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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Thanksgiving NOT Turkey Day + Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Next week is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and I trust, no matter how bad things may have been, you can find something or someone giving you a reason to be thankful.  Even the process for "counting your blessings" is good for us, so that's why I've developed a pet peeve at the current trend of calling it "Turkey Day"!!!

A quick check at Wikipedia on Thanksgiving shows eleven other countries set aside a similar day.  For that reason I went looking to find an image saying "Thanksgiving NOT Turkey Day."  There were lots about calories and not having turkey, but the only place with my "Thanksgiving NOT Turkey Day" feelings were at a site whose humor is often found shared on Facebook,  They had not one, but two I want to share:


That last one really has my back up.  People working in retail deserve the day to be with their families if they wish.  Sure police, fire departments, hospitals, and the military may be needed, rotating work schedules, but surely sales can wait or be handled without making people go to work for a dubious sale of expensive items.

In all fairness I waited a bit late (being in a show tends to do that to me) to ask permission from the folks at Someecards.  They've never gone after people sharing their humor on Facebook, so I hope their understanding includes my posting those two illustrations.  Their "About" page says:
Someecards launched in 2006 as a uniquely voiced ecard site, and has grown into one of the most widely shared and trusted humor brands on the Web. Every day our team of writers creates new ecards, articles, and original content, resulting in over 500MM monthly views on our site and in social media. We also make some of the Web's most engaging and successful branded advertising programs, which you can learn more about here. Thanks for reading this entire paragraph!
Also on their website they have products to sell their cards, wine, coasters, calendars (to see their satire regularly), and Mad Libs.  That last part especially appeals to me as I sometimes use that style of audience participation and especially appreciated this.  Yes, I can understand the need to explain the parts of speech when working with children, but with adults?!?

Well this is turning into a bit of an ad for Someecards and it's time to get to a bit of storytelling.

In December my "Hired Girl" persona lets me bring Victorian Christmas traditions and stories.  One of my favorites is Lucretia Peabody Hale's series of Noodlehead types of stories about a family, the Peterkins, and their Christmas tree.  I'll say more about Ms. Hale and the Peterkins when I give that story.  (Next week?  We'll see -- the often used parental reply.)  I will point out that she was the daughter of Nathan Hale, Senior, who was a journalist and a nephew of the Revolutionary War hero hung as a spy and given in a story here back in 2017.  Before giving a Peterkin story that fits the coming holiday, yet isn't their Christmas tree tale, I went looking to learn more about the origin of the U.S. making Thanksgiving a national holiday.  Along the way I bumped into yet another Hale, Sara Josepha Hale, best known as the author of the nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" -- please note it was not a turkey.  She married into the Hale name and I've no doubt there's a distant link with a Nathan Hale somewhere in the family of David Hale, her husband.  However it happened, she wrote to five presidents trying to make it a national holiday.  Finally President Lincoln agreed, seeing it as a unifying time after the stress of the American Civil War.  May we all find a way to reestablish any family unity on Thanksgiving.

Today's story certainly includes a unified family, however silly they may be.  While reviewing that Peterkins tale I mentioned, I found today's story.  It isn't specifically about Thanksgiving, although when their stories were published in the late 1860s and through the mid-1880s the national holiday did exist.

The Peterkins are well described in that Wikipedia article as:
 The Peterkins were a large family who were extremely intelligent, but didn't have a lick of common sense among them. Whenever they were confronted with a problem that had a simple solution and a complex one, they unerringly went for the complex one--the simple one never occurred to them. They were usually rescued by their neighbor, the Lady from Philadelphia, known for her wisdom; which usually amounted to the plain, commonsense solution that had been staring them in the face and which any normal person would have seized on immediately.
With that in mind only one further comment may be needed.  Only if you live in a large old home or work somewhere with a "dumb-waiter" will you probably understand the term for the term for a small freight elevator meant to carry objects between floors and, in a home, usually going to the kitchen or dining room.  (For more than you probably want to know, but with photos, go to
May your own patience be rewarded with many stories and may you have a happy Thanksgiving.
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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