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Famous Folktales

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.

          Bigfoot Wallace and the Hickory Nuts

            Bigfoot Wallace was as crazy an individual as they come. He could spin a yarn better than anyone, and while he was a dangerous foe to his enemies, he was also a jovial giant, who was always on the lookout for a good laugh. What with hunting and fishing and fighting Comanches and avoiding rattlesnakes, Wallace had the time of his life in Texas. Said he wouldn’t swap Texas for the whole shooting match that was the rest of the United States.

            Cowboys in Heaven

              After cow punching for nigh on fifty years, a Texas cowboy went on to his reward. There was considerable excitement in heaven when he reached the pearly gates…

              Casey Jones

                Casey Jones, that heroic railroad engineer of the Cannonball, was known as the man who always brought the train in on time. He would blow the whistle so it started off soft but would increase to a wail louder than a banshee before dying off. Got so as people would recognize that whistle and know when Casey was driving past.

                Daniel Boone’s Dear

                  Late one night, Daniel Boone and a friend went out fire hunting. Fire hunting involves the shining of the light from a fire pan (a pan full of blazing pine knots) into the woods. The light reflects in the eyes of the deer, which is too dazzled to run and the hunters can shoot it.

                  Death Coach

                    It is midnight. The streets of Cohoes grow silent as the citizens turn off their lights one by one and go to their well-earned rest. The night is dark, and the wind whispers softly, touching the trees and houses, rattling a window pane here and there…

                    Ghost Pilots of Times Square

                      He had just graduated from Harvard University and was living in Manhattan. He loved the city and was beginning to feel at home on its streets. World War II was raging in Europe, and like all other good citizens, he followed the headlines daily and did his part for the boys overseas…

                      Lincoln Death Train

                        I’d been transferred to the Hudson Division of the New York Central system, and was working the rails on the main line between New York and Albany. I was on the late shift to start with, since I was a bit of a night owl. After six weeks of stomping the tracks and mending the rails, I was feeling right at home in my new job…

                        Express Train to Hell

                          For days, a ragged old man had hung around the Newark Central Station. The stationmaster kept running him off, but night after night he would return. He kept accosting people, shouting: “It’s coming for me! It’s coming!”…

                          Three Billy Goats Gruff

                          Three Billy Goats Gruff

                            Snippity-snip, snap and swill,
                            The tale begins upon a hill…
                            The air was crisp and cool. The sky was an endless blue. The green meadow grass swayed in a gentle breeze. And Big Billy Goat Gruff was bored.

                            Jesse James and the Widow

                              One day, as Jesse James and his gang were riding through Missouri, they saw a farmhouse and stopped to ask for something to eat. A widow lived there with three small children. She didn’t have much in the house, but shared with them what she had.

                              Paul Bunyan and the Frozen Flames

                                One winter, shortly after Paul Bunyan dug Lake Michigan as a drinking hole for his blue ox, Babe, he decided to camp out in the Upper Peninsula. It was so cold in that there logging camp, that…

                                The Hitchhiker

                                  Our friends Josh and Sandy were firm believers in ghosts and claimed to have seen the mysterious red-haired phantom that haunted Route 44. My wife and I were sitting with them at dinner one night, and we started kidding them about it.

                                  Big Liz

                                    The Master of the plantation was a firm supporter of the Confederate President and had committed to send as much food as he could to the Southern army. Things were going well at first, until the Yankees began attacking the Master’s supply lines. The Master suspected a traitor among his slaves, and soon discovered that the Yankee spy was a slave-woman named Big Liz.

                                    Jean Sot Guards the Door

                                      One day, Jean Sot’s mother wanted to go to town.
                                      “Now Jean,” she said, “I want you to guard the door.
                                      “Yes, Mama,” Jean Sot agreed.

                                      Kate Shelley Saves the Train

                                        One night, in 1881, a fierce storm broke over the Des Moines river valley. The storm raged through the night, flooding the river and the nearby creeks. Along about 11 p.m., a “pusher” train was sent to search for any wash-outs along the track. After it passed the home of the Shelley family, a railroad widow raising five children, the family heard a terrible crashing sound. The bridge over Honey Creek had collapsed, taking the pusher train with it.

                                        Coyote and the Columbia River

                                        Coyote and the Columbia

                                          One day, Coyote was walking along. The sun was shining brightly, and Coyote felt very hot.
                                          “I would like a cloud,” Coyote said.
                                          So a cloud came and made some shade for Coyote. Coyote was not satisfied.

                                          Connecticut Yankee

                                            Now, here in the South, we all do not approve of your so-called Connecticut Yankee peddlers. So when one appeared in the yard of my tavern, I was not of a mind to give him room for the night. He was a scrawny fellow with a mop of white hair and a withered face. He did not seem like a crafty Yankee peddler.

                                            Arkansas Traveler

                                              One rainy autumn, a traveler got lost in the mountains of Arkansas. He was tired and hungry, and so was his horse. Night was approaching. All at once, he saw a cabin. A squatter sat on the porch fiddling the same tune over and over…

                                              Johnny Appleseed

                                                Johnny Appleseed was a hermit and a wanderer who was welcomed wherever he went in the Ohio territory. Everyone loved him, in spite of his unkempt appearance. He always carried a sack full of apple seeds to plant, and walked barefoot all year round. He knew the frontier woods better than anyone. Even the Indians respected Johnny Appleseed for his courage.

                                                Ethan Allen

                                                  Ethan Allen, the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, who defeated the British at Fort Ticonderoga, was known as a gruff-mannered, hard-drinking man. But Ethan Allen had a gallant streak which would exhibit itself in unexpected ways.