Tell me if you have a topic you'd like to see. (Contact: .)
Please also let others know about this site.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Deihl - Cornflower's Message; A Fourth of July Story - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I love wildflowers!  Their cheery color reminds me how in Matthew 6:29 and Luke 12:27 our value is compared with them.  We are told "not Solomon in all his splendor" can compare with the brief glory of wildflowers and yet we are worth more.  That idea and the way "weeds" are anything growing where it's not wanted often cross my mind.  I certainly want them (more than grass which could be considered a weed by that standard).  Checking books that became Public Domain by failing to be renewed, I found a 1930 textbook of stories, Holiday-Time Stories, stamped Property of Jones School, Dist. #1 - Hampton Twp.  The author, Edna Groff Deihl, has nothing online about her, only her books.  Putting her name in as a search label here, I discovered TWO! posts in December of last year and also 2013  and each time it was her New Year's story of "The Three Bells" both times!!  It's a good story, but I'm surprised I missed the double posting.  This weekend is the Fourth of July and Deihl lets the story of the importance of Independence Day be told by wildflowers.  

Before telling it I knew the name "cornflower" wasn't the way I originally knew the flower.  It was delightful to see the alternate name of "Bachelor Button" is also legitimate.  Since wildflowers fascinate me and I often try to identify them, I was surprised it wasn't listed at the wildflower identification tool,  There was a reason, neither name, nor it's scientific name of Centaurea Cyanus was is an escapee from being a cultured plant, even though now considered "a weed in arable crops."  Ah, yes, a weed is in the viewpoint.  I'll gladly grow them.

Another plant in the story, the Buttercup, is often talked about, but I wasn't sure if I'd ever seen it.  MyWildflowers gave a variety of pictures.  I was still uncertain.  It's flower is only about an inch in size and 2 or 3 feet tall.  Very similar are Creeping Buttercups and Swamp Buttercups, all with the same flower.  I was still uncertain if I'd seen it, but looked for it and its five petals on yesterday's walk.  Ah ha!  It's easily overlooked as it's so common.

Beyond those flowers, there are two things to mention further before the story.  

Back in 1930 children probably knew of the old-fashioned Chinese hairstyle of the Queue.  It disappeared from fashion in the early 20th century.  Queues,  long associated with Asian men, would now be considered a racist stereotype.  The story compares a firecracker's fuse to what should be described now as reminiscent of that braided hairstyle from long ago in China's early history or you could simply say it looked like a person wearing their hair in a braid.

Beyond that antiquated view, the story gives a still needed reminder, not just for children of nearly a century ago, of the real reason behind Independence Day or the 4th of July.  That meaning goes way beyond a picnic, fireworks, or a holiday.  The explanation of the true meaning of independence and freedom keeps this old story worth our looking back.

I can't help but smile at the crayoned addition to the story.  Some child matched the colors of Genevieve Fusch Samsel's illustrations.  I wonder if that is how the book was no longer "Property of Jones School, Dist. #1 - Hampton Twp" or if the added decoration earned  the child a fine?

                                Flower Flag at the University of Montana in Bozeman


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!

No comments: