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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Skinner - Patsy and Jock - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I've used illustrations before from The Old Design Shop, a blog and website I heartily recommend.  Julie posts a wide variety of vintage art and it's worth both strolling through her Gallery of 141 pages, (let your mouse hover over the word Gallery to see the many topics), subscribing to her weekly email of the blog, and going to her Etsy Shop.  I hadn't quite decided what to post this week until I saw her email this week of Girl on the Beach, an illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith, which is actually titled: Little Drops of Water.  The image was scanned  from a book titled A Child’s Book of Old Verses with pictures by Jessie Wilcox Smith. The book was published in 1910.

That made me wonder if I didn't have something that would be a good companion to the picture and I found the perfect one!  When I went to put in the names of the Skinner sisters, Ada M. and Eleanor L. plus Jessie Willcox Smith, I was surprised to find those names didn't come up for previous blog articles here.  Whether it's the charming artwork or the stories I know all three of them are guaranteed.

Sticking with the beach theme, today's story of a little girl and her dog are perfect.  I'll give the story, end with the illustration (it was given later in the book, so using your imagination first is perfect) and then mention a few things about telling it.
Sometimes the language of a Public Domain story doesn't fit modern ears although here in Michigan I do hear some talk of "bathing suits."  It always strikes me as a bit old-fashioned.  In telling this story I would say swim suit and would have Patsy talk of going wading in the water rather than "bathing."  Also I always tend to make barking sounds rather than say "Bow-wow!"  I've never heard that sound from any dogs I've known, although my previous Malamute did surprise me by actually barking "Arf!" at times.  There's a comedy play called Sylvia about a friendship between a man and his dog, Sylvia, which includes the actress playing Sylvia speaking her thoughts.  I never realized before it how perfectly a dog's bark is saying "Hey! Hey-hey!" 

I recommend both the play and A Very Little Child's Book of Stories by Ada M. and Eleanor L. Skinner, complete with illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith.  I'm surprised I've never given anything by them here before as their reliability is certain.  I'll have to remedy that in the future and give a bit of information about them, but for now I want to head to the beach.  It may be a Michigan inland beach, as Oakland County has so many they might have named it Lakeland County, but summer is fast slipping away and one of my local theatre groups is having their annual picnic and business meeting at the beach home of a member.  Time to enjoy summer before it's gone!
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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - 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 -  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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