Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shanty Boats

Songs were always a prominent part of spending time out on Pepop's boat.  The following is a song that I learned at a young age and was one that was sung most often:

A man was in a shanty boat
Some fish came swimming by
a great big catfish came along
and spit* right in his eye
let it rain
let it pour
nothing bothers me
as long as there's a man in a shanty boat
with a banjo on my knee...

*sometimes we sang the word spit, sometimes we pretended to spit and made a weird spitting noise and most times sometimes we actually did spit because after all, spitting is completely appropriate when done in the course of honoring the arts.

So..... what the heck is a shanty boat? (I didn't know either until I saw a display at the River Museum in Point Pleasant, WV while attending the Mothman Festival.)
These are photos of shanty boats.

According to the website ShantyBoat Living a shanty boat is, "small crudely built dwelling or shelter usually of wood. But I think a shanty boat implies simple, functional, slower paced life on the river. It also implies a vessel that you build yourself. It doesn't have to mean junky, but it does imply individuality, with an air of simplicity in the romantic sense."

This definition brings to mind the 500 pound large raft I built in my backyard when I was 10 and in love with Huckleberry Finn.  I'm certain it would  I think it might have floated though it went untested since I lived in the suburbs of Baltimore and didn't have so much as a stream within 300 yards.  Sadly, my dad dismantled my raft and took it to the dump. 

I'm drawing up plans for my very own shanty boat, and I'm going to spend my time living on the waters around Deltaville and Mathews.


  1. That song is really cute. And your comment today at CBW's made me laugh.

    Thanks for that, btw.


    Come on down. Please. You can live here with me. I have a spare room for the cold winters; you can park the shanty boat at the end of my dock for the spring/summer/fall months.

    Seriously. No, really. I am dead serious.

    Beautiful lyrics and love the pictures of the shanty boats. Never heard of one. And now I hope to say I'll have one at the end of my dock.

    The song reminds me of "Oh Susannah" which now I'll never get out of my head. "..I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee..."

    Last but not least, I loved your comment today too. Absolutely hilarious, as usual.

    Pass the batteries...

  3. Here is a verse I remember from my army days WW II: The cow walked on the railroad track/ the train was coming fast/ the train got off the railroad track/to let the cow go past. The refrain, after "nothing bothers me": for I'll just go on singing with/ the banjo on my knee