By Melinda Long, contributing writer:
TRAVELERS REST, S.C. — It is the second Thursday of the month and time for Storytelling Night at the Travelers Rest Library. People gather round, some with stories to share, others just to listen. Lamar McCarrell, a regular, tells a story of his father and the bench they shared whenever they wanted to talk. Participants nod, recalling memories of their own fathers.
Jeff White, a visitor but not for the first time, tells about his father, Ray White, also a storyteller. One of Ray’s special talents was to make the person with whom he shared a story feel that he or she was the first person to hear it. “All stories are true,” he was often heard to say.
Sam Benson, another regular, tells about his grandmother who loved to have her family listen to the radio. We all remember a grandmother like that, right?
The theme for the night is, “Stories that Need to be Told” or “A Story that Doesn’t Need to Be Forgotten.” There are a lot of those because many of us cherish those stories passed down from our parents and grandparents.
Storytelling Night is sponsored by the Travelers Rest Historical Society.
“No one has to be a ‘professional’ storyteller,” says Rosemary Bomar, moderator of the event. “It’s more of a community event, (just as there are music events where people bring their instruments and any of those in attendance can share a tune or a song,) anyone who comes can share a story or memory on the theme of the evening. The schedule of themes for the year is announced ahead of time, so often people come with a story ready to share, other times something to share comes to a person’s mind as they listen to what others are saying.”
Rosemary is a lifelong resident of Greenville County. She’s retired from public education and enjoys “connecting people with information and resources that are interesting, important and helpful to their lives.”
The storytelling began in 2013 when the historical society sponsored a program at Locust Hill’s Hungry Drover. It was a one-time celebration of the late Coach Chico Bolin and the legacy of the Travelers Rest High School football team. It was well-received so the next event was, “How Little Texas Got Its Name.” This led to a third event with Penny Forrester, local genealogist, telling about, “The Shoot-out at Dickey’s Chapel.”
“By that time, by popular request, it became a regular event held every-other-month, with anyone who was in attendance invited to share stories and memories,” Rosemary says. Rosemary became the moderator and the bi-monthly meeting eventually moved to the Travelers Rest Branch Library. “The program worked – and still works – because of the participation of the people who come. As our brochure says, ‘All are welcome to listen and/or share stories and memories of Upper Greenville County and beyond.’”
“Everyone is invited, but no one is pressured to participate,” she continues. “We have a mix of attendees that includes native residents and those who have moved here from all over the country and beyond, so some of our best stories have been both local stories and stories and memories from other parts of the country and the world. It is always interesting to see how things are different in different places, yet how much we are alike and how many qualities we share, no matter what our age or where we are from.”
The storytellers meet every other second Thursday at 7PM with the next meeting planned for March 9th. There is usually a theme. In the past the group has heard stories about School Day Memories, Textile Mill Memories, An Interesting Person I Have Known, Home Remedies and Family Doctors, Churches and Sunday Dinner, and Favorite Foods and Recipes. The theme for March is “Stories of Easter, Spring or New Beginnings.”
Start planning your story now. We can’t wait to hear it.
Upcoming Storytelling Night themes:
May 11th — Play, Toys, Past-times or Hobbies—Past or Present (show and tell welcome)
July 13th — Patriotic Stories
September 14th (Labor Day theme) —My First Job
This article originally appeared on TravelersRestHere.com.
Sources: Interview with Rosemary Bomar and stories from Jeff White, Sam Benson, and Lamar McCarrell.
Photos: Dot Bishop.