Do Tell Story Swap - March 12, 2019
29 cheerful folks gathered, many wearing green this month of St Patrick’s Day, and with hopes for springtime’s arrival soon, to tell and listen to heartwarming stories from folklore, families, fun and fond memories.
Our guest storyteller, Liz Nichols, had us enthralled with her stories about Jewish mothers, weaving her own family experiences with a folk legend. Following her performance, we had Q&A about the parable she told, and recognized that many “mother sayings” to their children seem to be universal, such as “I’m cold; go put on a sweater.”
Evelyn described with great animation the angst she felt as a mother of a determined three-year old girl during a “gotta have Cheetos” meltdown at the airport. Now, decades later, Evelyn wishes she could have replayed that incident.
Laurie shared how she found herself offering spontaneous hugs at the grocery store one rainy gray winter evening. We felt her joy in the restorative effect of hugging she and other shoppers had, plus the surprise awaiting Laurie upon reaching the checkout stand!
Gerry delivered a funny episode about a double mix-up while trying to drive behind her friend’s car, following her to the same destination. They each ended up tailing other look-alike cars, but somehow found each other again after much confusion.
Clare told us of a dream she had, where a surgeon was about to perform an operation on her, but first required her password! Sounds like a nightmare, given the too-many passwords we all seem to need in today’s on-line world.
Rosemary told a folk tale from West Africa about a traveler who asked wherever he went, “Who owns this…flock of sheep, fleet of ships, block of city buildings?” and received the same answer each time: “Minu”. The traveler was in awe of how wealthy a man this Minu seemed to be. When he later came upon a lavish funeral and asked who it was for, the answer again was Minu. He never did learn that “Minu” was the word for “I don’t understand you” uttered by everyone he met, who did not speak his language.
Hal unfolded a happily anticipatory tale from his youth about something his parents promised their household would be the first in the neighborhood to get, in 1950. He excitedly began to guess: a dog? new bicycle? Nope; other neighbors had those things. It was…a huge piece of furniture with speakers, and a tiny 5” green screen…one of the first television sets on the market. Given its small grainy black and white image, and receiving just one local station, Hal figured he’d stick with radio for his beloved action adventure programs, and to which he could use his imagination to picture his heroes.
Cathryn told the 19th-century epic Finnish story, Kalevala, with humor and lovely singing, about a man who wanted to win the hand of the Maid of the North, and whose rival was a blacksmith younger than he.
Meg had us laughing and cringing at the arrival of a new tiny nun as her second-grade teacher, who quickly impressed upon the class, by squeezing an apple into mush with one hand, that she was not to be underestimated!
Katy warmed our hearts about a recent interaction she had with our dear Cal Johnson, a longtime participant at Do Tell Story Swap. At age 90, he is in frail health and has not been able to attend the Swap since December 2017. Cal misses sharing and listening to stories, sends his good wishes to us all, and hopes to feel sturdy enough to return in coming months.
Elaine in her whimsical style recited a rhyming story about The Most Beautiful Flower, a touching reminder to use all of our senses to appreciate life.
Do Tell Story Swap – February 12, 2019
Our evening began with Cathryn Fairlee, from Cotati, who told (and sang!) a wonderful Irish tale about a man with a difficult decision to make, and a good stepmother – how’s that for a switch! She helps him to make it. The moral was a lesson for all of us: if you make decisions out of love rather than fear, you’re more likely to live happily ever after.
Gerry Kunz had us laughing with stories about her irrepressible son, Stefan, when he was a small child. Asked if he knew as an adult that she told stories about him, Gerry said that he would probably kill her if he heard them!
Rosemary Hayes shared a funny story about her cultured aunt from Minneapolis, who wore elegant hats. On impulse, the aunt once bought a hat she thought was ridiculous and wore it because it made people laugh. Seeing another woman in the same hat, she signaled and signed to the other woman, who tried to ignore her. Passing a mirror after she got home, Rosemary’s aunt was surprised to see that she was not wearing her funny hat that day! She wondered ever after what the other woman must have thought of her signals.
Clare Morris got us thinking when she told of 31 elephants who had learned of a beloved human’s death and walked, some of them for 112 miles, to stand outside his house for two days and two nights. She posed the question: “Can animals love? If they do, how would they show it?”
Juanita Brownlee brought drama to the evening by reenacting a poignant scene from the beloved story, Driving Miss Daisy.
Elisheva Hart told of hearing two little girls on the bus explain to an unbelieving group of boys the meaning of the Super Bowl. The girls said they knew it was Joe Montana’s birthday party because there were balloons and plenty of celebrating.
Evelyn Hardesty told how love had made her a shape shifter as she tried to adapt to her first boyfriends and their expectations of her – from the first one, who took her to a Leon Trotsky study group, through the next, who practiced his own form of communism by stealing cars.
She learned, she said, to be herself at last.
Mary Turner told the story of a cow tail switch that was the symbol of leadership in an African tribe. In the legend, a chief is brought back to life and passes the switch on – not to those who magically performed the resuscitation, but to the one who remembered him because, as the chief said, “As long as we are remembered, we are not dead.”
Hal McCown told of taking his young fiancée, a California girl, back to Missouri to meet his family. He had always planned to return there to live. The airplane ride, the snow and ice, and the lack of privacy were all new experiences for the girl. When she caught a cold, the grandmother came to her while she was in bed and slapped stinky bear grease on her chest. When they returned to California, Hal’s fiancée said, “You can go home to Missouri or you can marry me, but you can’t do both.”
Laurie Reaume told of fascinating things about stamp collecting, from S.W.A.K. to putting the stamp upside down on a letter to someone you love.
Sharon Elwell told of her relationship with her sister: first when she was six and the three-year-old sister ate pyracantha berries and nearly died. Sharon was conflicted about what result she hoped for as she prayed for her sister. Many years later, the sisters had been through all kinds of conflict, trouble, aggravations, and irritations, but now she knew that she didn’t want to lose her. Sisters are a blessing.
With three minutes left on the clock, Elaine Stanley produced a beautifully crafted two-minute story about a snowshoe hare and a goshawk that reminds us that death is part of life.
Submittd by Sharon Elwell
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