San Antonio Storytellers ring in the festive season

Fortified with Stollen cake from Germany and first class coffee from our favorite latte shop, we gathered on December 6th to look forward to Christmas, and to look backward on a successful year of storytelling. We had a full house, and recorded two new members at the end of the evening. The stories came fast and furious.

Susan Whipple started off the evening with a short introduction to Hanukah and the history of the “Eternal Light” then segued into a beautiful miracle story. You could have heard a pin drop.

Jane McD. brought John Henry Faulk’s Christmas Story of a little boy and his orange, and the grace of good neighborliness.

Veronica Gard followed with a riveting telling of Mary, a teenage mother to be, who went to her shocked neighbor for help. Neighborly help seemed to be the theme of the evening - as Veronica ended her story there was a long, quiet silence, then applause. Once again, Veronica succeeded in reminding us of the beauty of simple, selfless help.

VIL Joe, a self-professed poet and occasional visitor to monthly SASA story swaps, had us then in stitches as he told of an over friendly teacher who taught him the facts of life. This, after a moving story about his 58-year old cousin who has early onset dementia.

Our own Sue Kuentz stood to tell an old Doc Moore story: “Papa Joe and Belle”. Papa Joe ran a pawnshop where an old bell rang on the front door as customers entered the shop. Belle was a six-year old, who wanted to buy the bell as a Christmas present for her Grandpa. Papa Joe didn’t want to part with the bell, which he said was a “family heirloom” but was persuade by the little girl to sell it. She emptied her coin purse and he gave it to her for the princely sum of $2.47. She later came back with her mother - and the bell, wrapped up, and presented it to Papa Joe. Turned out that the mother was the daughter with whom he had lost contact years before, and Belle the granddaughter he had never known. Best Christmas ever!

The stories were followed by Christmas anecdotes - Sue, telling of a disastrous flute concert at a Christmas Cotton Bowl game and, another time, flying airborne in Japan into a snowdrift between two garbage cans. Veronica told of Christmas in Berlin; of choirs from 3 of the Nato powers in

the city singing in the Frauenkirche there. And Jane rounded out the evening with a telling of the Irish tradition of the December 26th St. Stephen’s Day Wren Boys and post festival season Women’s Celtic Christmas.

The Stollen was almost all gone and we recorded two new members - actually one and a half, as John Munley is a “returned” SASA member, having lived in Cincinnati for a while. Welcome back, John, and WELCOME, Oscar, to the SASA fold! Looking forward to your stories!!

A very happy and blessed Christmas to all storytellers and story-lovers - we’ll see you in the New Year. May that be a peaceful year for all of us, without rancor and strife, with joy and contentment.


Jane McD.

SASA May Story Swap

We met at the Brook Hollow Library on May 3 to tell and reggaLe - and what a night it was!

We ran out of chairs, people were standing in the back of the room… we had a great turnout.

Veronica kicked of f the night with a telling of a beautiful Chinese folktale, “The Grass Cutter”, a tale of re-directed stallions and magnificent fabrics, a humble and happy grass cutter, his friend the long-suffering merchant and a prince and princess who lived happily ever after. The grass cutter did make a decision to keep out of politics in the future. (You shoulda been there.)

Mary Grace took all of five minutes to clarify what prejudice is, with the help of her grandchildren’s favorite book covers. She also told the brief, short story of a twelve-year old black girl who had a project to find book about black girls, and did - she wrote reviews of 9000 books. Wow.

Susan Whipple stood to tell us about her time as a part time and then full time gardening expert, finding a job that makes the heart smile, and finding the best part of it all: meeting enthusiastic gardening customers - and meeting some interesting co-workers on the way. Susan had a Chinese proverb which described it all in a nutshell: “Find something you love and you will never work again”. Love those Susan stories.

Jane stood with an old and strange tale in two parts from the Brothers Grimm: “The Three Snake Leaves”. Not often told, this story, it was a tale of a beautiful but false woman who demanded that the man she would marry would be buried alive with her if she died first. She did. And he did. But the snake with the three green magic leaves saved her, and saved him, later on, when she killed him at sea. She and the sea captain came to a nasty end; sent out in a boat with a hull riddled with holes. The justice of the Grimms and all those people in the State of Hessen who told them their fireside tales.!!!

