This is an update added on Nov. 24, 2009: StoryCorps has started a National Day of Listening, and I think everyone should check it out and participate. Please share your stories on their website. I’m going to, and I’ll tell you about it in a later post. Let me know how it goes! Sincerely, Teresa
How often does today’s generation sit around a campfire listening to stories of our elders?
And what about story telling, simple living, and sailing?
When I’m cooped in my cave-like boat, under a dark winter cover, I daydream about the summery nights at anchor. I envision a few friends or family are there with me. We might share hot tea or chips and salsa or a game of scrabble, but that doesn’t matter. What matters will be the stories that well tell.
I remember the stories my father told me while I was growing up. They were always the same, but never dull.
The Moose Head
The Broom Stick Story
The Choir Boy
…to name a few.
I often try to retell the stories to my friends. I start off strong, a little background information, and then build to the meager culmination of me trailing off and arriving upon the conclusion that, “you just have to come over and hear it for yourself.”
But they only happen at certain times of the year. Always at the same time, in the same context, and the same story. Yet, each time with a new sense of mystery, suspense, and surprise.
Grandpa is the same way. He knows how to spin a merry yarn. And a creative one too! It is from Grandpa that I learned that I come from a line of circus ancestry, that if it weren’t for love at first sight then I wouldn’t exist, and that he was the war hero who saved everybody by single handedly driving out the “bad guys.” “They found out Grandpa was coming and they fled.”
I am sure that my affinity for the water stems from Grandpa’s journey across the West Fork. The boat he was in tipped over and spilled him into the river. He struggled to stay afloat in the turbulent water, swallowing buckets of water and flailing about as he gasped for air. His salvation came when he hollered to a man on the shore for help. “Stand up,” the man replied. And Grandpa did. And the water came just past his ankles.
Perhaps you might dub these stories as Tall Tales, but in some ways they are my true history. But Tall Tale or not, if you are a non-believer in “love at first sight” just by turning your attention for one day to Grandpa and Grandma, you’ll change your mind.
How wonderful it would be if everyone had an oral history as colorful as I do, and how wonderful it would be they could also pass along their stories to the next generation. So much of the best parts of our history are learned through the tradition of story telling.
And so, tonight I’m introducing to you a non-profit that I just discovered called StoryCorps. Please visit their website, listen to the stories, and request their services in your community. And, if they ever go to Michigan, please let me know. It would be a wonderful gift to my family and this generation to hear the stories of my grandparents.
This is a brief description taken directly from StoryCorps’ website:
“Since 2003, over 35,000 everyday people have shared life stories with family and friends in our StoryBooths. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our broadcasts on public radio and the web. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.”