In Days Gone By

In Days Gone By: Folklore and Traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch by Audrey Burie Kirchner and Margaret R. Yassia. Englewood,.CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1996. ISBN 1-56308-381-7 $27123 pp.

A number of groups make up the Pennsylvania Dutch. Part I of the book discusses the life and history of these Germans who came to Pennsylvania as early as 1683. It covers their dialect, home and family life, major occupations, folkarts, holidays, and two major contributions of the Pennsylvania Dutch: the Conestoga wagon, and the Pennsylvania rifle.

Part II is devoted to the folklore of the people, beginning with childhood rhymes (in English and German), then moving on to plant legends, tall tales, folktales and Eileschpiggel (cf Tyl Eulenspiegel) stories. Part III tempts the reader with seven pages of traditional recipes ranging from shoo~fly pie to soft pretzels. Story sources and a selected bibliography comprise Part IV.

This book is part of Libraries Unlimited's World Folklore series. It is simply written, making it of use to students and teachers. Information is presented briefly, in a factual, reporting style. It is illush"ated throughout with photos, and line drawings of various German folk motifs, and there is a section of colour photos after Part ll. My preference would have been to place the colour photos near the subjects they illustrate, rather than all ill a group.

.The book could have been of even more interest to elementary school teachers, had the authors chosen to include simple instructions in some of the folk art sections.
Many of the folktales are variants of familiar stories, but. others are unique. Witchcraft and the devil playa part in many. These stories, as the authors point out in the introduction, would not be told by the Amish whose stories are rooted in religion and everyday happenings. I would like to know which, if any, of the tales included would be told by the Amish. There is a plainness to the telling of the stories, and I'm not sure if it is typical of the region, or if the stories lost the flow and detail which I associate with the spoken word when they were put down on the page. Still, many of these tales are not readily available elsewhere. I know of no other book which meets the needs that this one does, and I'm sure it will be a welcome addition to school and library shelves.

The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 3, September 1996
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