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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Babbitt - The Elephant and the Dog - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

 Back on June 6 of 2015 I first posted about Ellen C. Babbitt and her Jataka Tales and the sequel, More Jataka Tales.  This makes the fifth story from those collections which are always enjoyable.  At the end of that first time I mentioned several other stories I particularly love and this was the last one listed.  In looking for stories of friendship, this one must  be given.  Last week I mentioned next summer many libraries will be thinking of Kindness, Friendship and Unity because of the Collaborative Summer Reading theme called "All Together Now."  Beyond that I will be on the road on my usual time to post.  August 12 is World Elephant Day so I wanted to both give this lovely story and then get into a bit of Elephant facts including re-posting something from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

(Rather than strain my elderly copy of More Jataka Tales I copied an online edition of it from The Baldwin Project.  The illustrations by Ellsworth Young will appear, but the copying process sometimes seems to delay them a bit.)

THE ELEPHANT AND THE DOG

O

 

NCE upon a time a Dog used to go into the stable where the king's Elephant lived. At first the Dog went there to get the food that was left after the Elephant had finished eating.

[Illustration]Day after day the Dog went to the stable, waiting around for bits to eat. But by and by the Elephant and the Dog came to be great friends. Then the Elephant began to share his food with the Dog, and they ate together. When the Elephant slept, his friend the Dog slept beside him. When the Elephant felt like playing, he would catch the Dog in his trunk and swing him to and fro. Neither the Dog nor the Elephant was quite happy unless the other was near-by.

One day a farmer saw the Dog and said to the Elephant-keeper: "I will buy that Dog. He looks good-tempered, and I see that he is smart. How much do you want for the Dog?"

The Elephant-keeper did not care for the Dog, and he did want some money just then. So he asked a fair price, and the farmer paid it and took the Dog away to the country.

The king's Elephant missed the Dog and did not care to eat when his friend was not there to share the food. When the time came for the Elephant to bathe, he would not bathe. The next day again the Elephant would not eat, and he would not bathe. The third day, when the Elephant would neither eat nor bathe, the king was told about it.

[Illustration]The king sent for his chief servant, saying, "Go to the stable and find out why the Elephant is acting in this way."

The chief servant went to the stable and looked the Elephant all over. Then he said to the Elephant-keeper: "There seems to be nothing the matter with this Elephant's body, but why does he look so sad? Has he lost a play-mate?"

"Yes," said the keeper, "there was a Dog who ate and slept and played with the Elephant. The Dog went away three days ago."

"Do you know where the Dog is now?" asked the chief servant.

"No, I do not," said the keeper.

Then the chief servant went back to the king and said. "The Elephant is not sick, but he is lonely without his friend, the Dog."

"Where is the Dog?" asked the king.

"A farmer took him away, so the Elephant-keeper says," said the chief servant. "No one knows where the farmer lives."

"Very well," said the king. "I will send word all over the country, asking the man who bought this Dog to turn him loose. I will give him back as much as he paid for the Dog."

[Illustration]When the farmer who had bought the Dog heard this, he turned him loose. The Dog ran back as fast as ever he could go to the Elephant's stable. The Elephant was so glad to see the Dog that he picked him up with his trunk and put him on his head. Then he put him down again.

When the Elephant-keeper brought food, the Elephant watched the Dog as he ate, and then took his own food.

All the rest of their lives the Elephant and the Dog lived together.



World Elephant Day 2022 will be taking place on August 12th. Co-founded in 2012 by Canadian Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand, each year on this date, World Elephant Day aims to raise global awareness of the need to protect Asian and African elephants from the threats they face. 

Related to those efforts I received and want to share this email I received from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

 Just when you thought elephants couldn’t be any more extraordinary

Imagine being able to detect a rainstorm over 100 kilometers away—with your feet! While it might sound like some kind of superpower, it’s actually one of the elephants’ innate abilities. (Wow!)

Unique qualities like these are just one more reason why they’re so amazing!
ELEPHANTS
2X MATCH
for elephants
to celebrate upcoming World Elephant Day
Show elephants you care with a matched gift
DONATE

Because the gentle giants communicate with infrasound—sound below the range of human hearing—they can also pick up the extremely subtle rumbles of distant rainstorms. This gives the thirsty pachyderms a chance to change course and start moving toward much-needed water sources as they become available.

While we don’t share the elephants’ incredible ability of deciphering distant sounds with our feet, we are taking their lead by putting sound to work as a way to help protect them.

