Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman





Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesdays With Rita:Stella Pope Duarte

A few months ago I took a class from Stella Pope-Duarte a prize-winning local author and storyteller. I have taken quite a few classes with Stella besides hearing her speak on various occasions. We even did a reading together at the Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. Here's a picture of the three of us who spoke that night. Stella is in the center and I'm on the right. http://www.stellapopeduarte.com/

In the storytelling class Stella taught us to take our family stories and tell them in ways to make them come alive. We used props and pictures to add to the history. It was fun to hear the stories of Irish immigration and cousins on the Titanic by one class member and living in a hotel by another.
The story I told is one I heard from my Grandmother Jennie Martin Covey Leaman many, many times. It is one of my favorites.

Jennie's parents were Bert and Nellie (Keith) Martin. They were married in 1900 and lived in southwestern Kansas on various claims. Grandma said she learned to crawl in a dugout with flower sacking for a rug. At the time of this story they were living in a barn waiting for the chance to get a house built. The barn had a breezeway with stalls and storage on the sides and the hayloft above. The kitchen was set up in the grainery with a blanket as a door. They slept in the loft. Grandma was very young.

During a time when Bert was away from the farm, Nellie and Jennie were asleep in the loft when they were awakened by a noise in the breezeway below. They listened and thinking somebody was down there Nellie decided she should be prepared for whomever or whatever was there. Grandma described the scene as she hid by the bed and Nellie stood over the trap door with a pitchfork in her hands. They had left the doors on either ends of the loft open and the moonlight made her white nightgown glow while the breeze made it flutter giving her a ghostly appearance. 

After awhile the sounds quit and they decided to go back to bed. Just as they were settling down they heard the sound again but this time they realized what it was. The breeze from the open doors was lifting and dropping the lid on the chamber pot they had sitting off to the side. Grandma said she and her mother had a very grand laugh and then settled down for a peaceful night's sleep.

Nellie is the grandmother who owned the necklace I wrote about last week. She was an amazing woman and the stories about her could fill a book. Here she is as I remember her. 
Do you have stories told by members of your family? Have they been recorded? It's time to do it. Now.

6 comments:

  1. A journal depiction of that memory would be both ghostly and funny. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Rita--I don't think I've ever seen a photo of you except some of your childhood photos. How fun to see what you look like!!

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  3. Great story!!! And you're right! Write them down while you have the chance. I'm our families historian because I was the only one who would sit and listen to my Papa's stories. But noone is going to know those stories if I don't do something with them.

    Found your blog on the Art Bloghop. :) Love it!

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  4. i keep wanting to hear more... you are a great storyteller!

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  5. Rita how right you are. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I see we are both thinking about the important women in our life. I love this story of your grandmother.

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  6. Thats a lovely story Rita, she was some woman !! I love the image of them at the trapdoor with a pitchfork hehe
    hugs June xxxx

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