A birthday story . . .



Mother Goose and Jack-in-the-Box by “Daddy John” Fussner

One day Mother Goose hitched Rabbit, her little pony, to her little buggy and drove down to her warehouse.  Every child she saw waved to her and shouted hello.  You see, all the children like old Mother Goose, because she likes children and is good to them.

Mother Goose owned the largest warehouse in town, and in that warehouse were row after row of boxes stacked way, way up, all the way to the roof.  Why did she have so many toys?  Was she keeping them for Santa?  No they were her own toys, and she had them to give to children on their birthdays.  Every day, she hitched Rabbit to her little red buggy and drove down to the warehouse so she could pick out toys for the boys and girls who were having birthdays that day.  Some days the list was long, sometimes the list was longer, but never, never did she have a short list.

Well, this day she had a long list of boys’ names and a long, long list of girls’ names.  Up and down the long rows of boxes she went, with Jack-in-the-Box pushing a big box on wheels for Mother Goose to put the boxes of toys in.  Every day he went up and down the long, long rows, but never, never did he know what toys were in the boxes.  as he looked at the list, he saw Billy’s name.  He asked Mother Goose what Billy was getting for his birthday.

Mother Goose looked at Jack and said, “I know that you know, that I know, that you know that I won’t tell you what is in this box.”

Well, Jack got just a little peeved, and as they were finished with their work, he jumped into his box, ducked down, and pulled the lid shut with a bang.  You know that Mother Goose doesn’t like anyone to be peeved at her; so she knocked on the lid, calling for Jack to come out.  Come out he didn’t.  After a while, she opened the lid, but Jack was not in the box.  Where was he?  Nobody knew but Jack, and he wouldn’t tell.

“Well,” said Mother Goose, “he’s done it again.  I’d sure like to know how he gets out of that box and where he goes.”

With that, she closed the lid and started to leave.  as she was going out the door, she heard Jack call, “Good-bye, Mother Goose.  Don’t worry, I’ll take good care of everything.”

Looking back, Mother Goose saw Jack standing in the box, waving and grinning.  “I’d sure like to know,” said Mother Goose.  Waving good-bye, she closed the door, climbed into her little red buggy, and drove off.

More of Dad’s stories at





Lightning Bugs or Fireflies

Read a Story  Storyteller Mary Garrett –  Stories make the world go around



Hearing thunder, I shut off the television, looked outside and saw . . .

                                          a lightning bug!



from Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner)

(collected by his daughter, Mary Garrett)

One day, some little bugs went out to play. They were having a wonderful time. They played tag, hide-and-go-seek, follow-the-leader, and many other games that little boys and girls play. Oh, they were having such a good time, when suddenly a swarm of big mean bugs came along and chased the little bugs away. All day long, whenever the little bugs started to play, the big mean bugs would chase them away.

After the sun went down and it got dark, the little bugs thought that they would go play. The little bugs could see well at night, that is, well enough not to run into trees or anything. The big bugs, however, c ould hardly see at all. They had to find a good, safe place to spend the night. The little bugs flew around for a while, not having very much fun. The little fairies were out playing in the moonlight. They were having a wonderful time. The fairies love to run, jump, and dance in the moonlight. The Old Man in the Moon was in a happy mood, filling the woods and meadows with bright moonlight. The stars were bright and shiny, making it a wonderful, happy, carefree night.

The Fairy Queen heard a couple of little bugs talking. She stopped dancing to ask what was troubling them. They told her about the big bugs chasing them so they couldn’t play by day, and at night they couldn’t see each other well enough to have very much fun.

“Well,” said the Fairy Queen, “you do have a problem.” She thought for a while and then asked the little bugs, “Do you like to play at night?”

“Oh yes,” answered the little bugs, “it’s nice and cool, and the moon and stars are so pretty that we just love to play at night.”

“I have it,” said the Fairy Queen. “Let all these little bugs have lights in their tails so they can see each other in the dark.”

From then on, even until now, the little bugs can be seen at night, blinking their tail lights. Everywhere, children like to catch them. If you catch fireflies (or lightning bugs, as some people call them) don’t hurt them. Play with them for a while and then turn them loose again so they can have their fun.



