Day 127: A Woodpecker Tale



“Woodpecker” is a folk tale included in Mary Celestia Parler’s “Ozark Folksong Collection” archives. It was originally told by Kiser Scales in Furs, Mississippi on April 10, 1962 and was collected by David Thomas. The recording of this tale appears on reel 413, item 4.


Way, way in the Northern land where the days are live with fruit. The children look like bear cubs in their fuzzy, funny clothes. They tell me a curious story; I do not believe it’s true, for yet you might learn a lesson, if I tell that tale to you.

Once, when good Saint Peter, walking round on the earth, you know, walking round preaching, just as he did, you know, for the day was almost done.

He went to an old woman’s house, and she was making cakes and ashes on the hearth. He asked her for a store cake and she wouldn’t give him a single one. She taken a little strip of dough and rolled it and rolled it thin, she rolled it thin as a wafer, and the she wouldn’t part with it. And the good Saint Peter grew on angry; he said such a woman would provoke a Saint.

You should be a bird doer, and get your scanty food by boring, boring, boring, all day in the hard dry wood. Up through the chimney she went, speaking not a word. Out at the top she flew, a wood peck, for she was changed to a bird. And today the little country school boy go along the road and see her boring, boring, and boring and boring all day in the hard, dry wood.

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