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Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Bit of Busking & Walk Arounds with Buzz

Free clip art from

With all the computer chaos mentioned below, this is a few hours late.

The truism "It takes a computer to really screw things up" came up on Earth Day.  A teeny tiny nut went missing where my computer's monitor cable is screwed into my hard drive.  This is the reason my computer's screen has been going black intermittently and eventually refused to stay on.  That teeny tiny nut isn't an easily replaced part.  Darned if I know how it went missing. . . maybe some past time when I had my hard drive separated, but what caused it to become an intermittent problem and later a complete problem?  I don't know, but it's driven me a teeny tiny bit nuts!

UPDATE:  A new graphics card was needed to replace the ability to screw the cable in -- there should be a second teeny tiny nut inside -- BUT then the monitor went belly up.  I now am looking at a humongous 20" monitor.  My woodland scene on my desktop has way more greenery than before.  Yes, I did recycle that monitor.  As for the old graphics card, it's still in place since a cable couldn't work it.  Proof "It takes a computer to really screw things up."

There's always a way around a problem if you have the time and resources.  This is my Recycled Solution ... it's appropriate considering part of what I want to talk about.
Last week I posted about this event.

I will be telling there with North Oakland County Storytellers and at times either doing some Busking or a Walk Around with Buzz, my Puppy Puppet Sidekick.

Here are some short and ecologically related stories for busking.  Well actually, like most of my busking, it's part of an event where I'm an official participant, so I won't "put out the hat" for contributions.  Also at times Buzz and I may stroll about the festival doing a "Walk Around" to let people know when the next storytelling session will be held.

I hadn't printed out my stories yet.  They're on my hard drive, not my husband's computer I borrowed for this, but it should give some good ideas.

Chin Chin Kobokama - Litter
The Difference Between Heaven and Hell - Cooperation
Hold Tight and Stick Tight - Tree care vs. greed
It Could Be Worse - Adapting
Just Enough for a Story (also known as The Tailor's Coat) - Recycling
Little Red Hen - Cooperation and sharing
The North Wind and the Sun - Alternative energy
The Screen of Frogs - Preservation of the land
Tossing Starfish - Rescue
Two Frogs Travel - Cultural similarity

Buzz will also be part of my workshop on Puppet Sidekicks for the coming Day of Puppetry.

Press release for

Detroit Puppeteers Guild

press release for

May 21, 2016  from 9 am to 4:00 pm at the
Livonia Civic Center Library.

For immediate release:  April 11, 2016

CONTACT:                      Michael Deller, Publicity Chair -

The Detroit Puppeteers Guild (DPG) will celebrate The 2016 National Day of Puppetry by offering a day-long event for adults and teens on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at the Livonia Civic Center Library.  Registration includes a performance by Kevin Frisch of Cincinnati, Ohio, featuring a variety of puppet styles, including hand puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets and black light puppetry.  Adults and teens who wish to know more about the lively art of puppetry may register for workshops and also attend a performance/workshop by the Herdsmen Puppets.

Workshop choices will include sessions on Puppet Sidekicks,  Nerf Head rod puppet construction,  and special effects for puppet theater - like fire, explosions and lighting tricks.  Other workshop offerings are "So you want to be a puppeteer?"  that will show how to create a show, make the puppets and choose your venues.  A unique puppetry workshop showing how stop motion puppets are captured in film and computer productions will be one of the choices.  A final workshop choice will demonstrate how to make and manipulate a moving mouth puppet.  Registrants for the full day may attend two of the workshops from among those offered.

At 1:00 p.m. the library and the DPG will offer a free hands-on workshop for children 5 - 11 years of age.  Participation is limited to room capacity, so pre-registration is required by calling the library at 734-466-2491.

At 2:30 p.m. the Frisch performance "Puppets Kapow!" is open to the public with $5.00 admission.  The performance is included in the full day registration.  Tickets for the general public will be available at the door starting at 2:00 p.m.

There will be a month long puppet exhibit in the atrium windows of the library preceding the Day of Puppetry.  On the day of the event, Saturday, May 21, 2016, the public is invited to shop in the Puppet Store which will be open.

Registration fees for adults are $25.00, Guild members pay $20.00 and teens aged 12-20 pay $15.00     Registration begins at 9:00 a.m.  and the event ends at 4:00 p.m.   Pre-registration is encouraged.  

