Folk Travelers: Ballads, Tales and Talk Page: 183
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WILSON M. HUDSON
I Want My Golden Arm
ONCE THERE WAS A MAN who had a golden arm. He died and
the golden arm was buried with him. In the middle of the night a
robber went to the graveyard and dug him up and took the golden
arm. Before the robber got out of the graveyard he heard some-
thing behind him--clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp. Then he heard a
voice, "I want my golden arm! Who's got my golden arm?" The
robber was scared but he kept on going. He could hear clomp,
clomp, clomp, clomp getting closer and the voice getting louder, "I
want my golden arm! Who's got my golden arm?" He ran and hid
in some bushes. But the clomp, clomp, clomp, clomp came on closer
and closer and the voice was louder and louder, "I want my golden
arm! Who's got my golden arm? CLOMP, CLOMP, CLOMP, CLOMP.
"I WANT MY GOLDEN ARM! WHO'S GOT MY GOLDEN ARM?
- YOU'VE GOT IT!"
This story used to be told to me by my older sister when I was
a child. No matter how many times she told it, I never failed to
feel the hair rising on my head and I never failed to jump out of
my skin at that last loud "You've got it!" It was my favorite ghost
story, and it still is.
Many years later - in fact, only recently - I decided to see what
I could learn about the story. I looked in Thompson's Motif-Index
of Folk-Literature under "golden arm" and found this motif identi-
fication: "E.235.4.1. Return from dead to punish theft of golden
arm from grave." In the Aarne-Thompson classification of folk
tales, "I Want My Golden Arm" belongs to type 366, in which a
corpse returns to punish the theft of part of its body or an article
of clothing. Thompson's Motif-Index cited several studies and notes
on type 366, and I knew of the extensive comparative notes in
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This volume of the Publications of the Texas Folklore Society contains popular folklore of Texas and Mexico, including traveling anecdotes, folk ballads, folklore in natural history, as well as information about black and white magic, Western animals, and cattle brands. The index begins on page 259.
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Texas Folklore Society. Folk Travelers: Ballads, Tales and Talk, book, 1953; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38314/m1/189/: accessed August 8, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.