WCS has been collaborating with Elephant Listening Project researchers, using remote recording units to capture the awe-inspiring soundscapes of the Congolese rainforest—including the low rumbles of elephants. By painstakingly monitoring these recordings, we can better understand how elephants fare before, during, and after intrusive operations such as logging, for example.

We’re consistently using new and unique strategies like these to safeguard the elephants we all love. Won’t you join us in our efforts? Your gift to elephants will be put to work right away to protect elephants in 21 countries across Africa and Asia.

******************** 

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


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html

         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html

         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales

         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 

 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

Friday, August 5, 2022

Summers Fly, Winters . . . Looking ahead to 2023

Charles Schulz had a book titled Summers Fly, Winters Walk, but in Michigan they sometimes slog and creep.  Is it any wonder that children's librarians are already looking ahead to plans for Summer Reading in 2023?  Many libraries, including here in Michigan, use the Collaborative Summer Library Program,  which next year has the theme of "All Together Now" focusing on Kindness, Friendship, and Unity.  If that focus can lead young readers to create a kinder, unified world and foster friendship, it's a wonderful goal.

All those years of being a children's librarian has me already thinking ahead, but also thinking back five years ago to 2017.  At that time I brought out my cheerleading puppet, Priscilla Gorilla in a program when the theme was Build a Better World.  I'm confident she can lead cheers related to Kindness, Friendship and Unity.  What I'm not certain about is if the rest of that program takes the right positive spin.  That program was particularly aimed at fighting bullying.  Schools at the time were seeking programs on that topic. In addition to Priscilla I used building blocks to involve audience members in choosing the topics and stories they chose.

You can't see the titles of those stories here, but if you look at the long list of stories on the block labeled "Courage" and the few listed on "Patience" you can see the way the program was structured. 


In case it's hard to read those topics or blocks: I looked at Creative Thinking; Courage; Conflict Resolution; Respect; Anger Management; Persistence; Forgiveness; Honesty; Cooperation; Patience; and Responsibility.  Some stories fit more than one topic.  

I've found the following story in many locations on the internet, but am unable to track it down to its source.  It certainly fits Friendship and Kindness.  I originally applied it to Anger Management and Respect.

Writing on sand or rock Two friends were walking through the desert. At a specific point of the journey, they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one, who got slapped, was hurt, but without anything to say, he wrote in the sand: "TODAY, MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE." They kept on walking, until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who got slapped and hurt started drowning, and the other friend saved him. When he recovered from the fright, he wrote on a stone: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE." The friend who saved and slapped his best friend, asked him, "Why, after I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone?" The other friend, smiling, replied: "When a friend hurts us, we should write it down in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness get in charge of erasing it away, and when something great happens, we should engrave it in the stone of the memory of the heart, where no wind can erase it" (Anger Management, Respect)

What do you think about those Building Blocks as they apply to Kindness, Friendship, and Unity?  Is it too negative?  If I can include some or all of those original Building Blocks, I presume I should add those three topics of Kindness, Friendship, and Unity as the foundation.  Should I remove any?  

By the way, if it helps, here are the three blogs about the program I made back in 2017:

  1. Initial thoughts on January 28
  2. June 17 with a chant that can be modified, a story from fellow storyteller, Doug Lipman, also a "Zen story" and 2 others briefly mentioned or linked
  3.  Drop down past the 2019 article (also about Summer Reading, but an astronomical theme) to the October 14 article with several cheers which also could be modified.
Your reactions to this would be greatly appreciated.   (You may email me -- it's at the top of this blog, or on my Facebook page, or here.)

Friday, July 29, 2022

The Highland Games + Johnny Gloke - Joseph Jacobs - Keeping the Public in Public Domain


The Wee Bairns area of the 173rd Highland Games of the St. Andrews Society of Detroit is returning!  It was missing at the 2020 and 2021 Highland Games due to Covid concerns.  It's always in a big open area at Greenmead Historical Village in Livonia so its elimination was surprising.  The intent behind the Wee Bairns area is bringing an understanding of Scottish heritage to children with fun events tailored to them.  

While North Oakland County Storytellers no longer hold meetings, some of us treasure our Scottish heritage and have told stories in the Wee Bairns area for a great many years.  Once again from 10 to 3 on Saturday, August 6, N.O.C.S. will bring it to listeners.  Ten of those stories can be found here under the heading of Scottish Folklore.  That reflects only some of the long history of participation there.  It goes back even further than is shown here.

