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Saturday, January 25, 2020

Parker - The Rainmaker Wirinun - Keeping the Public in Public Domain


'Entire Species Are Being Wiped Out' Ecologists Say Half a Billion May Have Been Killed
As of January 23, 2020 when a crash killed three Americans battling the Australian wildfires, CBS News reported:
The tragedy brings the death toll from the blazes to at least 31 since September. The wildfires have also destroyed more than 2,600 homes and razed more than 25 million acres, an area bigger than Indiana. 
(New South Wales Premier Gladys) Berejiklian said there were more than 1,700 volunteers and personnel in the field, and five fires were being described at an "emergency warning" level - the most dangerous on a three-tier scale - across the state and on the fringes of the nation's capital, Canberra.
The Reuters news service said the wildfires have killed an estimated billion animals.
On my Facebook page (open for viewing to the public) I've posted about the matching funds being raised by the American Veterinary Medical Association to help Australian veterinarians helping animals in the fire.  I featured that because the species in Australia are unique and in danger of extinction from the wildfires.  Food is also being airdropped for animals surviving the fire but losing their natural food supplies.

Yes, people help and they need help too.  You can guarantee assistance through religious relief groups, including the Salvation Army of Australia (nicknamed the Salvos in Australian English), who are doing an excellent job of detailing the ongoing work of their Disaster Relief Team, or the international Red Cross is an option through Australian Red Cross' Disaster Relief and Recovery



The classic Public Domain Australian Aboriginal stories are found in the 1896 collection by K. Langloh Parker in Australian Legendary Tales.  That link to the Wikipedia article on it does a good job of reviewing the book's Victorian colonial shortcomings and its more favorable view of her methods which she defended by saying:
I am very careful to get them as truly as I can—first I get an old black to tell it in his own language—he probably has little English—I get a younger one to tell it back to him in his language he corrects what is wrong—then I get the other one to tell it to me in English—I write it down, read it and tell it back again to the old fellow with the help of the medium, for though I have a fair grasp of their language I could not in a thing like this trust to my knowledge entirely.
Parker grew up on a northern New South Wales station (prime territory for the current fires although they are widespread throughout the continent) and she is believed to have developed an early affection and interest in Aboriginal culture after being saved from drowning at age six by an Aboriginal girl.


The Euahlayi people, of whom Parker writes have their own language and names for things and people.  At the risk of delaying their story, I will give this "glossary", but you may use it later or when you wish.  Because the language at the time Parker wrote was taken from oral language without a standardized written spelling, occasionally an alternative is given parenthetically.  Parker sometimes also inserts the meaning within the story.  The chant within the story is not explained.  I'll let the pronunciation guide wait until the end.

Glossary in order the words appear in the story as given by Parker

wirinun (wirreenun): literal meaning "clever-man"; medicine man; sorcerer; a fully initiated man; a learned person
dardur(r): bark humpy or shelter
humpies: not defined in the glossary, but the previous word explains it's a shelter
Noonga(h)-burra(h): tribe of blacks on the Narran River; belonging to the Nooga(h) country
Narran (Narrin): name of river
wilgu-wilgu (willgoo-willgoo, wilgoo-wilgoo): painted stick with feathers on top
gubbera(h): clear magic stone; crystal
waywa(h): belts worn by men, consisting of a waistband of opossum's sinews, with bunches of strips of paddymelon skins hanging from them
corroboree (corrobboree): aborigines' dance
Bora (Borah, Boorah): sacred initiation rites and ceremonies
Baiame (Byamee): literal meaning, "Great One"; culture hero or god; creator
goodoo: codfish
murree: species of fish; the swift-to-hunt-game
tukki (tucki): fish, a species of bream
bunmilla(h): a fish


Certainly rain is needed to help, but the drought preceding the wildfires was frequently set ablaze by lightning.  The high volatility of the oil in Australia's Eucalyptus, which forms three quarters of its forests, also has an adaptation to fire, regenerating from buds deep inside its thick bark.

