Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Storytelling Trip: Day 5

St. Peter's Catholic Church, Harper's Ferry

I realized that I never finished the posts about last week's storytelling trip. We've been so busy with springtime yard and garden work that it seems it was months ago, not just last week, that we returned home.

So, back to last Monday:
While I was telling stories at a private school in Kearneysville, WV, Larry took off to a place he's been wanting to visit: Harper's Ferry. He took my camera along and came back with some good pictures.

The main street in town. Love the old buildings! Can you tell it was raining hard?

The town is built on the cliffs above the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, and the views are spectacular. The houses date back to the mid-to-late 1700's and the stairwells have to be seen to be believed, they are so tiny and narrow. It's obvious that people were either much shorter or stayed bent over most of the time.

Harper's Ferry is fascinating even without the Civil War events that took place there. I wish I had had the time to go with Larry, because it's been a long time since I've been there--and in doing some family research we learned that our great-great-grandfather was once a prisoner of war and held here by the Confederates. I'd like to see where the prison was--next trip, perhaps.

John Brown's fort in Harper's Ferry.

At the school, the students were eager listeners. I believe I was the first storyteller to visit, so this was a new experience for them. Although my focus was Appalachian stories and ballads, we also touched on a few tales from the Mid-East that illustrated some of the character traits the school is based on: respect, responsibility and reason.

I had not realized before my arrival that most of the students were not from West Virginia, and didn't know about the Wizard Clip story. So of course I told it! During the day I realized once again the importance of sharing our state's culture through storytelling. The very act of telling stories is symbolic of mountain life as it once was, when people gathered to share tales in informal settings. Through the medium of story, culture and traditions can be explained in an entertaining and memorable way that children will remember.

We said good-bye reluctantly, and started on the long drive ahead of us--about 4 hours on the interstates to Lewisburg, WV. Rain fell in sheets for most of the journey, and for once I was glad we had not taken the back roads. We arrived at the General Lewis Inn just in time to unpack, clean up and make it to the dining room in time for our 8pm reservation. A quiet dinner of rainbow trout, grilled vegetables and wine was a welcome reward after the wet journey.

Our room was part of a suite, furnished with antiques. The bed was piled high with pillows and we sank into it gratefully. The wake-up call would come too soon.
Our room at the General Lewis Inn.


bluemountainmama said...

i love harper's ferry. we met a friend there a couple of years ago while he was hiking the appalachian trail.... and have been back a couple of times since.

City Mouse said...

Good Gravy!!!!

That town is GORGEOUS!

Rosie said...

I've been remiss in my visits.

This looks like a wonderful trip. Your photos are lovely.

Thanks for the complements about the stories. I'm not sure I'd be very good in front of an audience--even with my extensive theater background. I mean--sure, I've done it before, but I'm much more at home at the front of a classroom than performing. My sister is the actress and is very wonderful at such things. Me--I'm more of a behind the scenes sort of person.

Granny Sue said...

But that's just it, Rosie. I am what I call a front-porch teller. I'm not a performer; I tell stories and sing ballads like folks have done in these mountains for centuries. You connect with people; that's what a storyteller does.

I'm glad you stopped by again. I know how time can be, but come when you can.

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