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Listen to the land a profile of a nation in terms of its living language. This week all about animals. Part two. The strangest sounds emanate from station W.H. y y Philadelphia where I listen to the land is produced none stranger than those of the wild animals about whom you'll hear this week. Listen to the land is produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Now here is your host at narrator Richard S. Burdick. Oh. Sorry I forgot my cough drop. As Jim Keeler told you this week we go on a literary safari for wild animals. Last week we concern ourselves with domestic animals starting with some bantering rhymes by Ogden Nash. I've been also gnashes his teeth about some of our wild friends. The camel has a single hump of a dromedary too or else the other way around. I'm never sure are you.
The rhino is a homely beast for human eyes he's not a feast. Farewell farewell you will run us or else I'll stare at something less preposterous. The panther is like a leopard Except it hasn't been peppered. And should you behold a panther Crouch prepared to say ouch. Better yet if called by a panther don't anther ridiculous. Closely related to the panther in the cat family is the lion about who much has been written but never more graphically than in this offbeat item from the book. Pride of lions by B.F. jury published by long means green and company. It's called a single handed fight with a lion and Mr. Jerry writes this story concerns Mizuki. He told it to me himself told it simply without embroidery as a story important to
himself but not conceivably of great interest to anyone else. Bazooka was a picket boy a patrolman in the reserve. His duties were multifarious including daily patrols of the Bush reporting on kills estimating the numbers of the game keeping an eye on native farmers and generally acting as a species of policeman of the wild. He was ambitious however and aspired to the more honorable post of policeman and very fact as a police boy. He would be entitled to a smart uniform and his duties would be formal and very much in the public eye. On this particular day he was coming back from patrol along the game path hard tritone by the innumerable books that had passed along into the water. Music was a little late. It was the matter of a meal to be considered. He decided to take a short cut along a smaller less defined path that led back in the direction of the camp. The path seemed clear Mizuki went along it swiftly and cheerfully. He came to a couple of thorn bushes that stood almost athwart it to negotiate them and immediately became aware of a
lion family resting in the shade. A lion a lioness and a couple of cubs drew up on the instant and with the immediate decision of those who live in the bush began to back away step by step. The lions were watching him. He had made four steps when the Lions got up and giving the low run the danger warning. Chased her cubs off into the safe thickness of the Bush while the Lions stood by to guard their retreat Mizuki it carried on backwards. It was very nearly safe. Then suddenly his foot caught in the thick thorn root like most of the Bush boys who were a sandal made of an old motor tire and Phonse the loose flap of this at the heel caught fast in the thorn and he fell heavily backwards in the same fraction of a second Alliance nexted opportunity and sprang the fall is abnormal. The abnormal was dangerous. He was guarding the retreat of his cubs and had no option is great body claws opened wide fell on the boy and held him pinned Mizuki shrieked and tried to
roll over. The lion had taken his upper arm in his powerful jaws and held him fast. The weight of the massive body almost smothered him. His frantic struggles freedom for a moment and he managed to roll over but the lion was far too quick for him. The hot fetid breath was against his skin all the time. The slobbering of the great loose lips was on the skin even as he turned. The lion got a fresh grip on the mangled arm. As Lucas said he shrieked. He could not remember what he shrieked but as he kicked rolled struggle and wormed about under the grip of the lion he called and called the Lion took scanty notice either of his struggles or his shrieks. Is only reaction was to lift himself slightly and shake as a cat shakes a stricken mouse Nama Zuko is anything but a coward. A lesser man would have collapsed at the first leap. He wanted his job as a police boy. He knew that his master the Ranger knew this and he knew that his master expected great things of him. Whether it was conscious thought or unconscious knowledge he was somehow aware that if he could break
loose from the terrible grip free himself somehow from a full grown lion his position would be somehow established his apprenticeship ended. He had two great things on his side. One was his natural strength and resistance. The other was the fact that his lion had fed the Cubs had obeyed the lionesses warning she had followed them to safety. The old lion had seen her go his duty was now over. He had safeguarded their departure assured their escape. The elemental impulse to protect had been strong enough to overcome his inborn fear of man was gone. Mizuki was still struggling and shouting with the consciousness that he had done not merely his duty but everything that the laws of the wild could possibly call upon him to delete old lion released his hold and stood back. He had no private animosities. He had not even blood lust. His sole motive was the defense of his cubs. And beyond that there was nothing.
