ON THE TRAIL OF NEGRO FOLK-SONGS

A Collection Of Negro Traditional & Folk Songs with Sheet Music Lyrics & Commentaries - online book

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20
NEGRO FOLK-SONGS
He gave a riddle, which Professor Kittredge says is old, but adopted from the whites.
I went out to worldy wiggy waggy,
I saw Tom Tiggy-taggy,
I called Brown Wiggy-waggy
To drive Tom Tiggy-taggy
Out of worldy wiggy waggy.
He said, "Dat was a dog and a hog. De hog was in de field and de dog was sont to drive him out."
Uncle Israel was a delightful person to talk with, for he was so pleased at finding some one interested in what he knew and remem­bered, that he would talk endlessly, piling up reminiscences of by­gone days, singing scraps of song.
I went to see Aunt Jane in their cabin, for she was "feelin' po'ly, thank God," Uncle Israel said, and could not come to the big house to see me. I found her lying huddled in bed, a large, dignified woman. Her cabin was one to delight an antiquarian's heart, for it was just as it had been during slavery days. Meals were cooked over the open fireplace, in antique pots with little legs, and in long spiders, and so forth. The house itself was built of mud fastened together with moss black from age. In an adjoining room half-a-dozen children were en­tertaining themselves and looking after a baby while its mother was busy with her washing. The baby was rocking in a bran, a peculiar contrivance made of a large circular piece of wood, over which was stretched a sheep skin. This was hung from the ceiling so that it swayed and rocked gently, a comfortable nest for any baby.
Aunt Jane and Uncle Israel sang into my phonograph, and I can see now their shaking gray heads close together in front of the mys­terious horn, and smile again at their childish delight at hearing the horn give their own songs back to them.
Uncle Israel and Aunt Jane gossiped of the mulattoes and of the various grades of color, of the "griffs," of the "freakides," who were "mo' white dan colored," of the "quateroons " — "not so deep colored." I learned of a quarrel Uncle Israel had had with one of the mulatto house servants about this question of color. She had disre­spectfully called him a Nigger, and he had retorted:
"What if I is a Nigger? I b'longs to a race of people. But you ain't. I did n't never read in de Bible about whar it speaks of mulat­toes as a race of people. You is mules, dat's whut you is."
The young mulatto had slung a skillet at him, and the argument ended. He said to me, "De mulattoes ain't live as long as white