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June 28: Paul Bunyan Day

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It’s Paul Bunyan Day. As children, we all delighted in the outrageous yarns about the monstrous lumberjack and his blue ox, Babe, but did you know the source of the legend was drunken 19th-century lumberjacks working near the Great Lakes? Paul got his start around the wood stoves of logging camps, after the loggers finished their day of chopping wood and got down to swilling booze and seeing who could tell the biggest yarn. A forerunner of the Chuck Norris meme, Paul’s original achievements were much saltier than what you grew up with, with many of the tales involving drinking extraordinary amounts of booze and, well, doing other things men do. They were sanitized and toned down for a 1930’s advertising campaign by the Red River Lumber Company that served to spread the legend from the Great Lakes area to the rest of America.