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 Do Tell Story Swap- January 8, 2018- Story Summaries

Even though it was a cold wintry night, there were plenty of stories of fantasy, memory and humor. Storytelling is the fire that warms us all.

Brandon Spars told of traveling to Liberia to train teachers. He found Monrovia a city of millions with no electricity or running water. The ubiquitous holes in the road served as a metaphor for dealing with the place: does one charge straight through or dodge around them? Later, traveling in the bush, he saw craters where people had died. Back in the US, his students raised money to build a clinic at the gravesite.

Rosemary Hayes told a Polish folk tale about a rabbi in Krakow who had a dream that repeated itself three times: walk to Prague and you will find gold there under a bridge. Arriving in Prague, he talked with a captain of the guard who had also had a dream that repeated itself three times: walk to Krakow and you will find gold in the house of a rabbi there. The rabbi hurried home and did indeed find gold in a dusty corner of his very own kitchen. 

Laurie Reaume had us all laughing as she recounted her adventures with a workout video Jane Fonda had developed at the age of 74. The video claimed to be low impact, suitable for all ages. Laurie found herself panting, unable to keep up with the warmup, the cool down, or even the heavy breathing in the meditation section. Like a drill sergeant, Fonda asked several times, “Are you breathing?” Laurie answered the video, “Yes, when I’m in the recliner.”

John Lambert shared a trip he took to the Copper Canyon in Mexico. The canyon is actually six canyons more than 5000 feet deep. He stayed in a hotel on the rim and took a helicopter ride over the canyon. A wonderful trip!

Ed Lewis, a visitor from Davis, told us that Christmas Eve, 1969, had changed his life. In a foxhole in Korea he met Sergeant John Jolley, from Providence, Rhode Island. Sgt. Jolley volunteered at an orphanage and invited Ed to come along. The experience made Ed decide on a teaching career. He told of favorite experiences with preschoolers, especially directing a preschool jazz choir at Pierce College that sang along with the Manhattan Transfer in live performances. 

Gerry Runz told a story that she claims is true, although her husband still does not believe it. While she was driving their RV and he was in the bathroom behind her, a high-speed chase going by caused her to swerve wildly to avoid being hit by a fleeing car and then again by the highway patrolman in pursuit. When he came out, he wondered why she had thrown him around. She explained what had happened, but he just shook his head, and said, “Sure, sure.”

Sharon Elwell told of an experience she had as a preschool teacher in Cortez, Colorado, near the Ute Mountain Ute reservation. The preschoolers loved to run, but didn’t like to race to win. They tried to explain to her that it’s better when everyone wins. 

Hal McCown likes to slow down and look at two horses in a pasture he passes often. He was puzzled to learn that one of the horses wore a bell around its neck, and the other didn’t. Seeing the owner one day, he asked the question and the owner explained that one of the horses was blind, and the other wore a bell to help the blind mare find her way. Hal posited that sometimes a helper with a bell appears in each of our lives; at other times, we can wear the bell to help others find their way. 

Katy Mangan told a story of a couple who endured great physical difficulties to see an eclipse. They agreed to walk for two hours in the snow, with no conversation, food or drink. After many adventures, they returned home to find that their gardener had a perfect view of the eclipse from a window in the upper story of their barn. However, the gardener had been so comfortable in his cozy nest by the window that he had fallen asleep and missed the eclipse!

Evelyn Hardesty’s mother had often said to her, “Who do you think you are? The queen of Sheba?” She recalled that she felt like the queen of Sheba, or at least Cinderella with a fairy godmother, when she had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Puerta Vallarta for only the cost of $200 for her share of the plane fare.
The preparations for the unexpected trip did not come together fast enough for her to actually go. But she learned that people like her could live like Cinderella – or maybe even the queen of Sheba.

Elaine Stanley told what she calls her signature story: the adventures of Señor Coyote when he is chased by four vicious dogs. In his pride at having escaped their clutches by diving into a cave, he wants to brag. Since there is no one to whom he can boast, he starts talking to the parts of his body, asking each how they contributed to his great escape. The tail, however, makes a serious mistake when he tries to brag about the part he played!

Submitted by Sharon Elwell

“We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.”
--Jimmy Neil Smith, Director of the International Storytelling Center
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Do Tell Story Swap - December 2018 - Story Summaries

Celebrating the upcoming holidays, a lively group shared experiences and memories bring light to this dark time of the year.

We had special guests to liven the Swap this evening: Ellie and Veronica, members of the Sonoma Academy Speech team. Brandon Spars is the team coach and kindly helped bring Ellie and Veronica to share a tandem presentation where each teller had a part to play off the other. One rule that made it particularly effective is the two never looked at each other. The story told of twins, their experiences and differences, all with an underlying and powerful sadness because of the accident that killed one of the sisters. This type of storytelling is a gift to the listener and we are very thankful to both Ellie and Veronica for sharing this extraordinary experience with us.

