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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Bailey - Why the Bear Has a Stumpy Tail - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This weekend Daylight Saving Time ends for at least 2017 in the places in the U.S. and Canada where it's used.  Some think it should end altogether.  It all makes me look back at "The truth about bears and hibernation"  and my post of the story by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey about "Why the Bear Sleeps All Winter" from way back in 2015.  In recent months I've posted stories from the other non-related Bailey, Arthur Scott Bailey.  Obviously I enjoy his tale of Cuffy Bear, but feel his hibernation story was just too anthromorphized for my taste.  Good old Project Gutenberg has the complete The Tale of Cuffy Bear, so feel free to read the final chapter, "Cuffy Bear Grows Sleepy" to judge for yourself.

As for Daylight Saving Time, I don't know, but love that "Fall back" into sleeping later (going to bed later always just seems to happen no matter what).  "Spring forward" for me is Bah Humbug! All this sent me hunting and then I found the 2016 posting of the Cherokee tale of "The Origin of Disease and Medicine" where bears and then other animals bring disease upon people for humans hunting and otherwise hurting them.

Bears may not be cuddly in real life, but they do make for some good stories.  I decided to look at what stories were saved at the old Story-Lovers site on the Wayback Machine's listing of website "snapshots."  It wasn't as easy as in the past, but go to 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.  As it turned out, the coverage for bears didn't produce any stories I wanted.

One of the best known bear stories, which has been used to produce evidence of the Scandinavian influence (Vikings in Canada!) in North America with the Native Americans/First Nations, is the story of "Why the Bear Is Stumpy Tailed" or variations on its title.  I love telling it and can't believe I never gave it here.  Many of our North American nations, whether the Canadian First Nations or down below in the U.S., tell this story also found in Scandinavian folklore.  There's no way I can say one is better than another, but, going back to that 1907 Firelight Stories book used earlier, I find the retelling by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey catches its humor succinctly in two pages.
My only change in my own telling is to have the bear wait longer hoping he gets lots of fish.

Guess I need to change my description of how to fish for more stories on the old Story-Lovers website.  It's a great resource and want people to continue using it.  Thank you, Jackie Baldwin, for all your work for 12 years in keeping it going.


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.
  • 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 -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to 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 - 
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 -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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