Monday, November 21, 2011


The storytellers gathered. The audience rustled in their seats. The lights dimmed. The stories began.

There was laughter, there were tears, there was awe and thoughtful silence and hearty applause.

And now it's over for another year.

This year I was invited to participate in two Tellabration events, one just across the river in Ohio and one in southern West Virginia. (Storytellers are usually not paid for Tellabration events--the goal is to raise awareness of storytelling, to attract new listeners and if possible to raise money for local storytelling guilds.) I was happy to be part of this annual "international day of storytelling." The event continues to grow each year as more and more Tellabration sites are added.

Granddaughter Hannah was with me and she captured a few photos:

The end of the Ohio Tellabration as the storytellers gathered onstage to sing "We Wish you a Merry Christmas." We had a Christmas theme for our event because the county flower show was being held in the same space and we were surrounded by beautiful holiday flower arrangements. It was a nice combination.
From left: Athens Ohio storyteller Thomas Burnett, Marge Cornell of Columbus, OH, me, Donna Wilson of Middleport, OH (event organizer), Mike Welsh of Reedsville, OH, and Curtis Spencer (Donna's son) of Pomeroy, OH.

Tom Burnett told a great, traditional Jack tale. He has the perfect voice and outfit for the story!

Well, it was a serious story!

Marge, on the other hand, told a funny story about a family reunion. She started the evening on just the right note.

Curtis Spencer was telling for the first time, and I hope he continues. He did an outstanding job describing a grown man's addiction to Hot Wheels. Who would have guessed it is men and not little boys who crowd the racks when new ones come out?

Donna did double duty as MC and storyteller and did a great job at both. Her energy is enviable!

Mike Welsh is a retired Ohio State Trooper who says he's actually a poet, but bills himself as a storyteller because the word "poet" frightens off a lot of people. He's probably right. I would call him a performance poet. He writes original poetry and recites it in a storytelling form. He told me that he does most of his work for churches. He's a talented, mesmerizing performer. 

After the storytelling, several of us adjourned to the local bed and breakfast, The Downing House (where Mark Twain was once a guest) to celebrate with a glass of wine and Donna's homemade lemon bars--what a treat. Then it was back in the car and home again to see my oldest son and grandson who had arrived for their annual deer-hunting trip.

This morning I made a good country breakfast for our company--oldest son, grandson, and two granddaughters. We enjoyed a slow start to the day, then it was time for me and granddaughter Hannah to set off for Beckley, WV which is about 100 miles from my home. We got there early and had time to browse one of my favorite antique malls. I liked watching 13-year-old Hannah in the store--she certainly has a definite sense of her personal style. She drooled over a vintage chrome and yellow plastic dinette set from the 50's and bought a yellow and white creamer and sugar set with its own matching tray. She wants a black and yellow kitchen, she says, when she has her own place, and would love to have a Murphy bed. 

Then we headed over to the Tamarack Arts Center, West Virginia's premier arts showcase and site of the Tellabration, which is held every year in the facility's theater. 

Tellers today were Jason Burns of Morgantown, WV, me, Fred Powers of Bluefield, WV and Sue Atkinson of Beckley, WV. Jodie French-Burr was our organizer and MC and we didn't get her in the photo, unfortunately. She did a great job, including quotes about storytelling and encouraging the audience to tell stories of their own.

Hannah was fascinated by the large plastic rat Fred Powers uses as a prop for his tales of life in the coal mines. Today he told stories of two brothers who were miners; one fought for the Union and one for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

Fred tells the story of the battle of the Crater from the viewpoint of a miner-turned-soldier. Compelling, as Fred always is.

Sue entertained with tales of a cat funeral and "elder laments" as I call them, of some of the surprises of aging.

Ghost stories are Jason's specialty and he didn't disappoint, with two tales of strange places and events. His ghost tour of the WVU campus a month ago had 100 people in attendance. He knows his ghosts.

I became suddenly blonde in the theater's lighting! I've always wondered how it would feel to be blonde...

The stories ended, and we made our way homeward, filled with stories. Rain and fog made it a slow journey but I had three storytelling CDs to listen to and that made the trip easier. It felt good to finally see the lights of home. Tellabration was over, for another year.


Steve Ferendo said...

Granny Sue,
Here is a link to the farm where we got our Thanksgiving turkey this year. Look through their website and you will no doubt see why I immediately thought of you when we visited.


Granny Sue said...

I'll check it out, Steve :) Thanks. It's nice to know you were thinking of me--even if you were looking at a turkey!

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

We love Tamarack, even if we can't afford to buy anything in there. Jim

Granny Sue said...

I'm with you, Jim. All I can afford is the coffee and the ice cream--both excellent.

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