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Friday, June 11, 2021

Chrisman - Ah Tcha the Sleeper - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Arthur Bowie Chrisman won the Newbery medal with his book Shen of the Sea "for the most distinguished contribution to American Children's literature during the year 1925."  Today's critical opinion, however, wouldn't agree.  Modern opinion on Goodreads.com complains about the book's lack of Chinese authenticity and potential racism.  One thing I want people to note is the publisher gave the book cover the subtitle of "Chinese Stories for Children" but the actual title page simply gives a subtitle of "A Book for Children" along with crediting Else Hasselriis for her many silhouettes illustrating the book.  There's no claim anywhere that the author was presenting stories from Chinese folklore.  The stories should stand on their own as the creative work of a man who never traveled to China, but was fascinated with it.  Yes, as one reader, Miz Lizzie, who is a folklorist on Goodreads said, "It's about as authentic as 'The Mikado' (also regarded as 'authentic' at the time)."  She and some other readers further point out the better route would have been to say it was inspired by China and also to be aware of the knowledge and time when it was written.  Often it is suggested by the readers that the book's stories are best read aloud.  Today's story I know was particularly popular on lists of stories recommended by librarian-storytellers in the early half of the 20th century.  That along with a connection with St. Louis, Missouri and this past week lead me to present it.  You decide if you would tell it as NOT authentic folklore, but created by a man who clearly loved a land he had never seen.  (I'll say more about St. Louis & this past week afterwards.)


AH TCHA THE SLEEPER

Years ago, in southern China, lived a boy, Ah Tcha by name. Ah Tcha was an orphan, but not according to rule. A most peculiar orphan was he. It is usual for orphans to be very, very poor. That is the world-wide custom. Ah Tcha, on the contrary, was quite wealthy. He owned seven farms, with seven times seven horses to draw the plow. He owned seven mills, with plenty of breezes to spin them. Furthermore, he owned seven thousand pieces of gold, and a fine white cat.

The farms of Ah Tcha were fertile, were wide. His horses were brisk in the furrow. His mills never lacked for grain, nor wanted for wind. And his gold was good sharp gold, with not so much as a trace of copper. Surely, few orphans have been better provided for than the youth named Ah Tcha. And what a busy person was this Ah Tcha. His bed was always cold when the sun arose. Early in the morning he went from field to field, from mill to mill, urging on the people who worked for him. The setting sun always found him on his feet, hastening from here to there, persuading his laborers to more gainful efforts. And the moon of midnight often discovered him pushing up and down the little teak-wood balls of a counting board, or else threading cash, placing coins upon a string. Eight farms, nine farms he owned, and more stout horses. Ten mills, eleven, another white cat. It was Ah Tcha’s ambition to become the richest person in the world.

They who worked for the wealthy orphan were inclined now and then to grumble. Their pay was not beggarly, but how they did toil to earn that pay which was not beggarly. It was go, and go, and go. Said the ancient woman Nu Wu, who worked with a rake in the field: “Our master drives us as if he were a fox and we were hares in the open. Round the field and round and round, hurry, always hurry.” Said Hu Shu, her husband, who bound the grain into sheaves: “Not hares, but horses. We are driven like the horses of Lung Kuan, who . . .” It’s a long story.

But Ah Tcha, approaching the murmurers, said, “Pray be so good as to hurry, most excellent Nu Wu, for the clouds gather blackly, with thunder.” And to the scowling husband he said, “Speed your work, I beg you, honorable Hu Shu, for the grain must be under shelter before the smoke of Evening Rice ascends.”

When Ah Tcha had eaten his Evening Rice, he took lantern and entered the largest of his mills. A scampering rat drew his attention to the floor. There he beheld no less than a score of rats, some gazing at him as if undecided whether to flee or continue the feast, others gnawing—and who are you, nibbling and caring not? And only a few short whisker-lengths away sat an enormous cat, sleeping the sleep of a mossy stone. The cat was black in color, black as a crow’s wing dipped in pitch, upon a night of inky darkness. That describes her coat. Her face was somewhat more black. Ah Tcha had never before seen her. She was not his cat. But his or not, he thought it a trifle unreasonable of her to sleep, while the rats held high carnival. The rats romped between her paws. Still she slept. It angered Ah Tcha. The lantern rays fell on her eyes. Still she slept. Ah Tcha grew more and more provoked. He decided then and there to teach the cat that his mill was no place for sleepy heads.

Accordingly, he seized an empty grain sack and hurled it with such exact aim that the cat was sent heels over head. “There, old Crouch-by-the-hole,” said Ah Tcha in a tone of wrath. “Remember your paining ear, and be more vigilant.” But the cat had no sooner regained her feet than she changed into . . . Nu Wu . . . changed into Nu Wu, the old woman who worked in the fields . . . a witch. What business she had in the mill is a puzzle. However, it is undoubtedly true that mills hold grain, and grain is worth money. And that may be an explanation. Her sleepiness is no puzzle at all. No wonder she was sleepy, after working so hard in the field, the day’s length through.