Since eucalyptus leaves form the bulk of a koala's diet, I'm hopeful especially after reading how places that had the fires back in September have already begun to rejuvenate.

If you wish to read even more from Australian Legendary Tales it's available at Project Gutenberg because it's Public Domain.  By the way, when re-published in 1953, it was chosen by the Children's Book Council of Australia as "Book of the Year" for 1954.
************************
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 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!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Chinese New Year of the Rat and "The Rat Princess" - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

HD Wallpapers at http://wallpapers9.org/chinese-new-year-pictures/
Did you know our Solar or Gregorian date of January 17 is the start of what is called the Little Year?  It's mainly a time to prepare for the start of the Chinese New Year.  Many countries besides China and the Chinese people celebrate this time of the Lunar New Year, although the Wikipedia article also points to several Asian Lunar New Year dates due to all the many ways calendars were figured out.  Still those other dates are dwarfed by China's large population and many of Chinese ancestry around the world and it "has strongly influenced lunar new year celebrations of China's neighbouring cultures, including the Korean New Year (seol), the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet.[3] It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Overseas Chinese populations, including Singapore,[4] Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar,[5] Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines,[6] and Mauritius,[7] as well as many in North America and Europe."  (Those footnotes are in the Wikipedia article.) Vietnam and Korea share similar Confucian culture, so they celebrate the Lunar New Year.  Japan once celebrated it.

Back to the current time of the "Little Year", it's not only preparation for the coming celebration, but its main activities are house cleaning to sweep away bad luck and prayers to the stove god.  Considering how it's winter in the northern hemisphere and definitely here in the mitten-shaped state of Michigan, I may not consider my stove, furnace, or fireplace a god, but certainly want to keep them all working!  As for bad luck, I'll gladly pick up a broom and sweep especially around the dirt left by my old computer tower and hope my new "All in One" lasts a long time.  I first learned of the "Little Year" at this site, ChineseNewYear.net

The whole combination of three festivals (Little Year, Spring Festival -- which we think of as Chinese New Year, and the Lantern Festival which runs from February 5th to 8th) is there, along with a large section about food, decoration, myths about Chinese New Year, historical and modern clothing, taboos, and, of course, more.  That last one, taboos, caught my eye.  I'm not superstitious, but my recent computer woes had me check what to avoid to guarantee good luck, since that's the big wish in New Year's festivities, lunar or solar.

Taboos:
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
  1. Do not say negative words (this includes death, sick, empty, pain, ghost, poor, break, kill!)
  2. Do not break ceramics or glass
  3. Do not clean or sweep (you did that during Little Year, now you don't want to throw out the garbage or sweep away your good luck)
  4. Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects (originally this was to give women a break, but nowadays 99% of hair salons close until lunar February 2, when festivities end)
  5. Do not visit the wife's family (it implies marriage problems, but on lunar February 2 they should visit the wife's family along with their children and bring a modest gift -- To my own daughters, hint, hint!)
  6. Do not demand debt repayment, but also don't borrow money lest you need to borrow all year
  7. Avoid fighting and crying to ensure a smooth year
  8. To avoid being sick all year you shouldn't take medicine, visit the doctor, have or do surgery, or get shots, although if you're chronically ill or suddenly ill you should do what is needed
  9. Do not give New Year blessings to someone still in bed (lest they be bed-ridden all year), but also don't tell them to wake up or you'll be bossed around all year
  10. Gift-giving taboos rule out clocks, apples, and splitting pears.  Those all involve similarity to Chinese pronunciation, which reminds me the site's listing of Chinese New Year Greetings don't include pronunciation, but I was always told tone in Chinese could make such a difference that if you said something incorrectly you might be talking about your mother-in-law (#5?) instead of your horse and vice-versa.
It's fun to look at such traditions and doubt much is really believed, although lovers of the television show Fresh Off the Boat or various Asian books and films can just hear the mother saying "It's for your own good!"

