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SOS: SEARCHING OUT STORIES AND INFORMATION ABOUT DRUG PREVENTION
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians
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The Wild West theme doesn't quite bring out the gushing forth of ideas in me that I had hoped, I keep thinking of the excesses-the drinking and the lawlessness. Maybe some cleaning up the town stories/poetry. Perhaps characters like the new sheriff, the preacher man, the town wives who band together to set the men folk straight.
a) Since you are not averse to adapt some stories how about taking a look at "More Than A Match" by Aaron Shepard. You can find it at:
I shared this story recently during a Conflict Resolution venue and it went over very well. You could turn the giant into some big, mean, oversized cowboy, a gunslinger of sorts, and the the folks who come out to duel with him people from the town: a sheriff, deputy, young whipper snapper, etc. the king could be the preacher and the wise man the town elder.
Also, since you mentioned preacher you could take the story of the rabbi teaching someone who gossips how hard it is to pull back their words. He tells them to scatter the feathers in a below to the wind then instructs them to collect them all. Of course they can't. A good lesson on how fast and far our harmful words travel.
Here is a site on Cowboy Poetry as well, you might find something here.
Cowboy and Western Poetry at the Bar-D Ranch.
"A COWBOY'S GUIDE TO LIFE"
By: Texas Bix Bender
1. Don't squat with yer spurs on.
2. Never kick a fresh cow chip on a hot day.
3. There's two theories to arguin' with a woman. Neither one works.
4. Don't worry about bitin off more than you can chew. Your mouth is probably a whole lot bigger'n you think.
5. If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence,try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
6. Never ask a man the size of his spread.
7. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral of the story: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
8. If you find yourself in a hole the first thing to do is stop diggin'.
9. Never smack a man who's chewin' tobacco.
10. It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.
11. Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.
12. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
13. Always drink upstream from the herd.
14. Never drop your gun to hug a grizzly.
15. If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
16. When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.
17. When your're throwin' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by someone else.
18. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.
19. Always take a good look at what your're about to eat. It's not so important to know what it is, but it's critical to know what it was.
20. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.
21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
b) Here's one Mark Wilson sent in - it's light, well, it's downright silly, but "The Brown Paper Cowboy" is definitely fun too! Hope it helps.
This is the Story for the Telling column from the current issue of the Tale Trader (Louisville Kentucky).
"The Brown Paper Cowboy" by Robert Rodriquez
A bunch of good old boys were sitting around the Neutered Bull Saloon one Saturday night,swapping whoppers and windies and stretching the blanket to it's limits and then some. The evening was filled with yarns about scrapes with outlaws,memorable cattle drives,unusual weather,and encounters with grizzly bears. As the evening's narrative festivities continued,everyone wanted to get in on the tales being swapped. It finally came the turn of a grizzled old fellow who'd been sitting in the corner,hardly saying a word or three,till at last prompted by several of the more boisterous members of the crowd,he was finally convinced to tell a tale of his own. In his younger days,he'd been a saloon keeper during the halcyon and glory days of the Virginia City silver strike immediately after the Civil War. It happened that one night,just as the saloon was about to close,in walked a fellow garbed in the oddest outfit anyone could imagine. He wore a brown paper Stetson hat,a brown paper vest,a brown paper shirt,brown paper trousers,brown paper boots,a pair of brown paper holsters containing two pistols made of brown paper,and he carried a brown paper lariat which he constantly twirled in the air to the utter amazement and glee of the delighted crowd,and every time he ordered whiskey,he drank it out of a brown paper cup. Nobody quite ever remembered his name,but folks just started calling him the Brown Paper Cowboy because of his unusual apparel. Night after night,for about a month,he'd come into the saloon just after sundown and the crowds came from near and far just to look at him. Pretty soon the saloon had gained a real reputation as a gathering place to see the Brown Paper Cowboy. And then,just as mysteriously as he'd come,he dropped out of sight to the utter disappointment of folks all around Virginia City. For months thereafter, folks would come to the saloon hoping for his return, but no such luck. About a year later,almost to the date of his last appearance, a small crowd was gathered in the saloon one night,still wondering what had become of the Brown Paper Cowboy,when a tall lanky cowpoke,a Texan by his manner and appearance, said that he had some real sad and distressing news or the folks who were wondering about the Brown Paper Cowboy. The Texan had been in El Paso the month before and had been there the day the Brown Paper Cowboy had been tried,convicted,and hung by the local authorities. Hung! The crowd was stunned into silence and disbelief. "No! How could that happen? Why did they hang him?" they asked,as if in one voice. "Simple," the Texan said. "What else: RUSTLING!!"
Editor's Note: The tale of The Brown Paper Cowboy seems to be very popular all across the American West ,and versions have even popped up in Western Canada. Rodriquez says he has even been told a version in the Austrailian outback done as a rhymed monologue or bush ballad in the grand traditions of the likes of modern Aussie teller,Kel Watkins(current Listmember-G'Day Kel!),or one of Watkins' classic narrative forebears,Banjo Patterson. "I first heard this yarn back in 1989," says Rodriquez,"at a re-enactment rendezvous to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wyoming's statehood. It seems to have been known and popularized with writers from Bret Harte to Clarence Mulford,and it seems to have been told both as a short joke as well as a lengthy shaggy dog story. The ending and final punchline,however,always seem to be the exact same." [Lee Pennington is the Editor-MW].
c) How about a variation on "The House that Jack Built"? You could end up with something like, "This is the cowboy with the black stetston hat that twirled the rope and rode on the horse and chased the cow that sang at the campfire and lived on the ranch that ________ owned (or built as the case may be).
"Ferdinand" is the story of a little bull who doesn't want to fight a bullfighter. He just wants to sniff the flowers.
Pecos Bill was a cowboy and Slew Foot Sue was a cowgirl. I would imagine that lots of cowboys talked to their horses. So if you let the cowboy tell his horse a story, you could include a myth or story in which the horse is the hero.
How about an audience participation game? Let's see, you could have the children sit on the floor. They begin by holding the reins with their hands and walking the horse. (Hold hands in front and sway forward and back slightly.) They could twirl a rope with one hand. Then they could wave their hat with the other hand. Say "Giddiup" to get horse to go faster. They could call out, "Yipee!" You could ride faster (do all actions faster) and then slower, then say "Whoa" and put the horse to a stop. Put on its feed bag and let it rest while you listen to another story. (Make sure there is enough space between children before you start this game or practice a "controlled twirl and wave of the hat in a small amount of space.)
Don't forget cowboy songs, "Home, Home on the Range" and "Giddiup Little Doggie".
You might be able to find a simple story in which you could have one group of children say "Yippee" and twirl a rope every time you mention a cowboy and another group say "moo" and put hands to head to make horns everytime you mention the cows.
There is a story about some sillies who thought they had lost one of them. Sometimes this kind of a story is called Noodlehead Stories. Change it to cowboys and horses. So then it goes something like this. Once upon a time there were 5 cowboys. They were out herding cattle and wanted to make sure no one was lost. So they met at the stream and Slim counted everyone. 1, 2, 3, 4. "One of us is lost," he said. They looked for the lost cowboy. They got off their horses to figure out what to do. They counted their horse (everyone had a horse). 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. "Now we're all here." Next time they are herding cows, Shorty counts "1, 2, 3, 4. One of us is lost." They get off their horses to plan what to do, count horses and everyone is there! Can't figure out what is happening. Cowgirl (or wise Indian) or Ranch boss comes along and helps them figure out that the person counting is always forgetting to count himself!
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Created 2002; last update 8/31/09.
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