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Famous Folktales

No Room: A Christmas Legend

No Room

    Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, on the night before Christmas, a little child was wandering all alone through the streets of a great city. There were many people on the street, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts, and even gray-haired grandfathers and grandmothers, all of whom were hurrying home with bundles of presents for each other and for their little ones. Fine carriages rolled by, express wagons rattled past, even old carts were pressed into service, and all things seemed in a hurry and glad with expectation of the coming Christmas morning

    A Gift from St. Nicholas

    A Gift from Saint Nicholas

      Claas Schlaschenschlinger was a wealthy cobbler living on New Street in New Amsterdam. He was a contented bachelor who could afford eight – eight mind you! – pairs of breeches and he had a little side business selling geese. He cut quite a figure in New Amsterdam society, and was happy being single, until he met the fair Anitje! She was as pretty as a picture, and Claas fell head over heels for her. He was not her only suitor, by any means. The local burgomaster was also courting the fair Anitje. But the burgomaster was a stingy, hard man, and in the end, Anitje gave her heart and hand to Claas…

      A Baker's Dozen

      A Baker’s Dozen

        Back in the old days, I had a successful bake-shop in Albany. I had a good business, a plump wife, and a big family. I was a happy man. But trouble came to my shop one year in the guise of an ugly old woman. She entered my shop a few minutes before closing and said: “I wish to have a dozen cookies.” She pointed to my special Saint Nicholas cookies that were sitting out on a tray. So I counted out twelve cookies for her…

        Haunted Christmas

        Haunted Christmas

          The soft thud of following footsteps echoed behind him as he hurried through the snowflakes toward home. They kept pace with him, quickening when he quickened and slowing when he slowed. It was creepy. His flesh crawled at the sound and he sped up, cursing himself for walking home alone from the midnight Christmas Mass.

          La Llorona

          La Llorona

            Once there was a widow who wished to marry a rich nobleman. However, the nobleman did not want to raise another man’s children and he dismissed her. The widow was determined to have the nobleman for her own, so the widow drowned her children to be free of them…

            Llorona, Omen of Death

            Llorona, Omen of Death

              They say that the Llorona was once a poor young girl who loved a rich nobleman, and together they had three children. The girl wished to marry the nobleman, but he refused her. He told her that he might have considered marrying her if she had not born the three out-of-wedlock children, which he considered a disgrace.

              El Muerto

                After getting the lay of the land, so to speak, frontier man Bigfoot Wallace moved from Austin to San Antonio, which was considered the extreme edge of the frontier, to sign up as a Texas Ranger under Jack Hayes. In them days, Texas was as wild as the west could get. There was danger from the south from the Mexicans, danger to the wet and north from the wild frontier filled with Indians and desperados, and to the east the settlements still had problems with the Cherokee Nation…

                Joaquin Murietta: Bandit of the Goldfields

                  Joaquin Murietta and wife Rosita lived with his older brother Carlos in California. The three Mexican immigrants were living on a small, successful farm and the men were also working a claim near Hangtown. However, the other miners living nearby tried to run them off, telling them that it was illegal for Mexicans to pan for gold or hold a claim. The Murietta brother’s ignored their threats and continued to live peacefully on their farm and work in the gold-fields.

                  John Henry: Steel driving man

                  John Henry: The Steel Driving Man

                    Now John Henry was a mighty man, yes sir. He was born a slave in the 1840’s but was freed after the war. He went to work as a steel-driver for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, don’t ya know. And John Henry was the strongest, the most powerful man working the rails.

                    The Trickster Tricked

                    The Trickster Tricked

                      Rabbit and Terrapin met near the stream one morning. It was a lovely clear day, and they both basked in the warm sunshine and swapped some stories. Rabbit started boasting that he was the fastest runner in the world. Terrapin wasn’t having any of that! No sir!

                      Resurrection Mary

                        There was a dance that night at the Oh Henry Ballroom, so he slicked back his hair, jumped into his red convertible and cruised down Archer Street, hoping he’d meet a pretty girl. He was a shy fellow who found it hard to talk to girls. Bolder men always danced away with the prettiest girls before he got up enough nerve to say hello. But tonight, would be different. Tonight, he would sweep one of… Read More »Resurrection Mary

                        Bloody Mary Whales

                          Old Man Whales was an evil man who loved money more than anything in the world, except his wife.

                          Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary

                          Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary

                            “Mary, Mary…” the half-heard whisper woke her in the darkness before dawn. 
                            Darkness.  How appropriate.  These days, it seemed as if her whole life was in darkness. 

                            Gollywhopper's Eggs

                            Gollywhopper’s Eggs

                              Well now, when old Johnson came to town, I knew there’d be trouble. That Yankee Peddler was a scoundrel if ever I saw one. But I was laid up with my rheumatism when he arrived, so I couldn’t do anything about it.

                              Pele’s Revenge

                                Ohi’a and Lehua loved each other from the moment they first saw each other at a village dance. Ohi’a was a tall strong man with a handsome face and lithe form. He was something of a trickster and was first in all the sports played by all the young men. Lehua was gentle and sweet and as fragile as a flower. Her beauty was the talk of the island, and her father was quite protective of his only child.

