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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 2, May 1945

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Vol. I, No. 2, May, 1945

Moritz Jagendorf

MONTICELLO up in the Catskill Mountains was a sleepy little place back in 1904, with all the peace and loveliness the name implies. The Heavenly Mountain! So Samuel F. and John P. Jones called the village because they loved Thomas Jefferson, their god of Liberty, who had called his home by the same blue-gleaming name. My parents sent me to the peaceful little village to recuperate from pneumonia, and there I heard about Johnny Darling for the first time. Red Jim, the driver and handy man of the place with whom I rode often for groceries and guests, would tell me tales of Johnny Caesar Cicero Darling. He had known him rather well and had seen him and spoken to him at fairs, frolics, and meetings. Two more times I came to Monticello and heard the Darling tales over and over again, from Red Jim and others.

Then a long time passed. About four years ago, thanks to the generous and wholehearted encouragement of Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, who was then editor of American Childhood, I decided to devote my time to American folk and fairy tales instead of those from foreign lands. Then the tales of Johnny Caesar Cicero Darling came back to me.

And so I journeyed once again to Monticello, the Heavenly Mountain, but alas! it was sadly changed. It was a thriving town!

Businessmen said the place had made great progress. Everywhere there was business and bustle, but that was not what I sought. So I went into the byways, and there I found those who still lived in the homes of their parents and grandparents, and whenever I mentioned the name of Johnny Caesar Cicero Darling there was a bright eye and a sunny smile. From them I heard the old tales all over again and many new ones as well. It was a joy to know that thriving business had not driven away the stories as they had rural peace and pleasures, and that these stories were still handed down from parents to children....

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