StoryTown

Our Favorite Things

Episode Summary

“Our Favorite Things” Original Date 01/27/20 Based on real stories from Jonesborough, Tennessee, and the Southern Appalachian region. The cast presents stories about residents' favorite things, to include a special moonshine recipe from Malone Holler; A unique business that is a combination Antique Store, Tax Service, and have your pet spayed every Monday; a collection of letters written from a father during war time to a daughter he would not meet for years to come; Finn’s favorite toys (a story from the dog’s perspective) and many more.

Episode Notes

Written by Jules Corriere with Anne G'Fellers-Mason, Elizabeth Hunter and David Sams. 

Edited by Wayne Winkler

Produced by Jonesborough's Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center.

Sponsored in part by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Season 2020 Sponsors: The Wild Women of Jonesborough, Nancy Hope and Odie Major, Main Street Cafe and Catering.

 

Episode Transcription

KATY

Coming to you from Jonesborough, Tennessee at the International Storytelling Center, we’d like to welcome you to StoryTown Radio, Jonesborough’s original storytelling radio show.

 

BRETT plays small musical measure.

 

KATY

Good evening everyone and welcome back. We’re so glad to have you at the opening of our ninth season, can you believe it? I’m your host, Katy Rosolowski.

 

JASON

And I’m your co-host, Jason Richards. I tell you Katy, I love being up here on the stage each month, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

 

KATY

Then tonight’s the perfect night to be here, because we’ve got a show all 

about “our favorite things.”

 

JASON

You might wonder whose favorite things. Well, it’s a show about our community’s favorite things. 

 

KATY

That’s right, Jason. The StoryTown Brigade has gone out into the hollers and hills across this region, collecting stories from our neighbors. Those stories are all put together for tonight’s show. 

JASON

Then we cast members get to step into the shoes of our neighbors as bring their stories to life. And we’ve got some pretty incredible tales tonight.

 

KATY
Well, you say that like they’re made up. These are real stories from real people.

 

ALL

Welllll…

 

KATY

Or, as our writer Jules likes to say…

 

KATY, JASON and ALL

It started out true. 

 

JASON

Before we get started, I want to acknowledge a few of our shows favorite things, and that would be our sponsors for this season.

 

KATY

We’d like to thank the Tennessee Arts Commission for their generous support of our program. We’d also like to thank the Wild Women of Jonesborough.

 

JASON

Katy Rosolowski, you’re one of those wild women, are you?

 

KATY

Proud to say that I am, along with Nancy Rhea, Pamela Pope, Nancy Kavanaugh, Marcy Hawley, Linda Harris, and Nancy Trivette. 

 

JASON

We certainly appreciate your supporting the important stories of Northeast Tennessee. 

 

KATY

We’d also like to thank Nancy Hope and Odie Major for sponsoring the program.

 

JASON

And finally, we’d like to thank Main Street Café and Catering for sponsoring us this season.

 

KATY

And speaking of favorite things, we’d also like to thank Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner from Buffalo, South Carolina. They’re one of our all-time favorite musical guests, and they’ve come all the way from the Piedmont region to help us kick off our season tonight. 

 

JASON

Katy, before we get started, I want to know what one of your favorite things might be. 

 

KATY

I would have to say, time travelling. 

 

JASON

Beg pardon. 

 

 

KATY

No, I’m serious. I visit my sweet mama every day, and more and more, she has trouble being connected to this time period, but she feels so connected to her earlier life, and she takes me time travelling with her every day. At first, it wasn’t one of my favorite things…I worried about her slipping too far back, and not being able to come back, but I’ve since learned to just be her companion on her journeys. Well, let me show you. Brett, a little time travel music, please.

 

BRETT

Time travel music. 

 

KATY

Here you go, Sweet Mama. 

 

NANCY 

Where are we going, Katy?

 

KATY

Oh, to your favorite places. As usual. You’ll tell me along the way as you see familiar sights. 

 

NANCY 

Well, let’s open the window. It’s a little dark. (Katy opens curtain revealing landscape photo near Highland Church Road.) Look at those hillsides. Oh, the cows. You know, Daddy rented a cow. We didn’t own it outright. You could do that back then. I learned how to milk it. Not right away, but eventually. 

 

KATY

My mother experiences adventure in every outing. No matter how often we’ve traversed the landscape, it’s always a new surprise to her to see it. With her memory being what it is, as the Alzheimer’s tightens its grip, the thoughts and reminisces she still holds so dearly slip from its grasp and spill out. Her days as a girl, following her father with the rented cow. Her school days. Life in a small rural town. For me, it is a repeated story almost every day, sometimes more than that. For my Sweet Mama, it is something else. Important moments replayed over and over, not of great deeds or exciting turns, but a recitation of her daily activities of another time-- a time my mother feels more at home in, more secure in, than the time we are in now. We go time traveling together, every day. She brings me back, brings herself back, and each day, she seems to have a harder and harder time making her way back to the present. 

 

For my part, it is often exhausting. Living in this daily déjà vu, negotiating between our return to the present, reliving the experiences over and over again. Time travel does that to you.

 

NANCY 

One year, Papa got a new rental cow. I was wearing a red dress when I met the new cow, and it got very anxious. That cow even tried to kick me. It flat out refused to give milk when I was near, so I was banished from the barn. But the next summer, I remembered to never wear red, and this one let me milk her. 

