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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. 

​Do Tell Story Swap Story Summaries January 2022

The new year is here and we enjoyed wonderful stories to kick it off at the Swap. Join us! You will be swept away and what better way to spend a dark winter evening than listening to stories! Here is what you missed.

Evelyn Hardesty redefined courage in the first story of the evening. Influenced by Jack Kerouac’s book, On the Road, as a young woman in the70s, she had hitchhiked, and eventually graduated to riding freight trains. People asked how she found the courage for such adventures. But when she and her husband learned that they were going to be parents, she felt real fear. She failed diaper training in her parenting class, and worried that her baby might not survive. She came to believe that ordinary life requires real courage.

Laurie Reaume told a personal story called “Overdue.” She has loved libraries all her life, and worked in a library from the age of 13, as soon as she could get a work permit. But 24 years and 2200 miles later, in Santa Rosa, she found that the new librarian at the Rincon Valley library was scary and intimidating. The new woman seemed to be watching her closely and frowning at her, even as Laurie tried to do her volunteer job there. Finally, Laurie laughed at something a coworker said, and the new librarian told her that she had indeed been watching her, trying to decide how she knew her. The laugh identified her, and it turned out that the new librarian had also worked in Brookfield Wisconsin when Laurie was a young library patron.

Mary Turner told a tall tale in poetry: “The Ballad of the Frozen Logger,” which got us all thinking of “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” “Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox, Babe,” and other favorites. 

Sharon Elwell told a story of her personal education, including many fallacies she had absorbed as a child.

Vicky Ness pondered the expression, “…must have a hole in his head,” and developed a fantasy in which her character actually had a hole in the back of her head, causing light to come out her mouth whenever she spoke. 

Genevieve Franklin told how as a child, bedridden from multiple surgeries, she had read about the saints and developed a great longing to become a saint. As an adult, she became a law enforcement chaplain, and many of the great experiences of her life taught her how to stand beside people in their times of trouble. 

 Katy Mangan ended the evening with the story of how her character, Shirley Ann, learned that she could talk to trees, understanding their sadness when they are neglected, and their joy when they are cared for. 

Join us February 8th for a rousing evening of stories at the Do Tell Story Swap on Zoom!

​Do Tell Story Swap Story Summaries December 2021

The dark nights of December were brightened with stories of kindness, humor and insight. Here are some highlights of those stories. Remember, you can view video of the December Swap courtesy of SAC via the following link:

Elisheva Hart began the evening with a touching story of her encounter with two men who were begging in the United Nations Center in San Francisco. Though she had no money to offer them, she had granola bars. That was no use to them, because they had no teeth. But when an aggressive beggar threatened her, the two came to her defense. She learned and taught us a lesson about really looking at each other and smiling – even without teeth – and giving what you have to give. Namaste.

Genevieve Franklin shared a tribute to her beloved husband, who was blinded by a failed surgery. Christmas reminded him of that fateful time, and took him into an abyss of sadness. Together, they learned how to care for one another and deal with life’s challenges. She learned from his perceptive, kind character. He said that she was his eyes, and she said that he was her vision. 

Brandon Spars told us about his son, who as a child was conflicted about his half-Indonesian, half-European American parentage. He put his foot out the door of his room and told his father to talk to Mr. Foot, who explained that he didn’t like Mommy’s language or the spices in her cooking. Mr. Foot threatened to go live with Mrs. Possum at the park if his demands for uniformity were not met. As a young adult, he has embraced his biracial heritage, studies Indonesian and loves spicy foods. 

Vicky Ness told of a grandmother who often worried about her grandson, who seemed to her to have few friends, and whose interest in classical music took him outside the realm of social media and video games. But one day she peeked into his bedroom while the music was playing, and saw for herself the enchanted world of fantasy in which he lived. She made a poster for his door, saying, “Tomorrow’s hero.”

Meg Brown told a light-hearted story of a hawk, a buzzard, and a rabbit. The buzzard was grumpy, hungry and waiting for a meal. The hawk suggested he fly and scout for something good to eat, but the buzzard just shook his head and continued to complain. When the hawk saw a delicious-looking rabbit, he dived for it just as the rabbit ducked into a hole beneath the fence post where the buzzard was waiting. The hawk hit the fence post and broke his own neck. The buzzard’s meal came to him after all.

