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Folkways Storytelling


"We always lie to strangers." Arkansas folklorist Vance Randolph took this rather rude Ozarks tradition and made it into the title of one of his best books on Ozarks culture. It seems a harsh judgment, considering that the actual tradition involves not exactly lying, but rather, seeing in every event and every question the opportunity to tell a story. We would rather tell a story than eat. 

It is a rule that facts can be at least slightly altered in order to make a better story. In fact, it is so much a tradition of Ozarks storytelling that children, when they suspect they are not being told the truth and yet are hesitant to call someone a liar, will sometimes say, "Now is that the truth, or are you just storyin?"

Mitch JayneAnother storyteller, Mitch Jayne, was a member of the famous folk music group, the Dillards, from Salem, Missouri. He writes a weekly column in Shannon County’s newspaper, the Current Wave. His latest book is Homegrown Stories and Homefried Lies: Words With The Bark On Them And Other Ozark Oddments.

"I've written several books, but this is the first one I've written for the fun of it," says Jayne. "I just have all this Ozark funny stuff in my head, circling like the buzzard that just ate 'wino' Fred and can't fly straight. See, fun is pretty much what I had in mind when I wrote all this down. I've lived 70 years on this planet, looking for excuses to laugh, and, by the time you're halfway through this book, you'll know more about what made me laugh than anybody from someplace besides Missouri would need to!"



Tales Tall & Otherwise

A Fishing Story

Written by Marideth Sisco.