Today's story comes from Joseph Jacobs, More English Fairy Tales, but don't let that title fool you as Jacobs definitely includes Scottish material.  You may jump down to the story, but if that English connection troubles you, read his discussion of this as part of his Preface to the book: 

Then as to using tales in Lowland Scotch, whereat a Saturday Reviewer, whose identity and fatherland were not difficult to guess, was so shocked. Scots a dialect of English! Scots tales the same as English! Horror and Philistinism! was the Reviewer's outcry. Matter of fact is my reply, which will only confirm him, I fear, in his convictions. Yet I appeal to him, why make a difference between tales told on different sides of the Border? A tale told in Durham or Cumberland in a dialect which only Dr. Murray could distinguish from Lowland Scotch, would on all hands be allowed to be "English." The same tale told a few miles farther North, why should we refuse it the same qualification? A tale in Henderson is English: why not a tale in Chambers, the majority of whose tales are to be found also south of the Tweed?

The truth is, my folk-lore friends and my Saturday Reviewer differ with me on the important problem of the origin of folk-tales. They think that a tale probably originated where it was found. They therefore attribute more importance than I to the exact form in which it is found and restrict it to the locality of birth. I consider the probability to lie in an origin elsewhere: I think it more likely than not that any tale found in a place was rather brought there than born there. I have discussed this matter elsewhere[1] with all the solemnity its importance deserves, and cannot attempt further to defend my position here. But even the reader innocent of folk-lore can see that, holding these views, I do not attribute much anthropological value to tales whose origin is probably foreign, and am certainly not likely to make a hard-and-fast division between tales of the North Countrie and those told across the Border.

[1] See "The Science of Folk Tales and the Problem of Diffusion" in Transactions of the International Folk-Lore Congress, 1891.

Don't know if you bothered to read all of that, but here's "Johnny Gloke" which will start out sounding rather familiar.  I'll give Jacobs' brief Notes and References after it.

Johnny Gloke

Johnny Gloke was a tailor by trade, but like a man of spirit he grew tired of his tailoring, and wished to follow some other path that would lead to honour and fame. But he did not know what to do at first to gain fame and fortune, so for a time he was fonder of basking idly in the sun than in plying the needle and scissors. One warm day as he was enjoying his ease, he was annoyed by the flies alighting on his bare ankles. He brought his hand down on them with force and killed a goodly number of them. On counting the victims of his valour, he was overjoyed at his success; his heart rose to the doing of great deeds, and he gave vent to his feelings in the saying:—

"Well done! Johnny Gloke,
Kilt fifty flies at one stroke."

His resolution was now taken to cut out his path to fortune and honour. So he took down from its resting-place a rusty old sword that had belonged to some of his forebears, and set out in search of adventures. After travelling a long way, he came to a country that was much troubled by two giants, whom no one was bold enough to meet, and strong enough to overcome. He was soon told of the giants, and learned that the King of the country had offered a great reward and the hand of his daughter in marriage to the man who should rid his land of this scourge. John's heart rose to the deed, and he offered himself for the service. The great haunt of the giants was a wood, and John set out with his old sword to perform his task. When he reached the wood, he laid himself down to think what course he would follow, for he knew how weak he was compared to those he had undertaken to kill. He had not waited long, when he saw them coming with a waggon to fetch wood for fuel. My! they were big ones, with huge heads and long tusks for teeth. Johnny hid himself in the hollow of a tree, thinking only of his own safety. Feeling himself safe, he peeped out of his hiding-place, and watched the two at work. Thus watching he formed his plan of action. He picked up a pebble, threw it with force at one of them, and struck him a sharp blow on the head. The giant in his pain turned at once on his companion, and blamed him in strong words for hitting him. The other denied in anger that he had thrown the pebble. John now saw himself on the high way to gain his reward and the hand of the King's daughter. He kept still, and carefully watched for an opportunity of striking another blow. He soon found it, and right against the giant's head went another pebble. The injured giant fell on his companion in fury, and the two belaboured each other till they were utterly tired out. They sat down on a log to breathe, rest, and recover themselves.

"...the two belaboured each other till they were utterly tired out."

While sitting, one of them said, "Well, all the King's army was not able to take us, but I fear an old woman with a rope's end would be too much for us now."

"If that be so," said Johnny Gloke, as he sprang, bold as a lion, from his hiding-place, "What do you say to Johnny Gloke with his old roosty sword?" So saying he fell upon them, cut off their heads, and returned in triumph. He received the King's daughter in marriage and for a time lived in peace and happiness. He never told the mode he followed in his dealing with the giants.

