LETTER TO THE EDITOR: My Dad and the art of storytelling
My Dad, Harvey Drawdy, grew up in an era of no television. They did have radio broadcasts, and I’ve heard him mention that on some nights, the family would listen to radio shows as entertainment.
But most of the entertainment was centered around the art of storytelling. In those days, families and friends spent evenings actually talking to each other and relaying events and stories through verbal messaging rather than electronic messaging.
If you have seen the old black and white reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” you have probably seen the characters sitting on the front porch in the evenings after dinner, or on Sunday afternoons after church, talking and telling stories.
Sometimes they may have even brought out the musical instruments just to liven things up. I guess many people from that era had the gift of gab and some became very accomplished storytellers. My Dad is one of these.
I have often asked him about his abilities as a storyteller, and he simply says it comes natural to him. However, many of his tales are tales that were told to him by Grandpa Hall or by one of his uncles when he lived in Tennessee.
During World War II, my Dad and his older sister spent two years with their mother’s family in Winchester, Tenn. Grandmother had 12 brothers and sisters and many of them still lived near the old home place. I think many of his stories and a lot of his storytelling ability was a result of his time spent with the Hall clan.
No matter where it came from, I can say without any reservations that Dad has the ability to tell any type of story and really bring it to life. Some of my fondest memories are the stories I heard growing up and as an adult. And it doesn’t matter how many times you have heard the story, he always seems to add a new twist or new slant that makes it interesting.
I can recall numerous times at the hunting club or ballfield seeing my Dad in the center of a group of men huddled around him as if he were giving out the next play in a football game. All listening intently to hear the story coming out of his mouth.
As a Boy Scout leader, storytelling was a great skill. Dad could mesmerize the entire Scout troop with one of his ghost stories that he made you believe was true and actually happened near the vicinity of where we were camping. His two most famous stories were about Rudy, a vampire-like werewolf born into a wealthy family, but his unquenchable thirst for blood made him an uncontrollable youth and a deadly killer as an adult. Then there was the little dwarf-like men who harassed Grandpa Drawdy’s house and farm animals and caused one of the twins to die in her sleep.
Once, after telling the Rudy story, all 12 of the Boy Scouts moved into Dad’s tent for the night.
I can also remember sitting around a campfire in the Smokey Mountains, and other families coming over to our fire to hear Dad tell about the time a black bear stole Mom’s fried chicken, or about the time he drove his truck off from Round Bottom Camp Ground to Maggie Valley without any brakes other than his hand brake. There are so many stories in Dad’s repertoire that no one could possibly remember them all, and he keeps adding to them every day.
Even today, if you were to go to my Dad’s house, you would probably find him sitting out in his shop with a group of friends, sharing stories. It seems that in this age of information that everyone is more concerned about posting their business on Facebook or making comments on Twitter than actually having good conversation with family and friends.
I am not very big on social media and on all the different forms of digital communications. I am aware this is a new era and technology is moving us forward at a very fast pace. I also know that things will never be like they were before, but it is good to look back and remember all the good times, good memories and good stories that were shared. I will forever treasure those times.
(“And when the disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” – Luke 8:9-10)
As I reflect on the stories I heard my Dad tell over the years, many were purely for entertainment, but some contained lessons for life. I can also reflect on the many stories that Jesus shared in the Bible.
The Bible is full of stories used to teach a lesson. We call them parables. Parables were used by Jesus to help people understand His message. I am sure you have heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Stories paint mental pictures for people.
I know I will never be as good as my Dad at storytelling, and will never have a story that measures up to the parables told by Jesus, but I will forever do all I can to preserve the art of storytelling not only for the sake of entertainment, but also to help others discover something about themselves or about the truths of life.
And maybe, just maybe, the art of storytelling will be passed on.