My mother was Miss Phillips, high school Drama, Speech, English and P.E. teacher. Therefore, as I grew, I mucked stables with Hercules, ate pomegranate seeds with Persephone (main difference-I hate pomegranates, tough luck Hades), whitewashed fences with Tom Sawyer and chased the Cat In The Hat with Sally.
The highlight of the day was climbing with my sisters on Mom and Dad’s bed for a story. Some stories came from her Elementary School readers. Now these did not say, “See Dick run.” In fact, when I compared the two, I decided that children “way back then” were taught to read by total immersion. No one word upon another tales, no, these were stories. Full stories with plots, characters and big words. Sink or swim.
My favorite stories were “Potato, potato,” “Dark Pony,” “Away-she-go” and “Dawn Boy.” Now, before all you Cultural Purists get your noses twisted, I need to say, if I had not met the two aforementioned fakes, I would have never wanted to meet Old Man Coyote, Ananzi the Spider, Rainbow Crow or Turkey Girl. And I wouldn’t have wanted to know why Shinob the younger god put death on the earth or how the leopard changed his spots. But I met, I learned and I smiled (especially about Coyote, he’s cool).
I will share “Dark Pony,” at least the way Mom used to tell it, which was a little different than the book. So, curl up with your blankey, and your favorite child. The folk tale was originally published in 1912 by Scott, Foresman and Company from The New Basic Readers.
Every night and every night Dark Pony went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town. Every night and every night Dark Pony gathered up all the good little children with him. One night as Dark Pony was galloping, galloping he saw (Nola) (favorite child). She said “wait Dark Pony, stop, take me with you.” So, Dark Pony stopped, (Nola) climbed on and they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.
By and by they saw (Dorothy and Patricia) (sibling and/or friend). They said, “wait Dark Pony, stop, take us too.” So, Dark Pony stopped and (Dorothy) climbed on behind (Nola) and (Patricia) climbed on behind (Dorothy) and they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.
By and by they saw a (black and white stripped cat named Tiger) (or whoever your friend is). He said, “wait Dark Pony, stop, take me too.” So Dark Pony stopped and (Tiger) climbed on behind (Patricia) who was on behind (Dorothy) who was on behind (Nola) and all together they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.
By and by they saw (Wadups’s rooster) (your friendly neighborhood animal). He said “wait Dark Pony, stop, take me too.” So, Dark Pony stopped and (the rooster) climbed on behind (Tiger) who was on behind (Patricia) who was on behind (Dorothy) who was on behind (Nola) and all together they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.
Soon they could see Sleepy Town. (Nola) yawned. Then (Dorothy and Patricia) yawned. Then (Tiger) curled up and yawned. Then (the rooster) sat down and tucked his head under his wing. They could see the gates of Sleepy Town and Dark Pony went slower and slower. (Nola) bowed her head and closed her eyes. (Dorothy and Patricia) bowed their heads and closed their eyes. (Tiger and the rooster) closed their eyes. Dark Pony went slower and slower. Now they were at the gates of Sleepy Town. Slowly the gates opened and Dark Pony went in.
(Nola) was asleep. (Dorothy) was asleep. (Patricia) was asleep. (Tiger and the rooster were asleep). Even Dark Pony was asleep. Good Night.
I’m not the only person inspired by that wonderful story. Robin N. Fator was inspired to create Dark Pony Designs to showcase her line of clothing and accessories. Darkponydesigns.com is a fun site and who knows, you might find something you’d like to buy.
Fun Books to check out:
“Coyote Stories” By Mourning Dove (Humishuma), Edited by Heister Dean Guie with notes by L.V. McWhorter (Old Wolf), 1990 Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press
“Druids, Gods & Heroes from Celtic Mythology” 1986, “Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology” 1985, “Dragons, Gods & Spirits from Chinese Mythology” 1980 All from Peter Bedrick Books 156 Fifth Ave. New York, NY 10010.
“Truth is a Bright Star” By Joan Price, Tricycle Press PO Box 7123 Berkely, CA 94707