Louisiana swamp folktale about a local fisherwoman whose unique way of fishing for crabs in the bayou gets her into trouble. Written and told by Veronica Byrd and Bert Tanner.
Now I’ll just bet that none of you have ever heard the story of Mama Coon Coon and the blue waters of the bayou, have you? Well, we know the story, and I think we need to tell it to you right now.
Once upon a time, the waters of the bayou were black – as black as ink. Now, even though these waters were black, they were still filled with lots and lots of fishes, shrimp and crab. And all of the fishermen would wake up early in the morning, long before the sun had even come above the horizon, and they would cast their nets down into the deep, black water. And what a wonderful sight it was at the end of the day to watch those fishermen pulling in their nets overflowing with all kinds of fishes, shrimp and crab.
Now all the fishermen fished early in the morning, with the exception of one fisherman – or should I say fisherwoman. Her name was Mama Coon Coon. You see, that is the name the local village children gave her because she had deep, dark circles around both eyes just like a raccoon.
Now Mama Coon Coon was a very strange woman indeed. No one really knows where she came from or how she got to our village. It’s as if one day she just appeared out of the clear blue sky – POOF! And come to think of it, that little shack she lives in at the edge of town seemed to pop up out of nowhere also. Like I said, she was a very strange woman indeed. Mama Coon Coon was always seen wearing a big blue dress and a white, clean bandanna tied around her head. Why that bandanna was so white it seemed to glow in the dark.
Now even though she was a little on the weird side, she was known for miles around for making the best seafood gumbo. Her gumbo was so good it would make you lick your lips more than once or twice. She would make her delicious gumbo every Friday night. Now even though she was known for miles and miles around for making seafood gumbo, she was not at all known for her singing. If you ever hear Mama Coon Coon sing, it would best to put both hands over your ears and run the other way!
Well, it happened one day that Mama Coon Coon had everything for her gumbo except crab, and she HAD to have crabs in her seafood gumbo. Now Mama Coon Coon didn’t fish like all the other fishermen. She fished late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. And she didn’t use fishing poles, fishing nets or crab baskets. “Those contraptions are a little too cumbersome for me,” she’d say. All she used to catch her crabs was her big blue dress. What she would do was open up her refrigerator and take out what ever she had left – like an old piece of fried chicken, grits, eggs, sausage from breakfast, old pieces of pizza, and even some items which were just indistinguishable.
You see, Mama Coon Coon said that the crabs just loved her leftovers. She would tie all of those leftovers to her big blue dress and she would go down to the water’s edge. When she’d get to the water, she’d walk right out into that water until it was about waist high. That dress with all the leftover bait on it would just float on top of the water; and she’d stand there and wait for those crabs to bite.
Well, it happened one night that Mama Coon Coon had been standing in the water for hours and hours and hours, and not one crab had bitten the bait. So Mama Coon Coon looked into the black water and said, “Well, I guess it’s too dark tonight. I guess the crabs don’t even know I’m standing here. Maybe I need to do something to attract them.” It was then that Mama Coon Coon began to sing. She sang, “Little crabbies, little crabbies, come and climb upon my dress. Little crabbies, little crabbies, if you don’t it’s gonna be a big mess!!” Well, Mama Coon Coon looked down and not one crab had bitten the bait. So she tried one more time. She sang, “Little crabbies, little crabbies, come and climb upon my skirt. Little crabbies, little crabbies, if you don’t you gon’ get hurt!”
Once again, not one crab had bitten the bait so Mama Coon Coon decided, “Well, well, well – if the crabs will not come to me, I will have to go to them! I will reach down into this black water with my bare hand and pull me out a couple of crabs if I have to!!” And that’s exactly what she did. “Little crabbies, little crabbies, come and cliiiiiiiiii……..”
What happened then was awful and terrible. Mama Coon Coon’s singing was so bad and terrible that folks were running ever-which-a-way with their hands over their ears. Houses were falling, the ground was shaking, and dogs were barking like this: “HowwwwwwwwwWooooooooooow!” And those crabs in that deep black water got angry – they had had it with that terrible singing. So they reached up with their claws and grabbed Mama Coon Coon by the nose and pulled her down, down, down into the deep black waters of the bayou.
And Mama Coon Coon has not been heard from or seen since. But if you happen to go down bayou way, you will notice that the water down there is no longer black – it is now very, very blue. And folks tell me that that is not blue water at all. They say that it is only Mama Coon Coon’s big blue dress still floating on top of the water, waiting for those crabs to bite. And that white moon you see reflecting off of that blue water, why that is no moon at all, child – that is only Mama Coon Coon’s big white bandanna reflecting up through that blue water.
And even today, if you go down to the bayou on any bright moonlit night and stand right at the water’s edge, right where the water meets the shore – if you listen very carefully, I guarantee you can still hear Mama Coon Coon singing to her crabs. She still sings, “Little crabbies, little crabbies, what’s a girl to do? You have pulled me in the water, now everything is blue.”
-THE END –
Mama Coon Coon – Story Credits
Written and Told by Veronica Byrd and Bert Tanner
Sound Design by Henry Howard