The anger of Nu Wu was fierce and instant. She wagged a crooked finger at Ah Tcha, screeching: “Oh, you cruel money-grubber. Because you fear the rats will eat a pennyworth of grain you must beat me with bludgeons. You make me work like a slave all day—and wish me to work all night. You beat me and disturb my slumber. Very well, since you will not let me sleep, I shall cause you to slumber eleven hours out of every dozen. . . . Close your eyes.” She swept her wrinkled hand across Ah Tcha’s face. Again taking the form of a cat, she bounded downstairs.

She had scarce reached the third step descending when Ah Tcha felt a compelling desire for sleep. It was as if he had taken gum of the white poppy flower, as if he had tasted honey of the gray moon blossom. Eyes half closed, he stumbled into a grain bin. His knees doubled beneath him. Down he went, curled like a dormouse. Like a dormouse he slumbered.

From that hour began a change in Ah Tcha’s fortune. The spell gripped him fast. Nine-tenths of his time was spent in sleep. Unable to watch over his laborers, they worked when they pleased, which was seldom. They idled when so inclined—and that was often, and long. Furthermore, they stole in a manner most shameful. Ah Tcha’s mills became empty of grain. His fields lost their fertility. His horses disappeared—strayed, so it was said. Worse yet, the unfortunate fellow was summoned to a magistrate’s yamen, there to defend himself in a lawsuit. A neighbor declared that Ah Tcha’s huge black cat had devoured many chickens. There were witnesses who swore to the deed. They were sure, one and all, that Ah Tcha’s black cat was the cat at fault. Ah Tcha was sleeping too soundly to deny that the cat was his. . . . So the magistrate could do nothing less than make the cat’s owner pay damages, with all costs of the lawsuit.

Thereafter, trials at court were a daily occurrence. A second neighbor said that Ah Tcha’s black cat had stolen a flock of sheep. Another complained that the cat had thieved from him a herd of fattened bullocks. Worse and worse grew the charges. And no matter how absurd, Ah Tcha, sleeping in the prisoner’s cage, always lost and had to pay damages. His money soon passed into other hands. His mills were taken from him. His farms went to pay for the lawsuits. Of all his wide lands, there remained only one little acre—and it was grown up in worthless bushes. Of all his goodly buildings, there was left one little hut, where the boy spent most of his time, in witch-imposed slumber.

Now, near by in the mountain of Huge Rocks Piled, lived a greatly ferocious loong, or, as foreigners would say, a dragon. This immense beast, from tip of forked tongue to the end of his shadow, was far longer than a barn. With the exception of length, he was much the same as any other loong. His head was shaped like that of a camel. His horns were deer horns. He had bulging rabbit eyes, a snake neck. Upon his many ponderous feet were tiger claws, and the feet were shaped very like sofa cushions. He had walrus whiskers, and a breath of red-and-blue flame. His voice was like the sound of a hundred brass kettles pounded. Black fish scales covered his body, black feathers grew upon his limbs. Because of his color he was sometimes called Oo Loong. From that it would seem that Oo means neither white nor pink.

The black loong was not regarded with any great esteem. His habit of eating a man—two men if they were little—every day made him rather unpopular. Fortunately, he prowled only at night. Those folk who went to bed decently at nine o’clock had nothing to fear. Those who rambled well along toward midnight, often disappeared with a sudden and complete thoroughness.

As every one knows, cats are much given to night skulking. The witch cat, Nu Wu, was no exception. Midnight often found her miles afield. On such a midnight, when she was roving in the form of a hag, what should approach but the black dragon. Instantly the loong scented prey, and instantly he made for the old witch.

There followed such a chase as never was before on land or sea. Up hill and down dale, by stream and wood and fallow, the cat woman flew and the dragon coursed after. The witch soon failed of breath. She panted. She wheezed. She stumbled on a bramble and a claw slashed through her garments. Too close for comfort. The harried witch changed shape to a cat, and bounded off afresh, half a li at every leap. The loong increased his pace and soon was close behind, gaining. For a most peculiar fact about the loong is that the more he runs the easier his breath comes, and the swifter grows his speed. Hence, it is not surprising that his fiery breath was presently singeing the witch cat’s back.

In a twinkling the cat altered form once more, and as an old hag scuttled across a turnip field. She was merely an ordinarily powerful witch. She possessed only the two forms—cat and hag. Nor did she have a gift of magic to baffle or cripple the hungry black loong. Nevertheless, the witch was not despairing. At the edge of the turnip field lay Ah Tcha’s miserable patch of thick bushes. So thick were the bushes as to be almost a wall against the hag’s passage. As a hag, she could have no hope of entering such a thicket. But as a cat, she could race through without hindrance. And the dragon would be sadly bothered in following. Scheming thus, the witch dashed under the bushes—a cat once more.

