NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. I, No. 2, May, 1945
FACTS ABOUT A FOLK HERO
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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