Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tale of a Tired Storyteller: Rowlesburg

Yes, I did a little shopping here--added a storytelling "flipflop" doll and a Russian Matreshka to my storytelling props. I am always delighted at what I find in little out-of-the-way shops, and this one was full of surprises. (Thanks, Gloria!)

Hannah, as usual managed to find someone she knew or who knew someone she knew--in this case, it was the latter. The owner of the shop knew Hannah's gym teacher from last year. Here we were, almost 4 hours from home, and Hannah knows people. Go figure.

Downtown Rowlesburg is a quiet, interesting place. We looked for the site of the History in Review celebration that I was booked for, and soon found it--people dressed like the lady below kind of gave us a clue. Everyone we met was friendly, laid-back and helpful.

The town is celebrating its 150th year. The town was part of the Jones-Imboden Raids of the Civil War, and re-enactors were in full dress to stage the Battle of Rowlesburg once again for the crowds that gathered.

The girls had to look in the windows of the old schoolhouse in town. They were surprised to discover a bandstand and chairs--"It's a jamboree!" Hannah said. I htink she may be right--it might be one of those places so prevalent in West Virginia that offer weekend jam sessions for any musicians who want to play; usually country, bluegrass and the occasional old-time musicians show up and everyone has a good time.

Larry liked the interesting brickwork on the building.

It was a bad hair day all day--the wind off the Cheat River behind me was steady and kept it whipped into a, well, a mess, no other word for it. It was cold too! Temps never reached higher than 60, I think. I was warm enough while telling, but needed a jacket otherwise. Rowlesburg is in the deep mountains and further north than where I live, so the temperatures were a good 10 degrees cooler than we had expected. Must be wonderful in the summertime.

We had a good audience of children and adults. The location was a little awkward--a large open grassy space separated me from where most people were sitting. The grass would have been ideal for sitting, but the ground was still wet--and cold--from the rains on Saturday. Kids don't care, though. Several settled on the grass to listen. Afterwards, the organizer told me that some grandstand seating had been ordered for the space but never materialized. While the seating would have been a better set-up, I was close enough to the children to be able to read their reactions---essential to a storyteller--and the adults looked attentive and interested, and laughed at the right times.

I had been asked by the organizer to tell any ghost stories I knew about the town. I found two, both connected with the railroads that played such a large role in the development of the area in the 1800's. (I'll post both stories in a later post.)

I was glad to visit this town. it's been on my list of places to go ever since I read in our family tree that a relative had been a doctor in the town in the 1770's. He apparently had no offspring. Still, it was a family connection to West Virginia and to this place and I wanted to see it. What I found was a little jewel nestled between the mountains, the Cheat River and the railroad that still runs close by.

Haley and Hannah find much to do at the edge of the mighty Cheat.

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