Someone at New Salem said, “Sing!  If you don’t sing well, sing louder — revenge!”

My friend Leigh McGee gave me the music to “St. Louis Blues” after we’d requested it from musicians from New Orleans to Istanbul (where I was tricked into singing a bit of it for a large group — and no one booed).  I worked parts of the song into a telling of “Worry Bundles” that I liked very much.

Make your own music however you can . . .

** Post from 1/28/14 — thinking of Pete Seeger and hoping for a grand, unbroken story/music circle . . .

Today my mind is full of the gifts from Pete Seeger —

— the lovely experience of joining in with hundreds of storytellers singing with him in Jonesborough,  the harmony of the multitude of voices joined in pure joy.  I had just completed the “Singing for People Who’ve Been Asked Not To” COCA class, which used his songbook as its text.  It was an extraordinary experience!

—  the time I quietly sang “This Land Was Made for You and Me” to a little boy flying to the U.S. with his adoptive parents, looking out the window just as our plane passed over the first bit of land.

 We were so fortunate to have Pete with us. ❤  “This Land”


The Left-Handed Cricket  by “Daddy John” Fussner

One day Tweedle and Twill were out in the woods counting babies.  They were very busy because they were counting bugs, bees, grasshoppers, etc.  They have their own way to make the count, but we will probably never know just how they do it.  We do know that Twill has a pair of field glasses that he uses only when he’s counting bugs.

Twill had just counted some grasshoppers.  “Mark sixty-six grasshoppers,” he said.

“Right-handed or left-handed?” asked Tweedle with a smile.

“Left-handed,” answered Twill, not knowing that Tweedle was teasing.

Soon Twill called, “Mark twenty-two katy-dids.”

“Right- or left-handed?” asked Tweedle, still teasing.

“Left-handed,” answered Twill, still not knowing Tweedle was teasing.

After a while, Tweedle and Twill went home for lunch.  Just as they started to go into the house, Twill heard some crickets chirping.  Out came the field glasses.  Twill stood very still.  Tweedle sat in the old rocking chair on the front porch.  Twill looked all around with his field glasses.

“Mark eighteen,” called Twill.

“Right-handed or left-handed?” asked Tweedle, still teasing.

“Right-handed,” answered Twill.  “No, no wait!” he shouted.  “It can’t be, but it is.  One of the crickets is left-handed.”

Who are you trying to fool?” asked Tweedle.  “Are you trying to make me believe that crickets, grasshoppers, and katy-dids can be right- or left-handed?”

“No,” answered Twill, “I’m trying to teach you that all crickets are right-handed, that is, all but this one, and he should be.  Also, all grasshoppers, katy-dids, and the other singing insects are left-handed.  If you would just learn to look at what you see, you could find out these things for yourself.”

Now it may seem strange to hear someone say that you should look at what you see, but what Twill means is this:  Take the cricket for an example.  Lots of people see crickets, but how many have really, sure-enough looked at one?  How does he sing?  How does he hold his wings?

The right wing of the cricket overlaps the left wing.  The cricket has a little hook on each of his wings that he scrapes across the opposite wing to make his song, something like a fiddle bow on a fiddle string.  Every cricket holds its right wing over its left wing and uses the hook on the right wing as a fiddle bow to draw or pull across the left wing.

Will our little left-handed cricket be able to play his song with his left wing?  He should be able to.  He has a hook on each wing.  As Twill watched, the cricket tried.  His song was no more than a squeak, just a weak little scrape.  The left-handed cricket waited awhile and tried again.  He still couldn’t make his song.  It seems as if our little left-handed cricket must go through life without a song.  That would be sad, wouldn’t it?

As Tweedle and Twill both watched, our little left-handed cricket moved his wings, and soon, with much hard work for one so small, he had his right wing over his left wing.  After a short rest, our little cricket tried once more to chirp his song.  Well, what do you know?  He did it!  Tweedle and Twill then went into the house, ready to enjoy a big meal and a nap.  Suppose we do the same.

More of Dad’s stories at


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