Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Storytelling Day

It started early. The alarm went off at 6:00 am, time to hit the floor and get ready. Shower, breakfast, animals taken care of, emails sent, lights off and a few more things loaded in the car. We were out the door by 7:30 and on the road to West Virginia's Northern Panhandle.

The quickest route is around the ridge and down Trace Fork, nine miles of beautiful twisty road until we reached the 2-lane highway that took us to the interstate. Now I know that it takes 2 1/2 hours to get to Moundsville; I've driven it many times. It's a little less if we go out by Trace Fork so I knew we had plenty of time to get to the library and set up by the 11 am showtime. Just to be sure I checked the GPS. And she said it would take 3 hours! I tried to recall--was that really true? Surely not; it takes 3 hours to get to Wheeling, another 30 miles up the road from Moundsville. Still, I was nervous. Maybe I didn't remember correctly? I did remember one time when I was hurrying to get to Moundsville and got pulled over for speeding! (A warning only, thank goodness.) Was I mistaken about the time?

Then the heavens opened and rain poured like an open hydrant. For miles. We slowed to 40 mph and I worried some more. The rain stopped, traffic picked up. It seemed to be taking forever. But we reached one of my mileposts (Sistersville) in only 5 minutes more than the usual time. Was the GPS wrong? Could that be? I turned her off and trusted my memory. Sure enough, we pulled into the library's parking lot only 10 minutes behind schedule at 10:10 am, with plenty of time to unload, set up for the program, visit with the library staff, prepare the craft and greet the audience. We started at 11 am, right on time. Yep--the GPS can be totally wrong.

We had a blast at that program. I say we because there is so much audience participation in my programs that it feels like we create the stories and the fun together. I also say we because Larry is usually with me, usually driving, unloading, helping me set up, taking pictures and just generally being indispensable. I remember the days of doing the programs without his help and am so appreciative of all he does to smooth my path. It's a team effort.

Today's programs included a craft activity--making a blue dragon. I had all the parts cut out. The librarians put all the parts into the main puppet body (a blue paper bag) so it was easy to hand out the craft and give instructions. Two small daycare groups took the craft back to their centers to complete. My blog friend Jessica was there too! One day I will not have to rush off and we can really visit.

About 35-40 blue dragons later, Larry and I packed up and headed to the next library about 20 minutes up the road. We set up again, got the craft ready and were ready to greet the audience by the 1:00pm showtime. This group also included a daycare group and I was impressed by the expert childcare management skills of the leaders of the groups at both libraries. One of the librarians from Moundsville came over too and helped with the craft activity. This was a smaller library, and the meeting room was packed. A sign of good publicity and public faith in the library's activities!

Stories today ranged from Africa to Tibet to Mexico to the United States to China, with a welcome song in Arabic and a closing song from Africa (both from Ella Jenkins' recordings). We also sang the days of the week in Spanish and learned Spanish words in La Hormiguita. Chants, movement, puppets, and more songs rounded out the action-packed 40-minute story sessions. We used rhythm instruments with the closing song, talked about rainsticks and matryoshka and daruma dolls and just had a great time.

As we drove home through Moundsville, I remembered that our friend and fellow storyteller Tom Tarowsky worked at the Cockayne house, a historic restoration project that includes an Indian mound in the back yard of the house that had been in the same family for 150 years. We stopped in on the chance that Tom was there; he was and we had an unofficial tour of the home. Never have I felt so strongly the presence of a person no longer living. It seemed that the home was infused with Sam Cockayne's presence. Should you ever be in Moundsville, WV, do stop by this fascinating piece of history. The Grave Creek Mound and the old West Virginia State Penitentiary tours are the main tourist attractions but the immediacy of history really comes alive in Sam Cockayne's home. Perhaps it was Tom's depth of knowledge that made it so?

We had two more stops to make: the Goodwill in Moundsville is one of the best :) I found a lovely kerosene lamp for $1.99, two small handcarved wood faces for $.49 each, white linen placemats for $.49, a black tin tray for $.49, and a few other neat things. As we drove south, we passed many barges on the Ohio River, heading north with their loads of coal, and this train with its many empty cars, probably getting ready to load that coal and head off to power plants somewhere.

Next stop: the Wells Inn in Sistersville for dinner.

We arrived too early for the prime rib dinner, a real deal at $12.95. We ordered from the lunch menu and Larry's Mad Cow Angus burger would have to be seen to be believed. I opted for Cottage Pie. The food and coffee was excellent, and the waitress was just superb. It did my heart good to see so many people in and out of the Inn. A Red Hat Society group was there for dinner as were quite a few other people, and gas drilling men who stay at the Inn were in and out. It was a bustling place. If you've read my blog for a while you know I love this old Inn and its history, and was ecstatic when it re-opened in the past year. I hope it continues to thrive.

As we cruised down the interstate toward home, the gas warning light came on. We'd been having so much fun we hadn't even noticed we were low on gas. We pulled off at Rockport, and since this happens to be Thursday it also happens to be auction day, so of course we stopped in at Blosser's Auction after getting gas. The place was packed. Good sofas and chairs were selling in the $20-$50 dollar range while we were there. We didn't see anything we wanted to stick around for so we left and continued homeward. As we pulled into home, the rain caught up again, but not before we unloaded.

Now it's quiet, the rain is gone, the car is resting and we're recuperating from a very full, fun day. Tomorrow is the West Virginia Folk Festival. I'll be in the Singing Tent at 3:30pm. I hope I see you there!


momalizzie said...

I thought you were retiring! You do so much in one day! I like the way you involved the children in your stories! Their minds are like sponges and they absorb so much from stories and songs. Good job, Granny Sue! Have a great time at the Folk Festival, can't wait to see the pictures.

Granny Sue said...

I'll retire from storytelling when they can't get me on stage any more:)
I love it. The kids were so energizing yesterday, and so into the stories. The adults had a good time too, including this one, Liz!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully full day you had!! Can't wait to see the program you put on at GPL next month.

Nance said...

oh, shoot-a-mile and gall dang it; I'm too far away to be/see the program(s) you put on. So keep on writing and posting . . . . : )

A Vintage Green said...

You told us all a wonderful story, suspense, humour, themed interest, delicious meals, travel dialogue, brief glimpses into local history ...

Really great. Thank you so much. I love your blog.

- Joy

Granny Sue said...

Wouldn't be awesome to have all my blog readers get together and let me do a program for all of you? Not possible, I know, so this blog will have to do :) Thank you all for your comments, and for being here. It is such a pleasure to share these days with you.

Country Whispers said...

Sounds like you have a very FULL day. You do such a wonderful job with storytelling. The kids all enjoyed it as well as us adults.
You know, I still haven't taken the tour of the Cockayne house. It's right in our backyard yet I've never gone.
I can remember the man that lived there. You would see him walking everywhere ~no car.
He seemed to live a simple full life.

Granny Sue said...

Tom would be interested in hearing your memories of Sam, Jessica. You really should stop when you have time--it's well worth seeing.

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