A long time ago there was an old woman and an old man and a little girl and a little boy and their pet squirrel sitting up on the fireplace. One day the old woman wanted to bake some biscuits but she needed some sody. So she sent the little boy to the store to buy some sody sallyraytus. The little boy went running down the road singing, “Sody, sody, sody sallyraytus.” He ran across the bridge and on to the store to get the sody sallyraytus. Then he went running back home. When he got to the bridge a mean old bear stuck out his head and said, “I’LL EAT YOU UP – YOU AND YOUR SODY SALLYRAYTUS!” And he swallowed the little boy – him and his sody sallyraytus.
DeLand’s Saleratus Soda and Baking Powder trade card. No date. Collection Stuart A. Lassen Postcard Collection/Texas A&M University Libraries
The old woman and the old man and the little girl and the pet squirrel waited and waited and waited but the little boy didn’t come back. Finally, the old woman asked the little girl to find the little boy and see what was taking him so long. The little girl went a’skipping down the road – a’skip a’skip a’askip. She skipped across the bridge and to the store. The storekeeper told her that the little boy had already been there and left, so she started a’skipping back home – a’skip a’skip a’skip. When she got to the bridge, the mean old bear stuck out his head and said, “I ATE A LITTLE BOY – HIM AND HIS SODY SALLYRAYTUS. AND I’LL EAT YOU TOO!” And she swallowed her down.
Well the old woman and the old man and the pet squirrel waited and waited and waited, but the children didn’t come back. Finally, the old woman asked the old man to go find the little boy and the little girl. He walked down the road – Karumpf! Karumpf! Karumpf! and across the bridge until he came to the store. The storekeeper told him that both the little boy and the little girl had already been there and left. “Hmmm….they must have stopped somewhere to play,” the old man thought. So he started a’walking back – Karumpf! Karumpf! Karumpf! When he got to the bridge, the mean old bear stuck out his head and said, “I ATE A LITTLE BOY – HIM AND HIS SODY SALLYRAYTUS. AND I ATE A LITTLE GIRL AND I’LL EAT YOU TOO!” And he swallowed him down.
Well, the old woman and the pet squirrel waited and waited and waited but the old man and the little boy and the little girl did not come back. So finally, the old woman went a’hunchety-hunching down the road – A’hunchety-hunchety-hunchety-hunch! She crossed the bridge and went into the store. The storekeeper told her that the old man and the little boy and the little girl had been there and left. So the old woman started back A’hunchety-hunchety-hunchety-hunch! When she got to the bridge, the mean old bear stuck out his head and said, “I ATE A LITTLE BOY – HIM AND HIS SODY SALLYRAYTUS. AND I ATE A LITTLE GIRL AND AN OLD MAN AND I’LL EAT YOU TOO!” And he swallowed her down.
1884 logo for the Arm & Hammer brand soda or saleratus. Saleratus appeared on the market in 1840, replacing pearlash as a baking ingredient to produce rising in dough. By the start of the 1860s baking soda in turn replaced it. For a short time some people called the new baking soda ‘saleratus.’ This story, then, probably dates from that period when both terms were used simultaneously: “soda/saleratus.”
Well, the pet squirrel waited and waited and waited. He was running back and forth on the fire place mantel and he was getting hungrier and hungrier. Finally, he jumped down off the fireplace and onto the floor. He shook out his tail and went a’frisking down the road – A’frisk a’frisk a’frisk a’frisk! He frisked across the bridge and into the store.
He stood up tall on his hind legs and asked the storekeeper if he had seen the little boy or the little girl or the old man or the old woman. “Yes – they’ve all been here. Surely they didn’t all stop to play.” So the squirrel stretched his tail out behind him and frisked back. When he got to the bridge, the mean old bear stuck out his head and said, ” I ATE A LITTLE BOY – HIM AND HIS SODY SALLYRAYTUS. AND I ATE A LITTLE GIRL AND AN OLD MAN AND AN OLD WOMAN AND I’LL EAT YOU TOO!”
The pet squirrel stuck his tail up in the air and chirred at the bear. By the time the mean old bear lunged at him, the pet squirrel was already halfway up a tree. The mean old bear went clamoring after him. The squirrel scurried out on a limb and the mean old bear started after him. Then the squirrel jumped onto a limb in the next tree. “SURELY IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THAT FAR ON YOUR LITTLE LEGS, I CAN MAKE IT ON MY BIG LEGS!” the bear bellowed. The mean old bear tried to jump but he didn’t quite make it. He tumbled down down down and hit the ground with a thud! As soon as he hit the ground, out came the old woman, the old man, the little girl and the little boy. The old woman looked at the little boy and said, “Well, where’s my sody sallyraytus?” “Here,” said the little boy and handed it to her.
So they all walked back to the house singing, “Sody, sody, sody sallyraytus.” When they got back, the pet squirrel climbed back up on the fireplace mantel and curled his tail around him while he watched the old woman until she took the biscuits out of the oven. They each had a biscuit – the little boy, the little girl, the old man and the old woman. The old woman broke off a piece of a biscuit and handed it to the pet squirrel. He turned it over and over in his paws and nibbled until it was gone. Then he chirred for more. He was so hungry that the old woman had to feed him pieces until he’d eaten almost two whole biscuits!
source: “Grandfather Tales,” by Richard Chase, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
Additional versions of the tale, see “Sody Sallyratus” or “The Bad Bear,” Appalachian Folktales and Legends, Ferrum College. Online at http://www.ferrum.edu/applit/bibs/tales/sodysal.htm
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