Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stay Together

by Anne, Evelyn, Earnest, Henry, Patricia, Evonne, Lois, [Alice]

Good!  [Storyteller points and laughs.]  Two kids talking to each other.  They are playpens.  

[What is happening?]

It just went through the air.  Maybe there’s no glass in the two windows.  

[Who are these girls?]

On the left is Linda, on the right is Betty.  We’re putting them together [two storytellers set their pictures side-by-side].  

[What happens next?]

Heavy rain.  They are surprised, they weren’t expecting it.  

These aren’t your children; they are truly Japanese.  I might have a little Japanese running around if my son went to Japan and they set him up with some girls.  

[Are they concerned about the heavy rain?]

The way the water is approaching, coming into a shower all dressed.  Maybe they are looking to go in.  It’s been a long time since I had anything to do with when I was young.  I used to have some from school, I might have some from home, I don’t know for sure.  

[Tell me more about the water.]

The water is approaching very fast in Japan.  I couln’t tell you how fast.  Tsunami from the ocean.  I just read about it.  I didn’t really see it.  But I was pretty close to where the water was running.  I was working there.  

[What will Betty and Linda do about the Tsunami?  Do they have a plan?]

Betty and Linda should get together and make a group, that way they couldn’t split.  Stay together.  From the edge of the water, where the water splashes, the kids keep running around, and they don’t do no damage.  

I’m just going to put this in a photo album.  I’m not a big picture collector.  

Either am I [another storyteller agrees].  

[What happens next?]

Stay in a circle, close to each other.  

I have a friend, which reminds me, I am ashamed of myself.  She is Japanese.  She moved to New Orleans, and we became good friends.  We lost track of each other.  I’m going to call her.  She said her father hit her with a belt and insinuated that she had sexual relations with him.  What kind of father would do that?  She’ll be surprised when I decide to call her.  That’s not typical Japanese.  

[Are Betty and Linda safe now?]

Betty and Linda will hold hands in the water.  In a tidal wave it will be alright.  

[Another storyteller objects...] The last time I saw it, they wouldn’t allow holding hands.  They had to get this deep [the storyteller holds his hand up to chest] in water.  

[How will they stay together if they aren't allowed to hold hands?]

They put them in a room together by themselves.  That’s why they are in this room, I imagine.  I hope they get out, go up on the top, on a group in their age.  

[How does the story end?]

Tragedy.  The End.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lost and Found

by Evelyn, Earnest, Anne, Ellen, Barbara, Gretchen, [Alice]

*[I was unable to post a photo today because one of the storytellers thought it was her grandson and would have been very upset if I took it away from her.  The photo prompt for the story is a baby making a funny tough-guy face and holding up his little fists.]

Someone took my toothbrush, and my house is flooded.  I've got to go get a lawyer. [This storyteller leaves the workshop.]

A boxer, ready to fight.  

That’s precious.  

Great grandchildren.  In the teens they get married.  All their parents work.  Grandma, would you babysit?  Whatever.  I might move out of town.  But that's why you have grandkids!

There’s nothing wrong with him.  [Storyteller holds up two fists and smiles.]  

[What should we call him?]

We’ll call him Charlie, and when he grows up he can change it if he likes.  Sense is making.  

[What do babies do?]

He’ll suck his fist.  Suck his thumb and crawl.  Play around under the bed.  

He’s playing hide and seek.  His mama is looking for him.  Where did she put him last?  

She looks in the closet.  She looks back where Charlie was born, in the nursing home or the hospital.  She’s looking the other way.   She goes to the water to make sure he doesn’t drown.  Keep children on a chain, almost, near the water.  Be careful with the little ones.  You’re right.

[Another storyteller decides to leave the workshop, to help the first storyteller who left to find a lawyer.] 

Check with the workers.  That’s where Charlie would be.

My little grandson is crying.  [The storyteller, who believes the baby in the picture is her grandson, says she wants to take the picture and go cry by herself, because her grandson misses her.  The other storytellers object, saying “That’s not yours!”  I tell them to let her take it.  Everyone settles down again.]

Mama should send out a message, but she doesn’t want to upset all those people outside picking cotton.

You can’t send out a message in the newspaper?  Isn’t that what you should want?  Senior citizens should have access to things.  Her telephone doesn’t work, but she’s an intelligent woman.  She can solve problems that involve babies and communities. 

I’ve been here for 27 years.  I don’t believe that this kind of thing could happen.  You could be picking cotton, and it’s way up there, and somebody needs help and doesn’t have it.  My telephone always works.  When they are off someplace else they [does a motion as if someone were chopping his head off].   There’s only one way out of here.

[Where else does Mama look?]

Mama looks under the bed. 

[The two storytellers who went to find a lawyer come back and join the group.  They explain what happened while they were away.] 

I have hired a lawyer because no one cleaned up the mess in my house.  The lawyers will get with the Federal Government and make them build a new place.  The Environmental Protection Agency might get involved.

