Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Storytelling Road Trip: Alabama and Home Again

during my trip to Alabama last week, I told stories at two elementary schools. Both were fairly large schools by West Virginia standards, but the second school, Creekside Elementary, was huge--over 1000 students in grades K-5. There were 10 classes of first grade students and those were the ones I told stories to. The kids were into stories! They especially liked Jack and Old Fire Dragaman and Sody Sallyratus, both Appalachian tales with a lot of action and humor.

On the table, left to right, clockwise: my CDs, Larry father's miner's certificate, miner's safety lamp, miner's lunch bucket and cup, miners hardhat with carbide lamp, scrip (in the frame) from the Black Band Coal Company of Olcott, WV, where Larry grew up raccoon puppet, a different miner's cap (cloth, probably from the '30's and small so probably a young boy's hat) with a different, older carbide lamp, a can for carrying carbide, and a miner's belt with his pin and tags attached.
I brought some coal mining artifacts with me to show the children and to lead into a story about my husband's childhood in a coal camp. Of course, Raccoon was with me too--see him sleeping in a curled up ball on the front right of the table? Raccoon is always a big hit. He's a glove puppet that works so well that even though the children know he's a puppet they still interact with him as if he's real, coming up to pet him and talk to him after the show. I have many puppets, but Raccoon is far and away the one I use most and that gets the best reaction from audiences of all ages.
The quilt is a double wedding ring, found at an antique mall several years ago for only $24. I use it only for storytelling displays because it is fairly fragile, probably dating to the 1930's or 40's. I like the symbolism of this quilt pattern--the way stories link together and link us together into one whole. It fits what I do. I often think about the person who might have made this quilt, her hands and the hours of work put into it, only for it to end up at a sale somewhere. Now it's home and cherished again.

Fields of soybeans were being harvested, but this one, not yet harvested, presented a fall collage of colors.

A field of cotton also waited to be harvested. I remember some years ago I grew cotton and made Christmas ornaments with it. I've tried several times since but our growing seasons here are generally too short for it to mature.

Two wrecks along the road home slowed down our trip a little. This one was very odd: it looks as though the trailer collapsed somehow. Thankfully no one seemed to be injured, but what a strange sight.

Another strange sighting: the Goodyear blimp hovering over Nashville, Tennessee. I could not get a very good photo of it as it was heading away from us but it was neat to see it anyway. I last saw it about 15-20 years ago when it passed over our ridge--completely science-fiction looking in that rural location.

Crossing Kentucky, we took a different route to avoid the congested, terribly-planned traffic in Lexington. The alternate route was lovely, passing through dairy farms and rolling hills. I kept taking photos, although most were blurred and not worth keeping. I like this one of the bridge in the mirror, glowing in the sunlight behind us.

The sun set as we were about halfway home, glorious red against the blue sky that just about stopped my breath. I persuaded Larry to stop long enough for me to take this picture.

After that it was too dark for more photos so we traveled on under the full Kentucky moon until we crossed into West Virginia about 10:30 pm. It was an easy, lovely trip, about 8 1/2 hours in all but the time flew by as we talked about the festival, the stories and storytellers, the people we'd met and the beauty flying by our windows.


Susan at Stony River said...

1,000 kids? Wow, my son's whole school only has 40.

It sounds like a great trip -- the drive looks gorgeous! I'm glad it was a good one.

Granny Sue said...

It was a great time, Susan and so much to see on the drive. We passed right by Mammoth Cave, Lincoln's birthplace, the Corvette museum, all the stuff in Nashville...there just wasn't time this time to see it all. Maybe if we go again we'll be able totake a day or two for sightseeing.

Anonymous said...

I'm a sky watcher. I love that bottom photo. Beautiful.

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