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Friday, November 20, 2020

Bailey - The Pie That Grew - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Thanksgiving in 2020 definitely will be different.  Whether you call the current pandemic Coronavirus, Covid-19, just Covid, or even the overly cutsie 'Rona, it has brought changes and a new way of talking.  Personally I disagree with some terms, such as calling it "The New Normal" as it really should be called the "Temporary Normal."  While there may be some truth to saying we are keeping "Socially Distant", I believe, with the need to fight loneliness and depression, it would seem better to keep "Physically Distant."

Here in my area I'm seeing Christmas lights appear on houses already.  Usually that waited until the Thanksgiving weekend.  This may be due partially to a few unexpected but brief warm spells.  My bet is it's also an attempt to brighten what is looking like the start of a dark gloomy winter.  The holidays usually get the darkest time of the year off to a brighter start.  This year the question of how to enjoy them has become a major news item.

While "Physically Distant", families are figuring out ways to avoid truly being "Socially Distant."  Zoom calls, Facebook, Skype, even the good old telephone will be some of the ways to do this.  While I'm not eager to eat in a Zoom call and watch others eat, I do hope to have time for all my family to talk with each other.  I've already been asked to tell a story and maybe some of you will choose to tell a bit of family history.  I plan to tell the following story by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey and then see if we, as a group, can use it to make our own story.  I'll say more about that after her tale.

Some of you may be familiar with the idea of a Cumulative Story.  It means something keeps getting added to the story, while repeating the earlier elements.  That's an easy tale to create.  Whether everybody in the group has to take turns or it's left to members volunteering an answer, the "bones" of the story is easily able to be used to make a whole new story.

First decide the time when the story takes place.  Bailey chose Thanksgiving, but it could be Christmas, a birthday, summer, whatever is volunteered.  Then who is delivering the "goods"?  Who will be getting them?  Start with somebody giving an item to be delivered.  How will the item be delivered?  (Bobby had a bicycle but who knows how your delivery will happen?)  Have that delivery get interrupted by someone else, but they have to add an item.  Keep adding interruptions and items until someone finally gets everything delivered.  (Possibly collapsing while finally delivering it all?)

There's no limit to how this could happen.  It doesn't even have to be delivered by people.  Imagine, for example, a pony is hitched to a cart with the first item and maybe other people or animals keep adding to it until finally the cart is full and reaches its destination.

Don't worry if the story gets silly.  It's not likely to win an award although Bailey did win a Newbery medal in 1947 for the children's novel, Miss Hickory.  She also produced many anthologies and this one is from The Wonderful Tree.  

As a storyteller friend of mine, Loretta Vitek says, "There's always a story; it would be a shame not to tell it."  Whether your stories are true or created from imagination, I hope your Thanksgiving adds only pleasant stories to look back at this very different Thanksgiving and the rest of our holidays.


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 the late 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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