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Telling Stories

The power went out a lot when I was a kid. A storm would roll through, the lights would flicker, then dance, then disappear and there you were, sitting in the dark, wondering whether the episode of “MASH” you were watching would end with funny Alan Alda or maudlin Alan Alda, knowing in your heart of hearts it was probably both.

We had a routine when the power went out. My sister grabbed the blankets from the hall closet, I got the candles from the fridge (I don’t know why we kept them in the fridge. That’s weird now that I think of it), and my parents pulled out the sleeping bags, organizing them into an impromptu campsite right there in our living room. We turned on the radio, listening to the newsmen tell us about severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings in the background, but what we really did was tell stories.

Dad told us about trips across the country on his motorcycle and the time he got a ride home from Crosley Field with Johnny Bench when he was in high school. Mom told us about Patty, the girl who babysat her when she was a kid, and how she was allegedly killed by her boyfriend on the way home from a school dance. She always included dire warnings against walking anywhere alone. There was always a lesson with her stories. That’s how moms are, I guess.

We’d stay up late, telling stories and listening to the wind blow through the trees outside. Out of all the stuff I remember from childhood, the stories are easiest to remember. The stories are easiest to pass down to my kids.

Stories stick. That’s what I like about them.

I like to think of Bard and Book like a bunch of people gathering into a circle around some candles and a few dimly lit flashlights, telling stories as the storms come and go.

What do you say? The power is out. The rain has just started to fall. I’ve got the sleeping bags and the pillows. The flashlights are just down the hall. Grab a few and join us. We’d love to have you.


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