Thursday, June 25, 2009
May 13, 2009 began a three-day journey across the NC Mountains toward the Great Plains destination of Wall, South Dakota to visit my mother-in-law. I was pleased to find SD sprinkled with rolling green hills, spreading ranches with grazing cattle, and occasionally a wild animal or two. This state is sparsely populated with approximately 800,000 people. I’m pleased to say these fine folks were genuine and sincere as they welcomed travelers into their communities and towns. It was a wonderful place to be to get away from the crazy rat race back home and to find stories.
This blog will include one of the stories I gathered, so here goes.
My husband Jim, and I, accompanied by his mother, drove to a small town just 35 miles away from her home for lunch. While there I met a very interesting lady whom I shall call Donna.
Donna was very surprised and intrigued when I told her I was a freelance storyteller. Then she proceeded to tell me that she wrote a weekly article for her hometown newspaper. After listening to her conversation for a few minutes I realized that she too was a storyteller.
She told me about an eclectic author and storyteller that she knows who lives in Pennsylvania. It seems their way of crossing paths was quite extraordinary. Some years ago a book was written about Donna’s grandmother called Pioneer Woman, but unfortunately the book is out of print. The author is the lady from Pennsylvania. Each year she goes on an annual trek to help on an archaeological dig in southwestern South Dakota. While there she always tells the story of Donna’s grandmother, Pioneer Woman.
Donna told me that her family met this remarkable author/storyteller some years ago and got to know her. “Since that time we have grown very close to her.” I sensed that Donna regarded her as a member of her very own family. Donna saw her at last year’s ‘dig’ (Mammoth Hot Springs) and remarked, “We’ve been corresponding but I haven’t heard from her recently and I’m getting very concerned because she’s 88 years old. I’m going to see if I can get in touch with her by phone. I am so afraid that she won’t be able to come this year.
I didn’t get Donna’s email address so I don’t know if she has heard from her eclectic friend or not. But I returned home thinking, “Wow, what a wonderful story!” And I just happened to fall into it. So I urge you to keep your eyes and ears open and aware: stories are all around us.
Sylvia Payne, a North Carolina Storyteller, comes from a diverse background of Scots Irish, English, and German ancestry. She grew up in the North Carolina foothills listening to family stories told by her mother. A graduate of High Point University and a former children’s librarian, her repertoire includes world folktales, stories of history, legends and family stories. With more than 30 years’ experience, her animated style, and her stories captivate and transport the listener into an imaginary world. In addition, she conducts workshops for parents, teachers, and college and university students. She serves on the North Carolina Storytelling Guild Board and is editor of the Guild’s bi-annual publication, Journal of Tar Heel Tellers. Sylvia has studied with such storytelling masters as Donald Davis, David Holt, Tim Lowry, Connie Regan-Blake and Donna Marie Todd.