Use the form found on the DPG website
For general information about the Day of Puppetry please call 586-463-0480  or  248-719-2820. 

* * * 
Those computer "joys" continue.  "Press Release for" appears in my blog preview at the end of the D.P.G. press release, but not on the inputting side of Blogger so l would be able to  remove it.  
Computers!  At any rate I hope to see you SOON storytelling -- a No Tech way to enjoy stories.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hug Those Trees!

April sometimes feels like

I've seen Michigan blizzards in mid-April, right now spring looks like it's here to stay, but there's all manner of cold west of us, so I'll just join with T.S.Eliot in saying "April is the cruelest month"...although suggest looking at this interesting discussion of its meaning, including the suggestion by Chris Day, "April is the cruellest month because the life and colour of spring throws one's depression into stark relief and forces painful memories to surface."  Let's face it, April and Spring are both fickle.

There's a way to make it better . . . plant trees, enjoy or create parks -- I get some of my best thoughts as my Malamutt (a wonderful blend of Husky and Malamute) leads me down trails, or do something to help our planet.  

Maybe that's why there are three special celebrations in April: National Parks Week (this year from April 16 to the 24th) celebrating our National Parks; Earth Day on April 22 (but look below for a local celebration on the 24th), and Arbor Day nationally on the last Friday in April (but some states choose different dates to match the best planting days).  Notice each of those have offiffiffic'al links?

My husband says April celebrations fall too early for Michigan, but I say that's because it's time to look ahead.  Anybody planting trees, especially baby trees, is looking to the future.  That's how Arbor Day started as J.Sterling Morton -- who was originally a Michigander, along with his wife, began Arbor Day after seeing the need for trees to encourage his fellow Nebraska pioneers to plant trees for windbreaks, fuel, building materials, and shade on the prairie.  You'd never know his adopted state was once a treeless plain thanks to him.  That initial planting of more than a million trees on the first Arbor Day attracted the attention of other states as they created their own Arbor Days -- especially when Morton became the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

Go to the Arbor Day foundation's website given above and become a member to get an assortment of ten free baby trees and also shop nearly 200 trees and shrubs there at the lowest prices available.

 For more free baby trees, if in metro Detroit, come to this Earth Day celebration in Milford.  "Mother Earth" gladly will give you some.  Story lovers can also hear North Oakland County Storytellers in the Aerobics Room from 12:30-1 p.m. and again from 3-3:30, with possible busking of short stories either outside, weather permitting, or otherwise inside. 

The Carls Family YMCA location moves you into a building overflowing with earth-related activities, and removes the worry of fickle April weather.  I love being a part of it every year if my schedule permits.  Try it, you may become similarly inclined to return.

Still all this talk reminds me that April is known for April Showers.  I confess to having that also remind me of this:
If April brings April Showers and April Showers bring May Flowers, what do Mayflowers bring?
. . .

Hope you make a pilgrimage of your own, wherever you might be, to Hug Those Trees, Plant Those Trees, and start in April to help this planet become greener in oh so many ways...after all, so far it's the only planet we have.

* * *
Here's an update:
It may be after National Parks Week, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy them for FREE or greatly reduced cost.

Do you know about the MAP program available from your library?  Here's a link to a Detroit Free Press article that tells you about FREE or reduced cost tickets to our state's National Parks and oh so many more attractions -- enjoy!

(I'm adding it to this blog article and hope to see you Sunday getting your FREE baby trees from "Mother Earth" at the Earth Day event ... and remember the Arbor Day Foundation for 10 more FREE baby trees!  Hug -- and Plant -- those trees!!!)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Digging up Carl Sandburg's Rootabagas

Wanted to give an update, but last week's article was already long and this might be missed there.

Story title illustration by Maud and Miska Petersham in Rootabaga Stories
I love the old Maud and Miska Petersham drawings in the original Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons, but know today's children also love their picture books to lure them into the verbal play of Carl Sandburg.  This is why I recommend the book illustrated by Harriet Pincus with so many delightful pictures. 
The few illustrations in the original Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons are great for later when readers can let their attention be held just by the words.  For the in-between stage, just a bit past one story with lots of pictures, but still needing more than in the Petersham version, I recommend Michael Hague's two volumes of Rootabaga Stories.  I generally find myself enjoying his work because he, too, has a tendency to love children's Public Domain fantasies.  He has a wonderful style when giving them added illustrations.  At an article at Embracing the Child  he calls himself "one of the most fortunate of beings. For as an artist I have not only the pleasure but the duty to daydream. It is part of my work." 
--  the fine print on those two book covers say they are Part One and Part Two.

