Very OT: Uncle Remus frightened me as a child Re: "Jazz Means Happy and Loose Like" (1917)

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 5 00:07:11 UTC 2007

When I was a child, somebody gave me a copy of the book for Christmas,
but I wasn't able to make any sense out of it, even with the aid of
the accompanying illustrations and nobody in my family was able to
read it to me. Nineteenth-century Black English eye-dialect wasn't
taught in school. Nowadays, I know that "brer" doesn't spell "brayer"
and that "sezee" doesn't spell "see zee."

Here followeth the only tale of anything at all like those of the
Uncle Remus school that I've ever heard. It dates from around the time
of my mother's childhood, AFAIK. Ca.1910? Earlier? Later?

Bruh Rabbit and Bruh Buzzard were partners in a business cleaning
outhouses. After a day's work, Bruh Rabbit went by Bruh Buzzard's
mansion. Bruh Rabbit rang the doorbell. The butler answered the door
and asked,

But: Yes, sir? May I help you?
Rab: Bruh Buzzud tuh home?
But: Yes, sir. Mister BuzZARD is out in the yard.
Rab: "No lie? Well, tell 'im that Bruthuh RabBIT is heanh wit duh shit."


On Dec 4, 2007 9:47 AM, Amy West <medievalist at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM>
> Subject:      Very OT: Uncle Remus frightened me as a child Re: "Jazz Means
>               Happy and Loose Like" (1917)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A personal anecdote:
> I never read the Uncle Remus stories as a child. I have a distinct
> memory of pulling it off the shelf of the branch library in
> Tonawonda, NY, opening it, and not recognizing it as any type of
> English I was familiar with -- and I was used to foreign languages
> with my dad doing German and Russian translations -- nor the type of
> English that my (white) Southern relations spoke. And it scared the
> bejeesus out of me. I put that thing back on the shelf and never
> touched it again.
> ---Amy West
> >Date:    Mon, 3 Dec 2007 16:01:56 -0500
> >From:    "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
> >Subject: Re: "Jazz Means Happy and Loose Like" (1917)
> >
> >         "Rastus" seems to have been popularized by Brer Rastus, the
> >deacon of a colored church, in the story "Uncle Remus's Church
> >Experience," collected in Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, His Songs
> >and His Sayings:  The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation 190 - 93 (1881;
> >copyright 1880) (Google Books full text).  But Harris does not seem to
> >have invented the use.  Here's an earlier, passing example:
> >
> >         "While Brudder 'Rastus Putts passes round de hat, de
> >congregashun will please sing de useal Ducksholiday to de same good ole
> >tune."
> >
> >Professor Julius Caesar Hannibal [probably a pseudonym], Black Diamonds;
> >or, Humor, Satire and Sentiment, Treated Scientifically 15 (1857;
> >copyright 1855) (Google Books full text).
> >
> >John Baker
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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