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Featured Traditions: Tall Tales

Things are big in Texas. Texans even say the Lone Star State is bigger than Alaska, when the ice melts. The Tall Tale may be the biggest thing in Texas. A Tall Tale is usually an exaggerated story that may not have a point. It can make a weekend warrior's "fish that got away" seem credible.

Vaudeville performer and Western movie actor, George "Gabby" Hayes was a legendary spinner of tall yarns. This transcript of Gabby's Uncle Snowball Hays is one of his very best.

Gabby's Uncle Snowball Hays
Illustration by Wendy HoganBrrrr! Listen to that storm blow out there buckaroos. I wonder if that snow will ever stop fallin'. Shore glad I'm sittin' here inside my cabin with a warm fire back of me. Of course, I know you young'ns jes can't wait for it to stop, so you can get out there and get to sled ridin' and skiin' and throwin' snowballs and buildin' snowmen. Yep, I reckon that's real fun.

You know, whenever I'm out after a snowstorm and see a bunch of young'ns buildin' snowmen, kinda reminds me of an old uncle of mine -- Snowball Hayes he was know'd as. There was a man who know'd more about buildin' things with snow than anybody in the whole United States, and Texas! They wasn't anything he couldn't build with snow. Why, he learned them there Eskimos to build them Iglooys, made snowbells that could be heared, oh 50 - 60 miles away, and they looked jes like flowers. But, when it comes to buildin' snowmen, I reckon he built the greatest snowmen the world had ever know'd. Looked jes like they could walk and talk to ya'. Yes sir-ree bob.

One time he was way up there in Minnesoty and he decided he was goin' to build his self a snowman, and this un'd be bigger than any one he'd ever done.

Well, he worked for three years, seven days, eleven nights, two minutes and forty-eight seconds jes gittin' the snow together. Fact of the matter is, he used up all the snow in whole state of Minnesoty. When he got all through, his snowman stood, oh, maybe four-, five-hundred feet high. Couldn't see the top of his head on a cloudy day. Each leg was fifty or sixty feet tall. Naturally, folks come from all over the countryside to see it. And, you wouldn't believe this, but that snowman looked so real that folks used to talk to it and waited for it to talk back to them.

One day a couple of young'ns come by and started makin' snowballs right in front of my uncle's snowman. Well sir, that snowman took one look at what was goin' on and he started a runnin'. He took outta there like a scared jackrabbit. He run jest as fast as his legs u'd carry him. Fact is, he run all the way from Minnesoty to the Gulf of Mexico. Naturally, as he run South, it got warmer. And, the warmer it got, the smaller he got, 'cause he started meltin' and leavin' a trail of water behind him. And, by the time he stopped runnin' he'd plum disappeared.

But, I'll be a ring-tailed hypotenuse if that trail of water he left behind ain't there to this very day. Folks calls it the Mississippi River. Yes sir-ree bob.

KIDS' STUFF Assignment: Gabby's spelling and grammar isn't very good. How many errors can you find?
KIDS' STUFF Assignment: What part of this story is true? [see the answer]

Gabby's Uncle Snowball Hays was originally published on the Coral record label and is currently issued on "Silver Screen Cowboys", by Risky Business/Sony Music.

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