Ages ago I saw
and confess to not paying nearly enough attention to it.  Somehow I missed an important fact: it wasn't yet another volume of those earlier stories.  According to its introduction by Sandburg scholar George Hendrick, Sandburg wrote dozens more Rootabaga stories that remained unpublished.  In More Rootabagas Hendrick selected ten that "most reflect Sandburg's incomparable storytelling magic" while using the two earlier books favorite characters and places.  In addition reviewers raved about Zelinsky's own playful style of artwork.

Those stories, and not just Zelinsky's artwork, are now under a horribly long copyright since they were published in 1993.  Because the work was created before 1978, but never published or registered as of that date, its copyright will not expire before December 31, 2047.

For the other "dozens more that remained unpublished", as well as for the Hendrick/Zelinsky book, I went to the calculator I recommended at Public Domain Sherpa and learned, if neither Hendrick nor Zelinsky or anybody else publishes them, some storyteller scholar can enjoy telling them publicly in 2038.  Normally I wouldn't hope researchers ignored something this wonderful, but getting them ten years sooner might actually let me tell them before I die.

All of this is why I get out my soapbox and start to rant about the insanity copyright has become.  This article is intended as an Update, but I want to repeat a recommendation to read the Washington Post's very detailed article by Timothy B. Lee, which points out there are more books available from the 1880s than the 1980s and "the 1976 and 1998 extensions have deprived a generation of readers of easy access to books from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s."  I recommend it because I'm sure he's correct to warn us those same corporate interests behind the 1998 extension can be expected to mount a campaign to extend it even further in the next few years.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sandburg - Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll... - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Because spring weather is by its nature indecisive, I wanted to bring my favorite story about the epitome of indecision, Carl Sandburg's "How Deep Red Roses Goes Back and Forth Between the Clock and the Looking Glass" from Rootabaga Pigeons.  Instead I'm offering a story from Rootabaga Stories, copyrighted only one year earlier as 1922 and earlier wasn't affected by an extension of copyright law forcing us to wait until January 1, 2019 for it to enter Public Domain.  It was a favorite when my daughters were picture book age and I'm sure helped one of them love words enough to become a writer.  I'll say more later about why Carl Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories is Public Domain and how the book changed copyright law after today's story, "The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle and Who Was in It."  Then I'll tell how books entering Public Domain could become even worse.

The picture book version, illustrated by Harriet Pincus is not Public Domain, but, like the many other websites showing it, I believe the cover advertising her wonderful work is considered acceptable use.  Harcourt, Brace, and World (now HBJ as World became Jovanovich) published it in 1967.  I'll also say a bit later about Ms. Pincus, as her artwork definitely adds to the fun of Sandburg's story.

This version has the original illustrations by the Petershams.  Since there are fewer of them it probably doesn't hurt to remind you this is a poet playing with nonsense sounds for his two daughters, Spink and Skabootch (Margaret and Janet).  By the next book he dedicated it to Three Illinois Pigeons as Helga, a.k.a. Swipes, had joined them.  The girls were each five years apart in age.  Stories in both books are best enjoyed by reading them out loud!

So who was your favorite?  I love the way the Dirty Bibs " "looked around and laughed and looked around and laughed again."  Still I probably would have been with the Chocolate Chins with the "chocolate...slippery and slickered all over their chins."

I hope you were able to picture it all, but still I want to suggest looking up the picture book version of today's story.  When I learned the artist, Harriet Pincus, was born in 1938 I knew the picture book illustrations were still in copyright, but then I learned more about her and want to mention it.  Like many artists she started young, wanting to be an artist in fourth grade, when she officially became the class artist. However when she was sixteen polio completely paralyzed her, confining her to an iron lung for two years.  Fortunately, when she was released from the hospital, her physical therapy helped her continue drawing and painting, even though she was in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and Broom Handle and Who Was in It was her first illustrated book and she really captured the fun of the procession.  She continued to illustrate other books, including writing and illustrating her own book, Minna and Pippin (1972).  For more about her, if you can still find a library housing the many volumes of Something About the Author, check vol. 27, pp. 164-165, although it was written before her later death from complications from her polio in 2001.
from the frontispiece of the original 

By all means look up Rootabaga Stories available from Project Gutenberg or Google.  It even includes the original illustrations by Maud and Miska Petersham. There's a Wikipedia article about it telling you how the stories were written for the poet's daughters and why he created a MidWestern land for his American Fairytales instead of the usual world of European royalty.  That article also let me know about a little known volume of Rootabaga stories called Potato Face published in 1930.