Ah Tcha was roused from slumber by the most outrageous noise that had ever assailed his ears. There was such a snapping of bushes, such an awful bellowed screeching that even the dead of a century must have heard. The usually sound-sleeping Ah Tcha was awakened at the outset. He soon realized how matters stood—or ran. Luckily, he had learned of the only reliable method for frightening off the dragon. He opened his door and hurled a red, a green, and a yellow firecracker in the monster’s path.

In through his barely opened door the witch cat dragged her exhausted self. “I don’t see why you couldn’t open the door sooner,” she scolded, changing into a hag. “I circled the hut three times before you had the gumption to let me in.”

“I am very sorry, good mother. I was asleep.” From Ah Tcha.

“Well, don’t be so sleepy again,” scowled the witch, “or I’ll make you suffer. Get me food and drink.”

“Again, honored lady, I am sorry. So poor am I that I have only water for drink. My food is the leaves and roots of bushes.”

“No matter. Get what you have—and quickly.”

Ah Tcha reached outside the door and stripped a handful of leaves from a bush. He plunged the leaves into a kettle of hot water and signified that the meal was prepared. Then he lay down to doze, for he had been awake fully half a dozen minutes and the desire to sleep was returning stronger every moment.

The witch soon supped and departed, without leaving so much as half a “Thank you.” When Ah Tcha awoke again, his visitor was gone. The poor boy flung another handful of leaves into his kettle and drank quickly. He had good reason for haste. Several times he had fallen asleep with the cup at his lips—a most unpleasant situation, and scalding. Having taken several sips, Ah Tcha stretched him out for a resumption of his slumber. Five minutes passed . . . ten minutes . . . fifteen. . . . Still his eyes failed to close. He took a few more sips from the cup and felt more awake than ever.

“I do believe,” said Ah Tcha, “that she has thanked me by bewitching my bushes. She has charmed the leaves to drive away my sleepiness.”

And so she had. Whenever Ah Tcha felt tired and sleepy—and at first that was often—he had only to drink of the bewitched leaves. At once his drowsiness departed. His neighbors soon learned of the bushes that banished sleep. They came to drink of the magic brew. There grew such a demand that Ah Tcha decided to set a price on the leaves. Still the demand continued. More bushes were planted. Money came.

Throughout the province people called for “the drink of Ah Tcha.” In time they shortened it by asking for “Ah Tcha’s drink,” then for “Tcha’s drink,” and finally for “Tcha.”

And that is its name at present, “Tcha,” or “Tay,” or “Tea,” as some call it. And one kind of Tea is still called “Oo Loong”—“Black Dragon.”

***********
I noticed Chrisman knew enough Chinese words to call a dragon a "Loong ."  I've also seen it as a "Lung", but that transliteration would have people thinking of the English word "lung."  He opened with the main character using an abacus and that Chinese coins had a hole in the center for stringing together.  I don't have an abacus to show, but do have some of those coins with a hole to illustrate his greedy start.  While the author's concerns may appear critical of the Chinese, surely greed and overbearing bosses are common everywhere and throughout the ages.

So why do I mention St. Louis?  

This past week, on June 10, I heard was "Iced Tea Day" and the story told by the radio announcer was it dates back to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.  Supposedly a hot day led to the invention of pouring it over ice.  It turns out this is one of many stories about as accurate as Chrisman.  Iced Tea is one of many St. Louis World's Fair food stories debunked on SeriousEats which says: 
If you believe the popular tales, more new American foods were invented at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, than during any other single event in history. The list includes the hamburger, the hot dog, peanut butter, iced tea, the club sandwich, cotton candy, and the ice cream cone, to name just a few. If all the pop histories and internet stories have it right, American foodways would be almost unrecognizable if the 1904 fair had not been held.

 

That picture from the Library of Congress collection shows it as the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, which is the official name.  The link takes you to a Wikipedia article with a wonderful section on the "Legacy" from the event.  Yes, it, too, talks about the food, but being born and growing up in St. Louis it was the buildings, originally expected to be temporary, that remain important to me.  I didn't realize the administration building for Washington University in St. Louis was a fair building.  Some of the fair's "legacy" went to other locations, but a separate article on Forest Park, where the fair was held, tells even more about that legacy.  Yes, I learned things in both articles as I grew up close enough to hear the Zoo's lions and tigers on an early morning before traffic drowned them out.  I remembered the aviary cage you could walk through dating back to the Exposition.  The park's buildings and other features include some I erroneously attributed to the fair, such as the Jewel Box and its Floral Clock (built in the 1930s and the clock is a memorial to Korean War military dead).  Some were correct, such as the waterfall known as The Cascades where I'm in a family picture dating back to my preschool years.  One of those correct, is the Art Museum.  I loved it so much I often saved lunch and bus money to buy art postcards there.  Instead I said goodbye to the statue out front of the Apotheosis of St. Louis before starting the long hike home.  I didn't know it was a bronze replica of a plaster statue at the fair -- nor the lawsuit by the original statue's sculptor (copyright issues even in 1906!).  It was indeed presented by the Exposition in remembrance of the fair.  I also didn't know things like the Exposition's "Bullfight Riot" and forgot the statue of King Louis IX, the namesake of the city, has had his sword stolen so often it's "considered a rite of passage for students in the engineering program at nearby Washington University."

