Friday, February 3, 2012

Sepia Saturday- Tar Baby

The theme this week is Dogs.
This is Tar Baby. (I love the little curl on top of his head!)

This is the earliest dog I can remember, although my mother has told me about a beagle we had when I was a baby. Tar Baby was named after a character from The Uncle Remus book by Joel Chandler Harris.

Br'er Rabbit and the Tar-Baby, drawing by E.W. Kemble from The Tar-Baby, by Joel Chandler Harris, 1904.

Me and Tar Baby

My sister, Nancy and I and Tar Baby. (I'm not really sure that's Nancy. Hard to tell from this photo.)

My father and the pup.

Tar Baby sitting up. What a smart dog!

My brother, Bob and Tar Baby.
In this picture you can see the gate that was left open and cost Tar Baby his life. ( Bobby didn't do it).

We loved the Uncle Remus stories from the story books and then from the Disney movie, "Song of the South".
I've, since, found out that the Uncle Remus stories and the name "Tar Baby" is sometimes considered racist. If my mother had known that we would have had to find a new name. She was the most unprejudiced person I've ever known.

In one tale, Br'er Fox constructs a doll out of a lump of tar and dresses it with some clothes. When Br'er Rabbit comes along he addresses the tar "baby" amiably, but receives no response. Br'er Rabbit becomes offended by what he perceives as the Tar Baby's lack of manners, punches it, and in doing so becomes stuck. The more Br'er Rabbit punches and kicks the tar "baby" out of rage, the worse he gets stuck. Now that Br'er Rabbit is stuck, Br'er Fox ponders how to dispose of him. The helpless but cunning Br'er Rabbit pleads, "but do please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch," prompting Fox to do exactly that. As rabbits are at home in thickets, the resourceful Br'er Rabbit escapes. Using the phrases "but do please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch" and "tar baby" to refer to the idea of "a problem that gets worse the more one struggles against it" became part of the wider culture of the United States in the mid-20th century. The story was originally published in Harper's Weekly by Robert Roosevelt; years later Joel Chandler Harris wrote of the tar baby in his Uncle Remus stories. A similar tale from African folklore in West Africa has the trickster Anansi in the role of Br'er Rabbit.
If you'd like to see Uncle Remus singing "Zipp-a-dee-doo-dah" click here-

Don't forget to go to to see more dog stories.


Wendy said...

Tar Baby -- what a cute name. He looks like a well-loved little companion.

Christine H. said...

Tar Baby is adorable and does indeed look smart. I am so sorry to hear about the open gate though. It sounds like he could have been around for awhile longer.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Oh, Tar Baby was a sweetie. Sorry about the gate being open; sometimes that happens or they just get out the front door despite our best efforts.

Thanks for the reminder of the story too. I'll need to get out my books and go through those again.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Kathy M.

21 Wits said...

So cute and smart too! The great joys of life right!

Bob Scotney said...

A gorgeous Spaniel with a great name.

Jinksy said...

I too loved the Uncle Remus - Brer Rabbit stories, and was once give a book of them, free, by a shop owner in Norwich, just because I mentioned that fact, which he said deserved a present of the volume in question.
Are you sure your Tar Baby hadn't had his hair permed? LOL

Alan Burnett said...

Lovely photos - you can clearly see the character of the dog. And I am old enough to remember tar baby. Fine memories.

Postcardy said...

Tar Baby reminds me of the Cocker Spaniel my family had when I was a baby. Ours was black and white and named Lady.

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

My husband had a dog named Star Baby.
Your dog was beautiful and reminded me of our neighbors dogs. Seems Cocker Spaniels were the dogs of choice for most families back in the fifties. The pictures of all of you with the dog are wonderful.

Mike Brubaker said...

My first dog was my grandparent's black cocker spaniel, named Spooky. Thanks for sharing.

Jo said...

What a handsome dog he was - you and he seem to have the same hairdo in photo number two :-) Jo

Kat Mortensen said...

I know of the Uncle Remus stories and that name "Tar Baby" rang bell! I love the photo with you and your sister and "Tar Baby". Actually, they're all very good.

Bruno Laliberté said...

Tar Baby seemed to have been the star in your home, loved by all. Sorry about its demise... Loosing a pet is never a good experience.

Elizabeth said...

What a lovely pup! Looks a teeny bit like you know who!
Our childhood pets really do hold a bit spot in our memories.

sonia a. mascaro said...

Tar Baby looks adorable! It's great that you have so precious photos.


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