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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Lowe & Jacobson - Taxicabs of Paris - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

The Taxis of Paris - World War I
The book, Fifty Famous Stories, written and compiled by Samuel E. Lowe and Viola E. Jacobson didn't look all that impressive when I first saw it in a used book store.  As you may have guessed, I'm a bibliomaniac and, when it comes to old books, I am drawn like a bee on a mission in field of wildflowers.  The 1920 book has the cheapest of yellowing paper, it was published by a company that tended to appeal to the adults buying inexpensive but "good" reading material for children, and the front cover illustration by Neil O'Keefe of "John Smith and Pocahontas" didn't grab me
any more than the back cover of Joan of Arc.  There wasn't even a Table of Contents!  It certainly wasn't indexed in the books I check when on the prowl.

Even at that I let myself flip through the book.  Many of the stories were about famous historical incidents or people, while some were mythological or Biblical stories and a few other well-known literary tales.  O.k. I must have let myself read a story or two and was willing to pay $13.00 for it.  At home I entered it in the AZZ Cardfile I keep of my books, in this case listing all the stories since I knew I'd never think to open it otherwise.

I'm so glad I did!

This past week was the second of two preview programs about the "Hello Girls" and World War I.  After polishing the program and its music of the era, I was still not ready to set it aside and checked to see what I might have about World War I safely in Public Domain.  Today's story is a legend French school children know well, but is unknown to most of us here in the United States.  I'm going to post it and then send you to "the rest of the story."

































 Looking at the covers of Fifty Famous Stories and flipping through the books contents, it's obvious Lowe and Jacobson were intent on preserving legends rather than digging into fact.  By 1920 this story had traveled into the province of legend, even if more familiar in France than here.

The Smithsonian may head their article "A fleet of taxis did not really save Paris from the Germans during World WarI" , but the facts they reveal still makes a darned good story and includes enough that you might agree with the article's conclusion, "And a century later, there are few symbols more enduring or important in France than the Taxis of the Marne."  While you're at it, scroll down further on the page to read the article's accumulated comments.

For now I'm going to post the end papers in the front and back of Fifty Famous Stories as it gives a charming visual of the way legends spur our imagination, and that's part of what the Public Domain does in giving us a way to look back at our cultural heritage.

*****

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. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

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!
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