Professional Storyteller

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I first created and adapted these tales for a performance program to provide parents and camp councilors a break from traditional Ghost tales. The teens wanted Scared to death Tales but their younger friends and siblings would be left scared for days. These Not so Scary tales allowed the children to still be a part of the classic campfire culture. Original and folk ghost tales are shared with a discussion on fear resolution for 5-10 yearolds and their caregivers.

I own these but encourage you to tell them. Please let me know if you desire to reprint any or do recordings before doing so.

Please feel free to add your own so others can share them as well.
Learnin' Vernon

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A Ghost on the coast

Adapted by Learnin Vernon from a folktale told by Chuck Larkin

who collected it from an English Storyteller in London

I can not get this to print the whole tale any help? would be appreciated.

Meanwhile it is on my website for you to print out and tell.
The tree to see

by Learnin Vernon

A Tall Tale inspired by Kitty and Smasher , councilors at Camp Natarswi 1999.

Many years ago Camp Natarswi had a Councilor from Mexico named Karla Sanchez. Karla so wanted to please her Maine hosts that she looked all over for a gift. In her back yard she found an armadillo eating some Mexican jumping beans near a small bush. She gathered them up and kept them gift a secret until her arrival at Camp Natarswi, where she was so excited with the beautiful view of Mt. Katahdin that she literally spilled the beans. Karla and her new friends tried the best they could but those beans where all over the woods and not all of them were retrieved.

The beans that were left and forgotten took root the next summer.

Now in Mexico they have armadillos to keep the jumping bushes trimmed low however Maine has no armadillos or any other predators that would eat the bush. Well as you can imagine the bushes grew big and soon cross pollinated with Maples, Pines, and Aspens (which are now called quaking Aspens). All of this quietly happened under the beauty of Mt Katahdin with out anyone knowing that Karla’s gift was still giving.

During the 1970s a Scottish councilor sawed fire wood out of an old dead looking New England jumping tree.

Have you ever held a Mexican Jumping bean in your hand? Once they feel warmth they start jumping. That is exactly what happened with that firewood, it started to wiggle and jiggle and than jumped right out of the fire! Blazing and rolling all over the old log cabin dinning hall. In a very short time the old log cabin “Long House" as it was called back then, became the first New England jumping tree disaster. Unfortunately it was not the last.

In the 1990s the camps cook “Peanut " was driving the old red camp truck to town. She didn't go 10 feet when it dawned on her that she had forgotten her shopping list. Backing up exactly where she had just been and " WHAM ! " The Junior Maine Guides were told about the tree grabbed their axes to remove it but when they arrived the tree was gone! That tail gate never was fixed; you can see it for yourself if you want!

The campers and their leaders would see a tree with red paint on it out on the path to Singing Pines or Traveller but by the time the JMGs would get there that old tree had jumped back into the woods.

The most recent accident happened summer of 1999 when Kitty and Smasher where walking along minding their own business and “Smack" right between the eyes. That old tree jumped out at Smasher with such force it broke her glasses! Luckily nothing else was hurt but her pride. Kitty had been coming to camp for years and told Smasher all about the New England jumping trees.

Kitty has moved down to southern Maine, Smasher is back in the UK but that old tree with red paint is still wandering around Baxter State Park.

So walk slow and careful in the Maine woods be aware of the trail and the forest around you. Be cautious when the wind is calm but the leaves on the Aspen gently shake with anticipation, because just when you are not looking “A Tree May JUMP OUT!! Right in front of you"! And that would be a tree to see.

Learnin Vernon was the volunteer Camp Storyteller for Camp Natarswi from 1988 to 2006. He is a charter member of Girl Scouts of Maine and a lifetime member of GSUSA. This tale was created to honor the memories of all the staff and their campers that spent many summers under the protective shadow of Pamola and Mt. Katahdin.

© Vernon L. Cox 1999

phone 207-899-9299
As a Girl Scout volunteer I was often asked to tell a scary ghost story. However when you give a great performance it was always followed by either a phone call from the parents or a visit from the camp’s staff complaining of loss sleep and fear of the dark. For a long time I stopped telling ghost stories until I realized children like being sacred! So I began to create and redevelop ghost tales that were not threatening. Having endings that allowed the listener to feel secure, comfortable, and even have a laugh or two decreased those dream related complaints to almost nil. My only rule was that the audience had to sit through the entire telling of my not so scary tales. Camp staff and parents have requested that I share these tales so others may share them. Below is a short easy to tell favorite of mine adapted from a folk tale told by my brother Gray.

Story Tellers: Read through this as you would tell it. It may help to have someone else read it aloud so you can get a mental picture of the events. Or record it and listen to you telling it. This then will become your story with your style etched through out not a recital!

Don't memorize this word for word! Each audience is as different as each version of this I've told.

That is the excitement of live folk tales!



In days long gone by sailors would sail the world over taking their cargo of merchandise from one port to another. These men were called merchant marines. These ships were powered by great sails and relied on the wind and the current of the tide to come and go from the harbor docks. Often while waiting for the tide to change or for cargo to be on or off loaded the merchant marines would go to town to kill some time before once again going out to sea for months without even seeing rock nor land.

