Paul Bunyan Between Scylla and Charybdis:
American Folklore in Sicily
by E. Martin Pedersen
Many years ago I wrote this account of my activities teaching and singing here in Messina.
It was published in a British publication called Folklore in Use. That was the thesis I was working on (and the thesis for my M.A. in Folklore and Education): that folklore materials must be taken out of archives and included in the curricula at all levels in order to preserve and diffuse traditional culture, without which we lose our identity as a people with a history. In particular outside of the native country where folklore tells others who we are. My country, the U.S., because of its ethnic makeup and science emphasis, runs a serious risk of looking only towards the future and forgetting what made us us. Not a history of wars and hatred but of everyday life, entertainment and knowledge. Every people, however, needs to be careful to constantly relive and exalt their traditions. In our super-mobile world, folklore (songs, stories, speech, crafts, beliefs, etc.) loss is a threat similar to language loss. A tragedy when it happens, a victory when avoided. Oh look: another heavy responsibility for teachers.