I recently visited a man who lives in my hometown. We grew up on nearby farms. I could stand in my front yard and see his house. During this visit we were remembering old times when he told me a little story about my grandpa. As he told the story, it was as if I could see it happening.
After going to bed that night, I revisited his story.
So that you will understand the story more clearly, allow me to give a little more background. Grandpa was a retired farmer, still working on the farm. He had worked with animals all of his life, especially cows and horses. He was considered such an expert in his day that he was known as the local neighborhood veterinarian.
By the time I was born, he neither drove nor owned a car. There was a little country store exactly one mile from our house. This is where all the farmers gathered to talk about important matters and catch up on the neighborhood gossip. Grandpa usually walked to the store and back about once a day. (We always called it “The Store.”) When the day’s work was done, even more farmers tended to gather there after supper. So, often grandpa just had to go again to be sure he didn't miss anything. He’d have Daddy to take him.
Here’s where the rest of the story falls into place. Clint reminisced about the times that Grandpa would ride his horse to “The Store.” I had forgotten that he occasionally rode his horse, rather than walk.
He said, “I can remember your grandpa riding his horse, a sorrel (light reddish-brown), down to ‘The Store.’ When he got ready to go home, he came out the door where the horse was waiting. Your grandpa was probably close to 80 years old then. He'd walk over to the horse and tap him on the shoulder. The horse would kneel down beside him and wait patiently for him to get on. Then he’d get up and they’d head for home.”
I was totally blown by this little story. But - what else should I have expected from “the neighborhood veterinarian,” a man who knew all about horses!”
I have learned to keep my ears tuned in for stories. Anytime I hear little bits and pieces of a story, especially about older family members, I make a point to write them down. It’s added to my collection of story “quilt” pieces. I hope one day I will have just enough for a new story or two.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
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.