On this particular day three friends left the ship together seeking adventure. Pete was a small lad but liked big adventure, Repete was a big lad and a slight coward who liked small adventures, both men were brothers and traveled with Mike their first mate.

“Aye “said Mike "Ay've a friend who lives in this here town who is a great funnster is he. He is near by and we could sip ale and swap tales. Are ya game for it lads?”

“Aye " said Pete

“Aye aye " said Repete

The three came upon an old house complete with a spider webbed widows walk high above. The grounds appeared abandoned, shutters banged against the peeling paint with a “kabang BANG KABANG”

Mike opened the old dangling door with a “CREEEAHEEK!”

Once inside the dust nearly choked them. Trash was everywhere Mike shook his head as he turned to his companions. “The Captain likes to play funny and hide men where should we look first upstairs or the cellar?”

“Upstairs “Pete yelled as he took them two at a time.

" LLalalook ?” Repete choked.

Mike and Pete checked all of the upstairs as Repete guarded the front door.

“Captain me mate! Captain me mate where are yee? “Silence was Mikes only reply.

” To the cellar men!” Ordered the first mate as if he were still aboard ship.

Pete opened the door and a stench like none other hit the air the men were breathing “Aughyuck hichicblacech that smells like”

“It’s Horse dodo matey! The captain has an under ground barn watch your step men! “Mike followed behind Repete who was taking up the rear.

Down in the deep dank darkest of dark cellar they slipped and slimed their way through hay piles and animal droppings then they heard a strange screeching sound kind of like " Ohwarryagoo ".

“I see a dim distant light men should we follow it beckons us.” Mike waited for an answer.

“The tide should be changing soon Mike “Pete answered as he was reluctant to go on.

“Repete?” Hollered the oldest sailor.

“The tide should be changing soon Mike “Pete replied.

“Repete " Yelled Mike even louder.

"He has left us” declared Pete.

Both men pushed onward until they could see a faint silhouette out of a creature coming straight for them. “Ohwarrygo Ohwarryago ink " The noise went over and over in their heads as it got closer they ran away but the faster they ran the louder and closer it came " Ohwarrygo ohwarryogo ink "

The two sailors would slip in the grime and slime as they both smelled worse than a sewer snake. They ran for it each time they slipped it was becoming harder to run with that awful "Ohwarryogo ink" blasting in their ears.

"Ohwarryogo ink, Ohwarryogo ink" Closer and closer until the shadow was upon mike and

" TTAG—uhhu-uhu- YOUR IT " The captain said half out of breath.

"Oh Where are you going Mike are we not friends?” the Captain remarked regaining his composer.

“Well Pete “Mike said with a smile " I told you the captain was quite a funnster.”

After some ale and some memories the two men met up with Repete back at the ship where the three sailed out on the tide for more adventures to come.
I like Ghost stories for all ages. I admit that I like the scary kind better then the safe ones, but when telling to a younger gathering you can't be too scary. I've found however that it not the age of the group, but the mentality that will determine if there will be nightmares. I have had 10-year-olds out last collage kids in the scary department. This is why I always let people know that if the story is to scary, leave. I will not be held responsible for nightmares. I also try to stay to the advertized level of scary so no one is surprised.
Thanks Daniel
These Not So Scry tales were created for the aduiences that said they wanted to be scared and their parents and counslers new better by expierence. So not to leave them out I created these.

I also offer Scare and Share an open mike no holds bar scarathon for teens and adults and another show with some friends called Scared to Death.

This discussion group is aimed at those who do not fit in the last two catagories.

Can I visit your scary tales? I bet they are the best
Learnin' Vernon
The last time I told Ghost Stories at a Library, I had a mother come up to me before the show started. She asked me to keep the scary to a minimum because her son (around 11) and daughter (around 8) would have nightmares if they heard too scary of story. I told her that the show was for the younger group so not to worry. As this mother went to find her seat, her husband told me that the kids were fine, it was the mother who got scared easy. With that I picked her as my gage instead of her kids. As someone who has nightmares I understand.

When I tell to the timid, I usually tell “jump” stories or stories with happy endings. I don’t like “cute ghosts”, or “happy kitties” as those kind make me board. I did like your game playing captain however. Do you have more stories like that? I would love to hear them.

And I would love to have you come and hear me tell. I’m scheduling my haunted season right now. I should have a list of performances on my web-page soon. But as I live in Idaho, and travel is so much, maybe you could help me find a show in Maine and I could come to you. I’ve never been to Maine and would love to tell (and look for new stories) there.
I will put the word out but many Maine tellers are in the same boat. We all want to travel but do local shows to keep costs down.
I will post some more jump tales as I get time.
This posting site limits length so some may need to be hosted elsewhere and linked from here.
Please feel free to post links or tales that fit the not so scary catagory here Daniel.

thanks Learnin' Vernon




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