As I was growing up, every summer my family would make a pilgrimage to Nauvoo, IL to participate in the City of Joseph pageant held there. As part of the annual tradition, at the cast picnic one of the original writers of the pageant would jump up on a picnic table and recite “Elmer and the Bear”. His fervor and gusto were contagious, and I always found myself reveling in what it would be like to be chased by a bear.
Years later, I found myself trying to remember all of the text, and I fear I have forgotten much of it. A quick search on the internet revealed a version of it that was recorded in the 50’s, but had slightly different lyrics.
I have modified those lyrics to match as closely as possible the tale that I remember from my childhood and included them below.
For best results, get a picnic table to stand on and 200 of your closest friends around you before you read this in a booming voice. 🙂
Elmer and the Bear
Now Elmer Jones arose at dawn,
and he put his huntin’ britches on,
and looked up at his shotgun on the wall.
He made his mind up then and there
To bag himself a mess of bear
at huntin’ he had plenty on the ball.
So he milked the cows, and slopped the hogs,
Kissed his wife, and called the dog,
Picked up his gun and lit out on his quest.
He crossed the creek and hit the trees,
Threw back his head and sniffed the breeze,
Let out a yell and pounded on his chest.
Here comes Elmer, Elmer’s got his gun
Here comes Elmer, run, bear, run.
Now he hunted all the morning through,
But not a bear come into view,
While his stock sat on the kitchen range,
Ahh, he was tired as he could be
Of lamb and chicken fricassee
And he craved a mess of bear meat for a change.
Now Elmer’s mind was in a fog,
So he paused and sat down on a log
To put his faculties back into groove.
He heard a noise and standing there
Before him was a grizzly bear.
He decided it was time he made his move.
He picked up his gun and spun around
But mister bear just held his ground
And he said “It is either me or thou.”
The gun refused to go, and he knew someone had to go
So he said, “So long, I’m leavin’ as of now!”
So Elmer’s shoulders sprouted wings,
His feet developed inner springs.
To linger longer, he was disinclined.
He ran so fast through muck and mire,
His ankles set his socks on fire,
And still that bear kept comin’ on behind.
A deer with antlers eight feet wide,
Got in the way of Elmer’s stride,
As both of them were heading for the brush.
Elmer said, “Now listen, son,
If that’s the fastest you can run,
Move over, cause I’m really in a rush!”
Well that bear was gainin’ inch by inch,
And soon he reached out for the clinch.
As Elmer saw the fence around his place.
He leaped the fence and landed hard,
Jumped sixty feet across the yard
And slammed the kitchen door in bruin’s face.
Now the bear was tryin’ to get inside
And Elmer sought a place to hide,
Then Mrs. Jones began to pull her hair.
She said, “This fuss has gotta stop,
Why don’t you just let the matter drop?”
He said, “Honey, why don’t you go and tell that to the bear!”
She said, “Now listen, goon,
What makes you think you’re Daniel Boone?
Whose appetite on bear meat used to thrive?”
He said, “I’m sure that you’re aware
That Daniel always kills his bear.
But honey, I brung this one home alive!”