Some time after a rebellion broke out among the subjects of his father-in-law. John, on the strength of his former valiant deed, was chosen to quell the rebellion. His heart sank within him, but he could not refuse, and so lose his great name. He was mounted on the fiercest horse that ever saw sun or wind, and set out on his desperate task. He was not accustomed to ride on horseback, and he soon lost all control of his steed. It galloped off at full speed, in the direction of the rebel army. In its wild career it passed under the gallows that stood by the wayside. The gallows was somewhat old and frail, and down it fell on the horse's neck. Still the horse made no stop, but always forward at furious speed towards the rebels. On seeing this strange sight approaching towards them at such a speed they were seized with terror, and cried out to one another, "There comes Johnny Gloke that killed the two giants with the gallows on his horse's neck to hang us all." They broke their ranks, fled in dismay, and never stopped till they reached their homes. Thus was Johnny Gloke a second time victorious. So in due time he came to the throne and lived a long, happy, and good life as king.

***

I'm sure you recognized that story under a different name.  Jacobs addresses that: 

  JOHNNY GLOKE

Source.—Contributed by Mr. W. Gregor to Folk-Lore Journal, vii. I have rechristened "Johnny Glaik" for the sake of the rhyme, and anglicised the few Scotticisms.

Parallels.—This is clearly The Valiant Tailor of the Grimms: "x at a blow" has been bibliographised. (See my List of Incidents in Trans. Folk-Lore Congress, 1892, sub voce.)

Remarks.—How The Valiant Tailor got to Aberdeen one cannot tell, though the resemblance is close enough to suggest a direct "lifting" from some English version of Grimm's Goblins. At the same time it must be remembered that Jack the Giant Killer (see Notes on No. xix.) contains some of the incidents of The Valiant Tailor.

 Hope to see you and Nessie at the Highland Games next week on August 6.


 ****************

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


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html

         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html

         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales

         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 

 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories

Friday, July 22, 2022

Last week I mentioned the late and truly great storyteller, Chuck Larkin.  Chuck died April 18, 2003 and if there's any way he can tell stories in "the Great Beyond", I'm sure he's doing it.  Fortunately his family has decided to pay and keep his website online at http://chucklarkin.com/index.html.  

 

Rather than hunt up the page on the Wayback Machine filled with his traditional stories, the site lets you download Christmas Traditional Stories from the Southeast (Chuck was deeply rooted in Georgia); Fish Tales, tall tales about fish and the people who chase them; Halloween Stories, scary stories about haints, ghosts and things-that-go-bump-in-the-night (including my absolute favorite, "Mary Culhaine"); Hunting for Tall Tales, a collection of tall tales about hunters, dogs and critters who outwit them; a short play for storytellers titled "I Don't Tell Lies"; Short and Tall Tales, he says they are very, very short tall tales; and then Tall Tall Tales, traditional tall tales and stories; The Marriage of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnell, a pre-Christian saga adapted from a mid-15th century poem fragment and from listening to other variants of this legend from a number of storyteller; and The Hunt,  An Irish Celtic tale about Fianna Warriors.




Since Tall Tales were Chuck's specialty I decided to post two of his "very, very short tales" that seem appropriate at this time when farmers have been planting and harvesting, the weather is extra hot, and roads everywhere seem under construction.  

Short and Tall Tales

Traditional Stories from the Website of Bluegrass Storyteller, Chuck Larkin

My Father’s Brother’s Family and Ridge Farming

The first time I ever visited Georgia was in Habersham County. Uncle John and Aunt Irene had a ridge farm in the Georgia mountains. You may never have seen a ridge farm or if you did you may not have realized how they farm the ridges. You can’t use a tractor. It would roll over on you the first time you tried to turn a row. Folks use mules for the ploughing, planting, weeding and harvesting. Not my Uncle John, he was a gentleman farmer. He raised razorback hogs, a mountain species of the wild piney wood rooters. The mountain variety have long back legs and long ear lobes with holes in the bottom of the ear lobes. The first time I saw one I thought they wore ear bobs in their ear holes. They are ugly. Their heads look like their necks had barfed. One fell into the pond up in front of the farm house. They had that 550-pound hog out of the water in about five minutes. Aunt Irene told me they had to scum ugly off that pond for a year.

