Don’t Be Tellin’ No Stories!
Published 8:09 pm Friday, October 14, 2022
Don’t you be tellin’ me no story now,” my grandma would say. “I’ll get a switch after you if you do.”
Telling “stories” was how I survived my childhood because, back then, a “story” was something that wasn’t true, but it stood between me and the switch bush.
In those long-ago days, young’uns didn’t think grownups told “stories.” They just talked. Sitting on the front porch, on the yard swing or stretched out before the fireplace, all grown folks did was talk.
“Tell us again about being shut up in the dark, black boiler room, Pop!” “Tell us again, about settin’ the sullen bull’s tail on fire, about shootin’ the man in the cane patch, about the runaway airplane, about the Injun buried in the pasture. Tell us again! Tell us again!”
Stories? Yes, stories.
My childhood was filled with stories. My folks ran the cotton gin and the ice plant. I helped out at both places. Some days I rode on the ice truck through the red, dusty backroads of the county. “Over yonder is the trail the granny doctor rode at night,” Mr. Danner would say. “That’s the sinkhole that swallowed ol’ Crabby Jink’s and, if you’ll listen real quiet, you can hear a baby a-cryin’. It’s lost out in them woods– somewhere. Listen.”
Many nights during cotton ginning season, I would climb up on bales of high stacked cotton and listen to the farmers talking, telling stories, late into the soft, summerlike night until I’d fall asleep and Daddy would wake me. “You’re Mama’s here. Get up and go on home now.”
Some days, I would perch on the wood bench in front of John’s store, just across the railroad track or sit on the coke box at Black’s grocery and listen to the farmers talk.
I’d go fishing with my grannies. We’d sit on lard cans, me, between them, listening to them talk.
On the soft summer nights, we, the young’uns would play in the yard while the grownups sat on the porch and talked. But in time, some magical power pulled us onto the porch to listen until we fell asleep.
Stories. Now, it is those stories that bring smiles to my face, that comfort me at night and inspire me throughout the waking hours. It is those stories that keep loved ones close and hope alive.
I often think of Alabama’s Legendary Storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham who said the best way to say I love you is to say, “Come, sit by me and let me tell you a story.”
There is no way to feel more loved and appreciated than when someone you love says, “tell me that story about….”