Do Tell Story Swap
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Hal McCown
2021 Virtual Story Swap via Zoom sponsored by the Storytelling Association of California (SAC). 
Our host Brandon Spars

Do Tell Story Swap Story Summaries – October 12, 2021

A night of great stories started with Elisheva Hart telling a story from the days of Girl Scouts sitting around the campfire scaring each other: “The worms go in, the worms go out…”

Beth Wakeley revived a folk talk about three brothers: big, medium, and teeny-tiny. They had been told not to play in the forbidden forest because the witchy woman lived there. So, as always happens in such tales, they end up in her house and the teeny-tiny brother is the only one who is able to steal her magic equipment and get them to safety. 

Mary Turner continued the folk tale trend with a story about the laziest man in the country – who never did anything he didn’t have to. When a scary black creature comes his way, he cuts off the escaping creature’s tail and eats it. The creature spends the rest of the story trying to recover his missing tail. A scary story!

Evelyn Hardesty tells about being six years old and spilling sugar in the kitchen. Her mother explained that sugar would attract bugs. So Evelyn, who loved bugs, sprinkled sugar on the windowsill and waited for the bugs which never came. These days, many years later, she is creating a bug garden, still hoping to attract the insects she loves.

Laurie Raeume’s last name rhymes with “museum,” which is why it is important to understand that her family, who loved playing jokes and tricks, called themselves the “Sup-raeumes” when they made anonymous “happy birthday” calls. They were also fond of re-igniting birthday candles, and games such as the one where no one could take a bite of cake until the birthday person did. 

Brandon Spars shared a portion of Ovid’s “Metamorphosis” that he had memorized for the epic event in which multiple tellers each take part of a long saga and the whole thing is told over a span of several hours. In Brandon’s part, Venus, who is married to Vulcan – the god of fire and metalworking – falls in love with Mars, the god of war. When Vulcan learns of their adulterous behavior, he makes chains fine enough to be invisible and strong enough to hold an immortal. Love and war together make harmony. 

Meg Brown told a delightful story called “The Witch’s Broom.” A widow named Minna gets a magic broom when the witch to whom it belongs falls to earth. The broom is wearing out, so the witch calls a friend to take her away, and Minna inherits the broom. It cleans her house, sweeps up the dooryard, and even learns to play a simple tune on the piano. But the neighbor’s naughty children tease and torment the broom until it hits them, and their father demands that the broom be destroyed. Clever Minna outwits the father, who thinks he has burned the broom and moves away. Minna lives on contentedly with the broom as a companion. 

Vicky Ness told a terrifying story of a house which was so beautifully and immaculately cared for that it began to dominate and rule over the woman who lived there, forcing her into a never-ending cycle of cleaning, trimming, and polishing. Eventually, the chair knocked her down and the enormous sofa cushions buried her in old pens and cookie crumbs. Later, after weeks of silence, dust, and dead flowers, the house was purchased and given a sleek mid-century redo staged by a realtor. Now it’s ready for its next victim.

Sharon Elwell ended the evening with an O. Henry tale about a bum in the 1930s who is trying to get arrested to get a warm bed for the night. After he tries thievery, sexual harassment, and breaking into a jewelry store without result, he resolves to change his life and become an honest working man. At that moment, he is arrested for vagrancy. 

Do Tell Story Swap – September 14, 2021

Sharon Elwell was the first teller this evening, using animal photos to tell the story of an election in the forest where all of the animal voters were “skunked.”

Laurie Reaume told of her obsession with collecting found pennies. When she has 50, she can change them at the bank. When she had only 49, she had to wait and search on her daily walks for that last penny. Finally she found it, but lost it again in the wash water she tossed into the garden – an example of money laundering. As usual, Laurie’s story was loaded with delightful puns.

Mary Turner told a favorite folktale – “The Three Sillies,” in which a potential bridegroom discovers that his intended’s family is silly. He promises to marry her if he can find three people who are even sillier than they are. As he travels, he encounters a peasant trying to get a cow up a ladder to eat the fine grass on the roof. Then he encounters a group of men with tools trying to get the moon out of the pond into which it has fallen. When he explains that it is only a reflection and that the real moon is still in the sky, they tell him that what he sees in the sky is only the hole the moon came out of. The young man decides to return and marry the girl, since her family is no sillier than everyone else. 

Brandon Spars told of his experience as a new teacher taking a group of 9th graders to a remote campsite for a trip. The boys each had different personalities and difficulties, but one was a much bigger problem than the others. He had diabetes and a mechanical insulin drip which was due to run out in a couple of hours and he had forgotten his backup battery. Brandon had to promise a boy whose computer had the right battery that he would get double good grades for the ungraded trip if he let his battery be borrowed. Brandon had to use all of his teacherly diplomacy to get inside the mind of a 9th grader.

Ed Lewis told the familiar story of the pickpocket couple whose child is an even better pickpocket than they are!

Vicky Ness told the tale of a couple relaxing, each in his or her own world, who are brought back into reality and couplehood by the timely intervention of their dog and their cat. 

Katy Mangan told her story, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” about her longing to leave England, where she had been born. Her adventures Canada, Australia, and the United States eventually brought her back to England, where people she encountered tried to guess by her accent where she was from. None suspected she was British. We were interested to learn the addendum that both of her adult daughters have British citizenship.

Genevieve Franklin ended the evening telling about her work as a spiritual care provider for a hospital. Covid prevented the kind of in-person visits she was used to offering. She told of reading the poem, “Invictus” to a man who had just watched the movie about Nelson Mandela. His determination to survive and overcome his situation was strengthened by the encounter, and Genevieve realized that there is always a way to offer hope and compassion, even in these difficult times.