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almanac, rhyme, Pennsylvania Dutch, Zodiac signs, Daisie Wagner, Lancaster
A handwritten letter from Daisie Wagner addressed to Alfred L. Shoemaker, dated March 11, 1949. Within, Wagner discusses her family's almanac and the figure of a man surrounded by the Zodiac signs that perplexed her as a child, along with providing an almanac rhyme in Pennsylvania-Dutch.
Alfred L. Shoemaker
48 Seymour St.
Lancaster, Penna. Mar. 11, 1949.
Dr. Alfred L. Shoemaker,
Dear Dr. Shoemaker,
On a recent visit to relatives the almanac was consulted concerning something or other, a reminder of the symbolic figure of a man surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac. In the days before I could comprehend anything of symbolism this illustration was an interesting mystery with its varied assortment of bug, beast, and man. Sometimes mother made the mystery deeper by describing the figures in Penna Dutch rhyme. It is more than likely that you are familiar with this but as there are variations, I am sending one version. I could never comprehend the spoken words, that is, all of them so couldn’t write them so my cousin Clyde Steinmetz wrote them down and I made some changes in spelling. Clyde’s wife, mother, and mother-in-law, none of whom remembered all of it, finally recalled together the jingle as it was known years ago in the Ephrata area. Everyone I ever heard reciting this started at the beginning and rapidly spoke all the sentences in unbroken, rhythmic, sing song manner.
Die Witter gept case. Die Tzwilling sin Lase. Der Lape de brilled Die Woke de gilled Die Sheistmon sheest Die Wassermon geest Die Fish de schwimmed Die Gaese Luck schpringed Die Schturbess schticht Die Yung frau schpricht Die Irepps de glemmed Die Schteer de renned.
A lot of older folks I know were entertained and amused by anyone able to deliver these lines in just the right way. Last night I was very delighted by the “jug story” on the Armstrong Time program.
With best wishes, I remain,
(Mrs. Charles L.)
English and Pennsylvania German
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Wagner, Daisie, "Letter From Daisie Wagner to Alfred L. Shoemaker, March 11, 1949" (1949). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 38.
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