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Friday, April 28, 2023

Bailey - The Dandelion - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Does any reader know of a story or poem about an old man with a bag of gold that spills and the gold becomes dandelions?

Every year my mom would joyfully shout "The old man spilled his bag of gold!" when she saw dandelions.  I wish I had asked her about it, as it haunts me every year when dandelions start to pop up.  I've hunted everywhere for its source without success.

Today I have a very short story by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey.  Her re-tellings have often appeared here.  This comes from "The Presbyterian" and appeared in Bailey's For The Children's Hour.  It's easily shared whenever you see dandelions.  Because I've told this much, you know where the story's heading, but that doesn't keep it from being worth telling.  Your listeners may or may not realize it's about the plant until the end.


Now like those "arrows", I urge you to spread the story (and spread the answer to my opening question, if you can.)

 I know you are probably working on any lawn you may have right now, mowing and getting it ready for warm weather.  It always reminds me of "the time when a little hard work pays off in a lot of hard work later!"  At the same time perhaps this enjoyment of dandelions will keep you from using pesticides like neonicotinoids.  As the Wikipedia article points out:

Neonicotinoid use has been linked to adverse ecological effects, including honey-bee colony collapse disorder (CCD), bumblebee decline,[7] and declining populations of insect-eating birds. Neonicotinoids widely contaminate wetlands, streams, and rivers, and due to their widespread use, pollinating insects are chronically exposed to them. Sublethal effects from chronic low-level exposure to neonicotinoids in the environment are thought to be more common in bees than directly lethal effects. These effects upon bees include difficulty navigating, learning, and foraging, suppressed immune response, lower sperm viability, shortened lifespans of queens, and reduced numbers of new queens produced.[6] Furthermore, organisms unaffected by, resistant to, or exposed to sublethal doses of neonicotinoid pesticides retain the pesticides in their bodies when they feed upon neonicotinoid-treated plants, which can then kill predatory insects that consume the contaminated prey.[9]

In 2013, the European Union and some neighbouring countries restricted the use of certain neonicotinoids.[10][11][12][13][14][15] In 2018 the EU banned the three main neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) for all outdoor uses,[16][17] but in 2020, France re-allowed the use of neonicotinoids on sugar beet crops.[18] Several US states have restricted neonicotinoids out of concern for pollinators and bees.[19]

The article goes on to talk about its further being studied for its adverse effect on birds, other wildlife, and mammals (i.e. US!), with additional references to articles involving amphibians and insects.  I find it interesting that Wikipedia avoided Roundup pesticide and the lawsuit settlement involving Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 

On a far healthier effort, Dandelion Tea is one of many useful things possible from dandelions.  I also found this project to make Dandelion Soap! at Red Ted Art (there are lots of "white spaces", so keep going to get it all.)  

I would suggest you just be sure those dandelions haven't been sprayed in the past four years.  Beyond that our pollinators, bees and butterflies are crucial to our agriculture, so I strongly support efforts to ban neonics and urge you to do so, too. 


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 December 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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