Nowhere did I find online verification of a story I heard about copyright and Sandburg causing the extension to a total of 95 years if written from 1923-63 and renewed. I was told it was to care for his disabled daughter, who must have been Janet. She died in 2001 at age 84, which means the 95 year extension would have covered her until she turned 101.  I've no objection to that coverage for an author and his immediate heirs.  The biggest problem with that change in the copyright law was learning if those works were renewed.

Unfortunately for future lovers of Public Domain, with the most recent copyright law, before Public Domain status can be confirmed, the author's date of death must be determined.  Good luck with less well known authors!  From 1978 on, the U.S. current copyright law adds 70 years from the author's death.  Carl Sandburg died in 1967 when even renewal was automatic, so all his work comes under the maximum of the 95 years from publication.  If he had been alive and had written Rootabaga Pigeons from 1978 on the copyright law would have added 70 years after his death.  That wouldn't include 1967, but if that version of the law had been in effect, it would have pushed his Public Domain to 2033.  Let's take an author dying in 1978, his works won't enter until 2048.  You can see why this is pushing Public Domain into nearly non-existence.

The current copyright law is going to see the first of those 1923-63 copyrights start to expire including Rootabaga Pigeons.  Already opposition to pushing Public Domain even further away has begun.  The most recent law is often called the Sonny Bono law or the Mickey Mouse law as Bono promoted it to keep in copyright Mickey Mouse (and many other movies and music from the first half of the twentieth century).  All  were about to enter the Public Domain.  Currently many copyrights extend more than a century.  With those 1923 titles about to enter Public Domain, once again Hollywood and the music industry are sure to work to maintain corporate copyrights.  The Washington Post has a very detailed article by Timothy B. Lee, which points out there are more books available from the 1880s than the 1980s and "the 1976 and 1998 extensions have deprived a generation of readers of easy access to books from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s."  (That article has numerous ads and pictures, stay with it and that quote is the end of the article.)

In the meantime many people find the issue of Public Domain confusing, so I recommend Public Domain Sherpa as your guide when you try to climb the mountainous terrain of copyright and I especially suggest their useful calculator.  As a perfect example of its value, I put in Rootabaga Pigeons fully expecting it to become available in 2018...WRONG!  It becomes available January 1, 2019 after serving its final year of being locked up.

So please keep your ears and eyes alert for this issue to return to Congress.  Hollywood and the music publishers won't easily give up income from their classic productions.
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.  

There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so one can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression he likes by pressing one key.

He also loaded to his server the doctorate thesis of Prof. Dov Noy (Neunan) "Motif-index of Talmudic-Midrahic literature" Indiana University, 1954, as a PDF file.
in the hope that some of you would make use of it.

You can see why that is a site I recommend to you.

Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

That Other Rabbit . . . Peter

While you're still chomping on chocolate Easter Rabbits, here's a "heads up" about Peter Rabbit.  This July 28 will be the sesquicentennial anniversary (150 years) of the birth of Helen Beatrix Potter in 1866.  No, I didn't know her first name was Helen until I went looking for more information on the English illustrator, natural scientist, conservationist, and author of the beloved Peter and other characters from her many books.

I discovered this while talking with western Michigan storyteller, Deborah Schakel.  She's been portraying Beatrix Potter for more than 20 years.  Here's a picture of her as Potter from an article last year in the Holland Sentinel.  Schakel's program presents Potter's life, including how she came to write and draw about Peter Rabbit and his friends.  By the program's conclusion audiences learn not only about the beloved tale, but how Potter saved a great deal of the natural landscape for England's Historical Trust.  She combines all of this with telling The Tale of Peter Rabbit and showing reproduction drawings and books by the historic author-illustrator.  Already anniversary programs are being booked with Holland, Michigan's Herrick Library scheduling her for July 30 at 2 p.m. 

