Thursday, June 28, 2007

Old Storytellers

I think I get some of my storytelling ability from my grandfather.

Grandpa has a lot to tell stories about though. He's lived a full, and remarkable life.

He grew up ranching with his family, and joined the Army when he was young. That got him sent to Korea, as part of the motor pool. He brought pictures of palaces supposedly off limits, memories that he doesn't like to think about, and lots of stories he's more than willing to share home.

Grandpa uses colorful phrases and old-time terminology that make his stories come more to life. I suppose I try to do some of the same thing in mine, with less of the old-time terms. Maybe when I'm telling them to my great-neices and -nephews, or my own grandchildren, I'll have that old time flavor, too.

I used to think it was kind of boring, because I didn't know what he meant all the time. As I got older and started to figure it out the stories became more interesting, until now I'll do a lot to get him started, sometimes.

I really do think I learned a lot about storytelling sitting across from that weathered, proud old man, and watching him tell of his life, his travels, and his service to his country. Probably most of what I know, as even my extensive reading hasn't made me change my mind about how a good story is told, when its coming from me at least.

And I used to think the coolest thing about Grandpa was the pool table in his basement....

So, if you haven't lately, go find someone you love, or just like, who has lived a long life, and ask them about it. The interesting parts might just surprise you.

And thanks, Grandpa. For everything.


Anonymous said...

Kiddo every time I turn around you remind me of something I don't say enough. I am so very proud of you! For those of you out there, the Grandpa she is talking about is my father. We came very close to losing him a couple nights ago to a severe allergic reaction. And my girl here dropped everything to go stay with him till the danger has passed. I am proud to say I am the mother of such a caring and intelligent young lady. I love you kiddo.

Anonymous said...

Farmgirl, I think I sorta know what you mean about listening to your Grandpa. I grew up listening to both of my grandfathers... they both grew up in farming communities in the South, held other jobs for a lot of years, and they're both WW2 U.S. Army veterans as were their brothers. Of those four men I just referred to, only one remains alive and he's in his mid-80's. I wish I'd been able to listen to them a lot more than I have. I wish I knew all the questions I should have asked them. Hindsight's always 20/20.

In addition to my grandfathers and great-uncles, there are two men I consider good friends. One is an old Marine who signed up after Pearl Harbor and served in the Pacific as a machinegunner. I met him in the gym a few years ago. We started talking between the workouts and the events of 9-11 and I found out he grew up on a working farm west of Atlanta and taught high school history for 32 years. The second man is an 81 year old Texas ranch transplant to my state of Georgia. I met him in the western store where he works because we both have an affinity for a good felt cowboy hat. While he's been a hat maker since his teenage years, it was just last week that I found out he's a WW2 vet... he trained to fly bombers late in the war and wound up flying transports between Hawaii and San Fransisco.

Between all the men I've just referred to, they helped me to understand much better what it means to be an American. They, along with my parents, helped me see where I'm from and why things are the way they are now. The more of the WW2/Korea generation dies off, the more we need to remember their service as well as who they are/were.

reader of LawDog's blog
poster on THR and

HollyB said...

I learned so much listening to my "CoCo" tell stories. One of the things I learned was how to tell a good story.
When my Daddy retired, I started takin' a tape recorder with me when I'd go visit. I got him to record some of the stories from his childhood. Stories of his parents and grandparents. Now these are safe for my children.
I think it's one of the best ideas I've ever had.

Anonymous said...

Mom told me once that she'd seen some of her family try recording stories like that, but the grandparents and great-aunts/uncles they wanted to tell the stories drew a blank and couldn't think of the stories they'd ordinarily tell. In my opinion, storytelling in the oral tradition is a great thing. The problem is that when we re-tell our grandparents' stories to our children, and they tell those stories of the grandparents to their grandchildren, something gets lost or misunderstood either in the new terminology and/or the interpretation of the old terminology.


farmgirl said...

Aww, shucks, Ma. Love you too.

Mustanger98, you're lucky to get to know so many upstanding men. I hope that you pass the stories on to the younger generation, be it your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or just the neighbor kids. Its important.

HollyB, I've got a tape soewhere of my grandad talking about some of his experiences in Korea. At first he did freeze up and not know what to say, but I remembered certain ones I wanted and asked him to tell about those, and those led to more, etc. I don't have them all on tape, the only reason he agreed was because it was for a school project, but I have some. I'm glad I do.