Perhaps his own natural fears were returning now that the blind energies of his fears for his cubs the disappeared bazooka made no pause to inquire into felines like ology. He forced himself into the dubious safety of a thorn bush and watched his attacker. The lion gathered himself together growled once warningly and turning leaped lightly after his mate. Mazurka summed up the last of his energies and made off for home. He was right. His magnificent fight had earned for him a reputation that fitted him for the police force that was trained by his master Ranger MacDonald MacDonald as an old soldier himself and his boys are the finest trainset I have ever come across. Most look a story as he told it simply and with dignity. Nursing his tattered arm the while did not exactly exactly help one to regard lions as tame cats. I should think not.
The protective instinct of wild animals not just in terms of the survival of the fittest in terms of the law of the jungle but in regard to their offspring is captured adeptly and dramatically by Bill Williams and his book elephant bill published by Rupert Hart-Davis. One of the most intelligent acts I ever witnessed an elephant perform. Right Mr. Davis was one evening when the upper tongued when river was in heavy spate and I was listening and hoping to hear the boom and roar of timber coming from upstream directly below my camp the banks of the river were steep and rocky and 12 to 15 feet high about 50 yards away on the other side the bank was made up of ledges of shale straight up. Although it was nearly dusk by watching these ledges being successively submerged I was trying to judge how fast the water was rising. I was suddenly alarmed by hearing an elephant roaring as though frightened and looking down I saw three or four men rushing up and down on the opposite bank
in a state of great excitement. I realize that at once that something was wrong and ran down to the edge of the near bank and there saw Maitua Les Gold with her three month old calf trapped in a fast rising torrent. She herself was still in her depth as the water was about six feet deep but there was a life and death struggle going on. Her calf was screaming with terror. It was a float like a cork. It was as near to the far back as she could get holding her whole body against the raging and increasing torrent and keeping the calf pressed against her massive body every now and then the swirling water would sweep the cap away. Then with terrific strength she wouldn't circle it with her trunk and pull it up stream to rest against her body again. There was a sudden rise in the water as if a two foot bore had come down and the calf was washed clean over to the mother's hind quarters and was gone. The mother turned to chase it like an otter after a fish but she had traveled about fifty yards
downstream and plunging and sometimes afloat had crossed to my side of the river before she had caught up with it and got it back. But what seemed minutes. She pinned the calf with her head and trunk against the rocky bank. Then with a really gigantic effort she picked it up in her trunk and reared up until she was standing on her hind legs so as to be able to place it on a narrow shelf of rock five feet above the flood level. Having accomplished this she fell back into the raging torrent and she herself went away like a cork. She well knew that she would not have a fight to save her own life as less than three hundred yards below where she had stowed her cap and safety. There was a gorge. If she were carried down it would be certain death. I knew as well as she did that there was one spot between her in the gorge where she could get up on the bank. But it was on the other side from where she had put her calf. By that time my chief interest was in the calf. It stood tucked up shivering and
terrified on a ledge just wide enough to hold its feet its little fact protruding belly was tightly pressed against the bank. While I was pairing over at it from about 8 feet above wondering what I could do next I heard the grandest sounds of a mother's love I can remember Ma she had crossed the river and got up on the bank and was making her way back as fast as she could calling the whole time a defiant roar. But to her calf it was music. The two little ears like little maps of India were cocked forward listening to the only sound that mattered. The call of her mother any wild schemes which had raced through my head of recovering the calf by ropes disappeared as soon as I had formed them. When I saw emerge from the jungle and appear on the opposite bank when she saw her calf she stopped roaring and began rumbling. I never to be forgotten sound not unlike that made by a very high powered car when accelerating.