Sharon Elwell told of an emergency room experience where a man who went out of his way to help a homeless woman get to the hospital found the answer to his own problems waiting there for him.
Laurie Reaume told of Clutter’s Last Stand encouraging her to get rid of everything that would “bore, burden, or shock” those who came after. But some things must be kept: she showed a picture of herself getting ready for her first day of preschool, wearing her lucky medallion. The picture created such a powerful memory that she recalled the pitcher pouring milk onto her cornflakes. She decided the picture, the pitcher, and the medallion had to be saved. 

Genevieve Franklin ended the evening with a poem she created thanking all the workers in the Kaiser healthcare system, for those “behind, beside, and in front of us” in our times of need. 

Do Tell Story Swap Story Summaries  November 2021

We had a wonderful evening of exceptional stories! Many honored the memories about veterans and the contributions they have made to our country.

Brandon Spars, the emcee, kicked off the evening with a story explaining why ham is never a part of his family’s holiday meals. It seems his mother served ham, topped with blackened pineapple, with some frequency. Brandon and his brother never liked it, and his best friend, David, was Jewish and couldn’t eat it. In high school, Brandon’s girlfriend was a smoking, death-rocking vegetarian who wouldn’t eat ham, either. Both were served only the pineapple. Brandon developed a lifelong aversion to ham.  

Meg Brown, co-chair of Do Tell, told a delightful story about her British grandfather, a merchant marine in World War II, sailing in the perilous North Atlantic. Seven tons of supplies were required for every fighting man. Most of that weaponry, food, and clothing was carried by the merchant marine. One in six of the merchant marines supplying the war effort was killed. When the ship carrying Meg’s grandfather was torpedoed, it was damaged but not sunk. In lifeboats, the crew waited in vain for rescue. When it was time for afternoon tea, Meg’s grandfather declared, “I must have my tea!” The men returned to the ship, repaired the breach in the hull, and took the ship safely to port in Liverpool. The power of tea time!

Elaine Stanley, one of the founders of the Do Tell swap, told a different kind of war story. Two armies fought to the last man. The two survivors agreed to sheathe their swords and rest until daylight, when they would make the final determination of the victor. Lying on the ground, surrounded by dead bodies and covered with mud and blood, they told each other about their lives. When dawn came and it was time to fight, each walked away. It is impossible to kill a man when you know his story.

Genevieve Franklin shared a Thanksgiving story about her mother, an immigrant in Texas learning to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving feast. She told us, “Cooking is like love. It must be entered into with abandon – or not at all.” Genevieve’s mother learned the names of the ingredients one at a time: “Celery” means apio. “Onion” is cebolla. She would need parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. “Sausage” is salchicha. Over the years her children, friends, and eventually grandchildren tried to duplicate her recipe, but could not. Eventually they learned her secret ingredient. For the salchicha, she had used weenies!

Evelyn Hardesty told of missing the impact of the Loma Prieta earthquake because she was in an aerobics class, jumping around. When she returned to her apartment after class and saw the broken, fallen remains of her household all around her, she wanted to call the landlord to complain about shoddy construction.

Sharon Elwell told a famous Ethiopian folktale about a stepmother who faced a terrifying challenge to win the trust of her stepson.

Ed Lewis recounted the military history of his family: his grandfather in World War I, where there were 16,000,000 deaths and the devastating injuries from mustard gas. His father was a medic in World War II. Ed was sent to Korea during the Vietnam war, which caused 1.3 million deaths, and his son Don was an infantryman in the Iraq war, which resulted in 460,000 deaths.

Deb Downer related an encounter with a man with a long beard. To her, he resembled someone from hippie days, but it turned out that he had been a marine during that period. She taught us, “You don’t really know a person until you know them.”

Katy Mangan ended the evening with a beautiful story about Eduardo and his grandmother, Eleanor, as they entered the Deep Woods to perform a ceremony for their beloved dead. Eduardo was grieving the loss of his dog, Tillie, but was too heartbroken to say her name during the ceremony. Afterward, a wolf led Eduardo and his grandmother safely out of the woods and Eduardo saw Tillie beside him. He recognized that the wolf would be his teacher and protector.