Freestocks.org at Unsplash.com
I imagine you have heard about the 12 Chinese zodiac animals and how the coming year is the Year of the Rat.  That doesn't  sound like a good year to most of us, but "In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children."  The good attributes of a Rat person is they're "clever, quick thinkers, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life."


Today I can celebrate by once again bringing a Public  Domain story . . . HURRAY!  It's from Sara Cone Bryant whose work has appeared here 3 times before.  It can be found with other stories and storytelling tips in her classic How to Tell Stories to Children and Some Stories to Tell and the story opens with a hint on telling it.  The story lets us go back to the days when Japan celebrated the Lunar New Year with this tale that might remind you of yet another Japanese tale, but I'll talk about that after the story.

Some readers may be familiar not only with the style of this story and how one thing leads to another before coming back to the beginning, but it especially reminds me of yet another Japanese tale so well illustrated by the award-winning Gerald McDermott in The Stonecutter.

If you go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbHiI8Qo8rs you can have the rare opportunity to watch his first commercial film at the age of 19, an extremely complex animation short featuring approximately 2000 animation cels presented in six minutes.  He only made five films and all are under 12 minutes.  After retiring from film animation at the age of 32, McDermott began producing animated children’s books, eventually becoming one of the world’s best-known authors of books for young readers, winning numerous awards in the process. More about McDermott at http://www.afana.org/mcdermott.htm" from http://archive.org/

Maybe he started the Lunar New Year at age 32 making a book and we are all the richer for it!
***************** 
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 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!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Life Goes On (despite the "Joys" of Computers)

LoiS(uffering through my own computer crises as my aged computer died over the holidays & I'm still struggling through the backup downloaded to my new computer)

Storytelling programs of "History as viewed by the 'average' person" are a touch of sanity in the midst of the above-mentioned Computer Chaos.  This past week I once again became Liberetta Lerich Green, telling the story of the Lerich family's Underground Railroad Station and their work during the War of Rebellion (there was nothing Civil about the "Civil War").
Next week is the anniversary of the start of Prohibition in the United States.  I will be at the Clarkston Independence District Library where you can join me as a reporter/flapper telling how Michigan had a two year head start on Prohibition and then supplied 3/4 of the smuggled alcohol during Prohibition for "High Times in the Dry Times."  This program includes music and a bit of audience participation!
Everybody always seems to look back at the past as "the Good Old Days", but I have to mention the problems back then, too.  I offer "edutainment", however and don't dwell on the violence of the past, but must mention it when telling about "History as viewed by the 'average' person."  Personally my difficulties with switching computers does indeed make me Luddite enough to wish all of this wasn't necessary and to worry that technology is also losing history.  Still I know this is a two-edged sword helping find information quickly, it just requires the knowledge to track it all down.  If you look at the sidebar here you will find information that came from microfilmed newspaper articles about the Michigan 5th Infantry during the Civil War.  Old technology should not be discarded.

Hopefully by next week all the bits, bytes, apps will have been sorted out enough that this blog goes on in the way it should.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

New Year, New Start

'Stove-marino' on https://www.lovethispic.com
Hadn't planned on quite the New Start that a New Year (and in this case a New Decade) wound up requiring.  A week ago my computer died.  Yes, it gave some weird clues something might be having problems, but I still tried to keep it working.  The next day I was told the hard drive was hopeless.  Rest in peace or maybe it will be Rest in pieces at a nearby recycling spot.  I keep backup using both Carbonite and an external drive -- I'm kind of a "belt and suspenders" type of person.  Still I tend to use my computer like an overstuffed filing cabinet, so it will take a few days to get all my data and everything downloaded.

A library system where I used to work believed computers should be replaced every three years.  My now dead computer was so old it had been upgraded from Windows 7 to 10 and Microsloth is now in the process of phasing out updates on WIN10.  The world of technology with omnipresent computers and the internet means things seem to have planned obsolescence.   Frankly the computer world operates on the principle of "If it isn't broke; break it!"  Think about all the videotapes you now couldn't give away because a VCR is old technology.  CD players also are becoming outdated.