It was for me a landmark deserving that "goodbye...before starting the long hike home."  Thank you for joining me on this trip back in time.

Charles Niehaus - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Apotheosis-of-saint-louis.jpg https://www.flickr.com/photos/cfaulkingham/19384712/
******************
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!


 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Wikipedia and the Research Involved in Storytelling

The Wikipedia logo

I sometimes wish I'd realized my blog's email address would omit the plus and equals signs from its title.  I often claim I'm "mathematically impaired", yet the simple bit of mathematical signage should have been reasonable.  The problem is digital thinking is slightly different.

I take seriously the need for research in my storytelling, whether it's knowing something about the ethnic group or country where a story originated or the facts behind my historical reenactments.  At times I've wondered how much research to post online, but figure giving the reader a chance to choose their own level of how far they want to pursue it is best.

Again and again, the first information link winds up being Wikipedia.org.  This sometimes feels lazy.  PC Magazine on June 3 published an article, "Wikipedia: The Most Reliable Source on the Internet?" looking at not only its reliability, but also that it's not a "primary source."  It used the work of Professor Amy Bruckman from the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Interactive Computing.  She has researched Wikipedia extensively and in her 2022 Cambridge University Press book Should You Believe Wikipedia? examines this very issue.  Ahead of her future keynote speech at IntelliSys 2021, PC Magazine interviewed her.  The surprising conclusion was that even on controversial topics, Wikipedia works better than the rest of the internet.  This is due to its mass peer review and openness to correction when a statement is insufficiently proven or can be shown to be incorrect.

PC Magazine offers comment space on its articles.  Nobody had yet replied when the librarian and storyteller in me wrote: 

This is a relief to read. I do a weekly blog that includes research related to stories and storytelling. Again & again I find Wikipedia is at least the first, but often the best link to give. The resources beyond the article are shown. It's illustrated with graphics safe to use. Annually I contribute to it, the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg and suggest my readers do the same. It used to be that print encyclopedias were a starting point (even when teachers wouldn't let them count in a bibliography) as it pointed to other sources. Wikipedia does this and more. For anyone checking it, it can be a quick look or a means to go further.

Support it & keep it alive.

 

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Ghost Story for Memorial Day

This weekend into Monday is the start of a return to what had been, pre-Covid, the "normal" of a holiday with a complex history.  Memorial Day was called "Decoration Day" by my mother, even though that name began to disappear after World I.  (She surely heard it from the adults around her.)  Much of our nation's movement to a Memorial Day for putting flowers and flags on the graves of our military dead began after our Civil War, but even after the War of 1812 the Wikipedia link includes footnote 9 about:

In 1817, for example, a writer in the Analectic Magazine of Philadelphia urged the decoration of patriot's graves. E.J., "The Soldier's Grave," in The Analectic Magazine (1817), Vol. 10, 264.

Personally I consider such memorializing likely happened throughout history.  The tendency however to make it the unofficial start of summer, complete with the Indianapolis 500 race, sales, and other "revelry" was complained about as early as 1913 by an elderly veteran of the Civil War, saying young people had a "tendency ... to forget the purpose of Memorial Day and make it a day for games, races, and revelry, instead of a day of memory and tears".   When it was one of three holidays changed to three-day weekends (along with Washington's Birthday and Labor Day) it proved the old soldier correct.  Here in the nearby village there would normally be a parade, time with speeches at the main cemetery, and assorted other events that have once again been canceled even as some places are trying it once again.

Last week I mentioned the start of research on a woman named Sarah Matthews Reed Osborn Benjamin, sometimes called "the heroine of Yorktown." In the process I began to realize how many names I was running into from her final home in Pennsylvania were familiar here.  Yes, many settled here in what was still the "Northwest Territory", but it was much more than that.

18th century print by Trumbull & Forest
Again and again the name of "Mad" Anthony Wayne popped up.  He was mainly a Pennsylvanian, so why do so many places in this area have his name?  (Yes, and what's this about a ghost?)  

Mention of there being a ghost of Wayne sent me prowling up and down through what felt at times like the dustiest of Wikipedia articles related to Wayne and the Great Lakes region.  Links abound for your prowling as much as you like.  Some of it provides background for his story.  When you get into the life of a general, some of it depends on your own level of interest.  

Be sure catch his story at both the beginning and as he nears his end (pictures appear there).

