Why I'm an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales


Why I'm an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales

Roger Welsch
Foreword by Dick Cavett

210 pages


March 2016


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2016


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

March 2016


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2017 Nebraska Book Award Nonfiction: Folklore

One day Roger Welsch ventured to ask his father a delicate personal question: “Why am I an only child?” His father’s answer is one of many examples of the delightful and laughter-inducing ribald tales Welsch has compiled from a lifetime of listening to and sharing the folklore of the Plains. More narrative than simple jokes, and the product of multiple retellings, these coarse tales were even delivered by such prudish sources as Welsch’s stern and fearsome German great-aunts. Speaking of cucumbers and sausages in a toast to a newly married couple, the prim and proper women of Welsch’s memory voice the obscene and unspeakable in stories fit for general company. Why I’m an Only Child and Other Slightly Naughty Plains Folktales is Welsch’s celebration of the gentle and evocative bits of humor reflecting the personality of the people of the Plains.

Author Bio

Roger Welsch is a retired professor of English and anthropology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and a former essayist for CBS News Sunday Morning. He is the author of more than forty books, including A Treasury of Nebraska Pioneer Folklore (Nebraska, 1966), My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad, and the Husker (Nebraska, 2011), and most recently, The Reluctant Pilgrim: A Skeptic’s Journey into Native Mysteries (Nebraska, 2015). Dick Cavett is the former talk-show host of The Dick Cavett Show. Originally from Nebraska, he was a writer for The Tonight Show for host Johnny Carson and won three Emmy awards throughout his career.


"Very, very funny."—Julie Henigan, Journal of Folklore Research

"As a playfully analytical look at our human penchant for the "slightly naughty" this one, like all Welsch's other collections of Plains stories, is a delight."—Nancy S. Gillis, Nebraska History

"Roger Welsch is a superb writer and folklorist for the same reasons that he was a superb classroom teacher in our German class back in 1958. He has mastered his subject, he admires and respects his audience, he has an extraordinary sense of humor, and he is a thoroughly gifted storyteller."—Dwayne Strasheim, Great Plains Quarterly

“Roger Welsch is a funny man. He is also dead serious about making sure the traditions of his Nebraska homeland are not soon forgotten. . . . Place Roger Welsch securely in the good company of American regionalists whose catalog of life works spans the nuts and bolts of a life well told. . . . Whether your copy sits by your bedside or toilet, on your coffee table or tractor seat, buy it, read it, and by all means share it.”—Elaine Eff, Maryland folklorist 

“Roger Welsch has his finger firmly on the pulse of rural Plains humor because it’s his own pulse. He knows this tradition from a life spent where it happens—in the field, the tavern, the church hall, and the pickup cab—and his ear is perfectly attuned to catch its modest, ribald hilarity.”—Tim Lloyd, executive director of the American Folklore Society 

“I don’t know which I admire more, Roger Welsch’s life style or his prose style.”—Chris Porterfield, writer for Time magazine, author, and producer

“It would be difficult to find a folklorist more prolific and more popular than Roger Welsch, or ‘Captain Nebraska’ as some have dubbed him with great affection, following his hugely successful years as a correspondent on CBS News Sunday Morning. . . . Readers in Nebraska and beyond will be pleased to see yet another volume of good-humored Plains folklore in this latest work collected by Roger Welsch.”—Elaine J. Lawless, Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emerita at the University of Missouri and past president of the American Folklore Society 

“Roger Welsch is ready to deliver a smile when the moment is right. He is the Cialis of humor.”—Mike Plews, member, RW Fan Club

“Welsch’s book is 100 percent humor, born of friendships in the taverns and communities of rural Nebraska. This folklore historian who has rugged good looks and a titanic sense of humor (and who owes me a drink) has knocked it out of the park—again.”—T. Marni Vos, humorist and president of Laughter’s Echo Inc.

Table of Contents

A Brief but Suitably Scholarly and Boring Introduction
But Enough about Me—What Do You Know about Me?
Plain Talk about the Plains, Definitions, and What Folklore Is, Isn’t, Might Be, and Is Mostly
A Lesson in Proper Diction
Why I’m an Only Child
A Special Announcement
Dad Instructs Me about Civil Ribaldry Even as I Thought I Was Instructing Him
Naughty Is in the Ears of the Beholder
A First Lesson in Military Nomenclature
Diction Friction
Evoked and Provoked
Thinking Fast
Cold . . . and Deep
In-house Outhouses
Speaking of Treed Raccoons
Harvard Law
Urban v. Rural
The Eternal Cuckold
Now’s Your Chance
Using the Imagination
Ways of the Wise
Traffic Flow
Speaking of the Innocence of the Gentler Sex
Oh, Dat Ole! Oh, Dat Lena!
Same Idea, Different Names
No Boyz Aloud
The Church of What?
What Did He Say?
How You Gonna Keep ’Em down on the Farm (after They’ve Seen the Farm)?
Birds Do It, Bees Do It
Indiscreet Secretions
Why Is It Called a “Fly?”
Geriatric Indignities
Callow Youth
Age Has Nothing to Do with It
Innocent? Or Simply Not Guilty?
Other Unmentionables
An Afterword


2017 Nebraska Book Award Nonfiction: Folklore

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