DESCRIPTION: Lumbermen encounter the Pokegama bear. Morris O'Hearne tells the men to run; (they have humorous accidents). Mike McAlpin kills the bear with an axe; the grease is divided up among the men, and the meat cooked and eaten.
AUTHOR: Frank Hasty (words)
EARLIEST DATE: 1874 (composed)
LONG DESCRIPTION: A crew of lumbermen encounters the Pokegama bear. Morris O'Hearne, who first flushes him, tells the men to run; Jimmy Quinn runs into a porcupine. The bear heads for the swamp; O'Hearne follows, but slips and falls under it. Mike McAlpin chases down and kills the bear with an axe; the grease is divided up among the men, and the meat cooked and eaten. O'Hearne gets the skin; "Long life to you and long growth to your hair/When it's greased with the fat from Pokegama Bear"
KEYWORDS: lumbering work moniker animal logger worker humorous
FOUND IN: US(MW)
Art Thieme, "Pokegama Bear" (on Thieme06)
cf. "Vilikens and his Dinah (William and Dinah) [Laws M31A/B]" (tune & meter) and references there
NOTES [261 words]: Pokegama Lake is a very wide area of the upper Mississippi River. - PJS
Paul Stamler didn't list this as a humorous item, but the versions I recall hearing (I think from John Berquist, though I've heard other Minnesotans mention it) generally have comic aspects as the loggers flee the bear. The tune seems to have wandered a bit, too, though that may just be my memory.
It should be noted that it is highly unlikely that a really dangerous bear would be encountered in Minnesota. The only bears which come anywhere near the state are black bears; a gang of loggers could certainly handle *one* black bear! But the Pokegama region is features some of the harshest winter weather in Minnesota. Climatologist Mark W. Sealy, Minnesota Weather Almanac, Minnesota Historical Society, 2006, p. 55, writes of the weather station there, "The weather station at Pokegama Dam, along the Mississippi River, was established in April 1887.... Pokegama's reputation as one of Minnesota's coldest spots is bolstered by more than 30 low temperatures records, including the following: coldest temperature recorded in March... coldest-ever November temperature... and coldest-ever December temperature... Temperatures of -50 [degrees] F and colder have been recorded 30 times, the coldest being -59 [degrees] F on February 16, 1903. From January to February in back-to-back years, 1904 and 1905, Pokegama Dam recorded 31 consecutive days of temperatures below zero."
Thus one might suspect that the legend of the Pokegama Bear actually arose as an excuse to get out of the cold. - RBW
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