Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There Wasn't Even a Leaking Dike?

We all know the story.  A folktale from Northern Europe:  there once was a boy who noticed a hole in the dike where water was leaking.  Nobody would listen to him about it so he put his finger in the hole and saved the town.  Huzzah!  There's more to it but you get the jist.  Guess what?  There was no folktale/legend/fairytale about a boy and a dike and a flood.  Mary Mapes Dodge made it up out of whole cloth for her book "Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates" (published in 1865).  In the book, this heroic story is read aloud in one of Hans's classes.  So it's not even Hans who put his finger in the leak.  That didn't stop throngs of U. S.  tourists  who visited the Netherlands from asking to see the dike featured in the story.  There is no dike!  The Dutch never heard  of the story.  To stop the whining in 1950 a statue of  "Pieter",  the non-existant flood-stopping kid, was erected in Spaarndam. Are those Dutch an accomodating people or what?

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