[Storyteller whispers in my ear.]  I would like to keep this confidential, but I want to let you know that someone has stolen your baby picture.  You never know what is in her mind.

[I'm just letting her keep the picture.  Does Mama find baby Charlie?]

She should keep looking, start at the beginning, find a connection, a friend. A friend to help her is the main thing, get her another phone is all I can say. 

[So, her friend got her a new telephone?]


[How does the story end?  Does someone find Charlie?]

They do find him.  The mother is happy and loves him and feels a part of his life.  Baby Charlie is happy too, as long as he is familiar with people and spends time with people and slowly gets used to them.

How to Prepare for a Tornado

by Ann, Mable, Barbara, Yvonne, Maxine, Margaret, Henry, [Alice]

The one with the glasses is Mary Lou and the one with the red shirt is Mary Jane.  A mother and her granddaughter, what else?  Two old people.  Granddaughters.  Real old.  We should say “elderly” instead of “old”.  We don’t feel old, do we?  Isn’t that the way you feel?  Or do you feel like everyone has passed you by?  They are the same age as me, but how old am I?  I never pay attention to this.  Maybe 73. 

I don’t want to be a salesperson.  [I'm not a salesperson.] You are selling.  Sell it to the people out there.  

[What's the weather like, there, where the two ladies are?]  It’s snowing in there where Mary Lou and Mary Jane are.  The weather out here is hot, but in there, it’s snow. 

The two ladies are friends who just met in the place that they are living.  Whatever they are doing has something to do with their home life.  On the inside, they are doing very well.  No one taking away their privileges, privileges for people who own property there, privileges that outsiders are not accustomed to.  

We didn’t have to sign anything.  I don’t know if the others did or not.  Anyway, everything has to be written and signed for these days. 

They are listening to the radio to see what the forecast is.  It’s going to be bad weather.  Lots of wind.  Lots of rain.  

[What happens next?] 

You better get someplace that you are safe.  They are looking for someplace that they were before, when the bad weather came that day, you’ve got to look out ahead of time when weather... bad is.  They might be discussing a plan, what to do. 

[What do you think about Mary Lou's and Mary Jane's clothing?]

I know someone who sells Alaska shirts.  Is that what you are selling?  

[I'm not selling anything.]

I look kind of wild.  I was almost late.  It wasn’t your fault, it was Grandma’s thought.  Don’t want to miss you.  I darn near did it.  What happened to me?  I went nuts, I guess.  I was too close to myself to get you.  That’s what happened.  I forgot about that mess.  Is that you?  Did you let your hair get white?  I don’t know where I went.  That’s why I look so bad, I guess, because I didn’t come back again. 

[Will they still be sitting there when the bad weather comes?]

The safe place will come and find them.  They’ve been there.  They know where their safety is.  It’s fairly new, and that’s the way they built it.  But one thing is, if you have a car and they are having a tornado, get into the car and put the seatbelt on.  Hide in something, somewhere with your dad.  My father has a cave on his property in east Tennessee.  Go there. 

[Do these ladies have a car?]

The two ladies are discussing the coming of a tornado, how to best handle it before it gets there, in other words, try it.  Hope for the best.  

We didn’t announce it.  We’re sorry aren’t we?  Dad says we need to get out of here in a hurry.  When dad says so, that’s it.  My dad-father took them off.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Tornados can switch the course very rapidly.  

Cars are the safest.  Have the windows closed.  Cars kind of bounce around, you know. 

There’s pink in it, up north.  Did they buy that house?  Maybe the tornado won’t come.  Instead, the tornado goes to Fair Haven, five miles away, to destroy the house there.  

[What does it look like when a tornado destroys a house?]

The wind picked up the old shingles.  Breaks the windows, a lot of glass.  Debris of all kinds.

What’s flying around!

Tree branches, paraphernalia in homes tossed around, everything is all out in the open, that’s all.  You have to make a list, or you forget what you have, unless you see it again. 

[How should the story end?]

With God’s help, Mary Lou and Mary Jane will find their treasures.

[What will they find?]

Photos, important letters that they treasured over the years, and artifacts.  It turns out that they lost old, old photos and bills and jewelry forever.  

[Did they find anything?]

They found a big piece of nothing.

Glasses, clothing that was wet and restored, and a young boy named Teddy who lives in the neighborhood, because they were strong enough to look.  

[What do Mary Lou and Mary Jane do?  What happens to Teddy?]

They found Teddy’s home was damaged.  Teddy’s parents were very jovial when they saw him.  They grabbed him, hugged him, and took him back into the house - what was left of the house. 

They stayed up most of the night and day everywhere.  It took two years to rebuild it.  You can’t ever get out of it without a scratch.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Surviving and Worthy

By Mabel, Gretchen, June, Senior G, Margaret, Ellen, Alice

He looks like a homeless man to me because he is deep in thought with no clothes on, not talking to anybody because he is on his own.  Hopefully he will come up with a solution to his dilemma.  He has no money and no clothes.  Help!  That man’s shirt is coming off!  

