Friday, June 13, 2008

The June beetle - capturing a living music box

"From some long-forgotten source, I heard that June beetles made a sweet sound while flying around. I loved music, and the method to acquire this living music box was to fasten a long thread to one of the bug's hind legs.

"Now, June beetles are about half an inch across and three quarters of an inch long. The ones in the South are dark green on the back side and have an armor-like covering over their undersides. They feed on fennel and are harmless.

June Beetle"One day, I chased down a June beetle and brought it in. It was hard to hold. That bug clawed me with its sharp toes and rooted with its sharp nose. But I held on for dear life and persuaded Mother to tie a thread on its hind leg. She wasn't too anxious to oblige me, but finally the job was accomplished and I took my musical bug outside to test it out.

"The ground around the house was level, so I chose a spot where I could turn my bug loose. It gladly took off, and I ran after it, holding on tight to the thread. The bug made a pleasing sound that was music to my ears. The sound that June beetle made—along with the Jew's harp and harmonica—was the one source of music my young ears had ever heard.

"Soon the bug grew tired and sat down. I realized the thread might hamper its movements, so I waited while it rested. Still anxious to hear more music, I urged it to fly. As quick as lightening, the bug took off with me pounding along behind it. I was thoroughly enjoying the performance until the thread slipped off. With mixed emotions, I watched my music box disappear in the distance.

"I felt bad over my loss and set about repairing it. I found another June beetle, but somehow I didn't like this one quite as well as the first one. Just the same, I hurried into the house to have Mother tie a thread on its leg. This time Mother openly expressed her dislike for such activities. Nevertheless, with strong urging on my part, she tied the thread once again. I took the new June beetle outside and let it fly as I had the old one, but the knot in the thread was too loose and slipped off. This bug also flew away, heading due north. It didn’t slacken its speed for even a moment."

From a Parks family history compiled by Lillian "Lilly Ann" Parks Adams (1880-?), at Capitola, CA, 1949-50, when she was 70 years old. She was born in Wayne County, WV, which borders Kentucky and Ohio. The story is to the best of her knowledge as a four-year-old child, and from family retellings.

source: http://ftp.wi.net/~census/lesson43.html

Original blogged at Appalachian History

5 comments:

Our Goblin Market said...

Wonderful Post

CountryDew said...

That brought back memories. We used to do that, too.

Ron's Thots said...

My least favorite memory of a June beetle is eating one. I was at a Fair in Salem, Va. I had just bought a piece of wonderful pizza, and in the moment I took my first bite a June Beetle lit on the piece as it went in my mouth. It was not a very pleasing moment, and I did not crave Pizza for a long while. Thanks for the post.

Going Crunchy said...

My mom tells stories of doing this as she grew up in the country. Always wanted to try it!

Ron Lambert (Earnest Talks) said...

I love this story. I recently wrote a similar story on my own blog, Earnest Talks. My wife called me a hillbilly savant this morning on our website and that lead to us looking it up and we found this blog. I am also from Wayne County, WV and remember my own experience with the June bugs, as we called them. My young friend Elliott Barnes,of the United Kingdom, called my story a study in June bug aerodynamics. Perhaps this story is a study in June bug musicology. I will be reading this blog a lot.