Archive for November 17th, 2017

Nov 17th 2017 Storied Past III


My father and my Uncle Jim Frank were great story tellers whenever they got together. By “great,” I mean “prolific and enthusiastic.” First cousins, they had grown up together “in the country.” Uncle Jim Frank actually would have been my second cousin something-or-other. He told of being a young man and driving an elderly relative into the county seat of Lafayette, which had only recently installed its first traffic light. I’m sorry I can’t remember his name, but the old man was sitting in Jim Frank’s rumble seat. That’s how long ago this was. The light was red, and Jim Frank stopped and waited for it to turn green. Down the road apiece, he looked back and was astonished to discover the old man was no longer there. He quickly doubled back and found the old man at the intersection. Jim Frank asked why he’d gotten out, and the man replied, “You stopped and sat there, so I thought something was wrong with the car!” I’m not holding that up as one of my uncle/cousin’s best, but to illustrate a point. It seems to me, most stories aren’t extended narratives, as the name “story” might imply. They’re more like jokes, with a set-up and a punchline, and the best raconteurs are masters of brevity and comedic timing . I guess I would see it that way.

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