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Do Tell Story Swap February 2020

Celebrating February with stories of magic, miracle and more, Do Tell Swappers mixed traditional with personal stories to brighten a winter night.

Brandon Spars was MC for the evening. He recently returned from a trip to Morocco with eleven high school students. He told us that he visited a place in Marrakesh called “The Square at the End of the World.” The square marks the end of the city and the beginning of the enormous Sahara Desert. 

Sam Peters was the first teller of the evening. He told about a weredeer. His friend Cynthia said that she had learned to transform herself into a weredeer so that she could be safe outdoors at night. But one night a werebuck appeared in her backyard. She used her magic powers to turn him into a statue. When Sam suggested to her that she get rid of the statue, she said she wanted to keep it forever – it was “the first buck I ever made!”

Anne-Marie Cheney told a true story. Her belief in guardian angels was strengthened one night when she was working to read the heart monitor readouts from patients. Her machine would do 24 hours of heartbeats in 24 minutes. She learned that one of the patients had lost one of the patches, so she disregarded the two anomalies she read in her history. As she walked away, she felt a strong impression to go back and carefully read those flashing anomalies. When she did, she saw that the woman’s heart had stopped beating twice – once for 18 seconds and a second time for 12 seconds. She immediately called her doctor, and the woman was called into the hospital and given a pacemaker that very night. Anne-Marie believes her guardian angel gave her the impression that saved the woman.

Sharon Elwell told a fractured version of Little Red Riding Hood adapted from Jane Yolen’s fractured fairy tales. In this version, the wolf is a good-hearted vegetarian who helps the child find her way home after they share Grandma’s carrot cake. Red Riding Hood turns out to be a member of the Grimm family who makes up a story to explain the vanished carrot cake in the grandmother’s basket.

Katy Mangan told a story about the early days of life on earth that is an introduction to a longer saga. Little Bear was a young man who could not go on the quest all adolescents go through because he was not able to learn the stories of the people of his village. He went alone, and encountered an old woman. When he told her that he had followed his heart, she said he was ready for a quest and shared her knowledge with him. She told him to go to the mountain and warned him not to look back. But after a time he looked back and saw that the old woman watching him. He saw that the sun had turned his footprints into gold.

Jessie Buckley told us that being busy is a blessing and a curse. When she has been called “driven” or “aggressive,” she has interpreted those words as negatives. But she is actually acting “as if,” which she believes is a good way to overcome discouragement.

Mary Turner used finger puppets to tell the tale of five identical Chinese brothers, each with a powerful gift. The first brother caused the death of a child by allowing him to play in the sea bottom while he held the entire ocean in his mouth. When he could hold it in no longer and released the water, the boy drowned. The villagers intended to punish him and took the second identical brother out on a boat and dumped him into the ocean. But that brother could grow to any height, so he was able to keep his head above water. The villagers tried to behead him, but the third brother took his place, and he had an iron neck. They tried to burn him, but the fourth brother took his place and he could not be burned. They decided to smother him, but the fifth brother could hold his breath indefinitely. In the end the villagers decided that no punishment was possible, so they made the Chinese brother promise that he would never again take a child fishing.

Christian Hernandez shared a piece of original prose that he has used in forensic competitions. He tells the story of a Mexican boy who is the first in his family to go to school. He loves his family and wants to please them, but feels that he must reveal to his mother that he is gay. His mother says that she is eager for the day when he will marry, and he realizes the time has come to tell the truth and hope that their relationship survives the strain.

Meg Brown told a folk tale of Golden Hair, who was in love with Pietro, but desired by an evil count. Pietro leaves to make a life for them and promises that he will return. She waits for him and one night hears a call to jump from her window and onto the back of a horse being ridden by a figure in a dark cape. As they ride rapidly away, she gradually comes to realize that the rider is not Pietro, but the ghost of the evil Count, and they are on their way to the gates of Hell. At the last moment, Pietro appears on another horse, cuts through Golden Hair’s braid, releasing hear into his arms, while the Count rides on into Hell.

Evelyn Hardesty wondered why the WWI photos of her grandfather always looked happy. Wasn’t the war in progress? He had turned 18 in 1918 and was eligible for the draft. He thought the best way not to be shot was to join the merchant marine. When he enlisted, the only position open was the ship’s embalmer. Being Irish, he made up the story that he had worked in mortuaries all of his life, and lived through the war out of danger, smiling in all his photos.

Vina Breyfogle told of her brother, who had been hit by a car while bicycling. He needs some time and physical therapy to recover, and since he lives alone, their aunt has agreed to let him spend his recovery time in her home. Since both of them are used to living alone, Vina, who is a trained mediator, is using her mediation skills to help them draw up a written agreement to consider future issues that may arise so that they can adjust to the changes. 

Elaine Stanley finished the evening with a favorite story she has used to win liars’ contests: “One Bullet Left.” The story draws the reader in with a plausible beginning about her desire to live off the land in Virginia – the state where she was born and which she had not revisited during all the years she traveled with her military father. The fact of a girl living alone and learning to grow all her own food and hunt for her own meat is marginally believable, but the events become more and more incredible and ultimately impossible in this hilarious story. 

Join us on March 10th for stories and friendship!

Do Tell Story Swap  January 2020

​The new year was welcomed by a strong showing of tellers and listeners at the January 2020 Swap. Meg Brown was MC and updated the group on the status of the Swap and our highlights of 2019. A look at 2020 is in the works by the Core Committee to report to everyone in the coming months. Then the stories began.