Charlie is a good teller he had a couple for us again - two he’s “working upon” - we all are, at one time or another - he told of finding arrowheads on the construction site of the Brook Hollow Library, and of old school friends, likened to model airplanes: some who crashed and some who flew so high that they disappeared from sight. I’d love to meet that Charlie Kerr who flew over Cuba, taking reconnaissance pictures and menaced by MIGs…

Then Sue, to round off the night, did a telling exercise with us all which ended in

chaos and general merriment.

Great night. And if you weren’t there - you are really SQUARE.

SASA April Story Swap a blast

We met on the first Wednesday of the month at the Brook Hollow Library on Heimer Road for the April Story Swap, joined by a dozen interested VILs (Very Important Listeners - where would we tellers be without Listeners, huh????) and the stories came thick and fast - if you’ll excuse the deplorable use of the English language.

Susan Whipple hosted and Jane kicked off the evening with a rendering of the most difficult story of all to tell… one learned from a rambling old man on an Irish island… of a dog with no name and a woman who wouldn’t bend to Irish bureaucracy. The dog had been left at home and died soon after the son emigrated to Australia, and the woman refused to pay for a license for said dog. The police finally took up a collection and gave her a license… that is Irish poetic justice for you.

Susan followed with a great story, full of details, about stalwart women and their baking trips and tips, grandmas and mothers and aunts who baked and cooked without recipes and - horror! - without handing down recipes to their daughters and daughters in law.

VIL Roger Singler stood, then sat - “bum ankle” - to tell the fascinating story of Gregorio Cortez who went to jail for life for not killing both a sheriff and a Ranger. It was a ricoted bullet and friendly fire.. and that fact eventually got him out of prison. As a side story, Roger told of Pancho Villa and the Mexican revolution and how he raided a shoe factory, thereby acquiring shoes for his soldiers…I think the story was called The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez but I was too intent on listening to the details to get the title.. Great job, Roger!

Then it was 7 pm and just 30 minutes after we had started and there was lots of time for stories yet… Jane volunteered to fill in but, luckily, Pat Schieffer stood to tell a Jewish tale of “Shrewd Toady and Lizer the Miser”. This was a hoot - as we learned how a poor, extremely capable survival type got one - no, four! - over on the town money lender in order to bring his family through hard times. Tell it again, Pat!

Teller Judy Peacock stood and regaled us with a true tale of a family trip at Easter to Maine… a trip the started in a car towards it destination and finished on sleds and toboggans in the snow until reaching the door. Easter: and the Easter Bunny left filled basket the next day on the snowed in porch…. the kids never found out if it REALLY WAS THE EASTER BUNNY OR THE PARENTS as there were no other footprints besides those of the Bunny in the snow.

An interesting discussion followed on the merits of telling and critiquing, on

how to tell and how to develop a personal style of telling, on the importance of storytelling - with 5 SASA storytellers present and a dozen very interested listeners - many of them new to the Story Swap - this was an important discussion.

We still had 20 minutes left to 8 pm, when the Library staff throws us out, so Jane stood to tell the story of the “Gadai Dubh”, the “Black Thief” and how a devious 15 year old bested him by stealing the sheet out from under an old couple’s bed as they slept in it; by appropriating two horses from a farmer in a field as he used them to plow said field; and by taking two black-nosed sheep from under the Gadai Dubh’s nose as he led them home from market. A short story of two Irishmen, going home from a pub, who met a ghost in a graveyard, followed.

And to round it off, Roger told of how the Houston Gaels Gaelic football club’s luxury bus got stuck on a berm outside a pub on their way to last Saturday’s game against San Antonio’ s San Patricios team.

It was a rollicking evening and if you were not there, you are definitely SQUARE.

Next one: Wednesday, May 4th, 6.30 - 8 pm; Brook Hollow Library, Heiner Road, SAT.