Monday, October 27, 2008

Ghost Stories

Tonight I did something unusual for me (and likely for most tellers): I told stories in two different places within an hour.

First was the library. I promised to tell stories for a scary stories night, but I was also booked at an Elderhostel at the local state park. My husband was a godsend--he set up my display at the state park lodge while I told stories at the library. I told for 30 minutes at the library, drove to the park, and told stories there for an hour or so. It worked like clockwork, but I could not have done it without Larry's help.

What stories did I tell? At the library the audience was mostly children about 7-10 years old. I did the song Skin and Bones, then a jump tale. Jump tales are those stories that end with a loud BOO! or a scream that makes the audience...jump. Then I told a couple of ghost stories from Jackson County: one from Big Run called Sidna's Story that is a staple of mine, and a new one that I posted here about the Headless Dog of Tug Fork. I also told them one of West Virginia's classic ghost stories, The Wizard Clipp.

One boy asked me to tell The Golden Arm. I don't tell that story although I do know it; but I asked him to tell it instead. The librarian had set up a fake campfire and the boy sat by it and told his modern version of this old story so well that everyone jumped at the end. It was marvelous, and makes me want to start a storytelling club at the library.

At the Elderhostel, the audience was senior citizens who were taking craft classes like tole painting and stained glass. None were from West Virginia, so we started with a geography lesson so they could understand the geographic references in the stories (holler, ridge, head of the holler, run, lick). Then it was ballads, ghost stories, Wicked Jack (one of my favorites to tell, but so few opportunities to tell it!), my turpentine tall tales, a bit about coal mining and my display items related to that topic, and then The Headless Woman of Briar Creek, my signature story. Mixed in with the stories was information about ballads, folklore, and background on the stories told.

What a night. After the weekend wedding and all-weekend-long party, tonight looked like it might be a tough one. Instead I came home so pumped up I can't even think about going to bed!


Janet, said...

Sounds like you had fun, Susanna.
I don't know how you remember all those tales.

Mary said...

Thanks for sharing the "teller's high." It's wonderful when everything works just right. Larry is a treasure.

Granny Sue said...

Yes he is, Mary. He evn knows how I like things on the display!

Janet, I think I remember them because i tell them so often. A story that I haven't had out for a while sometimes needs a little dusting off before I tell it, but many just seem to have a life of their own--I open my mouth and out they come. For children's programs I try to be prepared with a wide variety of stories so I can pick and choose depending on who is there, their age, etc. Actually, the same is true for adult programs too! a storyteller needs to be flexible and ready to change gears if needed.

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