The Johnny Darling Frolic: a local legend lives on in Livingston Manor
Koerner is by no means alone in her desire to keep this art form alive. “The worlds largest museum and research institute, the Smithsonian, is now doing research and documenting the same subject,” she told me, “in their own efforts to keep these traditions from dying out.” A coloring book, “The Marvelous Adventures of Johnny Darling,” by Maurice Jagendorf, enjoyed five printings before being eventually retired by Vanguard Press. The illustrated interpretation of Darling’s tales was the brainstorm of Koerner, and is still prized by adults and children alike, not only here in the county, but around the globe.
An internet search on Johnny Darling served to expound on all that I had learned from Koerner, and “American Tall Tales” author Mary Pope Osborne’s words concurred: “Begun is the 1800s as a way for Americans to come to terms with the vast and inhospitable lands they had come to inhabit. the heroes of the tales were like the land itself: gigantic, extravagant, restless and flamboyant. These tales, written in the language of the common people, often tell of life on the American frontier and contain larger-than-life characters who take part in, or witness, fantastic events.”
Mia Koerner, “with a heap of help”, will likely be dancing a jig with fellow revelers come July 14 on the streets of Livingston Manor. The frolic’s front porch set, designed and constructed by Koerner’s husband, continues to serve as the perfect backdrop for the music, traditions and above all else, the stories- that will live on... just as Johnny Darling dreamed. The day-long event is funded by a raffle every year with the winner taking home a local award winning quilter’s masterpiece. For more information, visit www.livingstonmanor.net