Before the Revolution Wayne worked at his father's tannery and trained as a surveyor, at times doing both, until involved in the war.  Wikipedia states "his military exploits and fiery personality quickly earned him promotion to brigadier general and the nickname 'Mad Anthony'."  Less favorably some 21st century historians claim it was "due to his angry temperament, specifically during an incident when he severely punished a skilled informant for being drunk." 

After his extensive service, including Yorktown, by war's end he "was promoted to Major General in 1783 but retired from the Continental Army soon after."  This doesn't mean every battle went successfully.  The 1777 Battle of Paoli went so badly an official inquiry ruled "Wayne was not guilty of misconduct but that he had made a tactical error."  If you think Wayne's military service earned him the title of "Mad", this so infuriated him that he insisted on a complete Court Martial.  It ended by unanimously declaring he acted with honor.  His troops made "Remember Paoli" a rallying cry for the battles of Germantown and Stony Point.  Stony Point vindicated Wayne, showing he also learned from the defeat by using the same fast bold nighttime bayonet attack the British used in Paoli.  Washington even gave him the unusual permission to modify the plan as needed.  The 30 minute successful attack was a huge morale booster for the Continental Army.  Prior to it they had undergone a series of military defeats.  It also earned him a Continental Congress victory medal.

After the war he served a year in the Pennsylvania legislature, then left his wife, Mary, and two children in Paoli, Pennsylvania, to move to land in Georgia granted him for his military service.  These were two rice plantations whose running he left to slaves.  If today's rumor media had been around then, it would have had a field day.  During the war he supposedly found time for romance with various women, including a wealthy woman, Mary Vining, in Delaware.  Living without his family in Georgia, Wayne supposedly had a relationship with Catherine Greene, wife of his friend and fellow General, Nathanael Greene.  Greene also was awarded a plantation, Mulberry Grove, outside Savannah.  Their former  friendship was understandably strained.  Greene, however, like Wayne, had no ability to run his plantation.  Before the Revolution Greene had spoken out against slavery, but resorted to slaves running it.  Both men made such poor business decisions it ran them into deep debt.  Greene died and was buried at Mulberry Grove, leaving his estate the unsuccessful fight to save it.  The evaluation of history militarily ranks Greene as second only to Washington.

As if all of that bit of scandal wasn't enough to tarnish Wayne's reputation, politically he changed his initial support of a democracy, instead he later favored the Federalist Party's strong central government ruled by what he called the "aristocratick."  His political efforts gave him a year representing Georgia and voting to ratify the U.S. constitution before it was found his election was fraudulent on the grounds of residency.

In the midst of all this personal and political scandal, President Washington turned to Wayne to command the Legion of the United States, the reorganized Continental Army fighting the Northwest Indian War.  The Revolution supposedly ended with the Treaty of Paris (1783) making the Great Lakes the divider between British and U.S. territory.  British forts, however, were not evacuated as agreed.  British agents further encouraged the Native American confederacy dating back to the French and Indian War of 1754–1763, which had British colonials fighting French colonials for North America and each side having Native American allies.  After the American Revolution the Northwest Territory (made from a bit of western Pennsylvania, all of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern part of Minnesota), while supposedly part of the new nation was also Native American land.  The Treaty of Paris hadn't included them, so British treaties with their native allies weren't recognized.  The Northwest Territory was opened to settlement, but prohibiting slavery.  This ignored any Native American claims and so the stage for the Northwest Indian War was set.

The names of Pontiac and Tecumseh are familiar in this part of Michigan and bookend the Northwest Indian War with Pontiac's War as a 1763 loose confederation of Native American nations against the British control of the Great Lakes area following the French and Indian War.  Originally the end of Pontiac's War was considered a Native American failure, but more recently is viewed as a military stalemate which by treaty recognized "indigenous people had certain rights to the lands they occupied."  The problem with that has been stated by modern historian Daniel K. Richter as " the war saw the emergence of the novel idea that all Native people were 'Indians,' that all Euro-Americans were 'Whites,' and that all on one side must unite to destroy the other."  Even to this day some debate calls the war anything with Pontiac's name an exaggeration because his involvement was only part of it.  Whether that is correct or not, it looked to further multi-tribal opposition to European colonization.  That attempt at loose confederation stayed in the region with Tecumseh, who took part in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, but didn't participate in the Treaty of Greenville. Tecumseh's fighting went all the way to the War of 1812, with his reputation becoming admired even by those who fought him and lasting far beyond his death.

But what about Anthony Wayne?