What does this mean for historians and archiving?  My one-room school teacher program discusses things like the curriculum including "Penmanship."  At the end I hear regularly from grandparents talking about how they have had to teach their grandchildren how to write a signature and cursive writing.  When I learned it, we called it manuscript or just script.  When the name changed to "cursive" a joke went around that a parent wrote back to a teacher commenting on their child's "cursive writing" by saying "I don't know where they learned it, we don't use that kind of language in our home!"  Whatever you call it, thanks to the standardization of today's "Core Curriculum", it was decided students needed to learn to communicate using a computer instead.

Put in your search engine "research on handwriting and learning" and be prepared for a flood of studies saying you learn better by using handwriting.  Since at least 2011 this has been claimed.  To be fair, an opposing view appeared in the online science magazine, Nautilus, in an article by Philip Ball called  "Cursive handwriting and other education myths".  The article has generated a discussion so far with 177 comments.  Probably because of all this, local news media recently began noting the teaching of cursive writing was beginning to return to local school districts.

To repeat: What does this mean for historians and archiving?  Yes, it seems true what appears on the internet lasts forever.  Look at how the computer is always part of the evidence search in a criminal case.  Still the very transitory nature of a computer seems to say all our email eventually will go away.  Clean out the home of a dead relative and see how hard it can be to access a computer you don't know.  It should be part of your will that your heirs have digital access, but even then how many networks make it difficult to remove or post that the relative is now gone?

I manage the rights to the original songs and arrangements of a deceased aunt, Norma Andersen, who was quite active in the world of barbershop music.  I even created a website, Norma Andersen's Music, to help others find her songs.  Does that go against my often stated "rant" about Public Domain versus copyright laws?  No, because barbershop competitions require permission for choruses and quartets to perform a song.  Yes, I could donate her work to a national organization to manage, but past donations of some of her songs have shown they are not a priority there and are extremely difficult to locate.  I charge the same minimal fee ($50 USD) she charged while alive.  As my aunt explained "The donation for my music is intended to help people feel that they have 'something of value'.  . . . I only want others to respect this value, too."  I respect the value of her work, just as I try always to respect the value of the literary and graphic work of others here, getting permissions, giving credit as best I can.

The internet, however, only seems to keep online what is paid to stay up.  As the year ended I donated, and strongly recommend to you, donations to three sources of the archiving I mentioned:
  1.  https://archive.org/ - which archives public websites, books, video, audio, software, and images -- including digitized images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and far more under the title "Flickr Commons Archive" with such archives as the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the National Archive -- all in very limited beginnings.
  2. Wikipedia - which has become a major repository of information.  In pre-internet times the encyclopedia was that basic first site to search, today it's Wikipedia.  Even when producing a paper which supposedly should not use it as a source, you should still go there for a good overview of your topic.
  3. Project Gutenberg - at present it holds over 60,000 free e-books and "You will find the world's great literature here, with focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education." 
I use all three here a great deal and believe in supporting them.  I also use and pay a foreign company called TinyPNG as they let me compress the pictures you see here so they open quickly.  Look at my blog from 2010 and I'm sure you will see the difference.  They provide a LOT for free, but I chose to support them precisely because I want to support them and those archived resources I mentioned.

Old Design Shop's "Letter Writing Vintage Clip Art"
So much on the internet still misses archiving.  Networks and mailing lists holding private discussion
are not on Archive.org's Wayback Machine, for example, or it displays only the part not requiring membership.  Will future historians have more difficulty than, for example, those who prowled the love letters of James Madison and his wife, Dolley?  With the way digital media keeps changing, such information may be unavailable.  This "belt and suspenders" storyteller who does so much historical storytelling fears it may and keeps "hard copies", too (a.k.a. paper).

