From The Arkansas Traveler Songster, 1864
Stranger: How do you do?
Old Man: I do as I please.
Stranger: How long have you been living here?
Old Man: Do you see that mountain thar? Well, that was thar when I come here.
Stranger: Can I stay here tonight?
Old Man: No, ye can’t stay here.
Stranger: How long will it take me to get to the next tavern?
Old Man: Well you’ll not get thar at all, if you stand that foolin’ with me all night!
Stranger: Well, how far do you call it to the next tavern?
Old Man: I reckon it’s upwards of some distance!
Stranger: I am very dry – do you keep any spirts in your house?
Old Man: Do you think my house is haunted? They say there’s plenty down in the graveyard.
Stranger: How do they cross the river ahead?
Old Man: The ducks swim across.
Stranger: How far is it to the forks in the road?
Old Man: I’ve been livin’ here nigh on 20 years and no road ain’t forked yit.
Stranger: Give me some satisfaction, if you please, sir. Where does this road go to?
Old Man: Well, it hain’t moved a step since I’ve been here.
Stranger: Why don’t you cover you house. It’s raining.
Old Man: ’cause it don’t leak.
Stranger: Why don’t you play the second part of that tune?
Old Man: If you are a better player than I am, you can play it yourself. I’ll bring the fiddle out to you. I don’t want you in here.”
(Stranger plays the second part of the tune).
Old Man: Git over the fence, and come in here and sit down. I didn’t know you could play. You can board here, if you want to. Kick that dog off that stool, and sit down and play it over – I want to hear it again.
(Stranger plays the second part again).
Old Man: Our supper is ready now. Won’t you have some with us.
Stranger: If you please
Old Man: What you take, tea or coffee?
Stranger: A cup of tea, if you please
Old Man: Sall, git the grubbin-hoe, and go dig some sassafras, quick!
Stranger: (to little boy) Bub, give me a knife and fork, if you please.
Boy: We hain’t got no knives and forks, sir.
Stranger: then give me a spoon.
Boy: We hain’t got no spoons neither.
Stranger: Well, how do you do?
Boy: Tolerable, thank you; how do you do, sir?
The stranger, finding such poor accommodations, and thinking his condition could be bettered by leaving, soon departed, and at last succeeded in finding a tavern, with better fare. He has never had the courage to visit Arkansas since!
Editor’s Note: For more information about this and other old-time songs, check out my book, Front Porch Songs, Jokes & Stories (available from Native Ground Books & Music). Another of my books with tons of information about old-time and traditional bluegrass songs is my Rural Roots of Bluegrass.