About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Sunday Singalong - Tell me a Story


Yesterday I attended a "story swap" and a storytelling event (local) and got to meet some storytellers I haven't actually met, though I've "met" them via Zoom. One is local to me - the Inland Valley Storytellers - and the other's home is in San Diego - the Storytellers of San Diego. I've been acquainted with many of the folks from years past and, since I've started attending the online meetings, it's been good to get re-acquainted. I've been out of the "formal" storytelling groups for a number of years and it's good to be back. 

Of course, story songs - ballads - are a primary method of "teaching" or informing folks of various events in history or in a family. I took an incredible class in American Folk Song & Ballad back in 1987 at Cal. State Fullerton, taught by Bill Koon, and it was incredible (well, maybe you'd need to be there). Our text book was Lomax's American Ballads and Folk Songs and it's still available at a reasonable price, plus can be purchased for Kindle. Maybe I should get another hard copy since mine is in pieces. Anyway, what story song should I share tonight? That's a tough one, but I'm drawn to the first song I recall learning in its entirety (as far as our copy and version is concerned) - I was about 4. Dad played piano and I sang it with gusto! That a frog was courting a mouse, whose uncle was a rat, was not something that concerned me at that age, after all, many of my storybooks included talking and inter-species relationships of animals, but all the mice I'd ever seen in person were rather quiet (perhaps because they were in traps and already decidedly dead?). I wasn't that familiar with frogs, but my brother and I often went toad hunting at the family's Wisconsin cottage (don't despair: no killing was involved . . . we'd keep them in a bucket overnight and send them on their way in the morning). Those creatures didn't talk, either, but they did make some funny noises. All of that is off-topic. By the time anyone reads this, it will surely be long past Sunday, but have you a story song to share?

Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frog_Went_a-Courting

I have collected a large number of versions of the song, but, sadly, don't find the version Dad taught me very easily ("A Frog He Would a-Wooing Go"), so a recording is not included here. Like the last verse of the version I learned: "If you want any more you can sing (or Google) it yourself."


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