Last Monday’s McClay Story Swap was full of sharing and connections, everyone participated in stories and schmoozing, so much in common, as stories often show us. I put off writing about the Swap, which means Father’s Day has also entered my stream of consciousness . . . my father led me to stories, as Michael has done for his daughter Linda, so I’m going to write about both.
Mike and Linda reported fun, if wet, storytelling at Renaissance Faire, an opportunity that began when Maria Romine Kantor hired me to tell at St. Charles Christmas Traditions. I had connected with them one weekend at the Santa Parade and began by helping with crafts in the Depot. Years after, Maria invited me to audition for Faire when she wanted to move on to her wonderful Swords and Roses productions. Now Flavia organizes the Gateway Storytellers at Faire, and so it continues.
Linda Bennett told of her band teacher asking for a performance of the piece with which she won State . . . at the last minute, with the wrong instrument, and without her music — and she did it despite those obstacles!!
Michael Bennett shared a story of an outdoor concert broken up by a bear, which sauntered in to eat every sausage on the grill. No musicians were harmed in either story . . . but these stories prove it takes courage to play the tuba!
Jennifer Bennett told a story of her grandparents’ courtship . . . he fell for the sweet and courageous single mother when he saw how she was with her child.
Courtship stories are wonderful. It reminded me of a story my neighbor’s now departed mother told at Java G’s, of sending all her girl cousins off on a camping trip so she could have a clear field for attracting the man they all liked — long and happy marriage was the result.
Jeannette Seamon told name stories, long beautiful flower names, and (long Chinese name) first son has fallen in the well. We talked about the difficulty of memorizing long works, and I remembered Jeff Miller’s advice to learn poems from the last stanza backward to the first, to allow for a stronger finish. I vaguely remember a (Japanese?) story of a father mouse wanting to name his child after (marry his child to?) the greatest thing in the world — one of those circular stories like the stonecutter on the mountain that leads back to the beginning . . . I can’t find it now — anyone? (See below for Roger’s answer*)
Jeannette also brought a books of Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, which I had read so long ago and have enjoyed again . . . and will take to the next swap for the Bennetts to enjoy.
My own telling began with unplanned earthiness . . . A comment reminded me of Utah Phillip’s story of cooking for a railroad crew . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zb1qsVqjwg&list=LLQ9fK5KQS4WdeOdVuyPIdXQ&index=6
Mike helpfully explained the difference between deer and moose scat, which led to a discussion of practical jokes one can play with chocolate covered raisins . . . and to Doug Elliot’s Scat song . . . Couldn’t find that on YouTube, but this is even better https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PeJFbC-_KI and another https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_b9MVR6k9o
I also told “The Farmer’s Fun-Loving Daughter” aka “Filling the House” and our friend Tony played the flute for it . . .
Here’s a link to Kathryn Tucker Windham, which popped up while searching, and will serve to elevate the tone of this post and remember a good woman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3CVpuj-Fgk&index=3&list=LLQ9fK5KQS4WdeOdVuyPIdXQ
Father’s Day Musings
He was Daddy when I was little and then Dad . . . and on his stories, “Daddy John” for the bedtime stories and “Uncle John” for the tall tales in dialect. His stories were a gift — and an even bigger gift, he believed in us . . . When I came home from kindergarten and announced I wanted to be a teacher, Dad explained that college was expensive and “Daddy’s a working man” so I’d need good grades for a scholarship . . . and I listened. ❤
Father stories everywhere! Barra’s blog reminded me of my dad’s workbench in the basement. I used to love to visit the shop class at FHN because the smell of sawdust took me back. I just watched Gnomeo & Juliet, with a loving but over-protective father. Great fun, with so many stars in the cast and such cleverness — if I were still teaching Shakespeare, I’d find a way to use it in class, maybe a “catch the allusion” quiz . . . and yes, a much happier ending. ❤
I’ll share two of Dad’s “Uncle John” stories. We kids were allowed to keep a variety of pets, birds, mice, snakes, hamsters, but never a pig . . .
(BTW, dialect is hard to write consistently).
Nuff’s Pet Pig by Uncle John Fussner collected by Mary Garrett
One day little ‘Nuff were out in the woods, jest loafin’ an’ lookin’ and listenin’, not to larn ’bout nature but to hide from Grandma. Well sir, he heard a pig squeal, and lookin’ ’round he spotted a skinny little razorback pig. He slipped up an’ caught that thar squealin’ pig, tucked hit under his arm, an’ scooted home.
Grandpa was out back cleanin’ the barn when ‘Nuff fetched the pig to him. Showin’ Grandpa the pig, he allowed as how he’d like to keep him fer to make a pet. Grandpa took one good look at that thar pig and busted out haw-hawin’ so as to ‘most shake the mountains. Grandma were gatherin’ eggs nearby an’ come runnin’ to see what were so funny.
Grandpa haw-hawed some more and said, “Look at that poor critter — body like a sausage, legs lookin’ like broomsticks, his head is longer’n his body, and his hind end is so poorly made that iffen he’d pick up an apple in that long mouth of his’n, his tail would point straight up.”
Lookin’ at little ‘Nuff he said, “Well, son, iffen that sorry little runt is what you be hankerin’ fer to make a pet out of, seein’ as how his ears hain’t notched nor marked, I recken hit be righful fer to keep him.”
A couple of weeks later Grandpa were out near the edge of the woods when he spotted the pig’s hind end stickin’ out’n a hole. Grandpa give the tail a couple of quick yanks sayin’, “Pig, how long you been rootin’ in that thar hole?’
“Week, week,” answered the pig.
“No wonder you’re so skinny,” laughed Grandpa. “Been rootin’ thar a week an’ hain’t found nothin’ to eat yet?”
Hogs Vs. Swine by Uncle John Fussner collected by Mary Garrett
One day little ‘Nuff’s pet pig took bad sick. Grandpa and Grandma tried fer mor’n a week to make him well, but it done no good. Grandpa be jawin’ with the professor in town one day, tellin’ him ’bout ‘Nuff’s pet pig bein’ under the weather. The professor went back to the farm with Grandpa to have a look see. He worked on that thar pig fer mor’n an hour an’ kept callin’ hit a swine.
He finished up and said to ‘Nuff, “Son, take good care of that swine fer a day or two and he will be fine.”
Nuff turned to Grandpa and saked, “Pa, whyfor does he call my pig a swine?”
Grandpa answered by sayin, “Well son, hit’s this way. Iffin you sit behind a big shiny desk with a lot of book larnin’ in your head, a hog or a pig is swine, but iffin you be feedin’ ’em, wadin’ in the mud, cleanin’ up after ’em, sittin’ up nights when they be ailin’, then they be pigs an’ hogs.
*Roger sent the mystery story . . .
At the Festival I heard Motoko tell (as a Japanese story) about a girl mouse and a boy mouse who wanted to get married. She asked her father’s permission but he said — No, a mouse is small and weak. You must marry the strongest person in the world. And that is the Sun. But the Sun declined, saying the cloud could cover the sun and so was stronger than he. The cloud said the wind could blow the cloud away and so was stronger than he. The wind said the wall could stop the wind and so was stronger. And the wall said a mouse could chew a hole in the wall, so the mouse was strongest. So Father Mouse married his daughter to the boy mouse, which was what she had wanted all along.
Motoko contrives to learn the names of a boy and a girl in the class earlier in the program and then introduces the boy and girl mice with those names. Of course, the kids giggle when she says — they wanted to get married! — At which point Motoko says, No, no — it was the mice who wanted to get married. They just happened to have the same names.