Friday, July 8, 2011

A Professional Storyteller

I spoke earlier of many different storytellers that influenced my early life. I met one when I was in my mid-twenties at the church I attended in Connecticut. I belonged to the women's group and at the monthly meetings, a program was presented.
In the dank 50's church basement with the dim florescent lights that never fill the hall with light, the lady sat through the business meeting. Dressed in high collared blouse under a sweater, wearing slacks,and boots, the white curly haired New England woman spun a familiar tale, Stone Soup. The pictures came from her mouth as her eyes danced from one woman to another. I sat entranced. I never had heard a professional story teller before. The story was new in the performance. Her voice changed with each character and by the end of the tale, my mouth hungered for that soup that seemed so real. I woke as if from a dream, fascinated at this old art form.
She invited the group to her storytellers club night at a restaurant a few exits up the interstate from Norwich, almost to the Massachusetts border. I believe it was a Thursday night once a month. I imagined sitting in an old inn, with a crackling fire in a huge old stone fireplace with dim lights, listening to stories of old told with freshness. Like so many pleasures in life, I only heard her once on that dreary winter night. My husband seemed never interested, or was out to sea. I hesitated at going by myself and never seemed to ask a friend, being the fifth wheel so often. A work night and poor weather in winter were the pretend obstacles from even asking anyone to go.
I was in a strange position, being young, yet married, with husband gone on a sub half the year. We lived away from the base, so most of the other wives resided twenty miles south. My church women friends were twenty to thirty years older than I, some even older. I was shy to ask them or to go to an establishment by myself. In the years ahead, I overcame that, but by then I had forgotten the storyteller night at Stone Soup Inn.
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