Tellin’ tales

Published 10:04 pm Monday, February 1, 2010

There were tales about mischievous young boys sneaking out of hospitals. And stories of families with a bit too much electricity in them. There were those of a Texas librarian heading to New York City and tales of picking blackberries in the North Carolina mountains.

Among laughter and even a few tears, nationally-known storytellers kept the audiences entertained this weekend at the annual Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival on the Troy University campus.

This was the fourth of the annual storytelling events, and it was also the fourth time the storytelling dean Donald Davis made his way to the event, sponsored by the Brundidge Historical Society.

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Davis, a teller from North Carolina, has been a professional storyteller for the last 44 years.

He began his tale at the Saturday morning show talking about picking blackberries with his grandparents, with a run in with a few mountain bears. But the mood soon changed to something a little more somber, as he ended with the story of his grandmother’s death.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Davis’ grandmother told him that wouldn’t be what killed her.

“It’s called cancer, but it’s not going to kill me,” he said. “It’s like climbing a mountain. One of those heart attacks is what’s going to do me in. They come out of know where.”

And, it was her seventh heart attack at the age of 77 that did, in fact, end her life.

Other tales told Saturday morning were not quite as somber.

Kevin Kling, a first-timer to the local event, had the audience in laughter for much of his time on the stage.

Kling, of Minnesota, told a tale of working with his father under an airplane at the age of 14, the first time the two were struck by lightning.

Kling later found out that not only he and his father, but his grandfather, brother and uncles had all been hit.

“That’s how I found out I was not adopted,” Kling said.

Kling has been a professional storyteller for the last seven years, and he’s also a playwright. He got his start at the national storytelling festival in Jonesboro, Tenn.

“It’s the best job in the world,” Kling said. “It’s really an event. It happens at the moment, and you were either there or you weren’t.”

Elizabeth Ellis, a former librarian from Texas, also took the stage locally for the first time last weekend.

“When the phone rings, you don’t know what’s about to happen,” Ellis started her stories. “It could be someone inviting you to the best party of your life or one of your idiot children.”

This particular time, it wasn’t either, she said.

Instead, it was a woman who would be in charge of “dressing” Ellis for a video shoot she would do in New York City. From there, Ellis had the audience entertained with her difficult encounters with the snappy, city dresser.

Ellis has been telling stories “for a living” for the last 31 years.

“When I worked for the Dallas Public Library, storytelling was the part I liked best,” Ellis said. “Eventually, I chose storytelling over being a librarian. It’s been wonderful. You meet the most caring, wonderful people as a storyteller.”

The three storytellers performed three shows Saturday and one Friday night at the Brundidge We Piddle Around Theater.