But for now I am happy my blog has been a decade of information and stories; my computer is new; and this new decade is officially 2020, a term I hope proves true as shown in this logo from Downtowngrandforks.org.
By next week I hope to be up to speed in the computer transition and once again providing my usual material here on Storytelling + Research = LoiS.


Friday, December 27, 2019

Some really old (still true?) news from 100 years ago

The final verse of "Deck the Halls", omitting all the "Fa-la-las", goes "Fast away the old year passes.  Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, Sing we joyous all together, heedless of the wind and weather!"

The coming week is already the new year.  I enjoy the mysteries by Lee Strauss about Ginger Gold set in the 1920s.  In her blog, Strauss comments:
Can you believe that the 1920s are now officially 100 years ago? My grandfather was born in “the twenties” but now I guess we can no longer generalize like that. A brand new generation of people are soon to be born in “the twenties”. Boy do I feel old!
Speaking of the 1920s…

Ginger Gold Mystery #12!


Ginger Gold allows me to live vicariously in the 1920s through her, and I'm so happy about that. The 12th book is coming in January 2020. 
I've been looking back at the 1920s with my newest program, "High Times in the Dry Times" about Prohibition here in Michigan.  It looks primarily at how our two year head-start and location led to our providing 75% of the smuggled alcohol.  (While preparing it I thought that amount sounded high, but, if anything, it may be a bit low.)  A frequent reaction is how much the 1920s sound like today.  My reporter persona looks back from the mid-30s, so I have to let the audience draw their own conclusions.

Take a look at January 3, 1920.  Unfortunately it isn't easily scanned as even the full page size is not the clearest at Historical Newspapers, but the front page of the Detroit Free Press is packed with deportation, murder, banned substances (in 1920 it was alcohol), racial problems, multi-million dollar robbery, a D.U.I. caused car crash, factory explosion, world news, and more, including, yes, the wind and weather.




I hope you have fun with living vicariously in the 1920s, but suspect you may have celebrated the arrival 2020 with something that was illegal back then. 

I'm sure 2020 will have a lot of similar problems, but let's hope it also gives us reason to "Hail the new, ye lads and lasses, Sing we joyous all together" since there's not a lot we can do about the wind and weather.


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Aunt Hede - How the Fir Tree Became the Christmas Tree - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

 
Everybody keeps saying that Thanksgiving came at the latest possible time this year, making the time before Christmas extra short!  In keeping with that, here's a short easy to tell Christmas legend.  I told it at the Milford Garden Club as part of my Victorian Christmas program.  As the Hired Girl I told as if it was 1902.  (Read on for why that date should change to 1903.)  I tell how old Queen Victoria just barely made it into the new century, dying January 22, 1901.  Today's story was requested by an audience member.  I had originally found it in an anthology of public domain stories, but it only said the author was "Aunt Hede."  I found nothing about the mysterious "Aunt Hede", but searching everywhere I learned it was originally posted in Kindergarten Magazine, 1903!  If I had seen that I might have omitted it, but it clearly is for all ages.  I found it included in a great many Christmas anthologies convincing me there is no age limit for appreciating it.

My book starts with barely a paragraph on one page and the rest on the second page.  I could scan my book, but the sizing wouldn't be as well done as in this newsletter's front page from "The Chronicles of the Ontario County Historical Society Museum and Research Center" December 2016.


How the Fir Tree Became the Christmas Tree by Aunt Hede, in "“Kindergarten Magazine”, December 1903  

