April 24, 2013

Society of Bridge Spitters

Bastrop's Old Iron Bridge
Bastrop's Old Iron Bridge. Photo by Larry D. Moore.

"It all began in 1961 with a classic episode of the Andy Griffith Show in which Opie's little girl cousin came to Mayberry to visit. His job was to entertain her. Not good! He wanted to play baseball; she wanted to play with dolls. She suggested playing house; he preferred cowboys and Indians. The entire episode revolved around this terrible dilemma. Finally, Opie hit on a magic solution, asking with those big, excitement-filled eyes and that smiley, freckled face, 'Wanna go spit off the bridge?' She agreed and off they went, happy as can be." (excerpt from Bastrop According to Ken, by Ken Kesselus.)

The International Society of Bridge Spitters was started by our very own City Council member, Ken Kesselus, as a way to combat boredom in Bastrop. To make it official, Ken created a certificate that he signed as the Bastrop Chapter Cuspidorist. The other signature on the certificate is none other than Opie Taylor himself, dubbed the International Chief Expectorator. (Truth be told, Opie Taylor didn't really sign it. The "forgery" was signed by 5-year old Hillary Fritz over 20 years ago!)

Opie Taylor and Ken Kesselus, Society of Bridge Spitters
Opie Taylor, International Chief Expectorator (left) and
Ken Kesselus, American National Spittelator (right)

Once the Society grew outside Bastrop and eventually went nationwide and then international, Ken took on the titles of Texas State Spittleator and American National Spittleator.

At one particular Bridge Spit, local Bastropian Robbie Sanders suggested singing a song she learned as a child, "Dirty Lil" (song lyrics below), and she became the official Bridge Spit song leader. Another tradition that became an integral part of the bridge spitting ceremony is a secret handshake, invented by Becky Rivers.

Dirty Lil song lyrics

You might be thinking to yourself, "How does one join the Society of Bridge Spitters?" It's simple. The ceremony begins with established members singing "Dirty Lil" by the entrance to the bridge. The candidates will then learn the history of the Bridge Spitters, how to sing the song, and the proper etiquette for spitting. It ends with everyone lining up and spitting off the bridge in unison, as the song dictates.

Once done spitting, newly inducted members will receive their certificates and learn the secret handshake. After the official photograph is taken, Ken Kesselus, founding member, plays a special tape from an honorary member, radio broadcaster Garrison Keillor.

In Bastrop, Texas even proper southern ladies aspire to be Bridge Spitters.
Be on the lookout for the next official "Bridge Spit." It's definitely something everyone needs to experience! Because in Bastrop, Texas, even proper southern ladies aspire to be Bridge Spitters.

Bastrop Bridge photo attribution: Larry D. Moore [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons.

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