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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Campbell - various Scottish Highland fox tales/tails - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This is early because I want anybody local enough to know about the 169th St. Andrews Society of Detroit Highland Games August 4 in  Livonia when North Oakland County Storytellers (NOCS) welcomes all to the Wee Bairns area of the annual Highland Games for stories of Scottish heritage.

Contact Carolyn Graves, 248-264-6752 for more information or go to the Wee Bairns section of the Highland Games information at…/kids-corner/ . The event is at 20501 Newburgh Rd. at Greenmead Historical Park. Advance Games tickets are $15. Games tickets purchased at the gate are $20. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

The Wee Bairns area is the spot for an understanding of Scottish heritage while having fun and that definitely includes storytelling.

Stories are tailored to the audiences that drift through.  I love telling some I've posted here in the past.  I also enjoy the following short fox tales as they can fit the short attention span often part of drifting from activity to activity at a festival.  They also happen to be about a fascinating animal...the fox! While they come from John Francis Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Sir George Douglas included them in his well known standard anthology, Scottish Folk & Fairy Tales.

I will interrupt a bit here to make a few comments related to my telling them.

While it's great to see how intelligent a fox is, it's also fun to see them outwitted.  This names the fox as Rory and gives the reason for the Gaelic name.  Because I can't manage Gaelic, I omit that and just call him a fox.
The next one has been also told with the fox using a stick, which is how I tell it instead of wool. 
Maybe it's my own Clan Stirling roots, but I do love the Scottish bagpipes . . . and a good thing, too, because they seem to be everywhere at the festival.
The story about the Wrens for city listeners benefits from a demonstration and very brief explanation of threshing and then tailoring it to how birds do it.
I do not tell the story after it, "The Fox and the Cock", for several reasons.  I can't manage the Scots Gaelic pronunciation.  I'm also inclined to substitute "rooster" to avoid snickering whenever I can.  In this case, the double meaning is also part of the story and "is nae for the Wee Bairns."
I've never seen a Scottish wolf nor his tail, but will make this tale specific to a specific wolf and how his tail can't compare with that of a fox.  Of course I saw the ending coming and it's a story that has traveled the world, usually with a bear.  It is used to show how the Vikings came to North America and their story of "Why the Bear Has a Stumpy Tail" shows their contact with our Native people.  You have the story for my contact with you from last year whether you make the festival or not. 

In the meantime may you have many tales, especially those of your own cultural heritage, to share for that's the purpose of Public Domain.
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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