It is the sound of pleasure like a cat's purring and delighted she must have been to see her calf still in the same spot where she had put her half an hour before. As darkness fell the muffled boom of floating logs butting against each other came from upstream a torrential rain was falling and the river still separated the mother and her calf. I decided that I could do nothing but wait and see what happened. Twice before turning in for the night I went down to the bank and picked out the calf with my flashlight. But this seemed to disturb it so I went away. It was just as well that I did because it done MA and her calf were together both on the far bank. The spate subsided to a mere foot of dirty colored water. No one in the camp had seen me recover her calf. But she must have lifted it down from the ledge in the same way as she had put it there. Five years later when the calf came to be named the Burmans christened it. MA Yeah ye miss laughing water and a charming
story. You can take your choice about skunks. Most people do it with no uncertainty in the decision. But I meant you can take your choice as to whether or not they are wild or domestic animals for purposes of this program will choose the former. Although with a deep bow in the direction of Laila Roosevelt and Bill Wesley who wrote knowingly about skunks and mother many other animals in their hopper and brothers book parade I quote from Chapter 14 the skunk wherein they said All in all a skunk makes a perfectly delightful pact. Without exception everyone we know who has ever had a pet skunk swears that nothing could be more fun. There was an artist who is well known skunk shares a lot with him on West Broadway in the heart of industrial Manhattan. The fame of the skunk is due to his love for the ocean his master takes him to Jones Beach every warm
Sunday to have allegedly Depp and the resultant commotion can well be him had joined. Another well-known skunk resides in winter at the apartment on the top floor of the celebrated Madison Square boys club where Mr. Hines the director allows him the run of the place. He spends the summers at their wonderful clear pool camp near us and Carmel where he gets ample attention from the hundreds of boys who are lucky enough to spend two weeks vacations there. However delightful pets as they may be it must be admitted that there are times when they can cause a certain amount of confusion especially if they have not been discovered. A notable example occurred at the American Museum of Natural History. The museum is usually associated in people's minds with a properly defunct animals beautifully arranged in scenes from their native habitat. Few people realized that in one small tucked away corner they used to have. Maybe they still have a number of live animals which were taken around to various schools so that the children of
the city could learn what some of our native animals looked like. There were woodchucks rec rooms skunks even a couple of copperheads of course the center of attraction was always sashay. The complete skunk. No one had ever gotten around to having anything done about her as she was beautifully behaved and it never caused any trouble in several years of museum life. One day sashay turned up missing. Every guard on all six floors of the huge building was alerted the night watchman made their rounds with trembling steps and quivering flashlights freezing at the slightest sound. This went on for five days while at any moment during the day everyone expected momentarily to hear horrified screams from some be sprayed visitor. But some justified the faith in or on the fifth night a courageous watchman here in the Russell tracked it down and there was such a comfortably installed in a cozy apartment in the belly of the whale.
But the inevitable is inevitable sashay enjoyed daily walks in Central Park accompanied by some young member of the museum staff. One of these young naturalists who shall remain nameless was strolling strolling along with contentedly ambling at his heels when he spied a large Dodger coming toward him being led by a Pekinese. Instead of prudently turning aside the side say all he had to find out what would be the reaction of a skunk to a doll a deer and a Pekinese. Now I ask you shouldn't a young naturalist even in search of scientific data know how any self-respecting skunk would react. The next day the naturalist found himself on the carpet facing the stern head of the department who was obviously having a difficult time controlling his facial muscles. But who nevertheless presented to the young man an extensive list covering cleaners Bill's powerful perfumes and complete beauty parlor treatment for both the lady and her pooch. So I shay spent the
rest of her days at the Scout camp in Vermont. Most people especially children seldom think of the horse these days as being anything but a domestic animal. But of course the horse can be traced back many centuries in packs of wild animals. We're familiar figures roaming the prairie's of early America but find conscientious writer Jay Frank dhobi wrote in the American mercury some years ago about an odd and persistent legend that grew up around the wild horses and about one in particular known as the white steed of the prairie's. He was known by other names the pasing white stallion the white mustang the white Sultan the ghost horse of the prairie's the ghost tours of the plains and the phantom white horse. Whatever his name he answered to none is fire His grace is beauty is speed as in durance is intelligence with the attributes that men commonly admire most in horses but in Him they were so personal.
