Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Location: Liverpool, NY
|Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 1:51 pm Post subject: Storytellers
|Being a site for recording memories of Concordia’s past, what this website needs is a few good storytellers. Storytellers performed a valuable service in many cultures, particularly those without a recorded language. Among the Iroquois where I currently live, the storytellers handed down their nation’s history, traditions, and rules for generation after generation. In this modern age, much of that function has been replaced by published information, including on-line access to practically any fact. But a good storyteller can still provide context to that information as well as some that may have escaped being recorded. In genealogy, much of what is captured comes from family tradition handed down from parents or grandparents to their children.
The problem with oral tradition or even many recorded stories is separating fact from fiction. Much of what one hears or reads may simply be an “urban legend”. People often embellish facts with unconnected or imagined thoughts or a desired outcome to support their story. Over time, even our own memories tend to be confused with something that occurred at another time or place. So accuracy is the measure of a good storyteller.
Over the years, I have been acquainted with some individuals that I considered to be good storytellers. In general, they are people who have a good memory and a wide variety of experiences, been in contact with many different people, and had an interest in what was happening and what was told to them.
One of the first people that comes to mind was Teacher Joe Wukasch. I talked about him in another post in the Concordia Memories forum about “Unforgettable characters”. His classes were filled with accounts of his own experiences as well as those of others. He would frequently digress from something in the subject material we were covering, jumping from one story to another until he sometimes forgot what subject we were discussing. I often wonder how we every got through the material we were supposed to cover, but his stories were always educational and usually entertaining. We probably learned as much from these stories as from the regular class material. Joe also had an uncanny knack of identifying what area of Germany the oldtimers came from based on the particular dialect of Low German that they spoke.
In my own relationship, the best storyteller was my uncle Bill Klingenberg. There never was a dull moment when Uncle Bill was around. He had a great recall of many stories he gained from his various capacities in the community, from operating a service station on old Highway 40, taking over the old Bergmann’s Department Store in the 500 block of Concordia, and finally being an elected judge (road commissioner) in Lafayette County. Many younger people may still remember him in his 90s driving his black Cadillac down the middle of Main Street. Even at that late age, he would drive to Lexington (via the back roads, not the major highways) to visit his cronies at the County Courthouse. He always kept us entertained with his tales at our family get-togethers, particularly during the evening card games. I often wished that there had been a way to capture all of those stories.
A third individual was Robert Kroenecke. Bob spent many years as teller at Concordia Bank and was also our part-time bookkeeper at the lumber yard. He could relate an amazing variety of anecdotes. He had a story to fit any occasion. Whatever the discussion, Bob would sit at his desk and recall some incident or story that would fit the topic. At the end of the his story, he would repeat the punch line a second time, lean back in his swivel chair and take a long puff on his cigar.
I’m sure there are still plenty of good storytellers in the Concordia area. Why don’t you sign up on the message board and relate some of those memories. It really is easy and you’ll find that many people would enjoy them.