This I Believe
I believe in the creative power of average people. I believe there lays within each one of us the power of the magician, the sage, the knower of things deep and mysterious. Merlyn resides in dark places in our souls. He waits for us to believe in ourselves enough to call him out.
As a youth, my father worked as a heavy equipment operator on large construction projects in the American west: dams, bridges, buildings. Our family was nomadic, traveling in a 1951 Chevy pulling a small trailer across the hills and valleys of this vast country.
We kept to ourselves, not being much welcome in the towns, we stayed in the trailer court provided by the company. During the day the men would work, the women clean and the kids go to school. On hot afternoons we would picnic at a beach and go swimming. We were a community
We didn’t have television, or radio. Isolated as we were the reception was poor.
On Sundays we had story time. The men and women would gather at the center of the park by the laundry house. Someone would produce a guitar and we would sing together. Following that the stories began. Young people were invited to listen.
Now each story had three criteria: it had to entertain (make us laugh), it had to contain irony (which made us think), it had to have a moral (give the kids a life lesson).
But how exciting for us young people. The tale about how “Uncle” Pete had accidently given a bank robber a ride out of town thinking the robber was the local deputy. But it turned out that the robber had stolen a deputy’s uniform the night before. The robber also had stolen bank money in his lunch pail along with a revolver he had just used to hold up a bank. He then stole Uncle Pete’s car and headed for the open road. Uncle Pete thought the robber looked an awful lot like a picture he had seen in the newspaper of John Dillinger.
We young people sat mesmerized looking at Uncle Pete. Imagine looking at a man who had sat in the same car with the legendary outlaw John Dillinger. We couldn’t have been more amazed if Uncle Pete had disappeared in a puff of smoke in front of us.
This story contained the necessary criteria: it was funny, it contained irony, Uncle Pete thought he was helping the law but it turned out otherwise, and it contained a lesson, people may not be what they seem.
Later we moved to a town and lived in a house with a TV. We didn’t know that for us that ended the oral tradition of storytelling that had existed for thousands of years no doubt back to the cave people telling stories of the hunt.
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