Ol' Mark Twain sure spun some mem'rble tales, and Walt Disney loved 'em all. Walt read everything from Twain he could get his hands on. This book ain't Twain, but it's the next best thing: a heap o' Ozark tales by a feller who writes jist like him.
Walt Disney grew up in Missouri, where many of the stories in this book by acclaimed author and showman Alan Lance Andersen are set. Whether deep in the myth-laden Ozarks or down home in the folksy farms and villages of the heartland, Andersen's characters embody the American spirit, with its tall tales, rock-ribbed values, and dreams for a better life.
From Frost Haints and Hoofengoofers to blacksmiths and outlaws, and even more fanciful Ozark denizens like feathered trolls and monstrous gowrows, these humorous tales, many told in dialect, will tickle your funny bone. Get a taste of the regional flavor that inspired Mark Twain and set loose the imagination of young Walt Disney.
PART ONE: Tales of the Hoofengoofers
The Legend of Mikkelson Farm
The Blacksmith of Piekenbrock
PART TWO: The Englishman Who Wanted to Be a Sourdough and Other Alaskan Stories
The Englishman Who Wanted to Be a Sourdough
Si Tanner's Eskimo Parka
Kaintuck and the Frenchman
The Halloween Outhouse
PART THREE: The Frost Haint of 'Possum Hollow and Other Ozark Tales
The Frost Haint of 'Possum Hollow
The Cracked Pot
The Granddaddy Paynter
Mad Wolf Mike
Jesse James and the Hog Meat
Doc Martin and the Silver Bullets
The Vanishing Island
The Yankee and the Vampire
Jesse James’ Final Escape
Ozark Eddie Tales
The Hand of God
The Buffalo That Climbed a Tree
How the First Rat Come to Missouri
Alan Lance Andersen is president and director of PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre, LLC. The company extends the traditional dinner theatre concept to include not only the dinner and the theatre, but also an opportunity for the audience to participate as performers. In addition, he worked as a semi-professional magician, has taught classes in magic and dulcimer, and has worked as a professional storyteller.
Andersen’s feature puzzle/history articles have appeared in GAMES magazine for the past fifteen years. Most recently, he has edited pastiches of Sherlock Holmes entitled The Speckled Band, Author’s Expanded Edition and The Affairs of Sherlock Holmes.
Better git! Mad Wolf Mike's comin' to town! And the darn-fool barkeep's in for a real surprise.
Back in the old days, there was a bartender name of Jim O’Grady come to the Ozarks from out East and took a job at Rumpus Ridge. Now this was not the place down in Benton County, Arkansas, referred to as Rumpus Ridge— nor yet was it the town up north of Galena, Missouri, which is sometimes called by that name.
This was the original Rumpus Ridge — right here in the heart of the Ozarks over by Hookrum’s Mountain. It was a rough-and-ready neighborhood, a bit turbulent, and rowdy at times.
Now the owner of the Bingbuffer Tavern in Rumpus Ridge was a fat, jovial feller by the name of P.T. McQuary, who had a grin as wide as the Missouri River. “You ever worked in a rough saloon before, young feller?” McQuary asked Jim O’Grady.
“Well, I worked for twenty years at a waterfront dive in New Jersey,” said Jim to his perspective boss. “We had a lot of drunken sailors and longshoremen. If I could handle that lot, I can handle most anything, sir.”
“Wal, things is a might different here in the Ozarks,” said McQuary. “Now, most of the boys are okay — they git a little rambunctious on Friday and Saturday nights. But I’m sure you can handle that. Sometimes the feudin’ clans are in town on the same night and there’s a bit of shootin’ and bloodshed, but you can handle that, too.
“But now listen to me, son, and you listen good.” McQuary’s face went pale as a ’possum’s belly. “If Mad Wolf Mike ever comes to town, you jist do what he says. Don’t cross him. Give him whatever he wants at no charge. You git me, boy?”
“Yes, sir…,” said Jim.
Well, Jim O’Grady started workin’ at the Bingbuffer Tavern the next day. Most of the work was fairly simple. A few loafers would hang around on lazy afternoons, and Sam Hookrum, the town drunk, would sleep it off behind the piano. Sometimes bootleggers would deliver moonshine or chock to the back door.
