Sally Ann Thunder Ann WhirlwindSally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind
An American Tall Tale

It was more than 200 years ago now when Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind came into this world. The Whirlwind family had nine boys already, and then there she was—a brand new daughter! Right away Sally Ann looked up at that family of hers, and before they knew what was happening, she just started to talk.

"Hello! I'm Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind! And I am amazing!"

Now people say her parents just stood and stared for a minute at that little talking baby. Then they grinned real wide. "You're right, little daughter of ours. You are amazing!"

Sally Ann's brothers had wanted another brother, so they weren't too impressed by this little girl. But Sally Ann wasn't going to put up with that nonsense, so she looked at those brothers of hers, and she said: "Brothers, let me tell you something! Whatever any one of you can do, I can do better!"

Naturally the boys didn't believe her. After all, she was only a baby! But Sally Ann was even more amazing than she said she was. By the time she was one, she could run faster than all her brothers; she could race a wildcat. When she was four, she beat those brothers of hers at arm wrestling. So pretty soon those brothers were proud of Sally Ann. They began to enter her in big contests. Sally Ann ran faster than all the runners in Tennessee. Sally Ann out-wrestled all the arm wrestlers. By the time she was seven, she was the mightiest member of Tennessee's Tug 'o War Team.

Now Sally Ann was tough, and she was sassy, and she was pretty, too, and she was just as sweet as honey, so sweet the hornets let her wear their nests for her Sunday-go-to-Church hat. Here's the thing about Sally Ann. She was a sweetheart, but she didn't like folks to call her that. "Don't call me sweetie," she told anyone who tried. "I can out grin and out run and out lift and out sneeze and out sleep and out lie and out tug any old scamp from Maine to Louisiana." And that was true.

When Sally was a little bit older, she decided it was time to see more of the world, so she said to her family, "I'm off to see the world," and she set off on her own two feet to explore the wild frontier. As soon as the weather turned cold that first winter, she crawled into a cave and hibernated with the bears to stay warm. Now when spring came that year, Papa Bear woke and saw he wasn't alone, and he wasn't too happy. He began to paw at the ground, and he looked at Sally Ann, and he growled his deepest, meanest, grisliest, scariest growl. But Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind just grinned at him. Sally Ann had this fabulous grin, and nothing scared her, and that bear was so surprised to see this tough little girl just smiling at him, he fell over in a faint. So while that bear was passed out, Sally Ann raced out of the cave.

All through that spring and deep into the high heat of summer, Sally Ann kept right on running and walking and wandering, taking in the big, wide world. They say it was one day that spring, right after she surprised that bear—that Sally Ann came upon a hickory tree and saw something strange. It was a man's head, and that head was wearing a coonskin cap, and that head was stuck in the crook of that hickory tree. But this wasn't just any man. The fella stuck in that tree was the famous Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.

Sally Ann took a long, hard look at that fella stuck in the tree, but she didn't recognize him. She squinted. And she said, "Now how're we gonna set you free?" Before Davy could answer, Sally Ann spotted a nest of rattlesnakes beside that tree. That gave her a great idea, so she cried, "I got it!" And she snatched those rattlesnakes—all six of them—and she knotted those snakes together so she had a nice fat snake lasso. Then she lassoed the hickory branch and she tugged, one stiff tug, and POP! Davy's head was set free.

Naturally Davy was mightily impressed. He introduced himself to Sally Ann. "I'm Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier! You know, the one they sing the song about…" Sally Ann grinned. She liked the look of this Davy Crockett. Everyone knew him; he was famous far and wide. And Sally Ann thought for one half of one second, and then she said, "Davy, how's this sound? Let's get married!" So that's what they did.

People say Sally Ann and Davy were mighty happy. They had ten children. Now they named their first son Hardstone, and soon after he was born, Davy Crockett had to leave home for a while to go to Washington. He kissed Sally Ann and Hardstone goodbye. He wouldn't be back for a while; he had a lot of work to do in Washington. But he and Sally Ann knew everyone would be just fine.

That very night, just as Sally Ann was lying down to go to sleep, she looked out the window and saw a whole gang of ferocious alligators surrounding their house. Now Sally Ann was determined to protect that little baby of theirs, so she ran outside and she began to fling those alligators this way and that. From that day on, everyone in the whole wide world knew that Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind was the bravest woman anywhere, and the strongest, and the fastest, and the toughest. Well, most people knew. Some folks didn't believe it, and sometimes they tried to test her strength and her courage and her wit and her wisdom and her kindness. But every time they did, they discovered it was true—Sally Ann was just exactly like she said, truly amazing.