Storyteller comes to town
Published 11:15 am Wednesday, March 24, 2004
I am taking a break from genealogy and history this week to tell you about my visit to the Brewton Public Library on Saturday to meet Kathryn Tucker Windham. Now apparently many of you already know about Mrs. Windham as there was quite a crowd attending. There were older people, like myself, middle aged people and several young people.
Mrs. Windham is well known for her storytelling along with being the author of several books. Perhaps her most popular stories are the ones that she tells about "possible" ghostly happenings in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee. She is even a little suspicious that she may live in a house that has a ghost. She has named him Jeffrey and she has quite a few tales to tell about him, although she is quick to point out to the children that there is no need to ever be afraid of a ghost. If there is a little fear, just put your shoes under the edge of the bed with one toe pointing in and the other toe pointing out. That will confuse any ghost.
She entertained the group at the library with many different tales and believe it, she is great at telling stories. She credits her interest in stories and story telling from many sources but the main influence was her father. Apparently he must have been a pretty good story teller himself.
She told that at the age of 70, she decided to go ahead and make arrangements about her funeral. When she went by the funeral home, she was asked if she had lost a loved one. She told him no, that she just wanted to take care of her own funeral arrangements. The young man showed her around the showroom of coffins and she was shocked at the cost. She said she could send a child to college for the cost of a coffin.
She asked a friend of hers who was a master builder if he would make her coffin and he told her that he would be delighted to do it, but he wanted to make it the old fashioned way, with six sides and with rope handles. This he did over the next few weeks and finally the day came when the coffin was delivered to Mrs. Windham's home. She said that it was a shock to her neighbors to see that coffin come up the drive.
The coffin was placed in the garage on a couple of garbage cans filled with insulators. For those of you who don't know, insulators come off light poles. She says that since the coffin has not been needed yet, she has filled it with a collection of crystal which someone will have to empty when she needs the coffin.
I think one of the reasons I enjoyed listening to Mrs. Windham was because she thinks a great deal like me. I grew up before television was in every room of the house and the favorite thing to do on a cold winter's night was to sit before the fire and tell stories. Some were passed down from generation to generation. No one tells stories anymore. They are too busy with extracurricular activities and watching television.
Everyone of you out there have good stories stored up and if you don't tell someone about them, they will be lost forever. Tell them over and over again and they will be remembered, if not now, someday.
If I didn't tell about eating green apples when I was a little girl, or living in the jailhouse for a time or drinking my aunt's horrid concoction of medicine, who would? Now maybe those things don't mean anything to you, but someday your children and grandchildren are going to ask and then what will you say?
Talk, talk and then talk some more. Tell your stories, pass them along so that they won't be lost for all times. It would be great if you would write them down, but not many will do that. When you are gone, who will remember who are what you did?