Telling The Stories

Since the dawn of humans, all cultures have gathered together and swapped stories, supplying  windows into who we are, where we’ve been, how we got there, and why. Over time, these yarns morph and take on the point of view of the teller and the perspective of the listener. The best stories are retold and replayed for generations. The tales become legends and the characters achieve a slice of immortality. 

The hard facts gleaned from documents provide the settings and circumstances to a story. However, the plethora of data can only imply the colors and emotions. Dairies and photos may fill gaps, but not everyone kept these records accessible. We all have that pile of pictures we cannot identify. There are several journaling packages to subscribe to that prompt life stories. Listing the first jobs, the favorite movies and first cars jog the memory. If the recipient cares to write, intriguing details emerge on the page. Frequently, however, answers are short sentences providing the barest insight and engagement. Better stories are collected through a conversation. 

I am fortunate to have a large loud family. Our favorite sport is to sit around the table, share food and tell stories about present adventures and past escapades. The essence of past ancestors, who lived well before I was a thought, joins the table. I feel I know the grandfathers I never met, my parents and their siblings and cousins as children, and the great grands as young adults. As a kid, I often hung at the grown up table to hear what everyone was laughing and shouting about. I noticed the way some uncles might add detail and how my grandmother’s emotional version of stories was rich and memorable. 

Through the years, I have retold and wrote the family stories. My blog, Stories Served Around The Table, features stories I remembered and those that were recalled by family members. I am fascinated by the perseverance and courage, the sacrifices and gains, and the love and regrets that weave into the tales. These facets standout and become part of who I am. Through the stories, I find my heritage to be interesting, surprising, and fun. They deserve a slice of immortality.

I prefer to hear the story and ask questions to keep the storyteller engaged, and the details clarified. Oral storytelling enables the listeners to hear the tone of the story. It captures the gestures and expressions giving the story rich depth. The storytellers embellish their perspective. Frequently, versions of the truth are a personal preference, making the story that much more delicious. 

How do you collect your stories?

Thanks a bunch for reading.

Enjoy ❤️.   Like 👍.  Share 😊. 

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Daily Bread is set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, 1911. The story follows nine-year-old Lily, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants, who wants to prove she is not a little kid. To be a big kid in the crowded tenement neighborhoods, she must tackle bigotry, bullies, disasters, dotty bakers, and learn to cross the street by herself
Hope you are hungry. Becoming America’s Food Stories recalls the tales that have been told around my family’s dinner table. The histories explain the motivations over bowls of macaroni, antics play out while slurping soup, and laughter echoes throughout the dining room. Pull up a seat. There’s always room.

“If you don’t cook with love, you have to get out of the kitchen.” Florence Messina

Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.

12 Comments

  1. Hi Antoinette.
    You know well how I agree with this post and have tried to capture many of my own stories. Posts like yours remind me how important my essays may be some day but you also reminded me of concerns I have for their longevity.

    Exactly how would someone find them when I’m gone?

    How long would wordpress even keep them alive and accessible?

    Keeping paper records safe over time is an investment made by someone. Binary storage also has costs that, if not paid, the virtual shelf space would be reused by data which is paid for by someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is why oral storytelling makes so much sense. No reliance on technology. Simple connections will do. Thanks for reading.

    Like

  3. I use to love sitting around and listening to stories particular from my grandparents or someone from that generation. They way they told the stories, it was almost like they were reliving as they talked, was wonderful. Stories that included my parents and mischief they got into were always fun gems. Sadly, those story telling session didn’t happen often though.

    “…a slice of immortality.” I like that and it is very true.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HI, Antoinette- This is such an important reminder to collect stories from our family and loved ones while we can. I’ve recently began to ask specific questions to my mom (90) in conversation and to jot down key details. This has been a very positive process for both my mom and me. I don’t know why I didn’t begin this much earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful post Antoinette.. we had no grandparents but my mother who lived to 95 shared their stories and I persuaded my father who was in the Royal Navy from 1937 to 1972 to write his memoir which we had printed up for everyone in the family.. I wish I could go back further with the oral history but I did spend some years with the family tree and added my DNA to Ancestry which brought quite a few third and fourth cousins to light that added texture to our own line.. enjoy your week… Sally

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved this story Antoinette, and it reminds me of a documentary I recently watched on the life of writer Jackie Collins. Her agent interviewed said that a good writer writes in eloquent words, but Jackie isn’t that kind of writer, she’s a story teller, controversial and dedicated to her fans, and all her fictional stories were all based on truths. Her research was hanging out with movie stars and high places, introduced by her sister Joan. She lived a grand lifestyle and was right in the middle of people, making her stories. That’s how I collect my stories, from life and observing people. I find it fascinating. ❤

    Like

  7. Thanks, Antoinette. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, especially since my Dad passed away. He was quite a storyteller. You would normally see him with a big circle of people listening to his stories. He had them for all occasions! Although he is no longer with us, his stories live on (although often others who’d taken part didn’t agree with his version of events!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Family Storytellers are the gems and glue. Keep telling your dad’s stories. Stay tuned for my journaling challenge: Grand Prompts to Ask Your Grands starting next week (7/13/21)

      Like

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