This is the story of how the fir tree became the Christmas tree. At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees, and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them. There were three trees standing near the crypt which saw the people, and they wished that they, too, might give presents to the Christ Child. The Palm said: "I will choose my most beautiful leaf, and place it as a fan over the Child." "And I," said the Olive, "will sprinkle sweet-smelling oil upon His head." "What can I give to the Child?" asked the Fir, who stood near. "You!" cried the others. "You have nothing to offer Him. Your needles would prick Him, and your tears are sticky." So the poor little Fir tree was very unhappy, and it said: "Yes, you are right. I have nothing to offer the Christ Child." Now, quite near the trees stood the Christmas Angel, who had heard all that the trees had said. The Angel was sorry for the Fir tree who was so lowly and without envy of the other trees. So, when it was dark, and the stars came out, he begged a few of the little stars to come down and rest upon the branches of the Fir tree. They did as the Christmas Angel asked, and the Fir tree shone suddenly with a beautiful light. And, at that very moment, the Christ Child opened His eyes—for He had been asleep—and as the lovely light fell upon Him. He smiled. Every year people keep the dear Christ Child's birthday by giving gifts to each other, and every year, in remembrance of His first birthday, the Christmas Angel places in every house a fir tree, also. Covered with starry candles it shines for the children as the stars shone for the Christ Child. The Fir tree was rewarded for its meekness, for to no other tree is it given to shine upon so many happy faces. 
 
May your own Christmas shine upon happy faces!
 *******************
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 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!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Hale - The Peterkins' Christmas Tree - Keeping the Public in Public Domain


A lot of people have their Christmas tree up, but I'll bet that, no matter how much trouble it may have caused, it was nothing like today's story of "The Peterkins' Christmas Tree."

The illustration to the left comes from a website called Garden Therapy; Better Living Through Plants and the article there on "How to Make a Nine-Foot Grinch Tree" .  Of course that refers back to the Doctor Seuss story about How the Grinch Stole Christmas!  including that long tree which the Grinch's poor dog, Max, pulled up the mountain.  (The book's Wikipedia link gives some interesting inside views about it.)  If you go to the article on making one, you will see not only how to do it, but various versions of it.

My reason for muddying the storytelling waters here with a decidedly not Public Domain tale (even though it's become a major Christmas tradition in many formats) is the way it clearly touches the ceiling, a ceiling complete with the mitered corners put in place by a carpenter.

The Peterkins did precisely that, calling a carpenter to literally raise the roof -- or at least the ceiling -- to accommodate their tree.  Back on November 23rd I gave the first glimpse of the Peterkins with their story of "Why the Peterkins Had a Late Dinner."  I've never told that story, although maybe in the future I will.  Today's story, however, will once again be part of my Victorian Christmas program when I tell as the Hired Girl.  This year I've particularly had the program spotlight the botanical aspects of Christmas in my stories because I'm telling to a Garden Club, but this story is from 1880 and would have definitely been popular around the turn of the century when my Hired Girl persona would  look back on the way the holiday changed due to the influence of old Queen Victoria who barely made it into the 20th century by dying on January 22, 1901. 

I gave a hint of the Peterkins with their own Wikipedia article which said:
The Peterkins were a large family who were extremely intelligent, but didn't have a lick of common sense among them. Whenever they were confronted with a problem that had a simple solution and a complex one, they unerringly went for the complex one--the simple one never occurred to them. They were usually rescued by their neighbor, the Lady from Philadelphia, known for her wisdom; which usually amounted to the plain, commonsense solution that had been staring them in the face and which any normal person would have seized on immediately.
I also gave various links about the author and her famous relatives and ancestor, but if you have the least bit of curiosity look up the New England Historical Society article about Lucretia Hale's inspiration!  It's somewhat like Doctor Seuss (Theodore Geisel) confessing about his creation of the Grinch.  I find it's always fun to know how an author or any kind of artist lets something lead to a creative work.
I believe strongly in keeping these stories in the Public Domain, but also recognize they need people remembering them.  In the 1960s the book was republished and a whole new audience discovered them.  I've not seen Elizabeth Spurr's The Peterkins' Christmas, as a picture book illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin, but the book information says Spurr adapted it.  I've also just discovered the 11/23 posting of "Why the Peterkins Had a Late Dinner" has been similarly adapted by Spurr and Halperin as a "companion book", The Peterkins' Thanksgiving.   
********************** 
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 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!