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Saturday, May 2, 2020

Shelter in Place - Week 6 / Montgomery - The Councillors of Lagos - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

The coming week originally was scheduled to start of with two celebrations: Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You!...take your pick of the dry factual Wikipedia article or kids activities, including a puppet and story) and then Cinco de Mayo...a day normally filled with celebrating.  Go to for colorful and very thorough coverage, including videos and excellent related content (you have to keep scrolling down to get to that extra material).   Still it's not as much fun as the celebrations normally part of this day often confused with Mexican Independence Day (yes, explains this).  

I was surprised to find only two Public Domain gatherings of Mexican folklore from the days when ethnologists first went out to the far corners of the world to collect stories.  Lewis Spence in 1913 produced The Myths of Mexico & Peru, but I found the stories dry and barely anecdotal.  Then I discovered Charles M. Skinner's Myths & Legends Beyond Our Borders.  Two-thirds of the book is on Canada before offering slightly over a hundred pages devoted to Mexico.  Skinner wrote several books of folklore, focusing on the United States and also one about our "New Possessions and Protectorate" ("Cuba, Porto Rico, and the Philippines", as well as Hawaii long before it became a state).  Fortunately you can read these books online at the Internet Archive.  I may not always have been tempted by his stories, mythology isn't really my favorite folklore, but in Beyond Our Borders there were some besides today's story I liked, especially two that may appear here in the future.  One was about foolish young alligators and another reminds me of an Asian tale about a wen, an abnormal skin growth, taken from a good man and eventually given to a greedy man.  

This is a tale of Mexican politicians, as are many Noodlehead tales about foolish leaders, but my intent is NOT political, whether it be about those responsible for roads or higher.  It's strictly for fun and we can always use more of that.  There's more Noodlehead resources after the story.

Today's story is a type called a "Noodlehead tale" and I heartily recommend going to a page of Noodlehead resources by fellow storyteller, Barry McWilliams, who is commonly called Eldrbarry.  He points out the difference beyond the "wise fool" like the Hodja or Tyl Eulenspiegel and the true Noodleheads like those leaders of Chelm and Gotham.  Beyond that comprehensive look at Noodleheads, a teacher, Susan Antonelli, who believes in "creative teaching designed to engage childhood wonder", has a fun page about the Epossumondus picture books by Coleen Salley along with other ideas for how to creatively use Noodlehead stories.  She mentions also the Amelia Bedelia easy readers in her suggestion of ways to think about and create Noodlehead stories.  

Thankfully Montgomery's books can be read even with libraries being closed.  I also always end the "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" segments with plenty of online folktales.  Oh, and by the way, right before this story is "The Mischievous Cocktail" for your celebrating.  I found it interesting as my Prohibition program includes the explanation that cocktails became popular then to disguise the taste of bootleg liquor, especially bathtub gin.  Montgomery in 1899 gives the Mexican claim to the Toltecs in the eleventh century inventing cocktails long before Columbus arrived.

Staying with today's story, clearly the politicians aren't the only Noodleheads, just more visible.

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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