Wayne built or rebuilt ten forts in Ohio Country in his campaign from 1792-1795, but there were considerably more.  There were a large number of forts and settlements from 1778-1803 taking the area from Cahokia, Illinois in 1778 to Xenia, Ohio in 1803.  To show how things were changing quickly, Tecumseh was said to have been born in Xenia in the 1760s when it was Shawnee homeland.  By 1803 Ohio was admitted to the Union.  (Don't get me started on talk about how the "Buckeyes" worked against Michigan statehood and the Toledo War!)  Wayne not only saw to fort construction, but the war came to an official end with the Battle of  Fallen Timbers, just outside present-day Toledo.  The many times I've traveled the Anthony Wayne Trail -- usually en route to or from the Toledo Zoo -- I never thought about the battle even though I had heard of the name.  Now I would want to stop at the Fallen Timbers battlefield park.

https://www.nps.gov/places/fallen-timbers-battlefield-and-fort-miamis-national-historic-site.htm

Prior to the battle and afterwards for fifty miles around it Wayne ordered the destruction of Native American villages and crops.  

One of Anthony Wayne's officers may have painted the treaty negotiations, c. 1795.
 

This led to the Treaty of Greenville, defining treaty lines for Native territories and payment, including some as annual federal grants.  

This was criticized then and continues today.  Tecumseh led opposition to U.S. expansion onto Native lands.  He stated it gave away land the chiefs who signed didn't own.

Further criticism continuing into the present says the annuities started government influence in tribal affairs.  It is also blamed for the first wave of Indian removal and ultimately genocide.

For his part, after the hard winter for the Indians, Wayne's negotiation gave most of Ohio to the U.S. while he promised the land of "Indiana", the remaining land to the west, to remain Indian forever.  Did he believe that?  Unfortunately Native American history is full of grants supposedly lasting forever.

There's a certain irony that former surveyor, Anthony Wayne, led to major surveying.

Fort Recovery sign photographed by Dana60Cummins








What was then "Wayne County" was carved out of portions of Hamilton County (now Ohio) and unorganized land, with its seat at Detroit, which had been evacuated by the British five weeks previously. Wayne County originally covered all of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, northwestern Ohio, northern Indiana and a small portion of the present Lake Michigan shoreline, including the site of present-day Chicago.

A year later, after the creation of Wayne County (August 15, 1796)  Wayne started back to Pennsylvania.  He got as far as Erie, Pennsylvania, which, of course, had a long history with the Iroquois Confederation, especially the Seneca.  The fort area known as Fort Presque Isle dates back to a French fort during the French and Indian War, later burned by the French.  The British then built a Fort Presque Isle later captured by Pontiac's Rebellion.  By 1795 yet a third with the same name was built, a blockhouse, but it was under U.S.  control.. 

RoadsideAmerica.com  posted a visit to the reconstructed blockhouse where Wayne died.

<http://www.fortwiki.com/Fort_Presque_Isle_(2)>

After all the action of two wars, including being wounded twice, Wayne's death seems almost trivial.  Heading home he fell ill with what was probably complications from gout and died in a chair.  It was his dying wish to be buried there and he was.  

Photo of St. David's ca. 1907
That should have been the end of it, but 13 years later his family asked to have his bones dug up and transported to the family burial plot 400 miles away in Radnor, Pennsylvania at St. David's Episcopal Church in the Newton Township portion of the graveyard.  His son, Colonel Isaac Wayne, went to collect the bones only to find his father's body hadn't decomposed enough.  It's a bit ironic that Anthony had spent his early years as a tanner with his own father, but now the only way to bring his bones back to the home he had left so long ago he needed to be boiled!  The flesh that remained was again buried at the fort, while Isaac stuffed the bones into his luggage onto a cart.  They kept falling off and later at the Old St. David Church Cemetery it was discovered that not all were there.  It was decided not to travel the road back looking for them. 

The blog, Ghosts of Delaware County, in an article from September 13, 2010 says that the ghost of Anthony Wayne 

every year on General Wayne's Birthday which also happens to be New Year's Day, he rises from his grave and can be seen riding across the state of Pennsylvania back to his original grave in search of his bones. 

I don't know if you'll ever see his ghost, but I'm fairly sure you'll see he's the only one on the FindAGrave.com site to have two graves.

General Anthony Wayne's second grave site in Radnor, PA

While my blog is covered by copyright, I trust you will feel free to re-tell as much of this ghost story as works for you.  Historians tend to like the details, while an audience probably likes the grisly boiling of the bones and "Mad" Anthony Wayne's hunt for his bones.  It's enough to make any ghost Mad.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Something Old and Something New

Usually the phrase "Something old and something new" is part of the planning for a wedding, but not today.  I'm excited to announce two things fitting that phrase.

My website has been around it seems like forever!  I created it back when I was still on Earthlink email.  (Remember back to that email?)  They let me create a website using simple tools and start there with my posting it.  Loved the look of it and over the years maintained it with a website builder.  Google has begun to penalize websites unable to re-size to cell phones.  It's called a "responsive site."  (I'm interested in how many read this blog on a cell phone & the difficulty of viewing it.  I know it works on templates, but am uncertain the blog needs a complete redesign after ten and a half years which might create problems with the archive.)  My website is probably mainly accessed from a desktop considering the venues hiring me, but I didn't want it being downgraded by Google Search.  