Wherever Spurs click to our camp fires burned over the unfenced world that stretched from the prickly pear flats of south Texas to the badlands of Montana. The story of the pacing white stallion was told than with the appearance of Moby Dick in 1851 the white mustang burst with thundering beats out of the pastors of God into the ranges of literary immortality in that great chapter on the whiteness of the whale wherein Herman Melville reviews the white objects of Earth ranging from the snowy Andes to the sacred elephants of India. He reaches his climax with a panegyric on the white mustang. Most famous he exclaims in our Western annals and Indian traditions is that of the white steed of the prairie's a magnificent milk white charger large or small headed block chested and with the dignity of a thousand monarchs in his lofty over scorning carriage. He was elected Xerxes a vast herds of wild horses whose pastures in those days were only fenced by the Rocky Mountains and the Alleghenies
at their flaming head. He westward took it like the chosen star which each evening leads on the hosts of light the flashing cascade of his mane the curving comet of his tail invested him with housings more resplendent than gold and silver beaters could have furnished him. A most imperial an ark angelical apparition of that unfallen Western world which to the eyes of the old trappers and hunters revived the glories of primeval times. Always in the narratives of the soil the pacing white Mustang as a generous but not as an animal black devil was the fighter the Slayer and any report accusing the white steed of manslaughter may be set down to the confused memories of people who had heard of the black murderer. A tale that illustrates the white sultans behind a T and intelligence came to me from the late Joe Dyer of Galveston. He heard it in the 70s from an old woman who was a girl in the year 1848 was among German
colonists locating homes in Texas. Her name was Gretchen. As the story goes her family and company with some other German immigrants was moving up the Guadalupe River to locate on a wide spread of the valley. They traveled in wagons single file the family in the last wagon Gretchen's family had a very gentle old gray mare that followed along without rope or halter stopping every once in a while to grab a mouthful of particularly lush grass. She was stupid and lazy and her ears flopped but she was faithful and on her back she carried two big sacks of corn meal so arranged that they made a kind of platform. The wagon was running over with such things as German settlers carried beds and bedding pots and pans a heavy chest of drawers a few pot plants and a great many children. Gretchen eight or nine years old was the liveliest of these. One day she told her father that she wanted to get out and ride the old gray mare. He could see no harm in this. In fact her absence might lessen the constant hubbub. So he lifted Gretchen up on the
platform of cornmeal Saxe and tighter there with a rope and such a way that she would be comfortable and could not fall off. The old mare hardly batted an eye and with Gretchen on her back continued as usual to walk and pick grass along behind the wagon. That afternoon however one wheel of the wagon was wrenched in a Buffalo while and a halt had to be made for repairs. Gretchen was asleep at the time firmly tied on her pillion of corn meal. She did not know when the old gray mare grazed out of sight down a musket draw. Her father was busy with the wheel. Her mother like the old woman who lived in a shoe had so many children that she didn't know what to do and so neither of them noticed. It was only after the wagon was repaired and the other children were crowded into it and the train started on the little Gretchen was missed. Then the old gray mare could not be found. None of the German men knew so no to the front ear how to follow her tracks in the maze of Mustang tracks they now discovered. They struck camp to search. Night came a notable Gretchen. The next day came and passed and the little Gretchen.
Then on the morning of the third day the old mare brought her in. And this is the explanation the little girl gave. After dozing she knew not how long she awoke with a start. The lazy old mare was lumbering along in a gallop after a prancing neighing pacing white horse with cream colored mane and tail. She tried to stop the old mare but she had neither bridle nor halter. She tried to jump off but she was tied on and the knots of the rope were beyond her reach. After they had trotted and galloped until nearly sundown the white horse all the time pacing ahead like a rocking chair. They came to a large bunch of Mayors. These were Gretchen and knew nothing of such matters but white steeds Manara. They came out full of curiosity to greet their new sister and they were very cordial in their greeting. The wild Mares seemed not to notice little Gretchen at all. They were so cordial in their nose rings of the old grey mare that soon their muscles were touching the meal sacks. Probably the sacking was salty.
Certainly some of the meal had sifted through it so that it could be tasted. The mayor's tasted it no matter if it was the first taste of corn they ever had. They liked it. They began to nip at the meal sacks so eagerly that they nipped Gretchen's bare legs she screamed. She expected to be chewed up right away even if the wild Mares meant no harm. But I don't scream. The pacing white study and was with one bound beside her. He was as considerate as he was intelligent. He drove the wild Mares off. Then he chewed into the ropes that bound Gretchen took her gently by the collar of her dress as a cat takes one of her kittens and set her down upon the ground. It was about dark knob when the coyotes were beginning a whole little Gretchen hollered too but there was no danger. After a while she made a kind of nest and some tall fragrant grass near a mesquite Bush and having cried a while fell asleep. When she awoke the sun was high and the horse was within sight. She was hungry. She went down to a water hole that she saw close by and drank water for breakfast.