Siri started us out introducing us to Santa Lucia and the Swedish traditions that are part of her story. As a girl, Siri was honored to be Santa Lucia and wear lighted candles in a crown on her head as she served coffee and mulled wine to the important citizens of the town. Special buns were also served for this holiday.

Cal told a story that could have been a chapter in “Little House on the Prairie” as he described how his family lived in a small 2 room house and took ritualized serial baths when he was a young boy. Despite the sparseness of environment, the picture Cal painted was one of family closeness and understanding.

Katy’s “Bah humbug” recalled her father’s response to Christmas as she grew up. And this year she and her husband just were “not going to do Christmas”. But the cheer of the season has a way of creeping up on you and Katy’s description pointed out how focusing on the important things and having fun make for the best holidays!

Clare reminded us of the power of birth and this one in particular as imagined by the donkey carrying Mary to Bethlehem. First a ship, then a fountain, then a garden, a rose, and then all of heaven. Finally the donkey knows it is a woman carrying the Child and it is all worth the burden. 

Hal’s tale was a fable of how to follow a path to have it bring you the rewards you need. A widow with seven sons finds only a scary old haunted house to live in. There is a wind, a storm and an earthquake and then a voice “Bring me a light”. Since the boys are brave they take a light into the darkness, finds a Spirit. Because the sons brought light the Spirit could then read his book and move on. Grateful, the family is rewarded with riches.

Nicolene’s cautionary tale was about the challenges of having an electric car, a faulty navigation system and misunderstandings galore. The conclusion: better planning and a new GPS.

Rosemary’s tale of the old giant who captures Dawn Strider, the one who brings the sun, was a wonderful classic that has a universal truth. When a young girl goes to free Dawn Strider and accepts the giant, the light comes back into the world.

And that is the thing about these dark nights – the light always comes back. Join us in 2019, the New Year! Tuesday, Jan. 8th – 7-9pm. 

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Do Tell Story Swap Summary - November 13, 2018

Veterans’ Day provided the theme for several of this month’s stories.

Meg Brown told us about Lt. Thomas McBride, a California boy who in 1945 was a high-level investigator for the military, stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, where thousands of pilots and support crew were trained. McBride used low-level common sense to solve a mystery of missing navigational buoys that had been puzzling officers and crew members alike.

Clare Morris and Sharon Elwell both told about the spontaneous Christmas Eve truce in WWI that was triggered by the old carol, “Silent Night.” The two stories together created a rich and touching insight into the meaning of humanity and war.

Rosemary Hayes told an ancient Japanese folktale, “Homecoming,” about a Samurai warrior who receives a shock upon returning to his family.

Elisheva Hart told about the invasion of Santa Rosa by a militia group from Petaluma, which could have been the last military action of the Civil War. The upcoming attack never took place, since the valiant warriors stopped to rest their horses and have a drink or two at the Washoe House, making the courier who rode ahead to warn the citizenry the first example of fake news.

Cal Johnson told of Jimmy Durante, who reluctantly agreed to appear at the Veterans’ Hospital for a brief 10-minute monologue. Touched by two soldiers, each of whom had lost an arm, sitting together so that they could applaud, Durante continued with his full routine for them.

Elaine Stanley told of soldiers in hand-to-hand combat who became so exhausted they agreed to put down their swords for the night and resume the fight at dawn. During the night, they told each other about their families. In the morning, they found themselves unable to kill someone whose story they knew.

Other wonderful stories were not about military life or warfare:

Hal McCown told of going to visit grandparents who had come of age during the Depression. His mother warned that the food he would experience would not be what he was used to, since the grandparents were in financial difficulty. He was delighted to find that “soaks,” white bread soaked with coffee, and peanut butter on white bread made the best meals he’d ever tasted.

Katy Mangan told a beautiful story of gratitude – about Eduardo, who wove a poncho to keep his friend Ruby warm.

Cal Johnson told us about Agatha. He said, “I didn’t like horses, but I liked her!” He was able to impress his father by managing Agatha without a bridle or halter, even in an unusually difficult situation.

Hal McCown told about Coach Morales, who found a way to give Mitchell Marcus, the learning-disabled manager of his high school basketball team, an opportunity to play. 

John told of a trip down the Zambesi River that left him “feeling like a drowned rat, but glad to be alive!”

It was an evening of great fun and variety! Join us December 11th for more stories you won't want to miss.

Submitted by Sharon Elwell






Sharon provides some humor.
Cal has everyone's attention.
Clare weaving her story.

         Robin gets to the scary part.