Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Story Man

My dad was a volatile man;  in those days he was considered quick tempered.  Now we have a word for it;  bipolar.  And like most bipolars,  he had an equal measure of charm,  which he used to great effect.   He was good with kids;  they adored him, and he them.  He knew how to talk to them at some common level, instinctively including them in his conversations, so that no one got left out.  And part of that charm was his innate skills as a story teller. 
Some of the stories were the ones he told me at bedtime,  which ended up being so silly and so right that instead of calming me down would send both of us into gales of giggles.  He was often banished from the room when that happened, and I could hear my mother lecturing him about 'getting the child all stirred up'...but he was so far ahead of the child dev people it was scary.  Without a lick of training he knew to include my name (used in the third person, of course, oh what a coincidence) and that of an imaginary friend named Iggy.  Why  Iggy, I have no idea. And they were full of magic, and seekrit caves,  special levers to pull and special buttons to push to open the next room or next surprise, and I realize now they never really ended, because he had no idea how to get out of them-- they would always be continued until tomorrow night...

And some of the stories were those he told to other people;  "How I almost burned the neighborhood down" and what happened  "When we bought the billy goat".  I'm sure over the years they changed slightly with the telling, but by and large they were the same stories each time,  and I never tired of them.  He had me, as well as new listeners, on the edges of our seats,  and I finally realized after growing up what an amazing tale teller he really was.

It would have been wonderful to have a tape recorder then,  but it's hard to catch spontaneous on tape,  and he was such a  ham he would have been talking for the tape and not for his audience.  I've heard people do that, and it's almost always a disappointment.  You dont see  the face, the sparkle, the body language.  So best to remember what I remember of the good stuff and let the rest go.


  1. This is a marvelous tribute to an interesting man. How lucky you were to have a father who told you stories!

  2. Sometimes it's all you have to cling to, small lights in a vast sky. He was interesting well spoken, and for a guy who probably never finished high school he was extremely bright, and well read. I think his stories gave me part of the push to write, myself.

  3. I don't think I've ever heard you talk/write about him. Thanks. Maybe now I can find something good to say about my old man.

    So...you were a little girl once, eh? Cool,

  4. yeah yeah, little girl, and cute as a button. sigh.

    My Dad was not an easy man to live with, so I sort of worked around him most of the time.

    And your dad, to be fair, at least acknowledged you as a poet. He coulda said "worthless bum" or "thinks he's a hot shot poet". Maybe that's not much, but it's something.