No. 60                                                                                                     November 2004

ISSN 1026-1001




A Legendary Funeral

Donna Wyckoff-Wheeler

South Africa


It’s not often that a contemporary legend crosses that flimsy boundary between fiction and fact right before one’s eyes.  One is even more likely to be caught off guard when it happens on a peaceful, sunny, Sunday morning.  But there he was, the Reverend Dr. Alan Maker, standing in front of the 9:30 congregation of St. Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 10, 2004, announcing that he needed to put an end to some rumors he knew where already beginning to circulate. 

Yes, he had officiated at the funeral of Taco Kuiper, a long-time member of St. Columba’s.

Yes, Mr. Kuiper had requested that everyone in attendance be sure to sign the guest register so that his 9-year old daughter Elizabeth (child of a late-life marriage, living in Zimbabwe with her mother) would know, in later years, who had attended her father’s funeral.

No, Mr. Kuiper had not “paid” anyone to “come to his funeral service.”  Reverend Maker emphasized this point several times.

What had happened, however, was reminiscent of a well-known contemporary legend.

When friends and family gathered at the home of Taco Kuiper after the church service for an informal wake, as Mr. Kuiper had requested, there was a letter waiting for the trustees of a trust fund Mr. Kuiper had set up some years earlier.  As a long-time friend of Taco’s, Reverend Maker had been named one of the five trustees—as had Mr. Kuiper’s maid of 30 years.   The letter was marked “not to be opened until after my burial.”

Inside the letter were instructions that every family represented by attendance at the funeral service for Mr. Kuiper would share in a legacy of 1,000,000.00 rand.  As there had been 92 families represented, this meant that each of these families would receive


approximately 1,100.00 rand (about US $170.00 at current exchange rates).  Hardly a fortune by American standards, but not a negligible amount by South African income averages.  Still, it’s the thought that counts. 


So just what was Mr. Kuiper thinking?!      

Several variations on the funeral-money legend suggest either the luck of being in the right place at the right time, such as in the “handy restroom” version, or luck combined with respectful / moral behavior, such as in the tale of a traveler who prays over a lonely coffin he or she comes upon when stopping by a church in a foreign country.  Other versions build around a wealthy curmudgeon’s “test” of love, loyalty, or respect.   (See, for some of recent variations and other sources.)  

Background information provided by the Reverend Maker described Taco Kuiper as a somewhat lonely (divorced) man to whom money was very important.  If Mr. Kuiper wanted to control something, it would be done through money, said Reverend Maker.  On the other hand, if Mr. Kuiper wanted to make “a gesture,” that would be done through money as well.  Having 92 different families represented at his funeral service certainly indicates a high level of respect toward Mr. Kuiper by his community, so it seems unlikely that the trust fund was intended as either a “test” or retaliation.  The money appears rather to have been one final gesture of thanks, and the trustees carried out Mr. Kuiper’s instructions without delay.

On October 31, about two weeks after the checks had been issued to each of the appropriate recipients, I had opportunity to speak with the Reverend Maker again.  He told me that several of the recipients had considered the issuing of money in this circumstance “immoral” and they had threatened to return the checks. On the other hand, he said, none of them had done so—at least, not yet.  Whether any had sent the money on to other worthy causes is not known.   

It will be interesting to see if funeral-money legend variants begin circulating again, locally or widely.  Even more interesting will be if any new versions of the funeral money legend incorporate the “moral outrage” or “moral dilemma” motifs that seem to have been part of the Kuiper funeral money story.

But at least, this time, if someone tells you that “it happened in South Africa,” they just might be referring to the real thing.



Notification to Members of a Proposed Change in the Constitution

8 October 2004


It has become increasingly evident that the terms of council officers, as outlined in the revised Constitution (October 8, 2002), require restructuring to allow greater consistency in the running of the society.  The offices of UK and USA Treasurer have become redundant due to consolidation of accounts and require replacement with a single International Treasurer position.  Terms of office also require both lengthening and staggering of appointment to maximize the efficiency of council and encourage greater participation by the membership in council offices.   Accordingly, at the General Meeting of ISCLR held in July in Aberystwyth, the following changes to clause 5.2 and 5.4 of the Constitution were proposed and voted upon.


