Tales From the National Association For the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling

These humorous stories from the National Association For the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling are sure to thrill your friends and family.

| January/February 1985

The humorous story is told gravely; the teller does his best to conceal the fact that he even dimly suspects that there is anything funny about it.  

—Mark Twain

Well sir, as is become my January custom, I'm going to share a few tales told by professional raconteurs at the annual three-day festival of the National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling. Now, I beg you to realize that the little black letters all squeezed together on this page in no way compare to the beauty and power of hearing these tales in person. I'd like to ask you to read these out loud right now (go on, don't be shy!) and then try 'em out on a friend or two so you can begin to get the right effect.

The first story was told by Waddie Mitchell of Elko, Nev. Sporting a string tie, wide-brimmed hat and an even wider handlebar mustache (what looked sorta like facial cowhorns), Waddie kept up the honored tradition of cowboy versifiers with such sagas as this little poem.


"What is reincarnation?" a cowboy ask'd his friend.
"Well, it starts," his old pal tells him, "when your life come to an end.
They wash your neck an' comb your hair an' clean your fingernails,
Then they sticks you in a padded box, away from life's travails.
Now the box an' you goes in a hole that's been dug in the ground,
And reincarnation starts, my friend, when they plant you 'neath that mound.
The clods melts down, as does the box, an' you who are inside,
And that's when you're beginning your transformation ride.
And in a while, the grass will grow upon that render'd mound,
Until some day upon that spot, a lonely flower is found.
And then a horse might wander by an' graze upon that flower
Thet once was you an's now become your vegetative bower.
Well, the flower that the horse done ate, along with his other feed,
Makes bone, an' fat, an' muscle essential to this steed.
But there's a part that he can't use an' so it passes through,
And there it lies upon the ground, this thing that once was you.
And if by chance I happen by an' see this on the ground,
I'll stop awhile an' ponder on this object I have found.
And I'll think about reincarnation, an' life an' death an' such,
And I'll go away concludin' 'Heck, you ain't changed that much!'"

Milbre Burch combined mime, costume and grace in her choreographed performances. This young woman, from up in Providence, R.I., tickled everyone with her rendition of "The Three Crazy Brothers" (which she first heard from Joe McHugh of West Virginia). This tale really has to be told out loud, 'cause it has hand motions in it. (I'll try to describe 'em to you in parentheses.)

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