I've long believed in being able to maintain my own website, but this was definitely beyond me.  Looking around I was fortunate enough to discover a very talented web designer, Rick Dery.  He has a large number of website clients, but doubt he had worked before with performers, certainly not a storyteller.  He took my old site information and a great many photos of me in my work and Ta DAAAA, https://www.lois-sez.com/ is fresh and new.  (If you still see those old blue tiles framing pages, refresh your browser to see the new version of the site.)  My work is quite varied, but a lot of those photos show my historical storytelling work or my work with puppets.  While I do a lot in schools and libraries, there's a problem showing young audiences (although one program at a school in the Dominican Republic was able to be used).  No website is ever finished.  At least annually I need to revise it, but now I'll have Rick do it.  (YES, I definitely recommend him.)

My other "Something old and something new" has me looking ahead to the U.S. Revolutionary War.  What's that, you say that's behind?  Yes, and yet America 250 is coming, bringing renewed attention to the period in 2026, the 250th anniversary.  I found a delightful woman, Sarah Matthews Reed Osborn Benjamin, who received a pension for her work during the war.  Her first husband, William Reed, died in the war.  Her second husband joined up without telling her and then insisted she travel with his military unit, cooking, sewing, and washing.  Along the way she twice talked with General Washington, first at Knightsbridge where she was standing guard wearing her husband's heavy overcoat and bearing his gun.  Later he talked with her at the Battle of Yorktown, where she additionally witnessed the crying surrender of a "portly" British general.  It wasn't Cornwallis as she saw him, too, and said he had a diminutive appearance and crossed eyes.  She also had a brief third marriage to John Benjamin before again being widowed.  There's much more, of course, to her story and I'm getting more and more excited as I gather as much information as possible from here in faraway Michigan (frontier territory she never saw) roughly 250 years later.  She lived long enough that a photo was taken of her  at well over 100 years old.

With her many last names, I have already named the program, "They called me Sarah."

I can picture keeping her story alive whenever a group looks at the Revolutionary War, but also she's a woman deserving of attention in Women's History Month.  I plan to keep her alive with the style she showed all of her years.  Her obituary article mentions how she would "relate the events of her early days with all the vivacity of youth."  Can you see why she's exciting this storyteller and I feel at home with her?


 









*****************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

Friday, May 14, 2021

Saintine/Skinner - Picciola - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

 Last week I mentioned "my recent acquisition by the Skinner sisters, Ada M. and Eleanor L., The Emerald Story Book; Stories and Legends of Spring, Nature and Easter."  Today's story, of all the many tales and poems in that book, has haunted me.  I'm not alone for even today the novel, Picciola, by French novelist and playwright, X.B. Saintine, from 1836 continues to fascinate readers on Goodreads

But that is a full-length novel and is neither suited to storytelling nor this blog.  Ada Skinner distilled the story to its essence for the "Spring Stories and Legends" section of The Emerald Story Book.  I've not read the novel, so I can only react to her adaptation.  It's simple matching the novel's introduction of "Here are no stirring incidents, no thrilling love tale. And yet there is love in what I am about to relate; but it is only the love of a man for...Shall I tell you? No, read and you will learn". 

There are no illustrations except the ones in your mind, but I will set the mood with this Photo by monkeyoutside on Unsplash

PICCIOLA

Adapted from St. Saintine

Many years ago a good man, who lived in France, was thrown into prison because the King suspected him of having plotted against the government.

Within four grey stone walls, with only one small window through which the little stream of sunshine came, the poor man was kept captive for months and years. He was not allowed to speak to a living soul except his jailer who at best was but a cross old fellow. He had no work to do. There were no books to read, and his only source of amusement during many long tedious hours was drawing pictures with a bit of charcoal on the bare stone walls of his prison cell.

Fortunately, however, the poor captive was permitted to leave his cell for one hour each morning and go up a narrow winding stairway which led him into a small courtyard on all sides of which rose high, strong prison walls. There was no roof overhead. Here the prisoner could breathe the fresh air and feel the warm sun and by looking up he could see a bit of the blue sky above.

Day after day the prison life went on in the same round without any change or hope of change. The bitterness and loneliness of the poor man’s lot grew upon him as months and years passed without a word from his family or friends and without hope of ever seeing one of them again. And by and by a time came when he could no longer even find amusement in sketching upon the walls of his cell, for not one vacant spot was left in all that space where he could draw a picture. He was a very unhappy man indeed, and it is hard to say how it might have ended. But one day a new interest came into his life—an interest which changed the poor fellow from an unhappy bitter man who had come to hate everybody and everything, into one who forgot all wrong and who learned to see only the good and the beautiful in all around him. And this interest came about through the growing up of a tiny stray seed which had been blown into the courtyard by the wind and had taken root between two of the great stones with which the courtyard was paved.

