My mom was a great storyteller. Her mind was sharp and she gathered the stories like badges and would show them whether you wanted her to or not. Ask my brother, Dan. Katie, when she was little, would crawl up into my mother's lap asking, "Tell me a story about the Depression." Now Katie had heard so many, but she wanted to hear about a little girl in the Depression. I loved listening to them, too.
She regaled us with stories of ice skating with skates too big and having blisters, babysitting at age 11 for a quarter after school, dating boys with the mother driving to her freshman dance, Uncle Eddie thinking it had rained during the night because Uncle Bill was too tired to trot downstairs to use the bathroom, how they tried so hard to hide the dog, Trixie, at night, but Grandma always knew and would call her downstairs. I felt I was in those stories. As I walk Buhl Park, I still hear her stories of swimming all day in the lake or ice skating there. She made it sound so happy and I'm sure in some respects it was.
That is the art of storytelling, to get a mood across. Yes, it is information and morals, but mood says so much more. I knew some of my mother's pain, because other times she told me of the bad times. Her parents were drinkers. She got beat a lot, of course that was the method of discipline, then, but with a strap? They made her sit at a table for hours till she finished her meal. We were never made to finish a meal and our meals were happy times. In her day, children were seen and not heard.
Her mother left the family when my mom was 16. As Grandma was leaving she told a neighbor, "I just can't take it anymore." My mother helped raise her two younger siblings in 1936.
Because of my mother's stories I was given a window into the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's. I can imagine raising 3 kids under 3 years old when mothers ironed little ruffly dresses and having a cranky uncle in law living with you and telling you need to can these vegetables fresh from the garden, Jean, the household chores can wait, vegetables can't! History came alive because of my mother's storytelling and her imagination.
I love those stories and I love to tell them. I could make a whole blog of just my mom's stories!
She is probably the first and most important influence on my imagination and storytelling.