by Jo Ann Dadisman
WVSG’s Story Swap #2: Feasting Time
On November 4 Story Swapping participants drove into rural West Virginia on a sunny morning, shared introductions, slurped freshly ground and roasted coffee that Dave and Candy brought, and nibbled June’s sweet rolls. Are you hungry yet?
The day stretched ahead of us, filled with promise. We found time to uncover new possibilities for personal stories, talk about the hurdles we face in choosing stories and telling them to different audiences, and share bits of advice or pose questions for the novice and experienced tellers.
After a lunch of Barbara’s delicious spinach salad, Diane’s shrimp dip with crackers, and homemade vegetable soup and cornbread, our stomachs were full, but the feasting had just begun! We then sunk our teeth into sharing stories: tales about floating school houses, boyhood and surprises on the Chicago streets, girl power, the life of an Italian immigrant, growing up in the 1950s era of polio, a coal camp widow, boyhood and families on the city streets, and much more. Some came to listen while others came to simply tell a story for the pure experience of sharing. Some came for help with voice, framing, or feedback while some came for suggestions on the best delivery method for a special story. We even found time for apple crisp and pumpkin pie, thanks to Jane and the Brauers. Was the day over? Reluctant to leave, we began another round of telling. These stories were a bit different: bubbles as a counterpoint to demonstrations on overseas streets, a brother coaxing an egg from a tired chicken, life on the Erie Canal, Ricky the wayward yet inventive raccoon, gold nuggets and dilapidated houses. The stories continued. Only a football weekend and the hectic traffic patterns it creates and additional obligations kept us from gathering around the campfire for yet another round of stories!
Our day was done. The need for food had been met—both physically and emotionally. The greatest benefit of story swapping is the comraderie that comes from taking time to laugh, to listen, to talk. The stories settled down over us, our own and the ones we heard, much like a favorite meal from our childhood. We were filled with contentment, but ready for the next time. And that’s real feasting!