Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Road Home: Storytelling Road Trip

This past week was full of stories, stories, stories, as well as beautiful places and people. We've traveled almost 1000 miles, told stories at a state park, a reunion, a 4-H camp, a mental hospital and half a dozen libraries. the stories ranged from Appalachian tall tales to ghost stories to spoonerisms to world folk tales and even a Jack tale or two, along with songs and ballads.

Here's a few photos of our travels--I don't have a lot as we were flat on the move and didn't do much stopping for photos, sadly.

Our first stop was the mental hospital in Weston, WV. It's a fairly new facility, beautifully kept and the staff are great people. The event was WV Day, a celebration of statehood that was granted on June 20, 1863. I was there to tell Appalachian stories to the patients as part of the day's activities, and we had a ball. They were great listeners, and I came away with an addition to my Walking Catfish tall tale. In this story, I catch a catfish and teach it to live without water, beg for chicken livers, etc. One of the patients said, "You can train them to kitty litter too. That's why they're called catfish." That is so going in my story! (He was joking, of course--pretty nice guy).

In downtown Weston, I saw this Jaguar, a rare sighting in our state, parked below the No Parking sign. I thought it was pretty funny.

We spent the night with my oldest son and his family, and I was thrilled to get a chance to talk to granddaughter Grace who was in Chile, South America on a mission trip. She said it was pretty chilly in Chile, as it is winter down there.

Next day I was at the 4-H camp for storytelling for middle and high school students and a storytelling workshop with them. They were great fun, and participated so well in the workshop. Most of their stories were about the times they were at camp and sneaked out--or tried to sneak out! So funny, especially the one about the girls who were hiding in the woods. They needed to "use the facilities" shall we say, so they went little ways apart and did what they needed to do. The one who was further up the hill decided to crawl back down as it was so dark she was afraid of tripping. As she crawled back to her friend, she suddenly said, "Ewwwww! I just put my hand in a puddle!" Oh dear. That brought down the house.

Following that was Appalachian stories for a senior lunch center, then back to my son's house to go out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. We had such a nice visit with him and grandson Clayton, long overdue.

In beautiful Grant County

Grant County
The next morning we drove home across this gorgeous state. It's really just that; my son lives on the eastern edge, and we live on the western side.

Friday I was on the road again to Paden City for stories, enjoying the trip along the Ohio River and lunch with my good friend Barb. I treated myself to a ride across the river on the ferry. First we had to wait on some river traffic, and I watched the rain coming upriver behind it.

We were up and out early Saturday morning. The electric was off due to bad storms during the night, and as we were getting in the van, we saw we had a flat tire. Larry got the generator and air compressor and pumped it up. The tire stayed inflated so we took off to Clarksburg for a performance at their library for Summer Reading. We had lunch in a little place in town where ladies were taking a basket-weaving class!

We drove on to Blackwater Falls State Park after stopping to pick up a tire plug kit. Larry found a nail in the tire and was able to fix it on the spot. He's well worth his keep, I'm sayin'! That evening I told ghost stories by the campfire for about 50 people, most of them from out-of-state. We were gifted with a beautiful sunset at the program's conclusion. Ahhhhh....

Sunday morning we were up and out and headed to Helvetia, WV, a historic village settled by the Swiss. We'd been there before but had never had the chance to eat in the Hutte Restaurant, where traditional Swiss and German foods are served. Delicious! Storytelling followed in the gardens of the restaurant to an appreciative and attentive audience.

We returned home to repack, catch up on a few things and then left the next morning for Middlebourne for another Summer Reading presentation. I was thrilled to run into a young lady who was once one of my library kids, almost 15 years ago! Middlebourne kids were great as usual; we had a great time with the stories.

We left Middlebourne for the drive to Wheeling for stories in the city park for their library's Summer Reading (fun!), and our good friends and fellow storytellers Tom and Judi came for the program and we went out with them afterwards for a light supper and visit. Then we were off again for the drive from the northern panhandle to central WV and our motel for the night.

The next morning we drove to Philippi, a small university town nestled in the hills of Upshur county. I love this town too; so quiet and picturesque and it has the unique and historic double covered bridge. This was another Summer Reading presentation of Stories for a Better World. One of the activities I've been bringing with me is a map of the world, cut up and taped to blocks. The children take the blocks and work together to put the world back together again. These guys did a great job and had it put together in less than 10 minutes.

We had to leave immediately for Webster Springs and the last of the Summer Reading presentations for this month. It was such a beautiful drive along curvy WV Route 20; high mountains, rocky streams and rivers, old homesteads--like a trip back in time. Another small community library was full to bursting with children and parents and the excitement of the summer program, and I really enjoyed being there for the first time in my storytelling career.

We ate late lunch at a little mom&pop restaurant. I have to say, the meatloaf was not the best I ever had but it was so funny when I asked for ketchup and they said they had NO ketchup! They serve hot dogs, hamburgers and fries! How do they DO that? The salad and coffee were awesome though, and they had mac and cheese so I was a happy girl.

It was a nice little place, and we met a guy there who told us some funny stuff. Larry mentioned the WV Liars Contest (yes, we have one!) and he said there were a lot of people in the area who should enter that. Like about one guy, he said, "If he ever tells you the truth, he'll come around later on and straighten it out." That line's a keeper 😂

And then he told us about a man named Curly Bill Hamrick (Hamrick is a name local to the area, and the Mountaineer statue at the WV State Capitol was modeled on two Webster county Hamrick men, Rimfire and Ellis Hamrick). This Curly Bill, he said, needed to cross the Elk River on horseback and the water was really high. People told him he'd never get across and he replied, "I'll ride this horse across, or I'll ride it to Hell!" Well, our friend said, "He rode it to Hell." Well, funny in a macabre way--this happened about 100 years ago.

And finally the road home...


Today we're changing hats and getting things ready for the big Fairplain Antique and Flea Market over this 4th of July weekend. I hope to see you there!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Quinn said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip in every way! Glad you all had such a good time and met so many people with their own tales to tell...and I hope that long-ago horse survived both the river and his rider!

Brig said...

Wow, you have been a busy lady. Thanks for the trip notes!

hart said...

I love hearing about all your storytelling travels. Hope all goes well with the 4th flea.

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