Jack and the Northwest Wind
Collected and retold by Richard Chase
Jack lives somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains in a drafty cabin near the top of a mountain. He gets tired of the wind blowing through the cracks so he decides to go ask the North West Wind to stop blowing. An old man befriends him and gives him a magic tablecloth and sends him back home. The old man warns him not to stop at the house where those rowdy boys live. And Jack promises. But, well. . . . Jack does go by the rowdy boys house and they coax the secret of the magic tablecloth from him and invite him to stay the night. While Jack is sleeping, they replace the magic tablecloth with an ordinary tablecloth. Jack comes home with an ordinary tablecloth which his mother makes into a shirt. This scenario is repeated with a rooster that lays a golden egg and a stick that will whack anything. Using this stick, Jack gets his tablecloth and rooster back. Then Jack fixes the cracks in the cabin to keep the North West Wind out. So I reckon they are living there in comfort to this very day!
When I tell this story to 12-15 year olds, I really expand upon the “peer pressure” that happens as those rowdy boys try to get Jack to demonstrate his magic objects and then to stay the night with them. As Jack falls for their tricks, I watch the eyes “roll” and I hear muttered comments. After the story is over, we discuss peer pressure. It’s not always easy to resist—to not join the crowd, to refuse to fight, etc. The teenagers are willing to talk about Jack and his dilemma but they “close up” if I initiate a discussion about them.
The Jack Tales: Folk Tales from the Southern Appalachians collected and retold by Richard Chase, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1943, 1971.
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