"The time to repair a leaky roof is when the sun is shining" (FDR, not JFK)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Apr 9 14:59:55 UTC 2006

At 4/9/2006 10:37 AM, Charles Doyle wrote:
>am also reminded of a short joke--it's been in oral
>circulation for a few decades--about a rustic (maybe an
>Aggie) who remarks that when it's raining, he can't fix the
>leaks in the roof of his house, and when it's not raining,
>they don't NEED fixing.

Or Arkansas, and 140 years old?  The words to the folk dance tune
"Arkansas Traveler", from

Oh, once upon a time in Arkansas
An old man sat in his little cabin door
And fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear
A jolly old tune that he played by ear
It was raining hard, but the fiddler didn't care
He sawed aways at the popular air
Though his rooftop leaked like a waterfall
That didn't seem to bother the old man at all

A traveler was riding by that day
And stopped to hear him a-fiddling away
The cabin was afloat and his feet were wet
But the old man still didn't seem to fret
So the stranger said Now, the way it seems to me
You'd better mend your roof said he
But the old man said as he played away
I couldn't mend it now, it's a rainy day

The traveler replied that's all quite true
But this I think is the thing for you to do
Get busy on a day that is fair and bright
Then patch the old roof till it's good and tight
But the old man kept on a-playing at his reel
And tapped the ground with his leathery heel
Get along said he for you give me a pain
My cabin never leaks when it doesn't rain

 From http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3arktrv.htm:

The vintage Arkansas Traveler is said to have originated in the
Connecticut Valley around 1860 where it got its name from a peddler
who "hawked" his merchandise up and down the valley while telling
everyone he came from Arkansas. The dance was dedicated to this peddler.

-- The Arkansas traveller was basically a barn dance that had twice
the number of calls as the other dances of the time to symbolize the
peddlers travels. During this time the waltz was virtually unknown to
the peasant dancers. The Arkansas Traveler is also known as The
Essence of Old Virginia.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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