I know this blog is often read by various locations seeking programs, so I want to also include her charming promotional flier. 

If you want to feel as if you've fallen down the Rabbit Hole (a reference to yet another literary rabbit, this one by Lewis Carrol) just put in either Beatrix Potter or Peter Rabbit in your favorite search engine and you can also do this in the YouTube search box.  Not only will you find biographies of Potter, countless videos, and images, but there's enough products to guarantee supplying more children's nurseries and parties than Mr. McGregor could grow vegetables in his garden.  Potter herself started the merchandising by making a soft doll and board game, with Peter being the oldest licensed character dating back to 1903. Potter was quite close to her editor and publisher, Norman Warne, even briefly engaged to him despite her parents objecting. Norman Warne was the youngest of the three brothers forming Frederick Warne and Company's publishing, but he died from leukemia shortly after their engagement.  The publisher received her copyrights, which in Great Britain expired 70 years after her death in 1943.  Most are also Public Domain here in the U.S. as they were written before 1923.  Frederick Warne and Company, however, still owns the trademark rights to her characters, so merchandising profits go to them.  In another bit of merchandising, I always love that Potter insisted her books be small to fit "small hands." 

When you put Beatrix Potter in your search engine, be sure to click on The Beatrix Potter Society as it's definitely the official site for anyone Pottering About.  Oh, that reminds me, be sure to click on their Publications tab as Pottering About is the name of their e-newsletter, open to all for subscription.  It tends to start with possibly uninteresting information with the best material near the end.  Above it on the Publications tab are shown the official Journal and Newsletter contents of recent publications received only by members.  The Contacts tab also holds a Links page. 

Potter had three rules about writing:
Write about something you love.
Write to someone you love.
And do the best you can.

I love a little book showing her doing exactly that.
Prowling Amazon I found Judy Taylor, who collected Letters to Children, has another book, Beatrix Potter's Letters that seems to be further letters.  Taylor states at the time of writing this book she had 1400 letters, selecting 400 and the collection continues to grow as a "fascinating, but never-ending task".  There's also Beatrix Potter's Journal, which was originally written in a code cracked by Leslie Linder over 20 years after Potter's death.  The diaries had over 200,000 words from which Glen Cavaliero selected for the publication.

Clearly Potter practiced her three rules about writing:
Write about something you love.
Write to someone you love.
And do the best you can.

Deborah and I both believe in telling about something we love, are eager to tell it to our audiences, which we also love, and we do the best we can.

This blog is a way of sharing that love and I hope you either subscribe or come here often.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bauer - Mr. Easter Hare - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This comes with wishes for the best possible
  for you!

I promised an Easter story in the Keeping the Public in Public Domain series and it comes from the tellable works of  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey (October 25, 1875 – December 23, 1961).  Six times before this I've posted stories from Bailey's anthologies because they are so easy to tell exactly as she writes it.

I'll say more after the story, along with suggesting a story that would partner well with it by yet another author, Madge Bigham, also mentioned here before with two stories from her Stories of Mother Goose Village.

O.k. I won't give away the rest of the story, but the title of this German legend gives a clue that the Easter Bunny might play a major role.

Before giving a bit of further information about the author and suggesting a story that might easily partner with it, I'd like to add a look at the symbolism of the Easter egg and possibly that rabbit.

While the egg was associated with new life in pagan festivals, Christian symbolism points to the resurrection and Christ's coming out of the tomb.  It's also said that the rabbit is a symbol of fertility, as in the phrase "breed like rabbits."  Having raised rabbits long ago I'd say that's not very accurate.  My Australian friends might disagree.  The introduction of rabbits long ago for hunting went drastically wrong and they became an ecological nightmare.  Instead Aussies point to a different long-eared beloved native creature, the endangered bilby, and have the Easter Bilby.  I remember my friend, the late Aussie storyteller, Mabel Kaplan, first made me aware of it.  There's one book already and now there's an Easter Bilby website hoping to make yet another.

Online I found offered this look at Easter Symbols and Traditions, which mentions the German origin of the Easter egg as well as egg hunts, egg rolling, candy, and Easter parades.

