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Tall Tales -- Some Fish Stories!

There's nothing like a good fish story! Here are a few of my favorites.

Fur bearing trout
Now it happened that there was a mining camp in Colorado where more than an average number of the miners were bald. An enterprising hair tonic salesman from Kentucky decided to take advantage of this golden opportunity, so he made the trip north. More>>

The Fisherman and the Bear
One fine day an old Maine man was fishing and fishing on his favorite lake and catching nary a thing. Finally, he gave up and walked back along the shore to his fishing shack. When he got close to the front door, he saw it was open. Being of a suspicious nature, he walked to the door quietly and looked inside. More>>

A Fish Story
Jonah encounters a strange, talking fish when he decides to go fishing one Sunday instead of going to church. He brings the fish home and cooks it up, with fatal results! (The full story is featured in Spooky South.)

Matawan Man-eater
The story of the incredible 1916 shark attacks in the small and winding Matawan Creek. The film "Jaws" was reportedly based on this attack.


The Yankee Peddler

According to The Penguin Dictionary of American Folklore ( Axelrod and Osler, 2000, New York: Penguin Press, page 523), the Yankee Peddler (trader, trickster) has a reputation, since the 18th century, for sharp dealings. They indulged in "skunking" (deceiving someone) and playing practical jokes, often to the end of giving a deserving victim a comeuppance! Often the stories feature backwoodsmen being conned by the Yankee Peddler into buying something they didn't want, like a clock with no works inside or the fabled Gollywhopper's Eggs (see story link below).

Yankee Horse Traders pursuaded people to buy worthless nags. They pursuade the person to buy at a 'bargain" price by confessing that the creature has a small fault (such as "the horse is hard to catch"). This lulls the buyer into thinking he is getting a deal on a good horse that can be trained out of the small fault. It is only after the deal is closed and the Yankee peddler is about to leave town that the truth comes out: "The horse ain't good for nothing when you do catch him!"

Below are a few stories about Yankee Peddlers.

Connecticut Yankee
A Yankee Peddler outwits a Southern innkeeper.

Gollywhopper's Eggs
A Yankee Peddler comes to town with a most unusual product to sell.


New Jersey Folklore

New Jersey is brimming with folktales! Stories of ghosts, pirates, war heros, and villians abound. Below are several of my favorite New Jersey tales.

The Birth of the Jersey Devil
A storm was raging that night in 1735, when Mother Leeds was brought to bed in child birth. The room was full of woman folk gathered to help her, more out of curiosity than good will. They had all heard the rumors that Mother Leeds was involved in witchcraft, and had sworn she would give birth to a devil.

The Ghosts of Ringwood Manor
Ringwood Manor you say? A lovely old house. But no place, my child, to go on a dark night with no moon.

On Washington Rock
The dream was so vivid, she didn't realize at first that it was a dream. The party was crowded, the guests cheerful, the food delicious. Then a rumor began to circulate among the guests. The Devil was coming to the party. The Devil was on the way.

"The Matawan Man-Eater" - The story of the incredible 1916 shark attacks in the small and winding Matawan Creek. The film "Jaws" was reportedly based on this attack.

"The East Orange Bathtub Mystery" - The story of the unexplained death of a young and beautiful woman in the early 1900's, and the spectacular trial that followed.

"Joe Mulliner - The Robin Hood of the Pine Barrens" - The tale of the infamous Tory outlaw of South Jersey during the Revolutionary War, Joe Mulliner. Flamboyant and dashing, his life was short, but his legend lives on.


Tongue Twisters

A tongue twister is a phrase or sentence that is hard to speak fast, usually because of alliteration or a sequence of nearly similar sounds. Tongue twisters are part of the folklore of many cultures. Below are a few popular tongue twisters in the English language.

Six gray geese in a green field grazing.

Round and round the rugged rock the ragged rascal rudely ran.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
how many pecks of pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?

She sells seashells down by the seashore.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck could chuck all the wood, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

A big black bug bit a big black bear, then a big
Black bear bit the big black bug.
And when the big black bear bit the big black bug,
Then the big black bug bit the big black bear.

Theophilus Thistledown, the successful thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thisles through the thick of his thumb. If Theophilus Thistledown, the successful thistle sifter, in sifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles, thrust three thousand thisles through the thick of his thumb, see that thou, insifting a sieve full of unsifted thistles, does not get the thistles stuck in they tongue.

A Tudor who tooted a flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to their tutor,
"Is it harder to toot
or to tutor two tooters to toot?"

If a Hottentot taught a Hottentot tot
To talk ere the tot could totter,
Ought the Hottenton tot
Be taught to say aught, or naught,
Or what ought to be taught her?
If to hoot and to toot a Hottentot tot
Be taught by her Hottentot tutor,
Ought the tutor get hot
If the Hottentot tot
Hoot and toot at her Hottentot tutor?

More tongue twisters are available at English tongue twisters and The Tongue Twister Database. Or go to Tongue Twister Tales to read some tongue-twisting stories by S.E. Schlosser.


Q & A -- Folktale Characteristics

Question: I visited your web page and need more information regarding the characteristics of folk tales for a student educational plan. Anything you could provided would be very helpful.

Answer: Below are some characteristics of folktales.

  • Are generally part of the oral tradition of a group. Most stories are told rather than read
  • Are passed down from one generation to another
  • Take on the characteristics of the time and place in which they are told, and the personality of the stroyteller
  • Speak to universal and timeless themes. The try to make sense of our existence, help humans cope with the world in which they live, or explain the origin of something.
  • Are often about the common person
  • May contain supernatural elements
  • Function to validate certain aspects of culture



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