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The Giant Gator of Gumbo Limbo
(storytellers performance vesion)
copyright 2007 Ruth Keyes
Dedicated to the memory of Bobby Hicks,
who loved to spin a good yarn!

 -- audience participation in parenthesis--

My name is Annie Rose, and I am here to tell you a story about when my Daddy, Henry, was a little boy in Florida, and my Grandpaw Charlie lived on the banks of Gumbo Limbo.  Now Gumbo Limbo is a swamp down in the South part of Florida (I better get this part right or my friend Lee Paulet will have my tail!) , and when Daddy Henry was a boy, Grandpaw Charlie and Grandmaw lived in a little cabin right on the banks of the swamp. It was a really nice little cabin too- much nicer than my Aunt Bertha's brand new condo out on Clearwater beach ! (My friend Bobby Hicks says one a these days a big ol' hurricane's gonna blow all them condo's down anyhow- so I reckon  I'd just as soon have me a cabin on the banks of Gumbo Limbo!)

          Anyhow, one evenin',  my Daddy, Henry, set out to do him some fishin', hoping to bring back a big ol trout or bass ..... He started out in his little canoe, with his paddle, a lantern, and supper in a little tin pail, on account a how they din't have no microwave ovens back in the day on Gumbo Limbo.  His Mama had packed him up a whole mess a' corn muffins, some apple cider, and two (count 'em, two!)  home baked raspberry tarts for  dessert.

          Well Daddy Henry hadn't been going along too very far, when would'nt you know it, he floated right plumb over the favorite underwater sleeping spot of the giant Gator of Gumbo Limbo! (Oh no, NOT the Giant Gator of Gumbo Limbo!) That's right, how did ya'll know?? Anyhow, that Gator must a been havin' him some sort a dream, because all a sudden he jumped half outta that water in suprise, and before you could say crash kersplash (which I just did) that lil canoe turned right on over in the muddy water, tin pail, paddle raspberry tarts, Daddy Henry and all!  Well you have to remember, we are talkin' about the giant Gator of Gumbo Limbo (response!) That's right! How'd ya'll know? Well that there gator, he weren't nobody's fool. He didn't pay any mind nohow to that lil boy in the water nosir! Why, he went straight for the raspberry tarts and  Grandmaws fresh corn muffins.




          Now ya'll, I can't say as I blame that there ol' Gator.  My Grandmaw Sarah Jane always did make the  best corn muffins either side of Gumbo Limbo.  And it's a good thing she did! 'Cause while that gator was eatin' his supper, Daddy Henry swum as fast as he could to the bank, hauled hisself out by the mangrove roots, and shimmied hisself up a tall tall tree before that Gator started huntin' around for seconds.  By the time Daddy Henry was safely up that there tree? That fool Gator had eaten the supper, the canoe, the tin pail, the paddle and the lantern too! He was a HUNGRY gator!

          Well as some of you may know,  after eatin' a great big meal like that, sometimes gators and other kinds of people find themselves feelin' that there Gator swum to the bank, hauled HISSELF out by the mangrove roots, and lay right across the path, sound asleep and snoring. So there they was. One wet, hungry, tree-stuck kid, and one sleeping, smirking Gator.

          Well ya'll know how it is when you have a family that loves ya. It weren't too long after that the Grandpaw Charlie got worried, and set out lookin' for his boy. He lit the spare lantern that was hanging by the cabin wall, and set out along the paths of the Gumbo Limbo.  Well it was the time of year when dark was dark, and Grandpaw Charlie, he had him quite a job trying to track Daddy Henry across that swamp on foot.  And wouldn't you know it, while he was walking, Grandpaw stepped on a lil piece of the swamp that wasn't where he thought it'd be? and before you know it, crash kersplash! That lantern and Grandpaw, well there they both was, sitting chest high in the muddy  waters of the Gumbo Limbo. Do ya’ll git the feeling this story's gonna end in a lot of laundry for Grandmaw? Anyhow, poor Grandpaw's lantern  was wet, and now he had no light to see by, so he hauled HISSELF out by the mangrove roots and started to feel his way real careful like down the path. Well as he was walking real careful in the dark (here comes ya'lls part agin' ) what should Grandpaw go and do by mistake but step PLUMB SQUARE on the tail of the giant Gator of Gumbo Limbo!!! (response).  Have ya'll heard this story before? Anyhow, that there gator was SO stuffed with  supper and paddle and tin pail and surprise that he let out  the biggest loudest gator burp y'all have ever heard! Can ya'll make a burpin' sound? Oh it's alright this once, I won't tell yer maw. (response.......)





          Well that there gator burp was SO big and loud (well ya'll heard how loud it was!) that out of the Gators mouth flew Daddy Henry's lantern - and the durn thing was still lit! (See ya'll, thats what kin happen when you don't chew your food!) UP, up into the air that lantern flew, and Daddy Henry, high up in the tree, reached out an' caught it, neat as you please.

          Well the Gator was SO embarrassed by his big ol' gator burp, that he slunk off into the swamp hopin' no one saw him, and by the lantern wavin' in the treetop, Grandpaw Charlie knew just where to find his boy… An’ together they made their way home to that little cabin, where Grandmaw was waitin’ for ‘em with ANOTHER whole mess of fresh corn muffins.

          Now that ain't the ONLY time my Grandpaw Charlie had him a run in with that Gumbo Limbo


But THAT'S another story!!


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