Monday, April 28, 2014

Grandma Was a Story Teller

       My Grandma was born in 1874 in Russia/Ukraine. She had no formal education. She learned to read though the church school. So she had a basic reading and writing level. I would think the only thing she ever read was the bible.

      Grandma came to Canada in 1903. 

      We visited Grandma about once a week and a couple of times a year we stayed with her. Several times a year there was a large family do and our cousins were at Grandmas too.

     Sometimes Grandma probably had enough with grandchildren tearing around her small house and she would get us together for a story. I guess she wanted to get control of the situation and calm us down.

     Grandma would take us under the stairs which was dark and small. This was also on top of the trap door that led to the cellar. Did I tell you Grandma was four feet by four feet by four feet? So it was crowded and dark. 

     This was the place Grandma used for telling her stories. She certainly knew how to set the mood for her stories. She was also a master at using her voice to add to the story. She knew when a quiet voice was necessary or rapid speaking ...all techniques were used.

     Grandma's stories were about wolves chasing people in Russia. Telling  a story which is a chase is a standard pattern. Grandma had no problem with the story line being carried along.

    Grandma's stories were always about wolves chasing people so there was always conflict.

    Yes she had characterization too. The wolves were always sneaky,mean , fierce, evil beings.

    Rising action was no problem. Wolves chased and  got closer. The person being chased got lost or fell. Hunters came along to scare the wolves.

    Sometimes there was a grisly conclusion and sometimes the person escaped. Grandma had a good sense of the horror story.

    For a lady who'd never been to school she certainly knew all the elements of a short story. Her stories were always different. There were always surprises.

   These stories were thrilling and we loved them. We always thought it was very funny when our little girl cousins would be scared and leave the stair well. They were always crying. 

    Grandma's stories were really folk lore stories from her past.

    They were certainly impressive stories as I remember them from 70 years ago. I will never forget Grandma's stories. Once in a while my brother and I still talk about Grandma's stories.

    So have you had the fantastic exposures to the oral story teller?