Old Guy Frye
NOTE: This text was
recopied directly from a typewritten copy in the archives
of the Blue Ridge Institute. James Taylor Adams
(1892-1954) kept typed copies of the oral folktales he
and others collected during the last thirty years of his
life, while he lived in Wise County, VA. In the
original transcript, some typographical errors are
crossed out, some characters are blurry, and spacing
between words is sometimes irregular, but the copy below
seems to be complete and accurate. One missing
letter and one spelling correction have been inserted in
square brackets. See also AppLit's notes on other
variants of "Old Dry Frye."
One time there was an old man named Guy
Frye and he had been a-gon' down to where a man named
Johnny Martin lived at. He 'uld go when Johnny was
away from home. But one Saturday night Guy Frye
went down to Johnny Martin's house, and Johnny was at
was pretty mean and he didn't care about knockin' folks
in the head so he could take their money. So when
Old Guy knocked on the door he told his wife to open
it. She opened the door and when Old Guy Frye
looked in the house Johnny come down with a stick of
stovewood and hit him on the head. Hit him harder
than he aimed to. Killed him.
meant to hit him just hard enough to addle him and then
take his money.
seen he'd killed him, says,
me, I'll got into trouble now." Says,
"What'll I do?"
wife had begged him not to hit Old Guy in the first
place. So she says to him, says,
"If you'd took my advice,
you'd not got into no trouble." Says,
"You'll just have to figger a way to get out
yourself. I never got you in."
So Johnny studied a while, then he
took Old Guy Frye down the road a piece to where another
man lived at, stood him up at the man's door and went on
back home and got in the bed.
And pretty soon when that man
opened the door to go out after wood, in fell Old Guy.
The man just studied a
while. He knowed Old Guy Frye had had a habit of
goin' to Johnny Martin's pretty much. So he took
Old Guy and stood him up at Johnny Martin's door and
knocked and pulled on back home.
Johnny was scared but directly he
went on and opened the door, and when Old Guy fell back
in the house Johnny Martin looked at his wife, says,
what'll I do?"
wife didn't pay him no mind at all, just got out her
the next morning was meetin' day at their
church-house. Old Guy Frye was door-keeper at the
church. Johnny figgered everybody 'uld be expectin'
to see Guy Frye at the church, so he decided what to
do. Took Guy on up to the church-house and unlocked
the door. He had the key in his pocket, Old Guy
did. Johnny took him on inside and sit him in a
chair down at the edge of the pool. They had a
pretty deep baptisin' pool inside the church. Put
Guy's elbows on his knees and stuck his hands up under
his chin. Propped him up that way.
there was a fiesty [feisty] boy come a-runnin' in the
church-house, first one. He seen Old Guy settin'
Old Guy never
spoke. The boy come a little closer, says,
Guy set right
on. The boy come right up to the edge of the pool,
"I said Howdy,
Old Guy never
answered. The boy says,
"If you don't
say Howdy back to me, I'll knock your elbows out from
Well, when Old Guy
wouldn't speak, that fiesty boy reached over and knocked
Guy's elbows off his knees, and over in the pool Old Guy
went, sunk right to the bottom where he couldn't be seen.
The boy thought he'd
drowned Old Guy Frye, and just about then it was
gatherin' time and folks was comin' on in the
church-house. So the boy decided he'd wait till the
evenin' meeting broke up that night and then he'd get Old
So that night he
took a sack and after meeting broke he put Old Guy in the
sack and started off to hide him somewheres.
The moon was shinin'
pretty bright and he went up the hill through an old
field with the sack on his back.
There was two men
comin' down on the far side of the field, had sacks on
their backs. They seen the boy comin' and got
scared, dropped their sacks and run.
The boy went on over
there to see what was in the sacks the men throwed
down. It was two big dressed hogs they'd
stole. The boy put Old Guy down and picked up one
of the hogs and took it on home.
The two men looked
over the hill direct[l]y, seen the two sacks a-layin'
there and the one-sack man gone, so they come on and
picked up the two sacks and went on home. Went to
the smokehouse and hung their hogs up. It was dark,
you know, and they couldn't see very well.
The next morning the
old woman got up to get breakfast and went to the
smokehouse to cut some meat. She reached up with
the knife and there was Old Guy Frye. She dropped
her knife and got away from there in such a hurry she
tore down one side of the smokehouse, broke off half the
back porch, and knocked the kitchen door clean off the
hinges. It scared her.
She hollered and
told them men there was a dead man hangin' in the
smokehouse in the place of a hog. The men come
runnin' in their shirt tails and looked and sure enough
there hung Old Guy Frye.
Well, they had
rounded up some wild horses that run loose out in the
mountains there. So they went and picked out the
wildest one there was, put an old wore-out saddle and
bridle on it, and tied Old Guy on. Put him in the
saddle and tied his feet underneath. Tied his hands
to the front end of the saddle and pulled the reins
Then they slipped
out and opened the gate and let go of the horse.
The horse and Old Guy took out down the road and the man
run out and went to hollorin' and shootin'
yonder! He's stole our horse! He's stole our
horse! Stop him!"
runnin' out in the road a-shoutin' and a-hollerin' but
the horse went so fast there coundn't nobody stop him.
The horse took out
up the mountain and run out of sight in the woods.
And as far as I know
that horse and Old Guy Frye are out there a-tearin'
through that wilderness yet.
Replaced Copy Made by the Blue Ridge Institute to Replace
This page created 11/27/01 by Tina L.
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