The fights on Friday and Saturday nights was no worse than what Jim was used to back East, although the Buford feuds was a might taxin’ even for a man with Jim’s background. But life in the mountains was clean an’ invigoratin’ — and Jim O’Grady found his new life to be right tolerable.
Then one hot afternoon in August, Grover Finch rushed into the Bingbuffer Tavern and hollered, “Hoof it, boys! Mad Wolf Mike’s comin’ to town!”
Well, sir — you jist should have seen those tangle-foot loafers clear out of there. Arms scrambling, legs pumping, and hats flyin’ in the air and left behind in the dust. Sam Hookrum woke with a start and climbed up the chimney. Even the McCarty brothers, who weighed 240 pounds apiece, hoofed it out of town like their hair was on fire and their britches was catchin’. Outside, mothers was takin’ little children off the streets; dogs was barkin’ and lightin’ out for the tall timber. The Buford boys was loadin’ their whole clan into a wagon and hitchin’ up the mules; soon they was gone in a cloud of dust. Then everything was quiet.
There was not a soul left in the town of Rumpus Ridge but Jim O’Grady.
Then the ground began to shake. There was the thunderin’ sound of something in the distance comin’ closer. Then come a blood-chillin’ scream like a hundred wildcats: YEEE—HAAAW! Around the corner by Basswood’s Livery Stable come the biggest, hairiest, meanest-lookin’ mountain man that Jim O’Grady had ever seen in his life. The mountaineer was ridin’ with one foot on a grizzly bear and t’other on a buffalo. He had a paynter around his neck like a collar and was whippin’ his mounts on, whoopin’ and hollerin’ and usin’ a rattlesnake for a whip.
The feller pulled up at the hitchin’ post, jumped down to the ground, and punched the bear and the buffalo each square between the eyes, knockin’ them senseless. He bit the head off the rattlesnake and pitched it in the ditch. He grabbed the paynter by its tail, swung it over his head three times, and flung it onto the roof. Then he hitched up his belt and stalked into the tavern.
“I want a drink!!” he said, crashin’ his fist down on the bar and splinterin’ the woodwork. Jim fetched him a mug full of white lightning. The mountaineer grabbed the mug and crashed it out through the window. “I SAID I WANT A DRINK! — NOT JIST A THIMBLEFUL!”
He grabbed the whole gallon stone jug out of Jim’s hand and drained all that moonshine whiskey at one pull.
“W-would you like another drink, sir?” stammered the bartender.
“Heck, no,” said the mountaineer, wipin’ his mouth with the back of his hairy hand. “I gotta clear out of here —
“Mad Wolf Mike’s comin’ to town!”
More like this in "The Frost Haint of 'Possum Hollow and Other Tales"!
Uncle Lem swears up and down that it was the Lord Almighty got him safe 'n sound to the Bingbuffer Tavern.
You know, men have seen queer sights in these Ozark Mountains, especially when the weather hangs like a shroud over the rocky ridges and tree-covered slopes. There are times when the fog fills the Taneycomo Valley right up to the brim, and a man standing on the top of the ridge can see clear sky overhead and a witches’ cauldron of thick, stirring mist below. There are times when thunderstorms shake the hillsides and rain comes down hard; the boulders and rocks get so slickery that if lightning strikes a ridge, it bounces right off again and ricochets three or five times down the canyon walls. On such occasions, the road pavement is even slicker than the rocks, and no sane man would drive those hairpin turns and switchbacks along the ridge roads at a speed faster than 3.2 miles per hour.
Of course, that don’t keep the good ol’ mountain boys from roaring along those Ozark roads in the rain with their foot to the pedal and goin’ like lickety-thunder themselves. They make it three or eight miles or so before sailin’ off a cliff; and then — if they ain’t kilt — they have to sit there and wait for a wrecker truck or some farmer with a tractor and log chain to come along and pull ’em back up so’s they can take off again.
It was during jist such a rainstorm that my Uncle Lemuel got religion.