My Uncle John raised that species of mountain, razorback hogs, because of the long back legs. The hogs could root right up the side of a ridge turn around, tuck them long back legs into their ear holes and slide right back down the root path. Then they would turn right around and root their way back up the ridge. When it was time to plant, Uncle John tied little disks on the hogs’ tails. Disks look like Frisbees and they break up clods of fresh turned dirt. Uncle John would throw table scraps out over the ridge and at dusk turns the hogs loose. By morning the hogs would have rooted and disked the whole side of the ridge. Uncle John would sit on his rocking chair on his back porch with a bag of seed grain and his sling shot and plant the side of the ridge.

When the harvest was ready all he had to do was hit the side of the ridge with a two-by-four piece of wood, wham bam! All the vegetables would roll down off the ridge to the catch fence. I mean that does make farming a whole lot easier.

Uncle John never had to worry about drought and lack of rain like other farmers did. Across the top of the ridge he would always plant three rows of onions and potatoes mixed together. He surely was a smart farmer to have worked this out. You see if you mix the onions and potatoes together at the top of the ridge the onions would make the tater eyes weep and keep the whole side of the ridge irrigated.

The only mistake Uncle John ever made was the summer he planted some of those hot, hot, hot Mexican jalapeno peppers along the catch fence. When those fiery, hot peppers got ripe, they put off an incredible amount of seething heat that just rolled up the side of the ridge. Well that summer, so happened to be a summer so hot that I’ve watched stumps in the pasture tear themselves out of the ground and on their roots crawl underneath the trees to cool off. I have even seen the shade in the middle of the day creep under the trees to cool off. Hot and Dry! We had the Health Department out to spray the fish in the cat fish pond for ticks. The fish would come out of the pond around noon each day and swim around in the dust to keep away from the boiling water. Well to make a long story short let me tell you what happened. I know you may not believe this but I do not have any reason to lie to you. Oh I might tell you something seven or eight different ways but I wouldn’t lie. On the hottest day you could imagine coupled with the scorching heat waves coming off those Jalapeno peppers and rolling up the ridge a 465 pound hog got into the middle of the ridge field and flat out melted! That’s a fact. Though I admit some might tend to argue but I was there and I seen it for myself. The only thing Uncle John harvested from that ridge field was french fried potatoes, onion rings and the first sweet fried corn ever to be sent to market.

Well they’re all retired now. Besides farming Uncle John took up road building part time. Lots of folks from Florida came up into the mountains to build retirement homes at the top of the ridges. There was a need for road building and Uncle John figured out how he could under bid his competition. He made a ton of money. It was the experience of his cousin Rutledge that gave him the idea.

AND THAT’S A TRUE STORY

Hot Pepper Postcard on Zazzle.com

 
 Road Building

It was this experience that Rutledge had from earning money using the unusual ability of his farm stock that got my uncle John to thinking. He was able to underbid all the other road builders in the mountains by using the unusual ability of his mountain species of razor back hogs.

After Uncle John got a road building contract for one of the ridges he would take a four foot long pointed stick and a small, hard rubber headed mallet. Then he drove a series of holes about a foot or so deep sygoglin up the side of the ridge where the road was going to go. Each hole he filled with shucked corn, about one inch deep. Last, he would haul his hogs to the beginning of the trail and turn them loose without any supper. The hungry hogs would smell the corn and root down and then sideways to the next hole filled with some corn until they had rooted a road right up the ridge, switchbacks and all. All Uncle John had to do was grade the road and throw down some gravel. He got so rich he was able to park a Leer Jet on cement blocks in his front yard.

AND THAT’S A TRUE STORY

https://www.trafficsafetystore.com

 

All of Chuck's stories end with this permission:

These are very short traditional stories collected and adapted for telling by Bluegrass Storyteller, Chuck Larkin. 

Permission to use, revise and tell the stories from this manuscript is granted to the storytelling public. 
 
 
As I mentioned last week, Tall Tales use what you know as fact and then S-T-R-E-T-C-H it!  Chuck was well aware of the traditions and had a lot of fun with it.  His website is a gold mine worth digging up this type of story.  Feel free to try your hand at it. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Creating "True" Stories with Mary Garrett

There's always been storytelling within families and now with contests like "The Moth" there are many stories told supposedly based in truth.  It's not uncommon for a storyteller to be asked "Is that true?"  Truth and "what really happened" can be two very separate things.  Last week I posted a skunk story which drew a similar story from fellow storyteller, Mary Garrett.  Of course almost any story about a skunk is going to include their special "gift" of their sprayed scent.  Mary's does, too, but look at how she shapes it as a family story.  Afterwards I plan to look at a whole different technique she uses with a traditional story.

