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Francis James Child
Francis James Child, a-ponderin'


Child Book

Lessons learned while reading the ballad collection of Francis James Child.

by David Kessler

     Dear Francis,

     I recently bought some land and set about preparing it for use.  It was rather overgrown in areas, and one old building had been abandoned for so long that weeds and flowers had completely engulfed it.
     I was about to tear it down (it stands on a prime and fertile plot) when one of the locals comes and explains that I can't, because it's part of some old love story.  The next thing I know the whole town is demanding I leave the wreck alone.  They've started a petition and even called in the Historical Preservation Committee to declare the old shack and its flowers an important landmark.
     I made what I thought was a very generous offer to leave a small memorial patch of flowers, and only remove the shack and weeds, but they insisted that it was the subtle interplay of weeds and flowers that was exactly why it had to remain intact.  Subtle interplay, my ass!  All I see is a stupid love-knot of brambles and roses.
     I consider myself a reasonable man, and as respectful as the next guy, but I paid good money for this place.  The story they're talking about happened generations ago.  How long can they expect to keep this run down patch of weeds as a memorial?!

     Ready with the mower

     Dear Ready with the mower,

     People may come to an end, but good folk songs do not - they are interminable!  Leave those "weeds" alone.

     Francis J. Child

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