The boys up on Rumpus Ridge in those days was a fun-lovin’ if somewhat rowdy bunch. On Friday and Saturday nights, they’d all wind up down at the Bingbuffer Tavern where fat, jovial P.T. McQuary and young Jim O’Grady would serve up moonshine and mountain dew as fast as the good ol’ boys could guzzle it down.
My Uncle Lem lived on the other side of Hookrum’s Mountain clear past ’Possum Hollow and way beyond. There was a fair bit o’ mountain road between his shack and Rumpus Ridge; you had to walk up the trail to the top of the mountain and down t’other side, clear past Piney Ridge, and then follow the blacktop thru the woods and down along Dead Man’s Drop till you came to Lucan McCann’s cabin, then left eight or ten miles to Rumpus Ridge.
Now on that particular night it was rainin’ paynters and coons, with wind and lightning and thunder roaring like cannons. There was times the rain fell so hard thet Uncle Lem could’t see the corn cob on the end of his pipe-stem. He were a dour ol’ man, and he didn’t mind walkin’ forty miles to get a drink. But this night was a bit much even for him. So he slid down the muddy slope to the blacktop and decided to hitch a ride to the Bingbuffer Tavern.
Wal, as you might imagine, there warn’t much traffic on the road that night. Fact be told, Uncle Lem trudged along the blacktop for two hours without seein’ nary a vehicle. But at last, when he was jist about done for, a car glided up out of the drivin’ rain and rolled to a stop beside him. Never hesitatin’ a moment, Uncle Lem opened the passenger door and clambered inside. The car lurched forward into the stormy night with rain poundin’ on the windshield like fury. It warn’t till a big flash o’ lightning that Uncle Lem realized there warn’t nobody at the wheel…
Uncle Lem was alone in the car!
He was afraid to reach out and feel the empty space behind the steerin’ wheel to see if maybe an invisible man or a haint was sittin’ there. The car crested a rise and began acceleratin’ downslope.
The winding road was following the edge of a sheer bluff that fell the better part of a mile straight down. Up ahead was the dreadawfulsome hairpin curve at Dead Man’s Drop, and the car was headed straight for the cliff. Uncle Lem pictured himself dashed to bits on the jagged rocks below. He was so terrified he couldn’t move.
Now up to this time, Uncle Lem had not been much of a religious man. But current circumstances seemed to be calling for a change in his attitude. He began prayin’ like he’d never prayed before. “Oh Dear God, pleeese don’t let this car go a-plungin’ off that awful cliff!!”
But the car kept pickin’ up speed.
Then — at the last possible second — an enormous hand materialized in thru the open driver’s window, seized the steering wheel, and pulled it to the left. The car swerved around the switchback and kept on rushin’ down the mountainside road. The enormous hand vanished away into the rain and mist as mysterious as it had come.
But there were alot more cliffs and curves between Dead Man’s Drop and Rumpus Ridge. Uncle Lem kept on a-prayin’ for his life, and each time the enormous hand would appear at the last moment and turn the steerin’ wheel. Uncle Lem’s heart was thumpin’ like a trip-hammer, and it had a disconcertin’ habit of leapin’ up into his throat from time to time. Then at last, when the hainted car was a few hundred yards from Rumpus Ridge, Uncle Lem flung open the door and scrambled out of that car as fast as he could travel — headin’ straight for the Bingbuffer Tavern.
Uncle Lemule was wild-haired an’ soaking wet; and his eyes was bulging the way hardboiled eggs pop from their shells when they been overcooked. He was ravin’ about Dead Man’s Drop and the Hand of God and such-like, and those good ol’ boys all thought he’s been hittin’ the moonshine crock pretty hard. But as he sat gaspin’ and sobbin’ on a stool at the bar and related his tale, they slowly realized that Uncle Lem was stone-cold sober. The room grew silent as those rugged mountain men pondered his eerie tale.
It warn’t till about a half-hour later that the tavern door opened and Ozark Eddie walked in with his ol’ Daddy. Eddie took one look at Uncle Lem, then turned to his father and said: “Woh-hoe — lookit there, daddy!! That’s the same crazy guy that climbed into yore car when we were pushin’ it home in the rain.”
More like this in "The Frost Haint of 'Possum Hollow and Other Tales"!