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Tall Tale America

A Legendary History of our Humorous Heroes

"Johnny Appleseed, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and John Henry have all become heroes of American folklore. Some of them, like Crokett, were real, but all have become the subject of tall tales. This is a folksy history of the United States, told as if the characters were all real. This panoramic (if completely untrue) history begins with Columbus. . . . En route to its end in the 1940s (where traditional American heroes are enlisted to fight in World War II), it covers the great and small events of our national history, including the overlooked, but important ones, such as the invention of the prairie dog."—Washington Post Book World

279 pages | 35 line drawings | 5.25 x 8.00 | © 1944, 1987

Folklore and Mythology

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature, Humor

Table of Contents

1. Overcoming Hardships, America Gets Discovered and Settled
Leif the Lucky Discovers America, 1000 A.D.
The Continent Temporarily Misplaced
Columbus Discovers America for Good, 1492
Ponce de Leon and Other Discoverers Have a Time of It Getting the Place Settled
2. Captain Stormalong, the Revolution and Clipper Ships
John Smith in Virginia, 1607
Miles Standish in New England, 1620
Young Stormalong Goes to Sea and Licks a Kraken
Revolution Begins, 1775
Declaration of Independence, 1776
Stormy Helps Paul Jones in the Raid on Whitehaven, 1778, and in the Battle off Flamborough, 1779
End of Revolution, 1783
Old Stormy Builds the Albatross, Whitens Cliffs and Perfects Whaling
3. Jonathan Slick, Southerners, Dutchmen and Daniel Boone
Hardships in Yankeeland
"Sharp Bargains Make Fat Purses"
Jonathan Drives a Mighty Fine Bargain
He Sees the Whole of the Country
Daniel Boone’s Discovery of Kentucky and His Other Puzzling Habits
4. Mike Fink, King of Mississippi Keelboatmen:
George Washington, President, 1789-1797
John Adams, President, 1797-1801
Thomas Jefferson, President, 1801-1809
Mike Fink Born in Pittsburgh
His Education on the Frontier
He Starts Keelboating
He Battles and Becomes King of the Keelboatman
5. Mike Fink, Mountain Man in the Far West
Fulton Invents the Steamboat, 1807
Mike Fights a Steamboat, Rough and Tumble
He Goes West with Ashley-Henry Trapping Expedition, 1822-1823
James Monroe, President, 1817-1825
Mike Out-traps the Mountain Men
He Beats Davy Crockett in a Shooting Match
6. Davy Crockett, Tennessee Settler
The Amazing Crockett Family
Davy Becomes a Great Hunter
He Marries a Streak of Lightning and Sets Up as a Settler
He Tames Wild Beasts, including the Bear, Death Hug, and Operates a Fertile Farm
7. Davy Crockett, Soldier, Congressman and Comet Licker
Davy Whops the Indians
"Crockett for Congress" (twice)
Andrew Jackson, President, 1829-1837
Davy Defeats the Spaniards in Texas
End of War, 1836
Davy Licks a Dangerous Comet
He Unfreezes the Earth
8. Johnny Appleseed, Planter of Orchards on the Frontier
Johnny’s Extraordinary Birth and Boyhood
He Discovers His Mission, Apple Trees for the West
Martin Van Buren, President, 1837-1841
Johnny Visits the Merritts
He Dies and Haunts Apple Orchards
9. Mose, New York Firemen and California Miner:
The Growth of New York
James K. Polk, President, 1849-1850
"The Bowery, The Bowery"
Mose, the World-Renowned
He Joins Fire Co. No. 40
He Saves Four People on One Trip
Mexican War, 1846-1848
California Gold Rush, 1849
Mose Strikes It Rich in the Gold Fields
10. Windwagon Smith and the Santa Fe Trail
Seaman Tom Smith’s Theory about Dry Oceans
His Upsetting Arrival in Westport, Mo.
Test Trip of the Windwagon: Westport to Council Groves and Back in Seven Days
Westport and Santa Fe Dry Ocean Navigation Company, Inc.
Franklin Pierce, President, 1853-1857
Super-Windwagon-Farewell Ensign Dick Yocum and Admiral Windwagon Smith
11. Feboldson and Bridger, Western Scientists
Civil War, 1861-1865
Abraham Lincoln, President, 1861-1865
Year of the Great Heat
Feboldson Provides Mud for Nebraska
Year of the Grasshoppers
Prairie Dogs Invented
Andrew Johnson, President, 1865-1869
Jim Bridger, Trapper, Trail-breaker, Scientist
He Starts Independence Rock
He Discovers the Peetrified Forest
His Hair-Rising Fight With Injuns
12. Paul Bunyan, Northwoods Lumberman
Paul Invents the Grindstone, the Two-Man Saw and the Down-Cutter
He Also Invents the Round-Turn
Babe the Blue Ox
Babe Straightens Out the St. Croix Road
Brimstone Bill, Big Joe and Johnny Inkslinger
Ulysses S. Grant, President, 1869-1877
Paul Woos and Wins Carrie
Paul’s Most Famous Lumbering Operation
13. Pecos Bill, King of Texas Cowboys
Birth of the Republic of Texas and of Pecos Bill
Baby Bill Baffles Texas Gallinippers
He Licks a Pack of Coyotes
Bill Designs the Cowboy Business and Tames Widow Maker
He Invents Lariats, Cowboy Songs, Roundups and the Like
Pecos Bill Busts a Cyclone
He Tames Sweet Sue
14. John Henry and the Machine in West Virginia
Remarkable Birth and Childhood of John Henry
He Picks Three Bales of Cotton in One Day
He Marries Lovely Polly Ann
End of Civil War, 1865
John Henry’s Wanderings
Big Bend Tunnel, 1872
John Henry Beats the Machine
15. Paul Bunyan, Scientific Industrialist in the Oilfields
Year of the Worst Winter
Paul Digs the Columbia River
He Invents Motorcycles and Telephones
Theodore Roosevelt, President, 1901-1908
Paul Invents Irrigation and Refrigerator Cars
He Goes in for Scientific Industrialism
He Revolutionizes the Oil Industry
His Most Remarkable Oil Operation
16. Joe Margarac, Pittsburgh Steel Man
City of Smoke and Steel
World War I, 1914-1918
Joe Magarac’s Birth
Joe Wins a Hand and Drops It
His Prodigious Work in the Mills
He Races the Man from Gary
Depression, 1929-1937
Joe Magarac Retires
17. "We’ve Still Got Heroes"
America Enters World War II, Dec. 8, 1941
The Whirligig of Wartime Washington
The Bewildering Pentagon Building
Professor Blur and His Plan to Win the War
"We’ve Still Got Heroes"
Shipyards, Gremlins, and Marines
Professor Blur Sets Out to Become a Hero
Proof (A bibliographical note)

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