Under the Chicken House

Sam Meets the Striped Kitty Cat     by “Daddy John” Fussner

Mary (at the time of this story) in the dog house
 

One day in late February the sun was shining bright, and the wind was blowing from the south.  There was a promise of spring in the air.  It was warm for late February.  Several red birds could be seen around Dough Doughy’s house, along with a dozen or so robins.  The sparrows were already thinking of building nests, though it was much too early to start.  About a hundred pigeons were sunning themselves on the south side of the barn roof.  There were dark pigeons, white pigeons, old, young, all colors and ages.

Way down in the pasture near the woods, a few deer were grazing on the green grass between the patches of snow.  Near the brier patch, old and young male and female rabbits were busy stuffing themselves with tender green grass and the young shoots of plants making an early growth.  Many little field mice were out looking for food, for they were very hungry after the last cold spell.

Chatty the squirrel lay sunning himself on the big limb of the old oak tree near the creek.  In the creek could be seen little fish looking for food, bigger fish looking for little fish, and the biggest fish looking for all of them.  Tommy Turtle was slowly swimming around, looking for just anything at all to eat.

Out in the barn, the mice that can always be found in barns were very busy scampering around, looking for stray bits of grain that many have been dropped and keeping an eye open for bits of paper, string, or anything else that would make a warm nest warmer.  Dough Doughy had left the door open so that the warm, fresh air could dry out the barn.

Under the chicken house lived a cute little animal.  She wasn’t very big, and her coat was black except for the white stripes down her back.  She had lived under the chicken house all her life, and she wasn’t afraid of anything in the barnyard.  She would walk under the six big horses much as if their legs were tree trunks.  Dogs worried her not.  They would only try to catch her once.  After that they stayed well away, leaving when she walked near.

She didn’t bother the chickens, except to take an egg once in a while to make her coat shine.  Dough Doughy didn’t mind, for he often fed eggs to his six big horses to make their coats shine.  The only things that tried to get away when she arrived, but didn’t often succeed, were the mice and the very few rats that lived in the barn.  Some of the wiser mice lived in the barn to a ripe old age.  The rats, however, never lasted over a week.   Rats and mice were Petunia’s main food, and with her around, Dough Doughy had few problems.

The warm weather brought Petunia out from her nice dry nest.  She was as hungry as all the other wild citizens of the farm.  She had already eaten everything around the chicken house.  The food Dough Doughy set out for her was filling, but she was a little tired of it; so she was off to the barn.

Petunia hadn’t been to the barn in three weeks; so the mice were playing all over the place.  Petunia entered the open door, stopped, and looked around.  Boy, oh boy!  What a sight for a hungry skunk!  Way, way over near the far end, fully forty feet away, was a big rat, chewing on a bag of feed.  In between Petunia and the rat were about a half dozen mice.

What should she do?  Should she catch a small mouse that she was sure of, or try for the rat, which was forty feet away, but only six feet from his hole in the wall and safety?  What do you think?  Well, sir, almost faster than the eye could follow, Petunia streaked across the forty feet.  Before the rat knew she was coming, it was too late.  Mr. Rat made a fine meal for Petunia.

After a big meal, most animals like to sleep, and Petunia was no different.  She slowly walked out to the chicken house and was soon fast asleep in the sun.  She had been napping for about an hour when she was awakened by a dog barking.  Opening her eyes and springing to her feet, she saw Sam.  He would lunge forward barking loudly and then back off.  He repeated this over and over.  Petunia couldn’t retreat to her den under the chicken house, because Sam was between her and the entrance.

Petunia didn’t want any trouble; so she backed off toward the barn.  Sam kept coming after her, barking every step of the way.  He didn’t know anything about skunks, but he was about to find out.  Petunia reached the barn, still slowly backing away from Sam, when she realized that Sam wasn’t going to stop making a pest of himself.  She turned and ran as fast as she could.  Sam was doing a good job of keeping up with her as they raced across the pasture.

Dough Doughy was out in the pasture rounding up the horses, and he saw Sam chasing Petunia.  “Well, well,” he thought, “Sam is about to learn another lesson the hard way.  He will be a mighty lonely dog before this is over.”

Petunia reached the fence and raced under it and on into the woods, where she holed up in a hollow tree.  The hole was near the ground, but too small for Sam.  Petunia knew she would be safe from harm.  Poor Sam reached the fence and rolled head over tail, unable to stop.  He then had to hunt for a hole under the fence large enough for him to go through.  He soon found the hollow tree where Petunia was holed up.  He barked, he scratched at the hole, and he stuck his head in; he did everything he could to get Petunia.

