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Amish, bundling, rhyme, humor, ballad, courtship practices
A handwritten ballad on note paper from the University of Illinois' Department of Germanic Language and Literatures, presumably copied by Alfred Shoemaker circa 1950. The bawdy rhyme concerns the courtship of a young Amish couple named Jacob and Tillie, who must suffer the strict Amish courting practices before they are wed.
1. Now all of you men and you maidens give heed, I’ll tell you a very strange story indeed. The story of Jacob the Amisher man and Tillie the pride of the Amisher clan. They worship a stern and particular God. They think that he’s pleased by their fashion in dress. Their suits are all sober, and much out of press. Their hair in long ringlets hangs down on their ears.
2. The Amish are staid and fanatical folks who frown upon gaiety, laughter, and jokes. Their young folks they watch with a discipline stern. No dances or shows, lest in hell they should burn. No parties or rides, and no liquor or song; The poor dears are guarded too well to go wrong. But on pleasant custom they leave them instead. The Amisher young do their courting in bed.
3. But even this job with much anguish is mixed for always their nities are carefully fixed and when the young spooners are put into bed their nities are sewed with the strongest of thread. Sewed collar and bottom and won’t come undone and tho the warm petting may be lots of fun no more from the young folk is ever expected thru flannellette nities they can’t get connected. And then in the morning the old folks with care examine the stitches to see they’re still there. It’s thought that the warmth of each thwarted caress trains petters their fleshy desires to suppress. It is "bundling" they call this deplorable game. For my part I call it a hell of a shame.
4. Now Jacob was bundling with Tillie one nite and his life was a mixture of pain and delight; for Tillie, his loved and adorable one, was prim and sedate, but had “it” by a ton. That baby had dimples and pouting red lips and cute little bosoms, and free wheeling hips, a model of pious propriety, but she carried herself with a swing and a strut. And bundling with Tillie so tempting and sweet would make old St. Anthony feel indiscreet and so when poor Jacob on Tillie did call from grappling and panting he slept not at all.
5. How could the poor boy remain wholly at ease when he felt the soft rue of her nipples and knees. The youth his initials would bite in her neck and rise in the morning an absolute wreck. He’d feel dull and shaky and dizzy and weak and his flannellette nities he’d wash in the creek. And Tillie poor maiden got quivery nerves when Jacob caressed her posterior curves and though for Amisher maid it seemed flighty she longed to be married and rid of her nitie. But the old people, placid, resisted youth’s fires. They said: “Let them learn to control their desires. Such things as a wedding should never be hurried. We bundled 3 years and we never got worried.”
6. Jacobus grew nervous and jumpy and pale and lost his red cheeks and his appetite hale. And Jacob's poor soul in a struggle was torn until the boy wished he had never been born. He thought of the preacher and all his behests. But also he thought of his Tillies' fair breasts. He thought of his soul and the need of its saving. But thought of the rapture he’d been misbehaving. He pondered on Heaven, but then thought with sighs of a much closer heaven between Tillie’s thighs. Then up spoke the desperate Amisher man “Now church or no church, I’ve stood all I can.”
7. And so the next time that bundling he went he was armed with a wicked and evil intent and thought he might better accomplish his sin was armed with sharp scissors tied next to his skin. That nite Tillie’s mother with needle and thread made Jacob and daughter all safe for their bed. And when both nities were properly sewed downstairs to her husband the old lady strode. To nod by the fire, while the young folks above indulged in their incomplete Amisher love. And when she had gone, Jacob turned to his fair and seized her with desperate resolute air. They clung and they kissed, and they kissed and they clung. These bundled and love famished Amisher young. And when Jacob kissed Tillie, and when lip met lip the scissors came out and the scissors went “snip”.
8. Now down from the bedroom there suddenly beat a blast of most torrid and withering heat. Then chuckled the father, while mopping his face with Jacob here bundling, he heats up the place. The home like an earthquake with shock upon shock. What causes the bedstead to reel and to lurch. That Tillie and Jacob deserting the church. Wild started the parents upsetting the chairs in wrath and in anguish they sprinted upstairs. They saw and they shouted, but sad to relate they found they’d arrived altogether too late. Jacobus had gone through the window hell-bent and taken the pane and the sash when he went. And Tillie? Well Tillie looked mussed and amazed and naughty and naked and happy and dazed. And the father grabbed up with a curse and a roar two nities, cut bottom to top, from the floor.
9. A stern rigid folk are the Amisher race. They think peccadillos a lasting disgrace. They wouldn’t let Tillie with Jacobus wed. They wanted to see him well punished instead. They prayed the Lord’s vengeance on Jacob and then when his vengeance tarried, they sought that of men. But even the Amish are peaceful and mild. Their tenets forbid any violence wild and since to a shot gun they couldn’t resort they sued the offender and hailed him to court. They charged him with riot, seduction, and rape with breaking the window in midnite escape. Indecent exposure, disturbing the peace and causing their daughter’s menstruation to cease.
10. The court heard the witnesses one after one tell mean things of Jacob and what he had done. The medical evidence plainly displayed that Jake had left Tillie no longer a maid. But Tillie said frankly she needed slight urging when Jacob had made her a used-to-be virgin and then his grave honor, the while that his eye held a twinkle not wholly judicial but sly said, “It seems to the court this is not a clear case of rape by a rude and unwelcome embrace but still the defendant is not wholly blameless of conduct at once unbecoming and shameless. You're aware Jake you’ve done what you really should not “Yes judge,” said poor Jake. “But I get pretty hot.” The judge with his gravity fought down his smile and when he decently pondered awhile. “It appears”, said the court with judicial oration "just herein are features of great provocation. How Jake, being only a man could resist. The court doesn’t see, so the case is dismissed but here the judge paused and rapped loud with his gavel. Since Tillie will seemingly soon be in travail the court makes this order which all must obey. That Tillie and Jacob be wedded this day. “Now all of you men and you maidens have heard my long story through to the very last word and now the conclusion is happy and short. The young folks were wed by decree of the court. Their rapture attaining by sanction of law and nities discarding they sleep in the raw.
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Shoemaker, Alfred L., "Ballad of Jacob and Tillie" (1950). Alfred L. Shoemaker Folk Cultural Documents. 49.
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