                                The Maid of the Mist

                                  She lost her husband and her hope at a young age, and the beautiful girl could not find her way through the sorrow upon sorrow that was her lot in life. So she stepped one day into her canoe, singing a death song softly to herself, and paddle out into the current. Soon the canoe was caught by the rough waves and hurtled toward the falls. But as it pitched over and she fell, Heno, the god of thunder who lived in the falls, caught the maiden gently in his arms and carried her to his home beneath the thundering veil of water.

                                  The Golden Hand

                                  Golden Hand

                                    He never paid much attention to the neighbors living on his city block until the day the pretty middle-aged widow moved in two doors down from him. She was plump and dark with sparkling eyes, and she always wore dark gloves on her hands, even indoors.

                                    Yellow Ribbon

                                    Yellow Ribbon

                                      Jane wore a yellow ribbon around her neck everyday. And I mean everyday, rain or shine, whether it matched her outfit or not. It annoyed her best friend Johnny after awhile. He was her next door neighbor and had known Jane since she was three. When he was young, he had barely noticed the yellow ribbon, but now they were in high school together, it bothered him.

                                      Pecos Bill Rides a Tornado

                                        Now everyone in the West knows that Pecos Bill could ride anything. No bronco could throw him, no sir! Fact is, I only heard of Bill getting’ throwed once in his whole career as a cowboy. Yep, it was that time he was up Kansas way and decided to ride him a tornado.

                                        Pecos Bill and Slue-foot Sue

                                          Now, Pecos Bill had a way with wimmen. No doubt. He had dozens of wives during his time. But his one true love was Slue-foot Sue. She was his first wife – and she could ride almost as good as Bill himself…

                                          The Headless Horseman

                                            One cold winter night, early in the New Year, a certain Dutchman left the tavern in Tarrytown and started walking to his home in the hollow nearby. His path led next to the old Sleepy Hollow cemetery where a headless Hessian soldier was buried. At midnight, the Dutchman came within site of the graveyard…

                                            The Skeleton’s Lantern

                                              We were on our way back to Yuma following a futile attempt to find Pegleg’s lost gold mine out in the heat and dust of the desert. We stopped to make camp for the night between a rock and a hard place, and soon my friend Eddie was snoring loud enough to wake the dead. I drifted off myself, and started dreaming about the pretty girl I was engaged to marry…

                                              Bloody Mary Returns

                                              Bloody Mary Returns

                                                My stepmother was vile. I guess most kids think that when their father remarries. But in this case, it was true. She only married Father because he was rich, and she hated children. There were three of us – me (Marie), my middle brother Richard and my youngest brother Charles. We were the price my stepmother Gerta paid for being rich. And we were all that stood between her and inheriting Father’s money when he died. So she took steps against us.

                                                No Trespassing

                                                  Peggy and her boyfriend Tommy were driving down a lonely stretch of highway at dusk when a thunderstorm came crashing down on them. Tommy slowed the car and they crept their way past a formidable abandoned house. Plastered all over the fences and trees were NO TRESPASSING signs.

                                                  Don’t Turn on the Light

                                                    She commandeered the room in the basement of her dorm as soon as she realized she would have to pull an all-nighter in order to prepare for tomorrow’s final exam. Her roommate, Jenna, liked to get to bed early, so she packed up everything she thought she would need and went downstairs to study . . . and study . . . and study some more.

                                                    The Bloody Mary Ritual

                                                      We were having a sleepover at my house that Saturday night. Me and my four best friends; Alex, Bianca, Sabrina, and Lacey. We made cookies and watched movies and did our hair and makeup. By midnight, we’d run out of planned activities. It was time to improvise. “Let’s try that Bloody Mary thing,” Lacey suggested.

                                                      Where's my liver?

                                                      Where’s My Liver

                                                        “Go straight to the store and don’t fool around,” his mother said sternly as she handed over the money. “Your father’s boss is coming to dinner tonight and we’re having his favorite meal of liver and onions. It’s important that we make a good impression, so get the best liver they’ve got.”

                                                        Dancing with the Devil

                                                          The girl hurried through her schoolwork as fast as she could. It was the night of the high school dance, along about 70 years ago in the town of Kingsville, Texas. The girl was so excited about the dance. She had bought a brand new, sparkly red dress for the dance. She knew she looked smashing in it. It was going to be the best evening of her life.
                                                          Then her mother came in the house, looking pale and determined.

                                                          The Crystal Mountain

                                                            According to the latest reports, there is a crystal mountain residing somewhere in Wyoming. You can’t see nothing of it, it being clear straight through. But folks hereabouts reckon its about three miles around at the base, on account of all the bones of birds which killed themselves crashing into the danged thing…

                                                            Army of the Dead

                                                              A laundress, newly moved to Charleston following the Civil War, found herself awakened at the stroke of twelve each night by the rumble of heavy wheels passing in the street. But she lived on a dead end street, and had no explanation for the noise.