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Other than “The Cremation of Sam McGee” ...

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On 10/6/2018 at 6:47 PM, shortridge said:

What folk ballads or narrative poems have you seen work well at a campfire?

Bonus points if suitable for Cubs! A lot of the ones I’m finding are rather macabre, and I don’t want to get blamed for nightmares. :)

Uneasy Rider by Charlie Daniels (just kidding).

Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling.

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"How Bear Lost His Tail”

(and why the Big Bear in the heavens still has his ). (As told by the Iroquois)

(( **Practice with appropriate motions and sounds and voices**....))

            If you look up in the night sky, you will see  pictures of  the Great Bear, and his Cub. They both have fine, long tails.  But if you go to the zoo, or walk thru the woods, you may see a REAL bear. How long is his tail?  Not very !  Why this difference?   Here is the truth of the matter…. 

Oh, my beloved:: Hear now the story as was told to me by one much wiser than I.  

Long ago, when the animal people would speak as you and I , Bear had a long and beautiful tail.  He knew that, but set no store by it, being not as vain as some.  Fox, on the other hand, also had a tail of some beauty and was not shy in telling of it.  Indeed, Fox grew jealous of Bear's tail and decided he must rid himself of ( what seemed to  him) unfair competition. And so this is  what happened.... 

In the late fall of the year, when Fox knew Bear would be always hungry, before his long winter nap,  Fox caught a nice fat Trout and sat himself by the trail where he knew Bear must travel. Sure enough , along comes Bear. 

"Hello, brother Fox", said Bear. " What is that you have there? A fine dinner, I see !"

"Yes" Fox replied between bites,  "It is my dinner."

"And where did you catch such a fish? I might like to catch such for myself !" said Bear.

"Over on the lake shore" said Fox.  Now Bear knew such Trout were usually caught in a fast, cold  stream, and not in a lake, so he was doubtful, and said:

"Oh, I find that hard to believe.  What bait did you use?"

"My TAIL !"  munched Fox.

"Tail??  How so tail? "  said Bear.

"Why, I can show you. Follow me to the Lake."  so the two walked off down the trail to the lake shore.

Fox indicated a rock by the water's edge and said to Bear  " See? This is where you sit. Stick your tail into the water and swish it around. When the fish bite on to it, pull out your tail and there you are !  Fish Dinner !"

Bear was eager to have such a fine trout to eat, so he sat down and stuck his tail in the water and swished it around. "Like this?" He asked.

"Exactly !" said Fox, who started to walk away.

"But how long do I sit here?" asked the trusting Bear.

"Until you catch the fish, silly!" said Fox, who smiled and ran off, very pleased with himself.

Well, Bear became very pleased with himself that he would soon have a fine fish for eating.  But the sun was setting and soon Bear grew drowsy.  It was not long before Bear was fast asleep. Just as Fox had expected…..

When Bear woke up, it was next morning, and lo ! The lake had frozen over in the night.   Bear found his tail was frozen solid in the lake ice, and he realized the cruel  trick Fox had played on him.  There was nothing he could do, but  tear his tail off as he sat up  and go down the trail , painfully sad at this turn of events. 

Now, the Great Spirit Manitou had seen all this and took pity on Bear.  In his dream that night, the Great Spirit came to Bear and said, " I cannot give you back your tail, but here is what I will do:  I will make a picture in the sky so that all may see how long and beautiful your tail was, you and your cub. And henceforth, Fox will never again wave his tail high and proud in the air, but will carry it low to the ground.  So shall it be. "   

And so it has been. So the Bear in the sky has the long, wavy tail; the  Bear you may see in the woods or in the zoo, has a short stubby tail, and the Fox you see along the trail will not wave his tail in the air.  


Remember, and tell your Cubs , so they may be as wise as YOU !


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  • 2 weeks later...

The Skunk Polecat
As Told by the French-Canadian Trapper.
I'm hunt ze moose, I hunt zee bear,
Sometimes, I hunt zee rat
Last veek I take my axe,
Forego to hunt zee skunk pole-cat.
My fren' Bill, he say
Ize very fine fur, somtimes ize good to eat.
So I tell my vife she get fur coat,
Same times, I'm get some meat!
So I valk two, tree, four mile,
An' I feel vun awful smell,
An' I tink dot skunk she gone an die,
An' fur coat, she gone to hell.

By an' by I get up close,
I raise my axe up high,
An' dot gosh dern skunk, she up and trow
Spmeting-—Plunk—right in my eye!
Sacre Bleu! I am I blind!
Jese Chris! I cannot see.
I run aroun and roun and roun,
An bump in beeg oak tree,
By an' by, I light out for zee shack.
I'm tink one million skunk polecats
They climb up on my back.

My vife, she meet me at zee doer,
She sick on me my dog;.
She say, "You no sleep here no more,
You go sleep wis hog."
So I go out by dee hog-pen.
An' say! What do you sink?
Zat gosh dern hog no stand fer dat,
On 'count zee awful stink.

No more I'm hunt zee skunk polecat
For to get his fur or meat.
For if his pee she smell like zat,
Jese Chris! What if he sheet?!?

Edited by JoeBob
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Big Iron by Marty Robbins is a crowd pleaser...if you have a stand up bass it really sells it

To the town of Agua Fria rode a stranger one fine day
Hardly spoke to folks around him, didn't have too much to say,
No one dared to ask his business, no one dared to make a slip
The stranger there among them had a big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip

It was early in the morning when he rode into the town
He came riding from the south side, slowly lookin' all around
"He's an outlaw loose and runnin'", came a whisper from each lip
"And he's here to do some business with a big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip"
In this town there lived an outlaw by the name of Texas Red
Many men had tried to take him and that many men were dead
He was vicious and a killer, though a youth of twenty four
And the notches on his pistol numbered one and nineteen more,
One and nineteen more
Now the stranger started talkin' made it plain to folks around
Was an Arizonia ranger, wouldn't be too long in town
He was here to take an outlaw back alive or maybe dead
And he said it didn't matter that he was after Texas Red,
After Texas Red
Wasn't long before this story was relayed to Texas Red
But the outlaw didn't worry, men who tried before were dead
Twenty men had tried to take him, twenty men had made a slip,
Twenty one would be the ranger with the big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip
Now the morning passed so quickly and it was time for them to meet
It was twenty past eleven when they rode out in the street
Folks were watchin' from their windows,
Every body held their breath,
They knew this handsome ranger was about to meet his death,
About to meet his death
There was twenty feet between them
When they stopped to make their play
And the swiftness of the Ranger still talked about today
Texas Red had not cleared leather when a bullet fairly ripped
And the ranger's aim was deadly, with the big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip
It was over in a moment and the crowd all gathered 'round
There before them lay the body of the outlaw on the ground
Oh, he might have went on livin' but he made one fatal slip
When he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip,

Big iron on his hip
Big iron, big iron,
Oh he tried to match the ranger with the big iron on his hip,
Big iron on his hip
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  • 3 months later...

From a troop  (number now sadly forgotton) in Corning, NY. circa 1935.

One Fine Day in the middle of the night,two dead boys got up to fight

Back-to-back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other.

The deaf policeman heard the noise, and came and killed the two dead boys.

If you don't believe my tale is true, ask the blind man he saw it too.

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