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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Babbitt - 2 Turtle tales (Keeping the Public in Public Domain) & More

Why did the turtle cross the road?

I know that sounds like the start of an old joke, but it's not.  Spring has awakened turtles and they are slowly on the move.  They were made to be fairly unbreakable, but there are limits and that includes being unable to handle a car running them over.  If you see one on the road, please slow down, putting on your emergency flashers and pull over to the side where you can help.  They're fairly determined, so this may help you.
(Nadilyn Beato is an artist at and, while that is copyrighted, it's her public service announcement -- I found it on Facebook.  She has an Etsy store selling her art and is based in New York.)

Please note that those determined turtles are best moved to the other side of the road where they were headed.  Also they aren't going to believe you are helping them, so do it carefully.  Snapping Turtles are particularly difficult and are fast enough with their mouths, so try to approach from the back.

Here in Oakland County, Michigan I often say we should be called Lakeland County as there are lakes, ponds, and wetlands everywhere!  This means rural and suburban roads often have traveling turtles we should protect.  Turtles date back hundreds of millions of years, older even than crocodiles or snakes, so we need to do what we can to keep them safe from our vehicles.

Of course I want to share a pair of brief turtle stories.  The Jatakas; Tales of India as retold by Ellen C. Babbitt keep some of our oldest stories in a short easily enjoyed form.  Both these stories may be familiar in other cultures.  The first will sound rather like Br'er Rabbit and I'm not saying the story traveled from India, but it's probably just human "reverse psychology."  The other first came to my attention in 1968 when Janina Domanska published a Polish version called Look, There Is a Turtle Flying.  I do believe that came from those old Indian tales moving out into other lands.  Either way here they are for us to enjoy.
"Please don't throw me in the briar patch!"  Br'er Rabbit's version is better known, but maybe Turtles did it first.

The next story is so appropriate for me...and maybe you, too.
I confess I sometimes think I was destined to be a storyteller since I got in trouble for talking from my earliest days, especially in school.  Fortunately it never was as catastrophic as it was for poor Turtle.  I often say "I tell for fun and profit", so keep me and the world of storytelling in mind when you look for a program.
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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