Marilyn Kinsella, one of the founders of the Riverwind Storytellers, told a funny story about The Piasa in Alton, IL. Later, she both sang and told the story of Tom Dooley - Annie Foster Milton: Tom Dula's One True Love."
Marion Nichols shared an amusing story about the lives of her grandparents in Poland in the 1890s. Her grandfather’s harvest gave him extra cash, so he took his wife to town and bought a big galvanized steel tub. Then. he decided to have a new experience - get drunk. Nichols’ grandmother became cold waiting outside, so she set the tub out, then took their horse and wagon home. When her grandfather came out, he decided to walk home and carry the tub. But he was drunk and stumbled, so some wolves thought he was a wounded animal, which they would attack. He became scared and covered himself with the tub, but the wolves began digging around the tub. They were getting to him when his drunken friends came along and shot at them, scaring them away. The bullets missed the wolves but made 10 holes in the tub. His friends saved him, but he said “just shoot me now,” because his wife would be mad about the holes in the tub. Nichols said the listeners could decide if the story was true. She also told the story of the Skating Buffaloes.
An unusual tale was told by two sisters, Jane Hardy and Lucy Grondahl. This was the story of a “Squeaver” which resulted from a contest between a beaver and a squirrel. Grondahl held a toy “squeaver” as they talked...and sang. Earlier, Jane Hardy told a one-sentence story: “I fell in love with my trash man, but he dumped me.” Another one-sentence story was told by David Grondahl, the grandson of Lucy Grondahl. He said, “If Snow White never met the witch, would she have lived ‘appily’ ever after?” Jane also told a story about New Age and the burning Tupperware. Later Lucy told a story about how she become a vampire, after touching a vampire rat.
Folktale-like tales are often told by the storytellers, such as Sharon Thompson’s version of Richard Chase's Porcelain Man. This literary folktale featured a pottery man that broke into many pieces. The pieces were made into a horse, but the horse ran into a tree and broke. Then a man came along and helped the woman who owned the porcelain pieces put them together again, this time into a beautiful set of dishes. The man and woman ate dinner off the dishes and lived happily ever after. Later Thompson told a story with an amusing ending about a widow who had a pet frog that turned into a handsome prince.
One story included several Biblical quotations. Jeanne Crews called her story According to the Bible. This was the story of a man who changed his life after attending a revival. He became generous with people, quoting the Bible with each good deed. Then he met a man who wanted an expensive blanket for his $10,000 horse, so the man raised the price of his identical - except for the color - blankets. They cost $10 but he raised it to $50 then $100 before satisfying the buyer. When someone questioned him about overcharging the man, the store owner again quoted the Bible: “He came to me a stranger and I took him in.”
Kinsella and Lynne Beetner, president of Riverwind Storytellers, explained the group meets once a month and also has special events, but this was the first Squeaver StoryFest where Riverwind told stories for the community. All the members live in the metro St. Louis area and this was their first Hannibal performance.
They participate in the annual four-day St. Louis Storytellers Festival (www.stlstorytellingfestival.org) the largest free storytelling festival in the world. It involves 20,000 children, and features local and national storytelling leaders. This year the 33rd annual festival will be on May 2 to 5 at many St. Louis locations.
The Riverwind group also participates in a nation-wide “tellabration” in November, which focuses on telling adult stories to make people more aware of the spoken word.