Hi neighbors. Tomorrow the Vernon County Historical Society will meet in the Bushwhacker Museum for a regularly scheduled quarterly meeting. Starting at 2 p.m., the meeting will include a presentation by Ron McMillian as "Hagaoda," the Native American storyteller. You may have seen him in the Living History tent during Bushwhacker Days.
Since oral story telling has always been the predecessor of the written story, I've asked my Creative Writers group to attend if they can. I hope you join us there. There is no cost to attend.
Story telling is a fascinating and interactive way to share the history of an event, tell a joke, share a family memory or pass on information from one group to another.
Although you don't have to build a campfire and dress like one of the characters in your story, that seems like it would be a lot of fun!
I believe that story telling is an inherent skill we are all born with. As we grow and learn the language better, our stories become better. If you are a parent, you understand this statement and agree with it.
Take the tale of Tommy for instance. When he was 4 years old his mother entered his room to find every toy he owned scattered across the floor. When she pressed Tommy for a reason, he immediately fell into a story teller role. "Well," he said, looking at his mother with his best cute face, "a monkey came in the window and did it! I told him, No! No! No! But he did it more and more and more. Then you came and he went back out the window."
As time went on, Tommy got better and smarter with his recounting of events. Take the time he called his parents at 11:30 p.m., telling them in a frantic voice to get a tow truck and come get him (and his father's new pickup) out of Mr. Carney's pond.
Dad and Mom rush to the rescue. As the truck is being pulled out of the shallow pond (by a very expensive tow truck) Dad and Mom face Tommy and his friends and ask the inevitable question; What in the world were you doing?
The four best friends with Tommy all hang back and let Tommy do the talking. He clears his throat, gathers his wits and recounts the tale as best he can. "It all started out innocently enough. At school today Fred," Tommy turned and pointed at Fred. "Fred said Jake said that Mike had heard that a bear was out on Mr. Carney's pond last night.
"Well, you know how it is. We just thought we'd drive out here and look around. We decided we'd back the truck up, sit in the back and fish a little in the pond. See, it was all innocent!"
"So how did the truck get into the pond?" Dad asked.
"I'm coming to that part." Tommy continued his version of current history in the making. "We were arguing about who got which pole, and if there were any fish in that pond anyway,"
He was interrupted by Fred who said, "No fish, but we hooked a turtle,"
"Yeah," Tommy said. "And while we were getting the turtle off the hook, he latched onto Mike's finger,"
Mike held up is hand to display a big bruise on his right index finger.
Tommy continued. "Anyway, we got the turtle loose and we heard something growling at the front of the truck." He picked up speed and started to rock in motion to the rhythm of his words. "It was a bear!"
He waved his arms, his friends were all chanting behind him, "Yes! A bear! A real bear!"
"Dad, I kid you not, this bear stood up and was 9 feet tall! He was right at the front bumper! He started pushing the truck into the pond!"
Dad caught a glimpse of the front of the truck, "I don't see any claw marks on the truck..."
"Well, he was pushing with his shoulder. We all got back into the cab, I started the truck and threw it in gear and was just going to knock that bear aside and get back home! But, I think I hit reverse by mistake."
The boys all put on their most dejected looks. Dad said, "I'm glad the bear didn't tear you all to shreds; or the turtle either." He couldn't hide his disbelief until the tow truck man pointed out the bear track in the mud.
For years afterward, Tommy retold the story of the bear at Mr. Carney's pond.
Storytelling isn't always just tall tales!