This month's StoryBook Club dug out some tall tales from the pages of early America's history.
We read many books on the subject including this one!
After the Revolutionary War and when folks started moving out west, the world became a MUCH bigger place. The outback was wild and wooly indeed. The Pacific Northwest was untamed and the desert was more inhospitable than anything that the colonial frontiersmen had ever encountered.
And they were gonna tame it by God!
Stories flourished about real people that became bigger than life!
Like, Johnny Appleseed, who, by himself planted apple trees across the country. Some say it was because "he wanted everyone to have food" (a noble cause!). Yet others would say that because he didn't believe in grafting, the apples he brought were mostly inedible...but made great cider, so he actually singlehandedly brought alcohol to the West (another noble cause!). Yah, they don't call it "Johnny Jump Up" without reason!
Daniel Boone was another real person, who became larger than life. He had little formal education yet served in the Virginia General Assembly for 3 terms. A book about him made his antics famous. There is even a history of "False Boone Relics" out there.
Davy Crockett is another real person who was a wild frontiersman who went into politics and became Representative of Tennessee in the House of Representatives, served in the Texas Revolution and died in the Battle of the Alamo. He was another person (like Daniel Boone) who became famous in his own lifetime!
While Davy Crockett probably didn't "kill a bear when he was three", he probably DID make himself famous with lines like these: ""I'm that same David Crockett, fresh from the backwoods, half-horse,
half-alligator, a little touched with the snapping turtle; can wade the
Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lightning, and slip
without a scratch down a honey locust tree." Yet he was a man from a rough childhood, was not an educated man and yet became so famous that numerous books and movies were about him.
Here's the song of his life. You know you want to hear it! :)
Some tales were those that may have been of "composite' people, many folks combined into one story.
Much like the tale of Molly Pitcher and her compassionate care of soldiers during the war. The soldiers called out to her for water by saying, "Molly! Pitcher!" soon gave her the moniker she was handed as she doled out drink for thirsty men and gave them water to swab the barrel of the cannon and clean the ramrod. She took her wounded husband's place at the cannon to continue helping with the fight. There are many places of water and springs named after her to this day!
Then there were tall tales about fictional characters made by advertising people to lure folks out to the Wild West and the frontier with a carnival barkers call to "come see all these amazing things!"
Tales such as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Great Blue Ox who felled trees in the Pacific Northwest, survived the "season of two winters" where even the bedbugs huddled together for warmth. Paul Bunyan straightened out a crooked rode by hitching it to Babe and pulled it straight! He made the Mississippi River and accidentally dug the Grand Canyon by dragging his ax!
Pecos Bill grew up with coyotes, rode a tornado, lassoed with a rattlesnake, and when his horse broke his ankle- Bill carried his horse 100 miles through the desert. But let's not stop there, he met his true love, Slue Foot Sue. She whistled up a huge catfish to ride and would do more work in a morning than most folks could do in a month!
We talked about these and so much more at Lynn's house with our delicious supper of Americana perfections! A beautiful table was set with colonial items, a granny square quilt and we supped on Roasted chicken, chili, cornbread, cider and apple crisp and cream!
In chatting about all the many tall tales, it was decided that they existed at the time for people to make sense of their new expanding world, to feel like they could "conquer it" somehow and instead of feeling afraid, they tried to make peace with it and understand it.
This caused me to take it forward to project the same philosophy on today's tall tales of Super Heroes and Super Powers. Isn't this the same thing that we do now to understand our world of technology, chemicals, weapons and warfare. Isn't Iron Man a way for us to feel empowered by technology? Wasn't Godzilla just a way for us to comment on radioactivity and fallout? Isn't Spiderman a way for us to feel useful and effective in a world that is almost unfathonable and unscaleable? Isn't Wonder Woman and Cat Woman a way for females to access their inner power for good and for mischief?
Something to think about! Yes, these are our heroes and legends and tall tales for this fearful age so that we may feel useful, capable, adaptable and effective in the face of an inpersonable and unreasonable war machine and politics and mega population.
So that's all the poop I care to spill on tall tales!
Next month for October we are tracking Goblins!!
Be very afraid!!