Green Gourd cover

Hunter, C. W. The Green Gourd: A North Carolina Folktale. Illus. Tony Griego. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1992. In a colorful comic tale of mountain woman vs. nature, an old woman in need of a new water dipper defies the old caution not to pick green gourds before they're ripe. She regrets it when the gourd chases her and her animal and human friends around their hills and holler. A boy helps her by squashing the gourd. A nineteenth-century collector and Native American parallel are cited as sources.

"The Green Gourd." In Chase, Richard. Grandfather Tales. Boston: Houghton, 1948. pp. 213-221. With one drawing of the gourd chasing the woman by Berkeley Williams, Jr. The gourd chases the old woman past the houses of a groundhog, a fox, a wildcat, a pant'er, and a bear that squishes it. Then the woman gathers up the animals to give them the rewards they want for saving her from the gourd.  They take the treats they want from the farm of "an old stingy farmer" who isn't home. Chase's notes call this "one of Mr. [R. M.] Ward's best tales. I never heard anyone else tell it, nor have I located any parallel in any book" (239).

"The Green Gourd." In Kindt, Carol Lee and Linda Rockwell High. Once Upon a Mountain Tale: Eight Jack and Grandfather Tales. Lakeland, TN: Memphis Musicraft Publications, 1995. Based on Chase's tales. Accompanied by music and drawings with which children can make puppets and backdrops.

"The GollyWhumper." In Reneux, J. J. How Animals Saved the People: Animal Tales from the South. Illus. James Ransome. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. pp. 6-15. With colorful full-page and smaller watercolors. The 8 tales include this retelling of Chase's "The Green Gourd." When Aunt Molly, who is poor but happy, breaks her dipper, she makes one from a green gourd in spite of fears that it would witch her. The gourd starts jumping, GOLLYWHUMP, breaking up everything in her cabin and chasing her. It kicks her out through the air. Groundhog and Pant'er say she's always been good to animals and try to help but the gourd keeps whomping them and her. Bear sits on the gourd and squashes it. In return, Aunt Molly gets her animal friends the food they ask for; rationalizing that they deserve something from her stingy rich neighbor for saving the neighborhood, she traps the neighbor's hound dog in the fence and takes the foods. She tells the neighbor, who is ashamed of his mean ways and gives the woman a lifetime supply of dipping gourds. "Aunt Molly was satisfied. She had the river to sing her to sleep, the wild things to watch over her, the friendship of a neighbor, and she never had to pick another big green GollyWhumper of a witchy gourd ever again" (p. 15).

"The Old Woman and the Green Gourd." Told by Marshall Ward. Burton-Manning Collection, The Archives of Appalachia, Eastern Tennessee State University. An old woman's green gourds are very popular with her neighbors, as she is the only one who grows them. One day when her gourds are starting to rot, she puts a large one on the mantelpiece to make it into a bucket. It jumps down, goes "thump, bump" around the house, and hits her, so she runs to the houses of each of her animal neighbors, a wolf , bear, polecat, and fox. Only the bear is able to crush the gourd. The pieces of it pop in his fireplace so they think it must have contained a thousand witches. In return Mr. Bear asks for two yearlings from a nearby farm. The woman kills two big guard dogs by dropping rails on their heads, and helps the bear pack away and eat the meat. She does the same things with Mr. Wolf to get him ten sheep to eat through the winter. She does the same things with Mr. Fox to get him twelve fat geese. She does the same things with Mr. Polecat to get him fifteen big hens. There is no mention that the farmers from whom they steal are stingy or greedy, just that everyone needs meat for the winter. After returning home, the woman chops up all the gourds in her field and they pop and crack enough in the fire for a million witches. Then she and her animal friends "lived happily ever after."

See also:

In the tales listed at Runaway Cakes and Gingerbread Boys, baked goods that are desired as food escape and are chased by a series of human and animal characters.

The tales listed at Sody Sallyratus also depict strange and dangerous escapades of a human family and animals in their neighborhood.


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