Conspiracies between Canada geese and aliens, enchanted prince-turned-wish-granting-fish, and bittersweet family memories were some of the topics storytellers regaled their audience with at the annual Back Porch Stories on April 7.
Moderator J.A. Bolton introduced the three storytellers, featured speaker Ron Jones and storytellers Jess Willis and Robin Kitson.
Kitson told the first story about serving as a government employee who learns of a conspiracy between Canada geese and aliens to use mind control on humans, who chop down trees that provide their own oxygen. She also told of the time she visited her sister and passed a cemetery only to be pursued by a coffin, which chases her relentlessly as she runs and throws various objects from her medicine cabinet at it. Only Robitussin stops the “coughin’.”
Willis followed Kitson, telling the audience about a fisherman whose only catch of the day was a fish that tells him it is an enchanted prince. The fish begs the fisherman not to eat him, and the fisherman puts him back. When he later tells his wife about the encounter, she harasses him until he agrees to tell the fish to grant him a boon in exchange for sparing the fish’s life. Her insatiable greed leads them to gain immense wealth only to lose it all, but cherish their relationship in the end.
Jones told the audience about the “potato plate.” When Jones was about 7, he helped his family around the farm while his little brother, Mikey, stayed home with the women, who cooked meals for the men and served them family-style at outdoor tables. When Mikey kept asking his grandmother questions only to be silenced as she served the food, he took matters into his own hands. Seeing that he had no plate, he crafted one for himself out of a pile of potatoes, even carving spots for his chicken and green beans. It was only after he’d assembled his “potato plate” that his grandmother looked to see what he needed. Since then, Jones’ family has used the term, “potato plate” if someone notices they are short a plate.
Jones also talked about his uncle, Sidney, who said he was moving to Virginia to become a U.S. Merchant Marine. When he brought Jones and his family presents from around the world, and told them trivia about the locations the items came from, Jones and his siblings always assumed Sidney had become a Merchant Marine. After Sidney’s death, Jones learned that he’d been a diner cook, and that his friends had given him the souvenirs from their trips. Sidney had researched the locales in an encyclopedia, never lying to the children about where he worked but never telling them he worked at the diner, and instead focusing on the magic of the faraway places.
Bolton even told a story of his own about two boys biking by a cemetery who see a pecan tree, hide their bikes, and hide behind a tree to collect pecans and divide their hoard, dropping two behind a fence in the process. When a young boy hears “One for you, one for me,” coming from the cemetery, he immediately assumes the worst: Satan and God are dividing up souls from the graves. He brings an old man to the cemetery with him. The old man is on the same page, especially when they hear one of the voices say, “Now let’s get those two nuts from behind the fence.”
The event was held at the Ansonia Theatre and sponsored by the Anson County Writers Club. It was dedicated to Rufus Getzen, a key member of the club who died on April 1.
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.