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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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Have you heard about the man who swam halfway across
the ocean, then he decided that he couldn't make it
so he swam back?

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): strong man

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Jest Anecdote
PROSE NARRATIVE -- Lie Tall tale

Date learned: 00001980S

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SILVER JACK

HE WAS JOHN DRISCOLL, FRIENDS--AND BEST KEEP A CIVIL
TONGUE IN YOUR HEAD AND BE SPARING WITH THE LINGERING
LOOK, IF YOU WERE IN HIS WHEREABOUTS WHEN THE SAGINAW
VALLEY WAS STREWN WITH THE SAWDUST AND GAUDY LEGENDS OF
LUMBERJACKS AND RIVERMEN.
HE WAS THE REDOUBTABLE "SILVER JACK" DRISCOLL. THEY SAID
HE COULD BEND A RAILROAD SPIKE BARE-HANDED - THAT HE
COULD BOOST A BARREL OF SALT UP OVER HIS HEAD AND HOLD
IT THERE WHILE DRINKING A PINT OF WHISKEY HELD BETWEEN
CLENCHED TEETH.
THEY SAID YOU NEVER SAW A BIG MAN SO CAT-QUICK -- WHETHER
WHIRLING HIS BIG, HARD FISTS IN A SALOON BRAWL, OR
KNUCKLED TIGHTLY ABOUT THE HANDLE OF A TWO-BITTED AXE
MEASURING A FOREST PINE.
THEY SAID SILVER JACK WAS A KIND OF ROUGHSHOD, LUMBER
DAY ROBIN HOOD WHO CUDGELED TORMENTORS OF THE WEAK.
THEY SAID HE WAS A SAVAGE VARLET AND BULLY WHO LIKED
TO WATCH BLOOD SPURT AFTER HIS FIST STRUCK.
THEY SAID MANY THINGS OF SILVER JACK DRISCOLL, MOST
CONTROVERSIAL LUMBERJACK AND RIVERMAN OF HIS TIME.
HE PLIED THE LENGTH AND BREADTH OF THE MICHIGAN
PINELANDS AND LOG STREAMS. THERE IS A RECORD OF HIM
IN MINNESOTA AND CANADA. BUT IT WAS IN THE SAGINAW
VALLEY THAT DRISCOLL ENDURED LASTING FAME -- CALL
IT NOTORIETY IF YOU WILL.
SOME SAID HE WAS CALLED SILVER JACK BECAUSE OF
PREMATURELY WHITE HAIR. OTHERS SAID HIS WAS FLAXEN-
WHITE. THERE ARE SEVERAL OLD-FASHIONED "TINTYPE"
PHOTOGRAPHS WHICH SHOW HIM A WITH CAREFULLY POMADED
MANE OF BLACK HAIR.
OLDTIME LOGGERS -- LONG DEPARTED FROM THIS VALE OF
NEON LIGHTS AND CHROME-PLATED GADGETS OF MODERN LIVING
ONCE TALKED OF THE SIGHT IT WAS TO SEE SILVER JACK
SWINGING DOWN THE CHALK-COVERED BOARDWALKS OF EAST
SAGINAW (NOW THE EAST SIDE) AND SAGINAW CITY (NOW
THE WEST SIDE).
THEY SAID NEVER WAS SUCH A ONE AS SILVER JACK TO
"BLOW HER IN" WITH A FAT WINTER'S PAYCHECK, AFTER
THE LOGS HAD BEEN DRIVEN DOWN THE RIVER OVER
FRESHET-SWOLLEN TRIBUTARIES OF THE SAGINAW.
OTHERS CLAIMED JACK DRISCOLL WAS GOADED INTO MOST
OF HIS MANY FISTIC INTERLUDES -- THAT HE HAD, IN
THE LUMBER ERA, THE EQUIVALENT OF A WILD WEST
TWO-GUN REPUTATION SOMEBODY ALWAYS WANTED TO TEST.
SOME VOWED HE WAS MUCH MISUNDERSTOOD AND MALIGNED -
A CHAP AN EARNEST PREACHER MIGHT HAVE FASHIONED INTO
AT LEAST A PROPER DEACON IN A DESERVING PARISH.
BUT HISTORY RECORDS THAT DRISCOLL, AN ACKNOWLEDGED
SOMETIME VISITOR IN LOCAL VILLAGE "POKEYS" IN THE
MICHIGAN PINELANDS, ALSO SERVED FIVE YEARS'
IMPRISONMENT IN SOUTHERN MICHIGAN PRISON. HE
WAS SENTENCED BY SAGINAW COUNTY CIRCUIT JUDGE
DEWITT GAGE ON A CHARGE OF ARMED ROBBERY. ADMIRERS
SAID HE WAS FRAMED. THE LAW SAID OTHERWISE.
SILVER JACK DRISCOLL DIED APRIL 1, 1895, IN A
HOTEL IN L'ANSE, MICHIGAN.
WHATEVER HIS EPITAPH, IT COULD HARDLY BE ADEQUATE,
SAINT OR SCALAWAG. HISTORIANS AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONAL,
ARE NOT AGREED EVEN TODAY.

Submitter comment: I AM NOT SURE WHO WROTE THIS STORY BUT IT DID COME
FROM THE FIRST ANNUAL TIMBER TOWN FESTIVAL
MAGAZINE AROUND 1950.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SAGINAW

Keyword(s): LUMBERJACKS ; SAGINAW VALLEY LOGGING

James Callow Keyword(s): STRONG MEN

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Secular hero

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Proverb

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Data entry tech comment:

Motifs added by TRD

Where learned: HOME

Keyword(s): Absence ; Aphorism ; Apothegm ; HEART ; LOVE ; Maxim ; PROVERB ; STRENGTH ; Strong ; VERSE

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Apothegm Maxim

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Proverb

A chain is only as long as its weakest link.

Data entry tech comment:

Motifs added by TRD

James Callow comment:

KW:X3X

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): Aphorism ; Apothegm ; CHAIN ; Link ; Maxim ; PROVERB ; STRENGTH ; Strong ; VERSE ; Weak

Subject headings: PROVERB -- Proverbial Metaphor

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COLD CURE:
A DRINK OF HOT STRONG LEMONADE BEFORE GOING TO BED.

Data entry tech comment:

Updated by TRD

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; NASHVILLE

Keyword(s): AILMENT ; Cold ; CURE ; Hot ; Ingest ; Lemonade ; REMEDY ; Strong

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Plant

Date learned: 06-25-1973

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showing 5 items

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