This story, and others like it, are in chapbooks of my father’s stories:

Bedtime Stories by Daddy John (Fussner) 35 pages  “Sweet dreams,” stories of fairies and nature

Stories from the Land of Make Believe by Daddy John (Fussner) 53 pages  Dough Doughy and friends build a church, face a blizzard, enjoy life.

Homespun Stories from Uncle John 32 pages
Old time tall tales in dialect: mosquitoes big enough to eat a car, a mixed-up hen, pet skunks

$10 each or all 3 for $25

For more information about these chapbooks, as well as my CDs of stories and Prince the Frog picture book, go to “CDs and Books” entry, or contact me.

Frog Poem/Song from my friend Lucy Grondahl in honor of Prince

Twinkle Twinkle little frog,

Sitting in your slimy bog.

Munching on a Doozle Berry.

Thinking of your MaMa Mary,

Telling all your froggy kids,

What your Mama Mary dids.

Fed you crickets, ants and grubs,

Gave you froggy tummy rubs.

Every baby froggie-poo,

Wants to visit Mary too.


Frogs in School_2

Mixed-Up Old Hen

Daddy John Stories

Hawaiian Chicken Little

Hawaiian Chicken Little

Mixed-Up Old Hen


from Homespun Stories from Uncle John (Fussner)

presented by his daughter Mary Frances (Fussner) Garrett

Photo is my “Hawaiian Chicken Little” square, made with Leslie Blanchard’s help, and a kukui and shell necklace, made on Pride of Hawaii cruise.

One pretty day in May, the sun was warm, the flowers were showin’ their colors and the birds were singin’ fer thar mates, and to warn other males to keep thar distance.  At breakfast Grandma asked Grandpa to kill the old rooster after he finished eatin’.

“Why be you wantin’ to kill Old Red?” asked Grandpa.

“Tomorrow be our weddin’ anniversary, and Ah wants to cook up a pot of chicken an’ dumplin’s,” answered Grandma.

Grandpa grinned and said, “Woman, why be you wantin’ to take hit out on poor Old Red’s hide fer a mistake we’uns made over ten yars ago?”

With that bit of foolish wisdom outen the way, he departed out the door with haste.  Old Red be out in the back yard, and tho’ he be tame an’ easy to ketch, this day Grandpa coundn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole.  That bird jest nivver were whar he jest was.  Didn’t take Grandpa long to git tired playin’ a game of tag with Old Red, sein’ as how Grandpa was always the one that was it.

Havin’ more’n e-nuff, he went an’ fetched his old scatter gun.  Thar be Old Red standin’ in front of the lilac bush, waitin’ fer a tasty breakfast.  Grandpa went up with Old Betsy and let go.  Hearin’ the shot, Old Red left real sudden-like, runnin’ hard, wings flappin’ ’til he be long gone out’n sight, not to be seen by anyone ’til feedin’ time come sundown.

Now, you be thinkin’ that Grandma wouldn’ be fixin’ them chicken and dumplin’s, but you air wrong.  Grandpa be missin’ Old Red, but he sure didn’t miss them six fat young hens that war under the bush takin’ thar daily dust bath.

Grandma had a ˇworried look ’til she got a close-up look-see at them hens.  “Thanks be to the Lord and lucky fer your hide Old Biddy not be one of them,” she says to Grandpa.

Old Biddy, she be Grandma’s pet hen.  Grandma hand-raised her in the wood box back o’ the kitchen stove.  Biddy sorta got mixed up in the head, sometimes thinkin’ she be a people, and sometimes sorta thinkin’ like a chicken.  She fell way short of the mark on both counts.

That old hen could make anything hatch.  Once she sat on an empty thread spool and hatched out a hollow-headed woodpecker.  One day she found an old door knob, and she sat an’ sat an’ sat, ’til at long last she hatched out a brass weather vane.  Grandpa put hit up on top of the barn whar hit could twist and turn with the wind, with jest one little mix-up, tho’.  Hit’s tail pointed into the wind ‘stead of hit’s head.  Grandpa had an answer fer that, too.  He said that, like a lotta folks, that thar bird be so slow at thinkin’ things out that by the time hit figgered out whˇar the wind be comin’ from, hit war already goin’ back.