“The Wee Pickle Tow”


John Grumely brings tow for his wife to spin. A spark from her pipe lights it. She refuses to spin (Eve wore leaves rather than spin), or churn butter. And he can sleep with his back to her. Then, he says, they'll sleep in separate beds.


And, he pointed out, that he earns the money [Hayward-Ulster text].

From the liner notes to Margaret MacArthur, "An Almanac of New England Farm Songs," Green Linnet SIF 1039 LP (1982)} "Norman Kennedy, weaver and singer, tells me that the fine long linen fibers are separated from the flax by hackling, leaving the short coarse fibers of tow, guaranteed to give the spinner pricked fingers and short temper." - BS

I can't help but note that John Grunm[e]ly is the husband in some versions of "Father Grumble" [Laws Q1]. This almost sounds like the "prequel" to that. - RBW


  1. Hayward-Ulster, pp. 80-81, "The Wee Pickle Tow" (1 text)
  2. Roud #5506
  3. BI, HayU080


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1925 (Hayward-Ulster)
Found in: Ireland