Where he is, it’s not a happy place because he is alone.  Always money, money, money, but they probably don’t eat.  It is not a good situation.  I cook to please my palette.  When they cook, they cook to get rid of us.  He feels inside just like me.

He is young.  The outfit he is wearing, is it his own make-up or something else?  The pinhole in his nose, I don’t know what it is doing there.  In poverty and needs help.  That and thirty-five cents.  Does he look happy?  He’s a cute guy.

This isn’t Gretchen for God’s sake.  He’s in prison.  He has a lot of books, and he’s been studying about what he has to do with.  Maybe his prayer life.  He is trying to study something.  Pondering his situation.  He thinks, what am I doing in this place?  That’s what I ask myself here.  It seems like it’s a crazy house sometimes.  What the hell am I doing?  How do I get out of this?  

It’s been raining.  Do you hear it coming down the chimney?

Earrings and things through his nose are not the things to be wearing to do a job.  What would he be doing?  He is a very bright man.  His plan is to take the earring out of his nose and put some clothes on.  Something other than his naked shirt.  Stop miserating with himself.  His hands are clasped together and he will use them to fill out an application to clean up his life.  Clean up his act, all by himself.  He will use his books for reference if he needs them, to find some treasures.  The treasures are find a job and be more positive.   

Smile.  Don’t look so despondent.  Look hopeful.  

His family is far away and that’s why they don’t visit him.  

He might be able to do something to help someone else.  Help himself first so he can help others.  You’ve got to learn first, before you can help someone else.  Learn to walk.

When we were young, my parents took us to pick cotton.  I just couldn’t tell you what else I could do.  It is what it is. 

There’s always hope.  You have to want it and work for it.  He’s trying.  There’s a lot of things you wouldn’t expect.  Even a picture on a wall in the background, he doesn’t need all the surroundings to have a life.  Some people might think that you have to have decorations, but who do you want to remember and think about?  This is important.  His surroundings help him be what he is, a person that is trying to move on with his life.  He’s having a hard time.  

We need to help him think positive.

We’re so proud of you, son.  You are a man.  Encouragement.  Love and hope.  Financial help if he decides what he wants to do in his young life.  If he had a wife, she would be there encouraging him.  He doesn’t have a ring on his finger; he has some jewelry on his ear.  Later, there will be more people to help him, if he has the courage to work and go.  Some kind of gentleman.  Just keep on going.  It’s okay.  It will be okay.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life of a Teacher

By Ellen, Evelyn, Anne, Louise, Gretchen, Patricia, Margaret, Barbara, Alice

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.  Right.  Plus the adult.  Eight in a circle, learning to color, laughing and smiling and things like that, which is good to see.  It’s a lot of children laughing, but the adult doesn’t look too laughy.  I guess with seven children, it would be a little hard to do.  

Trying to keep control is a major problem.  Every adult, sitting a little bit higher than the others, should have a plan to keep them interested. If I was a child again, I would go [the storyteller makes a sound like screeching tires].  Oh, I think I would go there.  

Act like a child.  Tell stories.  Have dessert or a snack - anything sweet - cupcakes, cookies, candy.  You can’t tell a kid what they are eating, each one eats something different.  The grown up says, “We don’t have all those things, but put your hand up if you want a cookie.  If you don’t, then I’ll eat it."  

The boy with the yellow shirt doesn't raise his hand.  He's scared that some of what the other children will do to him.  He turns around and smiles, and that gets him a cookie.  

If I had to keep seven children interested, I would leave home.  

Play a game that they like, that they can participate in.  Patty-cake.  Figure it out.  Run around in the yard.   Grass is something different than the concrete that they are used to.  It is green and it gives depending on their weight.  Soft and light.  

Why can’t you pull the roster?  The other people do.  It makes a big difference.  People know.  That’s where you ought to check.  Hide and seek.  

Act like a child - get to arguing with them.  As a school teacher, you have to do it sometimes.  The adult can laugh, too.  

Make a new story: I just run through the grocery store, grab it all, pay for it, and get home to the children.  

School is kids being gone, and all of a sudden they come pouring in.  You can’t always tell how the hell they got there.  

Check them and wash them.  My God, I’m June the third 1918, and I’ve had a long time since then.  I can go get the record.  

The kids are sick and go flopping on the floor, a lot of messes going on, when they are going to school.

You are sitting there like a darn fool while they play skippy.  You’ve got to figure it all out, and it’s not always easy.  Get acquainted.  The kids come and go and don’t always know who is Joe or Suzy.  

Stay there from beginning to end - a teacher, not a play track!  Kids are a dime a dozen.  I think I’ll throw my dime away.  Go ask the teacher.  Happily, the end.