Clause 5.2 of the Constitution currently reads:


Members of the council shall be elected at the general meeting and shall hold office until the next general meeting.  The exceptions will be the editors of Contemporary Legend and FOAFtale News, who will be appointed by council.

The motion, as proposed and seconded by the council, was that clause 5.2 the society’s Constitution be revised as follows:

Members of the council shall be elected at the general meeting.  Officers of the society will normally serve terms of four years, with the exception of the President and Second Vice President, who will serve terms of two years.   The editors of Contemporary Legend and FOAFtale News, will be appointed by council and serve terms of a length determined by council.                


Clause 5.4 of the Constitution currently reads:


The officers of the society shall be:

1: President

2. First Vice-president

3. Second Vice President

4. Treasurer - UK

5. Treasurer - USA

6. Subscription secretary

7. Member -At-Large

8. Member -At-Large

9. Member-At-Large

10. Member-At-Large

11. Editor of Contemporary Legend

12. Editor of FOAFtale News


The motion, as proposed and seconded by the council, was that clause 5.4 of the society’s Constitution be revised as follows:


The officers of the society, their terms of office and their election shall be:

1. President - two years - elected on even years

2. First Vice President - four years - elected on odd years

3. Second Vice President (Past President) - two years - elected on even years

4. Treasurer - International - four years - elected on odd years

5. Subscription/Membership Secretary - four years - elected on even years

6. Member-at- Large - four years - elected on odd years

7. Member-at-Large - four years - elected on odd years

8. Member-at-Large - four years - elected on even years

9. Member-at-Large - four years - elected on even years

10. Editor of Contemporary Legend - by appointment

11. Editor of FOAFtale News - by appointment


Where there is more than one nomination for a position on council, a written ballot of those present and eligible to vote will be undertaken at the annual general meeting.

Upon a vote at the General Meeting, these motions were carried.

In keeping with clause 6.3 of the Constitution, if there are no dissenters to this amendment, the changes noted above will go forward and be implemented on February 1, 2005.



Dr. David Buchan Student Essay Prize for Contemporary Legend Research: 2004-5 Competition


     The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (ISCLR) is pleased to announce that it is to award an annual student essay prize to honour the memory of Dr. David Buchan (1939-1994), leading international ballad scholar and a staunch supporter and perceptive writer in the area of contemporary legend research.


Terms of the Award:

     The prize will be awarded for the best student essay or presentation at an ISCLR conference that combines research and analysis on some aspect of contemporary legend or contemporary legend research.  Previously published essays will not be considered for the award.

     The deadline for submission is the 1st of May in the year the award is to be made, and the essay should have been written within the previous academic year or the current academic year.

     Applications are invited from registered (post)graduate students, although undergraduate essays will also be accepted for consideration on the advice of faculty members.  Either students or their teachers may submit essays.  Instructors are asked to encourage students with eligible essays to enter the competition.

     The award will be made by the president of ISCLR upon the recommendation of the Selection Committee appointed by the president, and the winner normally will be announced at the annual meeting of the society.

     The winner will receive $250 (US) and a year’s membership to ISCLR.  The winning essay will normally be submitted for publication in the society’s journal, Contemporary Legend.

     It is the exclusive right of ISCLR to change the terms of the award for future competitions.



     Applicants will be accepted from registered (post)graduate students, although undergraduate essays will also be accepted for consideration on the advice of faculty members.

     Applicants can make only one application for each competition. Students may receive the award more than once in their graduate career.

     Members of the Selection Committee are ineligible to apply during their tenure.


Application Process:

     Please ensure that you do not include your name on the essay.  Instead, include a cover sheet listing the title of the essay, your name, address, telephone number, school and program attending, and your year in the program.

     Essays must be submitted in English.

     Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and on white paper.



The Selection Committee adjudicates all applications anonymously.

     The Governing Council of ISCLR reserves the right not to award the prize in a given year.


Award Holder’s Responsibilities:

     The editor of Contemporary Legend shall have first refusal to publish the winning essay, and a version suitable for publication should be submitted to Contemporary Legend no later than six months after the presentation of the award.