Mary Turner started the evening with a folk tale about the good witch, Baba Yaga and Big John. Left in charge one day while Baba Yaga was away, he got hungry. Big John asked the witch’s magic pot to make him some porridge with the magic words “Little pot, little pot, make some porridge nice and hot.” But when he was full he didn’t know the magic words to stop the pot. By the time Baba Yaga came back to the village, porridge was running in a river down the street. She stopped the porridge, and never left Big John alone again.

Sam Peters told of a lifeguard in Miami who was alerted to a boy struggling in the water. After heroic efforts to save him and bring him back to consciousness with artificial respiration, the lifeguard was not thanked. Instead, the grandmother who had been watching the whole process from the beach said, “He had a sweater.”

Elaine Stanley told a story about a man’s search for truth in “What IS Truth?; a tale of magic, wisdom and mystery. When a man finds an ugly wise woman with a beautiful voice in a cave, he stays to learn her wisdom. But can he tell the truth when she asks if she is beautiful? 

Sharon Elwell told of a typical day teaching 7th grade. There were detentions, disruptions, thefts, and even a fight. But in the end, many kids passed the test on scale factors, and created a poster for the class picture – a breakeven day.

Jessie Buckley told of her experiences giving birth. She was impressed by the woman who helped her through her first labor, with natural, non medical help. Jessie determined that the most important factor was the emotional support provided by the doula. She was inspired to becme a nurse, and now she is also a doula herself. 

Laurie Reaume related an incident she named “Close Call Blues.” Standing in a parking lot, she narrowly avoided being hit by a blue car. Later, she encountered a woman who commented on her blue eyes and in the discussion, the woman told her that she loved blue, and Laurie asked if she drove a blue car. It turned out that she was the driver that had nearly hit Laurie. The close call frightened both of them, and brought them together.

Evelyn Hardesty shared a recent experience where she encountered a favorite writer: Annie Lamott, in person. Lamott’s stories are so intimate and personal that Evelyn felt inclined not to bother her and reveal that she knew the most embarrassing and sometimes heart wrenching details of her life. In the end, she told the writer that she was a reader and had been a fan from the first Lamott book she had read, Hard Laughter. The writer thanked her, and seemed genuinely grateful.
Genevieve Franklin, who works as a court interpreter, advised us to take a resolution to “forsake, forswear, and forget” bad language in our lives. She said that as a young woman she had been known for saying “Shoot!” “Darn!” “Rats!” when things went wrong. But now in court, the language used by a defendant or a plaintiff can make a difference to the jury. She had to learn to use the worst possible words with no sign of emotion – no laughing, no wincing. She knows the power of those words and regrets using a word that should represent love and tenderness as a weapon. She suggested we all go back to “Shoot!” “Darn!” and “Rats!” when an expletive is needed.

Genevieve Franklin, who works as a court interpreter, advised us to take a resolution to “forsake, forswear, and forget” bad language in our lives. She said that as a young woman she had been known for saying “Shoot!” “Darn!” “Rats!” when things went wrong. But now in court, the language used by a defendant or a plaintiff can make a difference to the jury. She had to learn to use the worst possible words with no sign of emotion – no laughing, no wincing. She knows the power of those words and regrets using a word that should represent love and tenderness as a weapon. She suggested we all go back to “Shoot!” “Darn!” and “Rats!” when an expletive is needed.

Dimitri Nicholson told a story of a Russian peasant harvesting turnips when a bear came along and demanded half the harvest. The wily peasant talked the bear into taking the top half. When he realized he had been tricked, the bear warned the peasant to stay out of the forest. The peasant needed wood, so he eventually had to go into the forest. A fox offered to help the peasant deceive the bear so he could get his firewood, in return for which he also demanded half of the turnip harvest. The story teaches that sometimes the top is the enemy of the bottom.

Velvella Weiss told a parable called “The Fool and His Watch.” The fool had an impressive pocket watch, but didn’t know how to read the analog dial. He would ask others the time, then move the hands to tell the correct hour. Then someone wound the watch and said, “When are you going to start doing something with your life, sweetheart? In a watch, as in the world, gears, hammers, and springs work together. Only a fool pushes the hands on his own watch.”

Gerry Runz told a story that shows the importance of music in our lives. When her singing group sang old familiar songs to the residents of a care facility for those who had lost memory, feet would tap, heads would nod in rhythm, and lips would form the words to sing along.

Laurie Reaume closed out the evening with an experience helping a friend who sold at the flea market. Her friend needed a bathroom break and asked Laurie to mind her booth. Laurie speaks no Spanish, but her first customer was Spanish speaking and wanted to know the price of a pair of earrings. Laurie had no idea, but tried to explain that the owner of the booth would be back in two minutes. The woman interpreted what she said to mean that the price of the earrings was two dollars. At last, the real seller came back and told the customer that the price of the earrings actually was two dollars. 

Next Swap is February 11th. Please join us for more stories.

Sam Peters, in Do Tell Swap's new home at Valley
Village, tells his tale.
Mary Turner tells a Russian folk tale.
Katy Mangan entertains with her Shirley Ann Story.
Hal McCown
Double click here to add text.
Elaine Stanley, Swap co-founder, at Valley Village.