Soon, enough was enough, and any more was too much.  Petunia turned her tail toward Sam, up went the flag, and out shot the gas, hitting Sam in the face and front.  Sam let out a howl you could hear for a mile or more.  He rolled in the dirt and rubbed his head on the ground, trying to clear his eyes.  After a while, he could see well enough to go home.  Yelping every step of the way, he reached home in record time.

Dough Doughy had waited out by the barn after he drove the horses in.  He listened to Sam as he made his way to the hollow tree.  Dough Doughy knew just what was going on every minute of the time.  When Petunia threw the charge of gas from the glands under her tail,  Dough Doughy heard Sam yelp, and he knew what to do.  Going into the barn, he opened the door in a little cabinet and took out a bottle of medicine for Sam’s eyes.  He then went to the brooder house, where the baby chicks are kept, and filled a big tub with warm water.

Soon Sam was home, his eyes were taken care of, and he had been given a hot bath, a good drying off, a warm bed in the brooder house, a hot meal, and plenty of time to think about chasing striped kitty cats.  For about a month, no one came near Sam except to bring him his food.

More of Dad’s stories at https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/category/stories/daddy-john-stories/

***

You may have noticed I left Mary's name on this.  She has crafted quite a few of her father's stories, or "Daddy John" stories.  Her homepage, https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/, mentions yet another page with her CDs and down at the bottom of that page are books of both "Daddy John" and old time tall tales of "Uncle John."  Along the way in some of her blog articles and stories she credits being mentored by a storyteller I correctly called "a National Treasure", Chuck Larkin.  I'm grateful his website, http://chucklarkin.com/, is still up as it includes a page overflowing with traditional stories and his specialty, tall tales.  In preparing today's article I learned that Chuck's family pays the cost of maintaining it.  I thank them.  Mary thanked Chuck for helping her gather (I'd say begin to gather) her father's bedtime stories into book format.  The "Uncle John" stories are also her father's stories, but Chuck further helped her clarify the tall tales, told with dialect, were a whole 'nother thing and deserve pointing to their tall tale origin.

I found some of those tall tales when I asked "Why was your father called 'Dough Doughy'?" 

This was her answer:

Dough Doughy by “Daddy John” Fussner

Long, long ago, there lived at the edge of the Land of Make Believe an old woman and her husband, an old man.  Living there at the edge of the Land of Make Believe was very lonely.

One day the old lady, Ma as she was called, was making doughnuts, and as she rolled out the dough, she thought of how nice it would be if she had some little children running around the house.  All of her children had long ago grown up and moved away, and her grandchildren lived so far away that she never saw them.  Just for fun, she cut a little boy out of the dough and fried him with the doughnuts.  Oh, he turned out so fine, fat and golden brown.  He looked so nice that Ma and Pa, her husband, decided not to eat him.

That night, the good old witch that lived on the big hill between the Land of Make Believe and Holiday Valley came sailing by on her broom.  Seeing the little doughboy on the kitchen table, she zoomed in for a closer look.  As she was standing there, she saw the little old woman’s dream.  The little old woman was dreaming that the boy was a real live boy and that she was making him a new suit of clothes.

“Well, well,” said the old witch to Midnight, her cat, “Let’s see what the old man is dreaming about.”  Then she had a look at his dream.

What do you thinking he was dreaming about?  He was dreaming that he was going fishing and that the little dough boy was a real live boy and was going along.  The old Witch stood there awhile, thinking.  Finally, she said, “Why not!”  Waving her magic broom, she said, “Get up, you lazy loafer,” to the little doughboy.

Do you think he did? Yes, he got up fast.

“That’s better,” said the old witch.  “Now, you listen to me and pay attention, because I’m only going to say this once.

“After I leave, you will go back to sleep.  You won’t wake up until the old ones sit down to breakfast.  You will then wake up slowly so as not to startle them, and you will show them that you are alive.  If, after a while, they believe in the Land of Make believe, you can go forth and find some of your friends. If they don’t believe, they are to know nothing of this, and after a while, I will come and take you with me.  If that happens, they will think that it was all a dream and they will never know that you were here.”  With that, she waved her broom, putting the boy to sleep.  Then swiftly, swiftly away she zoomed on her broom.

Everything worked out fine, and the old man and old woman had a little boy to keep them company.  What do I mean by had?  Well, I mean that since that was a long time ago, the little boy has grown up to a man named Dough Doughy, but as we are still back at the time of Dough Doughy’s birth, let’s get back to the story.

