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Friday, October 20, 2023

"The Shortest Scary Stories in the World"

Photo by Sabina Music Rich on Unsplash

As a storyteller I regularly tell stories in the Public Domain.  It's also why a large segment of this blog is in the category of Keeping the Public in Public Domain.  Whether you are a professional storyteller or not, it's my way of helping keep alive stories that should not fade away.  Certain the last two weeks did this as the story of The Pumpkin Giant deserves to be kept alive.  

Recently I had a program where the audience wanted spooky, but not too scary stories.  I told the group coordinator I used material that fit the requirement, BUT if she heard about any nightmares to remember when we sleep we use the events of the day to work out our problems.  I told her about a mother once telling me her child had a nightmare about crocodiles after a story in Preschool Storytime.  The story was about Bernard Waber's Lyle the Crocodile.  There are many books in the series, one of which is titled Lovable Lyle and gives a clue to just how the character goes out of his way to be anything but frightening.

With that "spooky, but not too scary" requirement, I offered a small cauldron of jokes and riddles and a large black cast iron pot with yellow paper strips for the titles of song parodies related to the topic and orange strips with the titles of appropriate stories.  Everybody in the group was on still another group of strips letting me choose the next person to decide what we heard.  They were allowed to choose a joke or riddle, a song, a story, or to pass.  This left the program to be shaped by the group as there was just enough time to call on all 17 attendees.

Among the stories was a strip called "The Shortest Scary Stories in the World."  There were so many stories available, it was never chosen.  If it had, I would have said there are Three! that claim to be "The Shortest Scary Stories in the World"  plus another of "All the Scary Stories in the World in Six Seconds."  Which would they choose: 1,2,3, or "All the Scary Stories in the World in Six Seconds?"  

Unfortunately for my recognition of authorship and possibly copyright, I am completely unable to find the source of "The Shortest Scary Stories in the World."  I suspected it was on Jackie Baldwin's site, Story-Lover's World.  Jackie tried to be the public archive for the email list, Storytell.  The list originally was sponsored by Texas Woman's University.  Eventually the university no longer was able to support it, so Jackie's "SOS:Searching Out Stories" section of her business site is as close as we can come to archiving those earlier suggestions.  Sadly her site ended in December of 2016 with .  I strongly recommend using it as a first stop bibliography when putting a storytelling program together on a theme.  I know the late Jackie Baldwin appreciated knowing it was still used even after she could no longer maintain it.  

The National Storytelling Network now hosts the Storytell list at  Membership in NSN is not a requirement to subscribe, but the archives are only available to subscribers to the list.

Trying all manner of searches never did turn up the source of "The Shortest Scary Stories in the World."  If someone can lead me to it, I'll gladly acknowledge their work and, if permitted, keep it posted here.  

 Next week I plan to take a second look at two versions of my favorite scary tale.
Steve Talkowski on

1 comment:

PapaJoe Gaudet said...

I personally love 'Dark & Stormy Night'. Short as it is, I suppose you might consider it a long tale.