Submit applications or further questions to:

Professor Paul Smith

Coordinator, David Buchan Student Essay Prize

Department of Folklore

Memorial University of Newfoundland

St. John’s, NL


A1B 3X8




Calls for Papers

23rd Perspectives on Contemporary Legend
International Society for Contemporary Legend Research
Athens, Georgia, USA
May 25 - 29, 2005
     The International Society for Contemporary Legend Research is pleased to announce that the 2005 Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Twenty-third International Conference is to be held at the University of Georgia in the lovely Southern college town of Athens, Georgia.  Athens lies in the foothills just south of the Appalachian chain.  Home of both the State Botanical Garden and R.E.M., of both the Georgia Museum of Art and the Northeast Georgia Folk Music Festival, Athens offers a range of natural and cultural pleasures.  Plus, May is the beginning of peach season. 
     Proposals for papers on all aspects of "contemporary," "urban," or "modern" legend research are sought, as are those on any legend or legend-like tradition that circulate actively at present or have circulated at an earlier historical period.  Previous discussions have ranged in focus from the ancient to the modern (including Internet-lore) and have covered diverse cultures worldwide (including our own academic world).
     The 2005 meeting will be organized as a series of seminars at which the majority of those who attend will present papers and/or contribute to discussion sessions.  Concurrent sessions will be avoided so that all participants can hear all the papers.  Proposals for special panels of papers, discussion sessions, and other related events are encouraged.
     Athens is approximately 80 miles northeast of Atlanta.  A shuttle van ($30 one way) goes directly from the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport to the Athens hotels on a fixed schedule 7 times per day.  For information or to make reservations on the AAA Airport Express, see or phone 1-800-354-7874 or 404-767-2000.  Athens also has an airport, served by USAir on very small planes coming in from Charlotte, NC.  Sometimes the timing and price work out better than for Atlanta; it's worth checking.
     Rooms are reserved at the Holiday Inn ($72-$93; the $72 rooms are around a motor court, with outside doors, like a motel), next to the campus, and at the Holiday Inn Express ($79, breakfast included), newer and one block further away.  Students:  You may register four people per room.  When making reservations, ask for the UGA ISCLR group rate.  Confirmation deadline is May 4, 2005.  
     To participate in the conference, please forward a title and abstract, along with the appropriate conference fee, to the organizers by 1st February 2005. 

For further information or travel advice, contact: Elissa R. Henken, Department of English, Park Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA, E-mail:



14th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR)

July 26-31, 2005, in Tartu, Estonia.

Mare Kõiva,

Estonian Literature Museum


The central topic of the Tartu Congress will be Narrative Theories and Modern Practices.  The program will include plenary sessions, workshops, thematic panel sessions and forums. The publications and periodicals issued since the 13th congress will be displayed. Poster presentations will introduce research centres and disciplines.

Various fields of research have been concerned with the study of narratives and performance in the past dozens of years. This has brought along searches and experiments in folklore studies and linguistics, ethnology and psychology, social anthropology and medical science, geography and fine arts.

During the last ten years the focus has been on communication in the Internet, and the relationship of media and oral narrative tradition. Oral history, identification of self and ethnicity through narratives, links between fiction and reality, moral issues, the second life of narratives in printed publications and archives have inspired scholars to study new and traditional folk narratives.

We welcome all scholars who are working in the field of folk narratives. The themes of the congress sessions are:

Theoretical Schools in Narrative Studies

Narrative Genres: Continuity and Changes

Public and Private

Networks and Networking

Cross-Cultural Communication

Mapping and Preservation

For further information, and also if you wish to set up a panel, forum or round-table discussion, please contact the local organising committee by mail, e-mail or fax:

Some preliminary sections you can see from web page.

Due date for registration is October 1, 2004, and due date for abstracts is April 15, 2005. The congress is organised by the Estonian Literature Museum, the University of Tartu, Estonian Centre for Cultural History and Folkloristics in cooperation with the Tallinn Pedagogical University, the Academic Folklore Society and the Estonian Institute of Folklore.