She had heard that a person lost on the prairie had better stay in one place until he found himself or until someone found him. She had no hope of finding herself but she did hope that her papa would come. She remained near the water hole. Newman came and still no horse or person appeared within sight. Gretchen Non was hungrier than ever. It was the spring of the year and she gathered some of the red agreed all berries called Wild currents growing near but the thorny leaves pricked her fingers so severely that she quit before she had eaten enough of them to satisfy your hunger. Evening fell and she was still alone. She gathered some sheep sorrel down in the bottom of the draw and drank some more water. Darkness came the stars came out the coyotes set up their lonely howling little Gretchen lay down her nest again and again cried herself to sleep. When she awoke the next morning there standing over her sound asleep ears flopped down on the lower lip hanging shapeless like a bag of curd was the old gray mare.
Gretchen was glad as the red bird singing over her head she jumped up and as soon as she had washed her face ran to the mayor and tried to get on her but the old mare was too tall. Then Gretchen grafter by the mane and tried to lead her to a log that lay near at hand. If she could get the old mare beside it she could use it as a stepping block. But the stupid old mare would not budge. After vainly pulling coaxing and jumping for a long time Gretchen began to wail. She was leaning against the shoulder of the old mare sobbing when she heard swift hoof beats rhythmic and rocking. She looked up and saw coming out of the bushes. The beautiful white steed. The sunshine was on his whiteness. He came arching his neck and pacing with all the fire of a Mustang on Prairie. But there was something about him that prevented Gretchen from being in the least frightened. On the contrary she stretched her arms toward him and gave a childish oh of welcome. He paced right up to where she stood. Gently grasped the collar of her dress and the scruff of her neck in his teeth and lifted her upon the mare. Then he must of told the old gray mare to go
home. At least she went and went with Gretchen. But no cornmeal home was the camp by the buffalo wallow where the wagon had broken down. Gretchen's parents were so happy at having her restored to them that they did not mind the loss of the meal after she had told her adventures. She showed the up places on her legs and after years she told the story many many times when she was an old woman and some of her grandchildren seemed doubtful of the facts. She would in a pet pull down her cotton stockings and show the small faint scars on her legs where the wild mayor's editor and the grand children would have to believe her and coincidentally almost at the very time little Gretchen's family was moving toward a homestead. The German scientist Ferdinand reamer in July 1846 noted as he soon thereafter sat down in his book Texas between San Marcos and the Colorado River a magnificent white Stajan speeding away at the head of a herd of mustangs.
In the past two weeks we've run a good length of the animal gamut rabbits pigs cows dogs cats arses wild in the mystic camels rhinoceros or sources Panthers Lions skunks and elephants. Not all about animals true but a generous representation and I hope we've enjoyed this diversion in the sounds we listen to in the land. Next week we journey to California backwards in time to 1849 and the writings from the Gold Rush. Mark Twain Bret Harte Joaquin Miller and other articulators of that body gaudy era. I'll be waiting with my banjo on my knee. Until then. This is Dick Burdick saying thank you and so on. Listen to the land is produced and recorded at station W.H. y y Philadelphia
under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is James Keeler inviting you to be with us next week for the program nuggets from the Gold Rush listen to the land with your host and narrator Richard S. Burdick. This is the end of the radio.
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Listen to the land
All about animals, part 2
Producing Organization
WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, explores American writings on wild animals.
Series Description
America's literary heritage is explored through readings of short stories, poems, folklore, journalism and legends. The series is narrated by Richard S. Burdick.
Media type
Announcer: Keeler, James
Host: Burdick, Richard S.
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Writer: Williams, J. H. (James Howard), 1897-1958
Writer: Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-54 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
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Chicago: “Listen to the land; All about animals, part 2,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “Listen to the land; All about animals, part 2.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: Listen to the land; All about animals, part 2. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from