Helen Moser

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butchering anecdotes, coriander, folk cures, tonsilitis, convulsions, rhymes, Pennsylvania Dutch dialect


A handwritten letter from Helen J. Moser addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated November 1, 1954. Within, Moser provides several anecdotal stories surrounding the topic of butchering, some folk cures she's collected, and various Pennsylvania German rhymes.


Helen J. Moser


Alfred L. Shoemaker

Corresponds to:

Packet 410-29 to 410-33


Bally, Pennsylvania


Nov. 1st 1954

Bally Box 91


Dear Sir

As the cool weather is with us now one begins to think about butchering, and here are a few experiences that butchers get who go out to butcher for families but these were no Pa. Dutch people, at one place the butcher said be sure to have plenty of boiling water ready when I come so we can scald the pig right away so they made boiling water in little kettles then poured it in a big wash boiler on the back of the range they did not know it had to be boiling when he came and in a much bigger kettle and at another place when the butcher asked if the heads were cleaned to put over to boil the lady said oh yes I even picked the dirt out of the teeth so she wanted to boil the heads with teeth and eyes and all. Then here is another one that happened just a few years ago near here a farmer was butchering and on the same day he had the electricians to do some repair work and just as they were ready to go the butcher was taking the intestines out of the pig so one said now you have sausages already then the farmer said no we have to restuff them with [illegible] well what is in them now so the farmer could say nothing else as shit. I sure believe the Dum Dutch are not so dum. And just last winter a lady brought a pig to the locker here in town to have it cut up and sausages and scapple made and she asked for the bristles to make brushes.

Then along with butchering go the coriander stories. Once a boy was sent to store to buy 1 Ib. kayannor and he was asked to repeat the word over and over on his way so he would not forget it everything was alright until he stumbled and fell and he said Kotzgrombonnie from then on he repeated that word until he came in the store then he said I want 1 Ib. Kotzgrombonnie the store keeper said I don’t have something like that yes he said you do. No I don’t what do you want it for he asked we are butchering and we want to put it in the sausages so you mean Kayannor yes that is it.

And here is another one I got from James Meitzler of town he knew this boy and helped to tease him. A boy was sent to store to buy 1 Ib. of Kayannor. Now repeat the word sometimes so you do not forget it so he went on his way and on the way he had to climb over a fence and climbing over he fell got up and on his way again came to the store went in the clerk asked and what can I do for you he said I want 1 Ib. direchnanner the man shook his head I do not have something like that and he looked at his wife and said I don’t know what to do she said ask what are they doing at home the boy said they are butchering now do you mean Kayannor yes that is it. He got teased for that a long time.

Here are a few folk cures I got from Mrs. Annie Jacob of East Greensville R. 1. These she used for herself and for her children

For tonsilitis

Fill a bag as stocking leg with raw sliced potatoes and heat them on top of stove put around neck as warm as possible while wearing that one get a second one ready and when the first one gets cool take it off and wear the second one while you warm the first one again and so repeat until you are better.

For Convulsions

Crush an onion or two depending on size put raw in small bags and tie on the bare foot soles one on each that will draw the heat out of the head and even if a child is running a temperature and seems to scare in sleep it will also draw the heat out of the head and prevent them from getting the convulsions.

For gas

If a person has gas that does not want to move lay a warm vinegar rag on the abdomen and that will move the gas.

When they moved from one place to another and took their old cats along she took a piece of bread or meat and put it under her arm and made it warm then she gave it to the cats to eat so they would stay at their new place.

The other Sunday we had John and Montana Yerger for company then we asked John if he knew what an “dracht” was, you talked about the other Sat. evening he said yes I do I had two experiences of seeing one while walking in the dark in the evening. He said they also called it an “ard licht” or “earth light” but he does not know the English name for it. He also told us how he got lost one evening in a field in the dark. He said I believe I must have walked over such a plant that you get lost for I have walked across that field many a time before and after and did not get lost. And I got a few rhymes I guess the first one you already have.

From Montana.

Dar John is in dar brumma gfalla. Hab en heira bumba me er halver drunna war waus en altar schtumba.

De alt shire (barn) nei decka, Dar grum boam kramt schtrecka De alt brow im arsh lecka.

From John

Oh fensa mous

Woo mit do nous

Tsu deesa loch kumich rous Des schpodyohr is bol heer De hausa kreea hamner de fresh de kreea schwentz Oh hoffa deckel fire tswong Fa dem bindle henk die shtong.

Now if some of that language is to wild for over the air just skip it.

Here is a rhyme that came to my mind a few weeks ago.

Bisht base don ga tzum olda Kase

Dar ride dich ivver der rase

Un kaft der an neiar hoot no washt midder good.

I guess this is enough for this time

Your Friend

Helen J. Moser

Box 91

Bally Pa.


English and Pennsylvania German

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Letter From Helen J. Moser to Alfred L. Shoemaker, November 1, 1954



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