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Friday, April 22, 2022

Shannon - The Last of the Leprechauns - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

With Earth Day this year on Friday, April 22, spilling over into the weekend, today's title sounds like it belongs nearer Saint Patrick's Day.  I'll add a bit about the author, Monica Shannon, later, but first the story and then its connection to Earth Day.

This story comes from a book that just entered the Public Domain with the unlikely title of California Fairy Tales, but with no explanation of sources.  Face it, in 1926 unless an author wanted to stress their sources, that information wasn't given.  If we understand the author, Monica Shannon, we can see her own family roots in Ireland combined with a love of California, as explained in the link to in this article's opening:

 In these tales, elements of several cultures—California Spanish, Irish, Native American—are combined in original fairy tales taking place in a land of bean fields, redwood forests, deserts, and droughts. Eyes for the Dark (1928) and More Tales from California (1935) are collections similar to California Fairy Tales in tone and subject.

I list in my labels "Irish folklore" just to catch the Irish elements, but these are "original fairy tales."  Whether you snub them as "fakelore" or "literary", they still are true to their California roots.  

For those not in California, you might read about Eucalyptus and have your doubts.  I know I thought first about Australia, but this KQED news article, "Eucalyptus: How California's Most Hated Tree Took Root" tells they do indeed grow in eucalyptus forests, are tall (100 feet) and early 20th century U.S. Forest Service worries that there would be a timber famine led to investors choosing the fast growing trees for plantations.  Today this non-native plant is considered "moderately invasive" and possibly plays a role in California's wildfire damage.  

In contrast the sequoia and the redwood are California giants which some say are threatened by global warming.  The redwoods live in the foggy coastal areas while the sequoias are more at risk if these mountain trees depend on melting snow and rain.  There are some who predict both species will eventually require watering to keep them alive.  For those of us unfamiliar with either, redwoods are the younger upstarts compared to sequoias.  The tallest redwood is 379 feet and "only" live 2,200 years, while the tallest giant sequoia is 311 feet, but they tend to live about 3,200 years.  

For now both the redwoods and the sequoias are protected at least from logging.  The California state flag features a Golden Grizzly.  The California golden bear or California grizzly (Ursus arctos californicus) is an extinct subspecies of the brown bear.  It disappeared from the state of California in 1922 when the last one was shot in Tulare County.  One of the important things to remember about Earth Day is Extinct means there are no more.  


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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