Moth Storytelling is back
Winter Month Storytelling At Abbott Memorial Library on Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m. Snacks and music provided. Contact Mark for more information. 763-8393.
(The following Story published on Feb. 21, 2013 – last year’s Moth Storytelling event)
Locals Tell Stories ‘Of The Heart’
By George Calver, Special To The Standard
POMFRET — The Moth, the storytelling sensation sweeping the nation, came to the Pomfret Library last Thursday evening thanks to Pomfret resident Mark Binder.
Binder was first introduced to Moth events when he lived in Pennsylvania and later in Vermont at the Phantom Theater in the Mad River area. To him, the art of telling a good personal story was a deeply moving and bonding experience, and one which he wanted to bring to his neighbors. It was also something which he felt would be fun to do on a cold winter night. And so, Binder went about organizing the first of what he hopes will become seasonal events in Pomfret. Given that a standing room-only audience of almost 40 people reacted enthusiastically to the raconteurs and to their stories, Mark is already conjuring up a theme for a springtime Moth.
The theme for last week’s event was “Of The Heart” in homage to St. Valentine’s Day, but the story only had to have a connection to the heart — not necessary to love. The starting format was that those who wanted (or were willing) to share a tale were asked to put their names in a hat for random selection.
Moth rules for each storyteller are simple: the story must be on the chosen theme, it must be real and personal, and be no more than five minutes in length. However, the time limit was forgotten by all as both the storytellers and the audience warmed up to the theme. No one, least of all the host, was keeping track of time.
Brad Burrington started the storytelling after his name was pulled from the hat with much fanfare by Binder. Burrington went on to relate that he “was against hearts.” He said, “They bother me,” and then continued with an emotional story about Quip, his German shepherd. Burrington related that veterinarians, such as him, had all kinds of puppies, baby cats and hearts as symbols of love in their advertisements and logos. All this dislike of hearts changed for Brad when he had to operate on Quip who was suffering from cancer. During surgery he saw — much to his distress — that the cancer had spread to her heart and, it was clear that he would not be able to save Quip. He had no choice — he had his hand on her heart when it stopped. Brad now loves hearts.
The second storyteller, Randy Leavitt, a resident of Royalton told a moving story of his actions on a cold winter night several years ago when he and a neighbor rescued a man trapped in a car which had slipped off a country road into a creek. In a quiet and self-effacing way he related to the audience how he had held the man’s head out of the water and how he and his neighbor had managed to keep the victim alive until the EMTs arrived. Warming himself in a truck with the heater on “high” after the rescue, he realized that he had been standing in freezing cold water for at least 20 minutes. Leavitt said that the man’s body temperature had fallen to 90 degrees, and that his heart had stopped twice in the ambulance. Yet, the man had survived. Initially, the rescue was reported locally and later became national news. He ended his story by saying, “you never know about your actions.”
Hugh Belton of Woodstock told a story he entitled “Heart of Gold.” Hugh spoke about his experience long ago of making a coffin in his woodworking shop for a local contractor’s gravely ill mother-in-law. He had rushed home from Virginia to finish the project upon her sudden death but he could not find it within himself to charge the man for his work. Later, he had hired that contractor to build a house for him — but the contractor never sent a bill.
When Daniel Quinn’s name was pulled from the hat, Quinn told a tale which he thought some might find hard to believe, but which he insisted was the truth. He said that on Nov. 11, 2011 he had experienced a third heart attack at Fletcher-Allen Hospital in Burlington. Continuing, he related that as he was being wheeled into the operating room he told the surgeon “My heart is in your hands.” Quinn said that during surgery he suffered full cardiac arrest, and that he had “gone to the other side,” describing the experience this way: “I left my body — I went to the light, a place better than anywhere else, filled with laughter and humor.”
The storyteller continued, “The hardest thing was the decision to return to this life.” However, he went on to say that he is glad that he is back among the living surrounded by family and friends and enjoying one day at a time. Quinn concluded by emphatically and repeatedly stating “I am the luckiest man alive.”
Other humorous, touching, and compelling stories from raconteurs whose names were drawn from the hat were told, but the entertainment did not end there. The hat was empty, but two more stepped forward from the audience to tell their own stories. The last was a story of teenagers in love, long separated by life and marriage to others, who ended up reconnected and then wed in 1993. The storyteller told the crowd “I still see him as a 16 year-old.”
She ended her romantic story this way: “Our hearts have come full circle.”