I guess there's always a little kid left hiding in all of us. Some of us just can't seem to leave Superman and batman behind, while grown little girls still want to believe in fairytales and princes. Myself, I love the Tall Tales of early America. Not surprisingly, Australia developed their share of Tall Tales and bigger than life heroes. I can still get enthralled by Paul Bunyan's feats, love Johnny Appleseed, and John Henry is still my hero; who can forget Calamity Jane! The tall tale is a fundamental element of American folk literature. A Tall Tale is like today's super heroes in that they are bigger or stronger than real people and they solve problems in super-human ways.
That is where the similarity ends. With Super Heroes, There is an attempt to let you imagine that sometime in the future technology could advance enough for this to happen. It began as a competition between storytellers to see who could outdo each other, and as the humor and sarcasm grew it became a Tall Tale. They solve everyday, unsolvable problems in a bigger than life, humorous way (Paul Bunyan hooking his ox to curvy logging roads and pulling them straight, or Pecos Bill lassoing a tornado to subdue it). Tall tales are all American. The need for the supernatural is universal; Fairy tales in Europe, Genies in the middle east and Wee Folk in Irland.
Meanwhile America sat around campfires and fireplaces and told our Tall Tales, each tale outdoing the last. Each one meant to bring a laugh and a taller tale from the person next to you. Although the most popular of the tall tales originated in the west and seemed to flourish everywhere the tough men of the American Frontier would gather, many came from east of the Mississippi. There was Joe Magarac - A Pittsburgh steelworker made of steel, Tony Beaver - A West Virginia lumberjack and cousin of Paul Bunyan, and Mike Fink - Toughest boatman on the Mississippi and a rival of Davy Crockett. Tall Tales were so pupular because everyone could be a story teller.
Told in the vernacular of the day, they possessed a homey feel and anyone with a little imagination could spin one or ad to a tale already started. If you couldn't invent one, you could add to someone elses, or make a tall tale out of a real character such as Calamity Jane, making here adventures bigger than life. It was all fun, and helped take the edge off of some pretty rough days trying to scratch a living.
Unfortunately, since these were passed along from campfire to campfire, many got lost forever. Fortunately, as America settled into a civilized society, some of these wonderful tales were written down by our literary-minded keepers of the past. There are many versions of Tall Tales that can be found in any library, and there is plenty of them available on the Internet sure to bring a chuckle or a laugh.
Haven't read a tall tale? try the newest one at http://pecosrivertraders.com/pecosbill.asp Lee is a consultant working out of The DPS Group. His specialty is websites and Internet E-commerce. When he is not writing content for his clients, he writes short stories and poetry as a hobby. Lee is a member of Linkedin and CollectiveX. Lee can be reached though his employment at Email Lsiemon@theDPSgroup.com