ISFNR 14, Vanemuise 42, EE 51003 Tartu, Estonia, fax: +3727-377-706, e-mail:



Special Issue on Film and Folklore


Western Folklore, the academic journal of the California Folklore Society, is soliciting submissions for a special issue of the journal that will focus on the relationship between Film and Folklore.  Submissions on the following or related topics are particularly welcome:

Folklore representation in film and television; including myth,

Märchen, legend, folksong and ballad, belief and custom, etc.

Film and television texts as folkloristic forms; including issues of variant texts, dissemination of beliefs/narratives, film/television as storytelling, etc.

Audience ethnographies/fan studies

Ethnographic (documentary) films

Children’s media and its relationship to folklore

Deadline for 200-word abstracts is January 30, 2005 and completed papers (5000 – 6000 words) submitted by May 1, 2005. Please send attachments in Microsoft Word to Mikel J. Koven, Special Editor,, or Sabina Magliocco, Editor,, or hard copy

to:  Sabina Magliocco, Editor, Western Folklore; Department of Anthropology, California State University – Northridge; 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91330-8244.

Submissions should conform to the Social Sciences format, Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.



Help Wanted, We’re Looking for a New Editor for FOAFtale News


After five years of editing FTN, I have decided to hand this particular baton over to someone new. The problem is anyone I ask tends to immediately start looking at their shoes whenever I mention it. So, it was decided to put a general call out to all of you to see if you knew anyone who is up to the challenge of editing this newsletter.

So, FTN is looking for a new editor for its quarterly(ish) newsletter. This job entails the pulling together of the submitted articles (which would be submitted to you), compiling annually the ‘Cite Unseen’ column and the Perspectives on Contemporary Legend Conference abstracts, copy editing these submissions, and formatting them in the FTN template (or we could change the template). The printing and webpage accounts would stay with me here at UWA, and so all you would be expected to do would be to compile the issue and then send it to me as an email attachment for printing. Easy-Peasy!

You are not expected to just jump in and start producing the newsletter, and we anticipate a good year’s transference of editorship. We expect this to be a gradual take over.

If you are interested in taking over the editorship, or if you perhaps know of someone who is interested, please send me an email stating such an interest and I’ll submit it to the ISCLR Executive Board for approval. My email is This post will remain open until filled.


Next Issue:


Deadline for submissions

January 31, 2005.


Next issue out

March 2005


FoafTale News (FTN) is the newsletter of the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.  We study "modern" and "urban" legends, and also any legend circulating actively.  To join, send a cheque made out to "ISCLR" for US$30.00 or UK£20 to Mikel J. Koven, Department of Theatre, Film and TV, Parry-Williams Building, Penglais Campus, UWA, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2AJ, UK. Institutional rates available upon request.  Members also receive Contemporary Legend, a refereed academic journal.  Some back issues of FTN are available on-line at, while others can be requested from the Editor.   FoafTale News is indexed in the MLA Bibliography.

This newsletter is called FoafTale News for the jocular term current among legend scholars for over twenty years.  The term "foaf" was introduced by Rodney Dale (in his 1978 book, The Tumour in the Whale) for an oft-attributed but anonymous source of contemporary legends: a "friend of a friend."  Dale pointed out that contemporary legends always seemed to be about someone just two or three steps from the teller  — a boyfriend’s cousin, a co‑worker’s aunt, or a neighbor of the teller’s mechanic.  "Foaf" became a popular term at the Sheffield legend conferences in the 1980s.   It was only a short step to the pun "foaftale," a step taken by a yet-anonymous wag. 

FoafTale News welcomes contributions, including those documenting legends” travels on electronic media and in the press.  All research notes and articles are copyright by the individual authors who reserve all rights.  For permission to reprint, contact them at the addresses given in the headnote of the article. Send queries, notices, and research reports to a maximum of 3000 words to the Editor; clippings, offprints, and citations are also encouraged.

The opinions expressed in FoafTale News are those of the authors and do not in any necessary way represent those of the editor, the contributing compilers, the International Society for the Study of Contemporary Legends, its Council, or its members.

Editor:  Mikel J. Koven, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Parry-Williams, Building, Penglais Campus, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom, SY23 2AJ 



FTN Web page :

ISCLR Web page:


ISSN 1026-1001