Returning to today's story, I recently learned a bit more about Carolyn Sherwin Bailey's long career from the language arts teacher's site, Book Rags. In their brief eight page study guide to Bailey's Newbery award winning, Miss Hickory, the author's biography points out her homeschooling for elementary school and how, even before she could write, she dictated stories to her mother.  She published all her long life beginning at age 19.  In earlier articles I attributed her background as a teacher, principal, and life-long writer to her dependably telling stories in a way that works with an audience.

To my surprise I was able to update her Wikipedia article which said:
She wrote For the Children's Hour (1906) in collaboration.[who?]
I was able to name Clara M. Lewis from the book's cover. That article also points out Bailey contributed to the Ladies' Home Journal and other magazines. Her writing career included volumes of stories for children, methods of storytelling, teaching children, and other related subjects

Another popular book of hers sometimes thought of at Easter is The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.  Its publishing date is usually listed as 1945, but the current version from Viking's Penguin Group also lists a 1931 edition.  It was originally published by Grosset and Dunlap, founded in 1898.  Apparently either they or Ms. Bailey's heirs never renewed the copyright, letting it fall into Public Domain, unlike the 1946 Newbery medal winner Miss Hickory which was renewed in 1974 by Rebecca Davies Ryan.  Grosset and Dunlap was purchased by G. P. Putnam's Sons in 1982 and today is part of Penguin Random House through its subsidiary Penguin Group.  The text of her popular picture book, The Little Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings, as published by Penguin can be found with new illustrations.  Because the text is now Public Domain, you can find translations into Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Italian, and Croatian through the Rosetta Project at Children's Books Online

You could pair "Mr. Easter Hare" with the final story from Madge Bigham's Stories of Mother Goose Village, "Cinderella's Egg Hunt."  Maybe some other year I'll give it, but the link above to the title at the Internet Archive, will let you read it now and decide for yourself.  Earlier I posted two of Bigham's tales from Stories of Mother Goose Village, but will hold off for now as I thought audiences would snicker at some of the character names.  She was welcome to name the children even if they didn't appear in a nursery rhyme, but I had reservations about Little Tee Wee, Curly Locks, Jumping Joan, Willy Boy, and Patchy Dolly.  Then I looked at the back of the book where she lists the Mother Goose rhymes that inspired her.  Didn't find any about the others, but I did find one I never knew about Little Tee Wee. Some of the characters are familiar names, like Jack-Be-Nimble and I love her inclusion of a young and slimmer child named Humpty Dumpty!  Beyond the children there's Cinderella and I confess I wasn't sure about how yet again, like many stories in the book, Bigham sneaks her into the story.  She gives a brief introduction to the princess, who in this story, with Mother Goose, sponsors the Egg Hunt.  I was overlooking Bigham's use of Cinderella as a recurring character in the book.  Earlier in the book her presence is explained as "Cinderella did not live in Mother Goose Village, though she often went there."  Still, unlike today's stand-alone legend, all of this makes for a certain amount of handling on the part of the storyteller.

I hope you often come here and even to my own storytelling, which is able to draw upon both folklore and history "as seen by the 'average' person."  Whether from the Public Domain or not, this little known Mother Goose rhyme about Little Tee Wee will close this Egg-stravaganza.  It's possibly sad, but good for concluding a session of Mother Goose rhymes. 
Little Tee Wee,
He went to sea
In an open boat;
And while afloat
The little boat bended --
My story's ended.
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.  

There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I recommended it earlier and want to continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so one can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression he likes by pressing one key.

He also loaded to his server the doctorate thesis of Prof. Dov Noy (Neunan) "Motif-index of Talmudic-Midrahic literature" Indiana University, 1954, as a PDF file.
in the hope that some of you would make use of it.

You can see why that is a site I recommend to you.

Have fun discovering even more stories!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wi' Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm

An old British music hall song, "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm" introduced me to the ghost of Anne Boleyn as sung (without the "th" in "With") by Stanley Holloway, best known nowadays for his delightful Alfie Doolittle in My Fair Lady.  Tonight (3/18/16) and tomorrow are the final performances of Anne of the Thousand Days by Pontiac Theatre IV and, while I really would love to have you come, I know many reading this aren't near enough.  For lovers of spooky stories I promised to tell about England's most frequently seen ghost, sometimes seen with and sometimes without her head since she was executed by beheading.

The play, Anne of the Thousand Days, brings to life what led up to that execution.

