Glad you ask! On September 20th and 21st, I’ll be attending the 28th annual Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle Contest.
I’m sure there will be some Gee Haw Whimmy Diddles to try for yourself. The Southern Highland Craft Guild in Asheville, NC is home to the contest. That is just one of the fun treats and attractions for the day. I’ll also be watching the Apple Chill Cloggers and listening to Orville Hicks spin a tale. Orville is called the master of the Jack Tale and has been named a North Carolina Treasure.
There will be a demonstration on heritage toys. One of the games is called Jack Straws. The original Jack Straws is set of miniature farm implement tools. You gather them up and let them go. Each person tries to remove a tool without upsetting the bunch. Or you can decide to watch the demonstrations and explanations on beekeeping, canning and preserving, spinning, quilting—and anything else that makes the Southern Appalachian history what it is today.
Growing heirloom apples by Tom Brown is a must on my list. I hope to meet Peggy Poe Stern the famous Appalachian fiction writer.
As they say down here—a good time is to be had by all!
Gee Haw Whimmy Diddle
Notched Stick link
A most interesting and amusing toy is one that has been made out of mountain laurel in Appalachia. It has been considered a folk toy for a long time and is referred to as a Gee-Haw Whimmy Diddle4; it is called a “notched stick” in this writing. Excellent handcrafted toys of this description have been purchased from Guy’s Folk Toys, Jack Guy Home Industries, Beech Creek, North Carolina.
The image shown to the left was scanned from Miller’s article1. His description of the toy is as follows:
The toy is made of “a slender stick of some 6 or 8 inches long, of square or rectangular cross section, a quarter-inch or so on an edge, to the end of which a propeller is attached. The stick is notched with a rasp or file for 3 or 4 inches, the notches being one-eighth inch deep, more or less, across one face. The propeller is a sliver of wood, 2 inches long, roughly, one-half inch wide, and about one-sixteenth inch thick…This strip is drilled with a small hole and held to the notched end of the stick by a brad or nail. If, now, the notched stick is stroked back and forth along the notches with another stick the propeller is made to whirl. The “secret” of the device lies in two details—in the hole in the propeller and in the method of stroking. Regarding the stroking, this is best done along a corner…Regarding the hole, this can be a round hole drilled ever so slightly offcenter or a hole somewhat off-round, elliptical, say. Either provides an eccentric mounting…A very rapid whirling can be achieved by very rapid stroking.”
The propeller can be made to turn in either direction. While stroking, if the index finger is laid over the stick and allowed to touch the opposite side, the propeller will spin in one direction. If instead of the index finger touching the opposite side, the thumb is advanced to touch the closer side during stroking, the propeller will spin in the opposite direction.