It happened that one day as the prisoner was taking his daily walk his eyes caught sight of the bright green of the little seedling just in time to save it from being crushed beneath his foot. He stopped and looked closer. Then he saw how a little plant had sent down its rootlets into the crevice between the stones and had struggled to push its head up where its green leaves might catch what they could of the scant sunshine. He thought how wonderful it was that the little seed had found courage to take root and struggle for life in the dark and gloomy courtyard of the prison. “Brave little plant,” he said. “You deserve to live. I shall watch over you and guard you, for the wind and the hail are hard enemies.”

Day by day he noticed how bravely it grew higher and higher and unfolded one leaf after another to the dull sunshine. He became more and more interested in the little nursling which in time was like a dear friend and companion to him. He called it Picciola, which means, “little one,” and before many days had passed, it had taken root and grown in his own heart so that there was no longer room for bitterness or memory of any wrongs.

At one time when a great hailstorm sent its cruel hail into the courtyard, the prisoner bent over Picciola to protect it and the driving hailstones fell upon his own head until the storm was over.

“My poor little Picciola,” he said, “I shall not always be here to guard you from harm. Much can happen to my little plant when I am in my cell. I will build a little fence around you, then the wind cannot blow you down nor the hail cut you with sharp stones.”

The cross jailer, too, took an interest in Picciola when he saw how happy the prisoner had become and he was glad to help take care of the little plant. Somehow, the jailer did not seem to be such a cross fellow as before; indeed he seemed to be quite a gentle and kind hearted man.

Now the prisoner was very happy and the days were no longer weary and without interest for Picciola was always waiting for him in the courtyard and he was sure to see something new about the little plant each morning he visited it. And Picciola grew and grew and in time put forth two beautiful blossoms and sent perfume to make glad the heart of her friend.

But one morning alas! when the prisoner went to look at Picciola he found that, in spite of all his care, she had begun to droop and wither. What could be the matter? In a moment he was on the ground examining the little plant to find out what was causing all the trouble. He soon discovered that Picciola had grown so large that there was no longer room enough for it to grow in the crevice between the stones. The sharp edges of the stones cut into the delicate stem and the poor prisoner could see that his little companion would die unless the stones could be lifted.

He was in great distress. He tried with all the strength he had to lift the stones himself; but he could not move them. He begged the jailer to help him.

“I can do nothing for you,” said the jailer. “You must ask the King; he alone has the power to say that the stones should be lifted.”

“But the King is far away,” said the prisoner. “There is but one way to reach him—I must write.”

The poor fellow in despair sent a letter to the King begging him to save the life of his little friend, Picciola. The letter was written on a white handkerchief with a bit of charcoal. He begged the King, not for his own freedom and life, but for the life of Picciola. As soon as the King finished reading the prisoner’s letter he said:

“This man is not really wicked at heart or he could not care so much for a little plant. The stones shall be raised that the little plant may live, and I will pardon this prisoner because of his great love and sacrifice for so helpless a thing as Picciola.” So the prisoner was released and when he left his lonely prison cell he took Picciola with him, for she had been the beginning for him of a new happiness.


Photo by Valentin Salja on Unsplash


Initially trying to find more about this story, Skinner led us astray by claiming it was originally by "St. Saintine."  A typo?  Wikipedia gives us the basics on X.B. Saintine, hinting at the popularity of the novel, but while they mention it being "translated into many European languages", Project Gutenberg only offers it in the original French.  Google Books has a free eBook also in French, but with the mainly English introduction by A.C. Clapin telling us of the book's popularity not only in winning the highest award by the French Academy, but :

Picciola was a great literary success.  Music, painting, the stage, even fashion, in all its frivolities, borrowed in turn from the Author of Picciola either the sentiment or the title of his book.  There was a time when the flower of the Fenestrelle prisoner blossomed everywhere; on the piano as a musical reverie; on the easel as a painting; those who in the evening saw Picciola on the stage, might have contemplated, in the morning, Picciola, a real living flower at a flower show.

Can you think of any modern novel that is a similar sensation everywhere?

The introduction goes on to say "Saintine was not dazzled by the great renown of his book."  This is further shown by its sparking a letter (unfortunately given only in French) in 1843 by Napoleon III telling of it bringing comfort in his own imprisonment.  Saintine sent a copy of the book to him and received back a blossom of the Heliotrope the prisoner cultivated on the terrace of his prison.

As the French might sigh, "Alas!" it takes some prowling to find the book in English.  Archive.org will let you read an English translation online.  There are several, but skip the first one as it's the version offered by Google I mentioned earlier and is mainly in French.  Beyond that there are several translations, including ones with illustrations.

(You even can find at Archive.org a pair of those "musical reveries.")

For myself, I find Skinner's adaptation sufficient, but, as I said earlier, haunting.

*****************

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!