Folklore

Granddaddy Long Legs and Bats Help You Find Things

granddady long legs on a window

“Grandaddy Long Legs has helped me find more than lost cows. He will also point toward missing shoes, toys or just about anything a mean sister has hidden. They never scared me because I grew up thinking they had some sort of magical powers of locating things that were missing. I’m glad I never developed the same fondness for bats as they had the same magical powers, even when they were unseen. We would put a few drops of liquid in the palm of our hand and splatter it with a finger on the other hand while saying, “bitty, bitty bat tell me where my shoes are at.” My older male cousin used to spit in his hand when seeking help from bitty bitty bat. That was disgusting, but he was so mischievous it was expected from him. He grew up to be one of my most respected cousins as he earned high ranking in his long career with the US Army.”

—Shirl 2017

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In Appalachia there’s a piece of old folklore that says when cows have strayed from home they can be located by saying “Granddaddy, Granddaddy where are my cows?” to a grandaddy long legs who will then point a leg in the direction of which the cows can be found.

One time I asked Pap if he’d ever heard of a granddaddy helping find your cows. After he quit laughing he said no he must have missed that one.

I’ve never heard about asking bitty bat to help you locate things like Shirl did. Have you?

Tipper

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    August 22, 2019 at 3:17 am

    lol tipper I just love your stories…if I didn’t have four older brothers who used to throw them on me, I may have a fondness for them like you….but im afraid of every spider…ughhhh
    hope you and yours are well…its been a long hot summer here in pa.
    big ladybug hugs
    lynn

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 21, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    This has got me wondering! Do bats catch grandaddys? Grandaddys don’t make webs so I know they don’t catch bats.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    August 21, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    I remember the “granddaddy” rhyme but not the bat one.

  • Reply
    Becky
    August 21, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Nope! I think I must have missed both of those.

  • Reply
    Dee
    August 21, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Never heard that they could point toward lost cows, etc, but seems like I was never afraid of them and let them be where ever I found them. I must have been taught they were helpful. I was blowing some little stones out of the garage yesterday and blew out a granddaddy long legs. He was running trying to get back in the garage but I think the door closed too fast so he may be outside or have found another way inside. Never heard that saying about bats either.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    August 21, 2019 at 9:03 am

    I will be anxious to return to this blog later today to find out if the bitty bitty bat saying was common among other families or just mine.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    August 21, 2019 at 8:50 am

    You have to laugh at Appalachian folk lore but every once in awhile they prove to be true. Just enough to make you wonder.
    Especially when you are young.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    August 21, 2019 at 8:13 am

    I have never heard of any magical powers associated with a bat. I do know I am frightfully afraid of them. One Home Health company I once worked for rented an old building for an office. One evening a bat fell down and was darting crazily around as I sat playing catchup on paperwork. I got out of that office, and after that took all my paperwork home. Snakes and bats it is a toss up, but at least snakes can’t fly nor carry rabies.
    Granddaddy long legs is a different matter. I was always taught they were helpful to get rid of other pests. I always let them live peacefully, and seems way back in time I do recall them associated with cows in some way. Now I was taught never let a bird in the house, and my Mom stressed that. She always felt somehow she was warned of impending deaths when a stray bird managed to get in. She always thought a relentless Hummingbird came back somehow to visit her window after my Dad passed. In times past most were more in tune with nature, and gave significance to matters that now go largely unnoticed. The most eerie thing we learned even from neighbors was that three knocks was never a good thing, especially when nobody at the door.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 21, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Never heard the one about bitty bitty bat. Heard about granddaddy and tried it a few times for fun but we didn’t have lost cows. Back in the day of free range, there actually was a ‘Cowman’ in some places whose job was to find strayed cows. I read a story once about a man in the north Georgia mountains who had that job.

    Speaking of cows, my Dad had a little nonsense thing he would say sometimes. “Yes Dick, I seed your cow; deep blood red, black and white spotted with a mottled face.”

  • Reply
    aw griff
    August 21, 2019 at 7:26 am

    I don’t remember ever hearing bitty bitty bat but we did say granddaddy granddaddy which way did the cows go. I haven’t picked up a granddaddy in many a year but the way I remember it, sometimes their leg you held them by would fall off. You know granddaddies never were much help. They pointed in too many directions. Appalachian humor.

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