Local friends, I hope to see you at the Michigan School for the Arts at 819 Golf in Pontiac. All performances begin at 8:00 pm. Ticket prices are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for seniors and students.

O.k. commercial message ended (although it is a lot of fun to get cast and audience together afterwards!) and on to the various "spook spottings."

For those of you who put down paranormal claims, in Britain it's been said that any ghostly vision in a period dress is credited as Anne.  Fine, but the ghost has been reported at sites important to the life of the dead queen.  On the anniversary of her beheading she was seen at her believed birthplace, Blickling Hall in Norfolk.  The most literary description of her ghostly appearances come from Norfolk author, Neil Storey, who has written roughly 30 books including the Grim Almanac series and, if you care to go and see for yourself, A Ghost Hunter's Guide to Norfolk.  I love his description of the anniversary haunting: Well on that driveway over there at twelve midnight, her carriage is said to clatter down there pulled by headless horses, driven by headless horsemen and sat on the back seat bathed in a violet light is Anne Boleyn, her neck a raw stump and her head rattling around on her lap.

Anne’s brother George is also said to return. He was executed a few days before Anne, on the charge of committing incest with his sister. He is said to return to the house being dragged by horses, whilst neatly cradling his head in his arms.  Another local variant has the driver be Anne's father, Thomas Boleyn, who let Henry have both his daughters, Anne and, before her, her sister, Mary.  Thomas supposedly wildly drives the carriage pulled by headless horses and it's pursued by the headless George and blue devils, because Thomas is cursed for a thousand years to make this drive.

Here's ITV News in Anglia's article and video from 2014 to give you a visual taste as people gather on the anniversary.

Did you catch that Anne hasn't been seen there in recent times, but the sound of those ghostly horses and the carriage has been heard in the 20th century?  Oh, Anne, are you losing your connection to earth?  Maybe you now begin to feel no further need to remain here with so many people paying attention?

On the same date she's also been seen at Salle (pronounced Saul) Church where legend says she was reburied under a plain unmarked black marble slab.  There are five such slabs and the church refuses to disinter those slabs.  The church does have a Boleyn family connection as it has 15th century brasses dedicated to its patrons, including Geoffrey Boleyn and his wife (1440) who were Anne Boleyn’s paternal great-grandparents. 

An interesting incident there happened to best-selling novelist, Norah Lofts, who is also Norfolk local and she wrote a great deal about the Tudors, including Anne.  The aged church sexton said he didn't believe in the haunting and even spent an anniversary night there without seeing her.  Then he went on to describe what did happen.  A black hare appeared.  Not wanting it to make a mess, he tried to catch it, falling on the corner of the baptismal font.  By the time he was up again, the hare was gone and, although he checked carefully, he could find no way in or out of the church.  One of the charges, besides adultery, incest, and conspiracy against the king was witchcraft.  I don't believe for a second Anne was a witch, but if you did, that black rabbit would be called her familiar.

In contrast to the Salle Church legend, when Queen Victoria ordered the Chapel Royal for the Tower of London be refurbished, 1500 corpses were found.  Among them, when the altar stone in St. Peter Ad Vincula was lifted, three female beheaded skeletons were found. Only three queens were buried there, Anne, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey.  Queen Victoria ordered the remains of all the royals executed at the Tower be exhumed and reburied under the altar. The skeletons were identified as a female in her mid twenties and two females in their teens. Catherine Howard was only nineteen and Jane Grey sixteen when executed. Anne was in her mid-thirties.  It's interesting to note that one of the people who supposedly moved Anne's body to Salle Church, Sir Thomas Wyatt, later wrote, "God provided for her corpse sacred burial, even in a place as it were consecrate to innocence"...hardly a description of the Tower of London.  Isn't it a pity DNA identification didn't exist in Victorian times?
The Mistletoe Bough
Bringing up Queen Victoria’s reign, I love telling about Victorian Christmas customs, including their telling of scary ghost stories including telling the spooky tale of the Mistletoe Bride.  Last December I gave the text of The Mistletoe Bough poem by Thomas Haynes Bayly.  It supposedly took place at yet another place, Marwell Hall, where Anne's ghost has been spotted as well as her rival and successor, Jane Seymour, who supposedly married king Henry there in secret after the hall was given to her brother, Henry Seymour.  Here's a webpage about Marwell Hall that even gives an early silent film inspired by Bayly's ballad.  Frankly I don't see a reason for Anne to want to visit Marwell Hall.  As a result I don't tell about Jane there.  Looking online, however, I have found claims she haunts the Yew Walk behind the hall, plotting her revenge on Jane.

