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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Make every day Earth Day

 Earth Day 2015 Image

While Earth Day was officially April 22, it was never intended to be a focus for one day only.  Here are some good ideas to keep it going + a look at storytelling and even puppetry ideas for Earth Day and beyond. 

Because it fell during the week, if you are here in the metro Detroit area you might want to go to an excellent annual celebration held at Carl's Family YMCA in Milford this Sunday.  From 1-5p.m.   If you can, go to this practical, fun family festival.  Notice the first thing the article mentions is giving out free seedling trees.  "Mother Earth" always has lots to give away.  Planting them also fits Arbor Day, whose dates vary, but here in Michigan is the last Friday in April.  There's much more than the article had space to list, but North Oakland County Storytellers, yes, including me, will be telling stories related to the day also.    Once you go, you'll want to attend every year.

The Arbor Day Foundation
While mentioning Arbor Day, why not go to the Arbor Day Foundation site and join?  With your membership you will get ten free trees, a tree guide to more than 200 varieties of trees, 100 varieties of additional trees discounted with free shipping included, and the Arbor Day newsletter.  This non-profit carries on the work of  the first Arbor Day observance in 1872. The Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners.  The story of Arbor Day itself is interesting and especially the story of the U.S. start by Julius Sterling Morton which stretches from his roots here in Michigan, to seeing its need on the plains of Nebraska, to Washington, D.C. where he was Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of President Cleveland, to Chicago where his son, Joy, the founder of the Morton Salt Company, carried on the family love of trees with an enormous arboretum and estate.

Here's a list of 8 common things you didn't know you could recycle.  If you don't want to ship your nylons off to No Nonsense (the second to the last item), you can give them to me for puppet stuffing.  I use them in puppet making workshops with old stuffed animals.  Here I am at a different workshop on how to use puppets with "Ivan", who has appeared here before because he lets me use sign language.  He has a bit of a story about the day I made him from a very old stuffed animal.  Detroit Puppeteers Guild had a workshop led by deaf puppeteer, April Cooper, on how to make him, but neither of us expected that the oldest stuffed animals were stuffed with styrofoam pellets.  I'm a big recycler of styrofoam, but those pesky pellets are probably still lurking in cracks at the Livonia Civic Center Library because opening the toy erupted into pellets everywhere! 
Ivan the Signing Siberian Tiger

and being eaten by Rainbow Boa Boa
I also have something else you might want to recycle with 7 surprising ways to use pet hair.  You could combine the nylons with the pet hair for absorbing oil spills -- the first surprising way to use all that pet hair.  With the double fur coat of my husky/malamute, I plan to try #7 for my rural garden, but know many people do indeed spin it into yarn.

You may have noticed both those last two links go to  If you join that site you can find a wide array of free e-cards along with information supporting a multitude of causes and healthy living.

As I write this, National Storytelling Network's special interest group National Storytelling Network's Healing Story Alliance Special Interest Group
is due to post its April 7 teleconference with storyteller/biologist Fran Stallings.  H.S.A. has the March 24, 2015 up, so I presume the lively discussion will be available soon as their teleconferences, along with other resources, are always posted afterward.  Fran's topic was "Stealth Eco-telling, Putting Your Repertory Where Your Heart Is" and she did exactly that, showing ways to use stories you may already know.  She also was wise enough to point out the need for including positive stories to avoid the easy to fall into "gloom and doom" mood when mentioning the need for ecology.

Take care of the Earth . . . so far it's the only livable  planet we have and need to keep it that way.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

"The Hello Girls" -- a project begins

There are always multiple projects underway.  This is a project looking ahead to the 2017 centennial of the U.S. entering World War I . . . the supposedly "War to end all wars."  That war also ended the very limited participation of women in wartime support.

Here in Michigan Oleda Joure became a "Hello Girl", the popular name for members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps.  The "Girls" were requested by General Pershing because of difficulties using the existing French phone system conflicting with his determination to keep phone lines available between the battlefront and headquarters.  He requested bi-lingual (French and English) telephone switchboard operators.  They were subject military regulations, including court martial, and even stood inspection along with soldiers, yet it wasn't until the presidency of Jimmy Carter their service was finally recognized as being the first women veterans of the U.S. Army.

Oleda Joure Christides
I find Oleda an exceptionally interesting Hello Girl, and not just because she was from Michigan, as she was both a telephone operator/training supervisor and an entertainer.  She was also asked by the Red Cross to become a member of their touring program, a precursor to later U.S.O. tours.  She couldn't accept as she was already under orders with the Signal Corps, but her knowledge of music of the era lets me bring it into the fascinating story of the Hello Girls.

This will probably be the first of many articles about World War I, the Hello Girls, and Oleda Joure Christides.  I will be asking historical organizations and libraries:

If you are interested in the various resources checked so far, the primary online source for Oleda is The History of a Hello Girl written by her daughter Michelle Christides.  Yet another website of Ms. Christides gives additional photos, facts, comments by her mother, and also cautionary remarks to teachers and writers.  I also found this abbreviated article by her has a few additional bits of information and anecdotes not mentioned elsewhere.  She has more information, including oral histories of a few of her mother's colleagues, and hopes to publish it in a forthcoming book.

