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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 from August 10, 2021

Do Tell story tellers engaged us with stories of travel, appreciation, history and fantasy in August. Here are quick synopsis of what stories were told.

Sher Christian was a guest teller for the evening, and shared four of her joyful, life-affirming poems about summer: “Alphabet Soup,” “Words like Summer Fruit,” “Coyote Nights” and “Moonshine.” We learned that she published her first book of poetry in 2004, made a CD of her poems with her husband’s music in 2007, and is presently working on a new collection. We’ll be waiting, Sher!

Elishiva Hart told a personal story about one of the silver linings from the pandemic. On her first solo visit to Trader Joe’s in some time, she was dismayed to see that none of the clerks were the familiar people she recognized. She learned that the schedules had been rearranged, and that the people she was used to seeing were not Covid victims, just rescheduled. Realizing how much those everyday interactions meant, she began to take every opportunity to tell the clerks how relieved and appreciative she was to see them. One day a clerk put a lovely bouquet in her basket, and they exchanged air hugs. 

Evelyn Hardesty traveled east to visit a daughter in Ohio and an eco-village in Missouri. As she traveled, she became alarmed to see that no one was masked, and the precautions she was used to were being ignored. On her way back to California, she drove like a LeMans driver, anxious to get out of what now seemed dangerous territory. On the last day of the trip, she covered 954 miles in a single day, eager to be back among people who observed the pandemic precautions.

Vicky McNulty delighted us again with her story of Odius Clutch, a man so evil that he puts empty candy wrappers in children’s Halloween bags and deliberately puts on blinking Christmas lights in the hopes of triggering someone’s epileptic seizure. When he accomplishes his most foul and evil deed – stealing the sun – he tells his best friend, his mirror, of his satisfaction. But his nemesis, a generous and open-hearted little girl named Edith, wins out in the end. 

Sharon Elwell told about the smallpox epidemic of 1837, comparing the decisions made by those who mistrusted the vaccine and those who accepted it and survived.

Mary Turner told an African tale of a father who disappeared from his family to hunt a lion. His three grown sons and his wife soon forgot him in the bustle of daily life, but his youngest son wanted to know where his father was. The three older sons use their various skills to find and reconstruct the body of their father, who had indeed been killed by the lion. When it was time to hand down the most precious possession – a cow-tail switch – the father chose the young son to receive the honor, because he was the one who had remembered him.

Genevieve Franklin reminded us that “You never know when something small and simple will evolve into something great and transcendent.” On her first visit to her future husband’s apartment in San Francisco, she observed tiny things: a strawberry on the end of his white cane, and a tiny pot with Mr. Moon’s face carved onto it. She decided that this man was a keeper. When one of her cats knocked Mr. Moon out the window, she felt guided and blessed when she found it, and has it still.

Katy Mangan ended the evening with a story about a recent trip to her cabin at Lake Tahoe. She had been anxious about going alone, worried about bears, fires, and earthquakes. While there, a fire was not far away, and an earthquake took place. Animals around her got her attention: beaver, the builder, coyote, the trickster, and hawk – warning her to be aware and beware. No bears, though, until she offended her dear friend by not inviting her on a visit. Bear is a symbol for introspection, and as Katy pondered what she had done and how to make it up to her friend, she realized that in that difficult process of self-examination, she had encountered Bear, after all. She had faced each of her fears.  


Do Tell Story Swap Story Summaries from July 13, 2021

Sharon Elwell began the evening with a first person account of conversation with a loved one whose mind swings between brilliance and confusion brought on by encroaching dementia.

Ed Lewis told of a trip to Africa where a hike through the jungle brought him into contact with a baby elephant. He photographed the creature until he saw that his viewfinder showed only grey. Looking up, he found the mother elephant pawing he ground and getting ready to charge him. He ran, but she gained on him, so he tried to climb a baobab tree to get high enough to get beyond her reach. Frantically going up, he felt her trunk pulling his leg – as he pulled ours with this story.

Vicky McNulty shared another of her magical stories of a woman who turned into a fish as she grew older. Full of light, colors, and vivid scenes, her stories are always entrancing.

Pat Krenke told of her first day of kindergarten as a child. She was so happy in that setting that she determined to be a kindergarten teacher when she grew up, and she did. She told stories of favorite memories of time spent with little people. 
Genevieve Franklin told of her dog Chipper, a worker in Paws for Healing – a certified therapy dog going into the hospital to comfort people in difficult times. She wrote that “Love speaks in silence. Hope rises in stillness, and understanding comes from your being.” Chipper taught her that she could offer spiritual comfort even during the Covid pandemic, when she was confined to the telephone as her only means of offering help to sufferers. 

Elaine Stanley ended the evening with a story of a married couple of champion pickpockets. They decided to have a baby who, with their combined genetic background, would become the foundation of their pick pocketing dynasty. When the baby girl was born with a clenched fist, they took her to doctors, who could find nothing wrong with her. At length, a specialist swung a gold watch in front of her, and even though she was only six days old, the baby’s eyes focused and followed the watch as it went back and forth. When she reached out to grab the watch, the midwife’s ring fell from her clenched fist. 

Do Tell Story Swap Story Summaries from June 8, 2021

The evening began with a personal story by Evelyn Hardesty. She told of her car breaking down on the way to Eureka, where she was surrounded by redwoods and not much else. Worse – there was no cell service. She wasn’t worried because she had AAA insurance. A woman from a nearby farmhouse told her that she would take her AAA card to town and call for a tow truck for her. She left the gate and house open for Evelyn in case she needed to use the bathroom. Hours later, the man’s father came back with her card in hand, telling her that AAA would not accept a call for help from anyone except the card holder. When a tow truck eventually came, he couldn’t use the flatbed he had brought to block the highway. Evelyn’s takeaway from the experience was that reliance upon organizations is not always the answer. Like Blanche DuBois, she relied upon the kindness of strangers.

Vicky McNulty told the story she has invented of Adeline and the Big Ugly Thing. A big ugly slimy thing was scratching and scratching at Adeline’s door. Vicky used her inimitable facial expressions and sound effects to illustrate Adeline’s reactions. Through a variety of experiences, Adeline got help from the big ugly thing and was happy to call it her friend.

Sharon Elwell told an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s old tale, “The Cat Who Walks by Himself.” The story tells how the cat became a valuable member of the primeval household by entertaining the baby, but still liked to leave the house at night to walk by himself. 

Alicia Mary Retes joined the group to tell a story of her indigenous ancestors. She explained that they were named “Yaqui” when they greeted newcomers with that word, which means, “Do you speak?” They called themselves the “Yoemi,” which means the people who follow their ancestors. The legend she shared told of brothers – one was innocent and trusting, and one was charming, but self-serving and devious. Through a series of events, they ended up performing in bearskins, first as dancing bears and then as fighters. Each got his just desserts.

Elaine Stanley recited the poem by Eugene Field, “Little Boy Blue,” a sweet old-fashioned story of a forgotten toy that was steadfast and faithful.

Katy Mangan ended the evening with a story in her delightful series about Eduardo. In this story, the 11-year-old boy spends Midsummer’s Eve with his grandmother, Eleanor, and her friend Stella. Hiking through the woods gathering flowers for their crowns for the festival, Eduardo lags behind and has a frightening encounter with a green-eyed black panther. The next day, at the Midsummer’s Day festival, he sees the panther again, who promises him that she, like his grandmother, is one of his teachers who will be back in years to come. 

Brandon Spars, our emcee, announced the San Francisco Free Folk Festival this Saturday, with the storytelling portion starting at 12:00. Lots to look forward to!






















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