I hastened to reassure him that I knew the story! With a father like mine, how could I not? You see, my father (beyond doing amazing things with wood and beyond being scary smart) is an amazing reader. Not as in "reading a lot of books" but as in "a great storyteller". My earliest years were spent with him reading to me from some of his favorite childhood books: Penrod, The Five Little Peppers, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island*, etc. And I remember him telling me the story of the elephant along the banks of the "great, green-grey greasy Limpopo river". Now, to be honest, he may not have actually read the story to me because one of the other traits of a great storyteller is the ability to tell stories without having the book in front of you. He also made up stories, and car trips were often times for another episode in the saga of some little boy, name now forgotten, who had adventures that ended with him falling from a mast - but no problems, because he was "rough and tough and hard to bluff and used to hard ships." **
Thing One did not grow up with a father who read to him, but he did know Kipling and the Just-So Stories. He even sounded a little shocked that there were people who did not know these stories.
Last night I called home to thank my father for reading/telling me that story and all the others he'd read over the years. While he stopped reading the entire book to me by the time I was 6/7, he often read a passage or the first few pages and then handed me the book (which is how I got to read The Catcher in the Rye). And then I told him that he really wasn't a complete waste as a father.***
ps - If you're so minded, go to Uncle A's blog and reassure him that there are still people in this world who know that story, and who are passing it along to the next generation.
* I've recently confessed to him that I never finished the book: when I was 6(ish), he stopped a few chapters from the end and told me to read the rest myself - he'd decided that my sister deserved his attention. Yes, I've been throwing a 40+ year hissy fit over this.
** Dad loves puns. And shaggy dog stories. Blame him for my affinity for both.
*** He also has a sense of humor. He did, however, decline the idea of making that his epithet - but it might end up a direct quote on his updated c.v.