After a few weeks, the old man and lady decided to make another little doughboy.  The little old woman rolled out the dough and cut out another little boy, hoping that he, too, would come to life.  However, as the doughboy was lying on the table waiting for his turn to be cooked, Pa got hungry. No, he didn’t eat the doughboy. Instead he made himself a rye bread and Limburger cheese sandwich.  Pa didn’t notice when he dropped some of the cheese on the doughboy and neither did Ma; so she cooked him, cheese and all.

Well, Limburger cheese is the strongest cheese of all; so this brother for Dough Doughy was really strong.  Therefore, he was named Samson.  You will be hearing a lot about them from time to time.  Now, however, it is time for bed; so say your prayers and go to sleep.

***

I bet you recognized that as Mary's family's version of a story that goes by many names, Gingerbread Boy or Man, Hoecake, the Runaway Pancake, and even Frank Baum, when not writing about The Wizard of Oz, wrote about John Dough!  Nothing says a story has to be factual.  Tall tales delight in starting with what seems ordinary and then s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s those facts.  In the bedtime stories  of Daddy John, like the story of Sam meeting a skunk, that doesn't keeping it from being "true."

Mary lives in St. Peters, Missouri and has long been active in my hometown of the St. Louis area.  I asked her what would be her favorite picture of herself.  She chose this from "Our Renaissance Faire is held in Wentzville, in Rotary Park. (Where we once were trapped by sudden flooding and had to be rescued by fire fighters who set up a rope to hold onto as they walked us through rushing waters . . . but that's another story)."

She added, "All those littles are now taller than I am."

Let's here it for audiences that keep on growing and for stories that pop up, grow, travel and change.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Linderman - How the Skunk Helped the Coyote - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Driving this past week I found reason to sing "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road."  The chorus repeats the title three times ending with "Stinking to high heaven."  Skunks rely on their smelly defense and have no reason to think cars won't see them and leave them alone.  They leave their burrows now that the weather is warmer and trot around in the dark.  Whether you see them or not, you sure might smell them.

This sent me hunting skunk stories.  I found a good one that even includes coyote and wolf from Frank Bird Linderman.  I also found quite a few crafts related to skunks, including puppets to help tell the story.

I'll give more about that after the story which comes from Indian Old-Man Stories; More Sparks from War Eagle's Lodge Fire.  It's the sequel to Indian Why Stories: Sparks from War Eagle's Lodge-Fire found at Project Gutenberg.  The story opens with the War Eagle frame, but really begins with "Once, long ago."

Photo by Bryan Padron on Unsplash.com









https://www.vector4free.com/free-vectors/skunk

Nowadays Frank Linderman would be called an activist for Native Americans.  Besides political activism he wrote and collected their stories.  He wrote as much in a letter to a friend, "I feel it a duty to, in some way, preserve the old West, especially Montana, in printer's ink, and if I can only accomplish a small part of that, I shall die contented."  Besides biographies and other works he produced six collections of tales like today's story.  Most can be borrowed from the Internet Archive.  Just this year his Kootenai Why Stories became public domain.  I hate waiting six more years for Old Man Coyote (Crow) (1932).  It can be "borrowed" online at the Archive, but I must wait to post it here.

Beyond the stories there are some great skunk crafts. 

https://thetucsonpuppetlady.com/skunk-craft-activities/

The Tucson Puppet Lady has a free pattern for a felt skunk hand puppet and her site has other skunk activities as part of her blog.  She also has a large selection of free paper bag puppet patterns.  In addition she sells patterns for felt puppets, animal and people.  The people are "Muppet" style people which are excellent, although I would suggest substituting vinyl for the mouth as felt there wears out very quickly.  Like felt, vinyl doesn't have a problem with the edges needing the extra work of most fabrics.

Another excellent site, especially for Early Childhood needs, is Simplemomproject.com.  

The skunks are cute and would work for a paper bag puppet, stick puppet, or finger puppet (that one is mounted on a toilet paper roll.  Her Cut&Paste section is packed with a huge number of animals.  She also has ways to use crafts to help little children learn their letters.  As a preschool mom, she's right on target for others using crafts with young children.

That should help you tell the story, just avoid the real skunks.  My dogs over the years have been dowsed in both homemade and commercial de-skunk solutions.  While it may make them almost scent-free, the smell always returns in rainy weather until it finally either wears away or you become "nose blind."

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

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


At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-

  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm

  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"

The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:        

         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html

         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html

         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales

         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.

       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 

 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.

     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!

    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.

You can see why I recommend these to you. 

Have fun discovering even more stories