If you go to the Armed Forces History Museum's page on the Hello Girls it mentions Oleda, as it is almost a complete copy of Ms. Christides webpage, but fails to give her credit.  I also found a blog on Women Heroes that did the same.  It's no wonder comments about how the work by Michelle Christides and about the World War I Signal Corps should be handled was posted.  Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Hanes in his article, "Hello Girls set stage for women in the military", on the Malmstrom Air Force Base site does more work as his article features Grace Banker, the Chief Operator or supervisor, but he, too, mentions Oleda and the article by her daughter.  Soldiers; The Official U.S. Army Magazine has "World War I's Hello Girls: Paving the Way for Women in the U.S. Army", an excellent article by Elizabeth M. Collins.  Here's the brief  introductory (dare I say obligatory?) Wikipedia article on the Hello Girls.  Even Facebook has a Hello Girls section within the U.S. Army War College photos. There are a few other online locations that give brief mention.  If you go to Google for a search, it's worth adding "world war 1" or variations as there was also an unrelated t.v. show by that name.

Catch a great YouTube video (November 2013) by Dennis Skupinski about the Hello Girls of Michigan, with Oleda featured as well as Cora Bartlett, who died of Spanish Influenza while serving as a Hello Girl.  This is part of his excellent series, Michigan's WWI Centennial News Report, videos he has been producing for several years.

Beyond that the following books are also worth reading: 
  • Farwell, Byron - Over There; The United States in the Great War, 1917-1918
  • Gavin, Lettie - American Women in World War I; They Also Served
  • Schneider, Dorothy and Carl J. - Into the Breach; American Women Overseas in World War I 
  • Staff of Yankee Magazine - The World Wars Remembered (has a remembrance by Grace Banker Paddock

As the old Y.W.C.A. poster declares, we should "Back our girls over there" both during the war, when they returned to the U.S. but were told they couldn't have been sworn into the army, in 1978 with only 70 of the "Girls" still alive, and as we begin to look at World War I and the women supporting that effort.

Is that my only project in the works?  Dunberidiculous!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Blaisdell - Lincoln's Gettysburg Speech - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Assassination of President Lincoln
Artist: Joseph Edward Baker, 1835 – 1914, c. 1865
National Portrait Gallery
This Tuesday, April 14, is the sesquicentennial of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  During the past few years I've been doing another blog, Michigan's "Fighting Fifth" Civil War Infantry, of Detroit newspaper articles about that particular regiment in the pace at which they were published.  Along the way I've repeatedly mentioned how the Detroit Free Press was a "Copperhead" newspaper, in opposition to Lincoln and the war.  Next week, starting on April 15, I will feature there the front page of the Free Press for April 15.  If anything shows the local reaction to the assassination, it does.
Today I want to take a step back to observe Lincoln in some of his final public speeches.  I'm grateful that Albert Blaisdell included mention of Lincoln's second inaugural speech in his brief story, showing how "With malice toward none, with charity for all..." fit in with the presidential style as the Civil War drew to a close.  There was nothing Civil about the War Between the States, especially Lincoln's assassination, but the little book of Stories of the Civil War takes the overly familiar speech and sets it in place like a photo in an album.  It shows how Lincoln's style developed from his mother's instruction in a pioneer cabin to that final inaugural address.  The story's final paragraph is not the first time I've heard the story, but definitely shows that album setting.

You may have noticed the battered condition of the book.  Even this story was dog-eared by its original owner, Florence Grace Tucker, who also liberally made use of the book's final pages for penciled school notes and even a message to a friend.  Earlier I featured this book in the story of "How a Boy Helped General McClellan."  I found the tattered volume tucked away at Hyde Brothers, a delightful used bookstore in Fort Wayne, years ago and treasure its many stories.  An edition can be found at Hathi Trust Digital Library, where you might enjoy the tenth chapter, "A Pen Picture of Abraham Lincoln."  It's not really a story, but impressions of Lincoln.

For information about the assassination, I recommend the March 2015 issue of Smithsonian magazine.  You might also want to digitally visit the museum, searching the collection for Lincoln assassination for images, videos, blogs, and a bit more.
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 normal monthly posting of a research project here.  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my monthly 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.  Have fun discovering even more stories!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter and Passover Greetings

Am taking a brief break over the holiday weekend, but wanted to give Easter and Passover greetings.

That picture shows the feelings this time of year brings.  Lent is actually a word meaning Spring and here in the grip of the Michigan Mitten Spring can never arrive soon enough. 

On a personal note my hand and wrist injury are limiting me on the computer and working on some of the music I want to play.  Was able to "graduate" from physical therapy only to discover I need to continue those exercises or have pain enough to leave me wanting to get to the next bit of pain medicine.  I refuse to be at that stage if exercises can prevent it.  So my computer and music time and a few other activities are being cut back a bit for now.  The therapist said it was normal to expect pain for 6 months to a year, but I'm hopeful exercising can keep it manageable. 

Let's just hope for a personal Spring and may this season be a time of growth for all of us.