unto the other, "I wonder if it rains,"
"It rains like the devil," the other quick replied,
"And we will have to oil up - Root, hog, or die." (4)
6 Now we've got her close fore and aft, and we will go below,
The wind is to the eastward and like the devil it does blow,
We beat about and banged about and never saw the sky,
At last we shot in Port Latoun - Root, hog, or die. (5)
7 We bargained with old Carter for to get some wood;
He said he had a-plenty and that `twas very good;
He said he had a team he would send down bye and bye,
And help us get it to the boat - Root, hog, or die.
8 Bye and bye the thing he called a team came rambling through the field,
`Twas nothing but a goose-pen tied on to a pair of wheels,
And as for the driver, I would rather be he than I,
"Whoa! gee! drive them straight!" - Root, hog, or die.
9 And now I've sung you all about his farm and his stock,
I'll sing you about his girls, for he has quite a flock;
He's got one, she stands full eight feet high;
She doesn't favor wearing hoops - Root, hog, or die,
10 Now I says unto the cook, "Make haste and bear a hand,
And we will take a walk on this Nova Scotia land."
As we were going up the road, two girls we did espy,
Sitting down upon a log - Root, hog, or die,
11 Now I wish you'd seen the cook, I think likely 'twould ha' made you
For I thought he was as bashful as Timothy, I declare,
But if those rocks could speak as well as you and I,
Someone would be jealous at home - Root, hog, or die,
(1) The Western Bank: "A fishing bank off Nova Scotia, perhaps 350 to 400
miles from Gloucester. They used to to go there for cod, hand-lining
them; now they go for halibut."
(2) Shot in Portland Dock: that is, laid the vessel alongside the dock
(3) Hog Island Roads: "They used to go there to fill their water."
(4) Have to oil up: to put on oilskins.
(5) Port Latoun: Port La Tour, Nova Scotia.
Taken down, October, 1925, from the singing of Captain Archie S.
Spurling, of Islesford, Maine, who learned it when a boy, fifty years or
more before, on board a fishing schooner.
from Minstrelsy of Maine; This is Maine deep-sea fishing version...it
went out west to the drovers, south to the farmers...anywhere where the
people knew that life was hard and their sole life choices were root,
hog or die. AJS