In contrast, I do tell about Anne's ghost at Christmas returning to her family home of Hever Castle where she grew up and later Henry courted her.  Those courting spots where she's been seen as a ghostly figure in white include a great oak tree and in the rose garden.  Other locations there have her seen coming to the castle on a bridge over the River Eden, sometimes tossing a sprig of holly into the river.  Still nobody reported seeing her there when the castle was used in the filming of Anne of the Thousand Days with Genevieve Bujold and Richard Burton.  To visit the castle, you must cross the drawbridge over the moat and Christmas has the most frequently reported viewing.  She has been seen inside,too.   The online version of the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, gives a tourist's photo of what it calls a "ghoulish hand" pointing at the chimney of the ornate fireplace in the dimly lit living room.  The tourist had no prior belief in ghosts and only saw the hand when he later checked his photos.
The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London
There are other locations mentioned, but before ending the tour of where her ghost has been reported, we must return to that song mentioned in the opening.  It was probably inspired by an actual court martial in 1864.  A Tower guard was accused of falling asleep, but in his defense he reported seeing her headless ghost, charging at it with his rifle's bayonet, and, when he went right through the spectre, he fainted.  Fortunately there were two witnesses to verify his story, one was Major General J.D. Dundas who saw it from the window of his quarters.

To read a bit more about these and other places where Anne's ghost is claimed to have appeared try:
You might want a taste of some Tudor reading.  Try the Tudor book reviews from the Anne Boleyn Files including this one about a book by Norfolk historian turned storyteller, Dave Tongue.
I like that the reviewer catches his ability to stay entertaining while maintaining accuracy.  Among other things, Clair said:
Tudor Tales is a blend of history and stories: a blend of entertaining stories from the Tudor period – many of which had me chuckling to myself – and Dave’s explanation of the historical context, the historical sources and historical examples to tie in with the stories. For example, in his introduction to the tale “Of the gentlewoman who had the last word”, Dave explains about slander cases which were brought before the consistory courts and gives real life examples – fascinating!
You’ll be pleased to know that Dave has modernised the stories, changing the spellings and punctuation to make them easier to read and understand today, without losing their historical flavour or magic. Dave writes “Because many of the tales were drawn from oral culture and told aloud in Tudor times, I have attempted to give a feel of the telling in my versions” and I would say that his attempts have been successful. I just hope that the History Press turns this into an audio book with Dave narrating these wonderful tales, that would be perfect!

It also was favorably reviewed by Carl Merry for Storylines - the UK Society for Storytelling Magazine.  Fortunately for those of us not in the U.K., Amazon currently offers both Kindle and hardcover versions.

I confess to becoming interested in Anne and find curiosity for things Tudoriffic. (Yes, that's my own word creation.)  Will I ever get a chance to do more than tell about her Christmas returning to Hever Castle?  I don't know, but I agree with Maxwell Anderson putting these words in Henry's mouth when the ghost of Anne Boleyn appears to him.

No doubt I'll sometimes see you when I'm alone.
Pontiac Theatre IV cover by Tiffany Lamb

Whenever I'm weary
and the old ways and days come back to me,
and the things you said.
But it will wear out, will erase
like a path nobody walks on.--Why do you smile?
--I can hear you saying, "Nothing's ever forgiven,
nothing's ever forgotten or erased,--
nothing can ever be put back the way it was.
The limb that was cut from Rome won't graft
     to that trunk again."
What we were will be permanent in England; 
It may be then what we were will be permanent in me.
It may be all other women will be shadows
and I'll be angered ,
and turn from one white face to another,
striking left and right like an angry snake
spewing venom,
striking down,
till I'm old and drained of venom.
It may be I shall seek you forever down the long corridors of air,
finding them empty, hearing only echoes.
It would have been easier to forget you living
than to forget you dead. 

Next week I'll return at my usual Saturday time.  Right now I plan an Easter story here for my popular Keeping the Public in Public Domain series.  Whether chilling you with ghost stories or something for your holidays, I enjoy giving a taste of what's possible with my storytelling.