 

KATY

On out travels, Mom looks at the ranches and the farms here and asks how crops can grow when the land is not flat. 

 

NANCY 

And all the flowering trees. What are they?

 

KATY

Crepe Myrtles, Mama.

 

NANCY 

Oh, Crepe Myrtles. We never had those in Illinois. I’ll have to remember Crepe Myrtles.

 

KATY
She remembers the maples and oaks from her days as a child, but doesn’t remember the past year that we’ve driven past these crepe myrtles, when I explain to her what they are on every trip. 

 

NANCY 

Why do so many folks own pick-up trucks? So many. Let’s count them. 

 

KATY

We start to count the red ones -- 22 in 15 minutes. Then she forgets we are counting. 

 

NANCY 

Hmm. Look at all the pick up trucks. Why do so many people drive them? Daddy and I used to count cars that would go by. Sometimes as many as seven or eight would pass by in a single day. Maybe we should count the trucks.

 

KATY

So we count again. She loves downtown Main Street, because that reminds her of home.  Then we pass a sprawling, immaculately kept building that looks like a mansion.  Mom says she’d like to go inside and check it out.  Then she sees the sign that says, “Funeral Home.” 

 

NANCY 

No!  No, no, no.  Not yet! 

 

KATY

She comments on what the cows are doing. We are lucky today because they are bathing and she sees a few baby calves. 

 

NANCY 

We never owned our own cow. But Papa rented a new one each summer. 

 

KATY

She chats about the hay bales, the colorful tractors and the houses that are so far apart from one another. Then we do it all over again -- and again, and again.  (Sighs.)

 

NANCY 

Guess what’s the first thing I’m gonna do when we get back?   I’m gonna say a prayer of thanks.  Thank you for taking me out.  I’m sorry I’m so much trouble. 

 

KATY

In her moment of awareness, I feel her anguish and her anxiety. Sweet Mama, I love you just the way you are. And I love all the trips we take together through time. 

 

BRETT

Time travel music.

 

JASON

Thanks Katy. I can see how time travelling with your Mom is your favorite thing. Up next, we’ve got a story about Elizabeth’s grandmother, and her favorite things.

 

MARCY

My grandmother collected cats. Cat cross-stitches. Porcelain cats. Cat coasters. Even the cat clock with the wagging tail. Before I knew her, she had more cats than I could ever count. They lined and crowded my grandparents’ bookcases. The top shelves of course. Cats, then books, then photo albums. They harbored the most treasured places in the curio cabinets.  It was never difficult shopping for Grandma.  There was always a new cat broach or bracelet to buy. Grandma treasured everyone. She placed them with thought and care on end tables and night stands, marveling at their expressions. When she passed, there was no one to look after her beloved cats. There was just a stale empty house, with out-dated furniture and a dust-bunny smell overrun with cat figurines. Treasures to only one person, bagged in black trashbags and deposited at the local Goodwill.Except for one pink porcelain kitty that now sits on my book shelf next to the books.  Even now, more than a decade after the black bags carried the cats away, I can’t see a tacky kitty Christmas sweater or cat coffee mug without thinking how it would make Grandma smile. Maybe, it still does.

 

WALLACE

Cats, Schmatz. I’m from Malone Holler and if you’re from here, you know what my favorite thing is, made right down in the holler, and you know where to get it by following the smoke rising up from the pines.

 

JONATHAN

Good for what ails you.

 

PHYLLIS

Are you talking about Bar-B-Que?

 

WALLACE

Bar-B-Que? in Malone Holler? Are you new here or something?

 

PHYLLIS

Well, sort of. Why else would smoke be rising up out of the pines? 

WALLACE

She honest to goodness doesn’t know, does she? 

 

JONATHAN

I don’t think she does.

 

CALVIN

Malone Holler has a long, storied history or making the best moonshine anywhere. 

 

WALLACE

It’s a time worn recipe, just follow Rockingham Road, and well, if you know, then you know how to get there. If you don’t, then you don’t need to know.

 

MIRIAM

Rockingham’s always been known for its brew.

 

CALVIN

The original brew.

 

MIRIAM

The kind you see cooking a mile away. Why there was a time back in the 20’s, there wasn’t a stand of trees or a branch of water that didn’t have white vapors rising in the sky like spirits.

 

ED

Spirits all right! The best in the Appalachians. Rockingham’s original brew.

 

 

MIRIAM

The sugar, corn, yeast, malt and water brew. Not necessarily in that order.

 

CALVIN

I know the order, and how much of each. Granddaddy passed the recipe to us.

 

MIRIAM

(Hand over her heart.) Tradition is big in these parts. 

 

ED

And don’t you forget it. 

 

CALVIN

Still, there’s always room for improvement.

 

ED

Don’t try nothin’ fancy to make it better. Young’ns always trying to make something fancy that don’t need to be. Ya’ll seen some of that new fruit flavored moonshine for sale in liquor store? Liquor stores! You won’t find my stuff for sale in no liquor store. Goes against tradition. Look, if you don’t have to hide your still, if you don’t have to make the deals behind the bends in the roads, you ain’t really selling moonshine. ME! I make moonshine, one hundred perscent pure moonshine. And I don’t need changing my recipe, I don’t want you puttin’ no blueberry essence or apricot peach or that dang blasted pomegranate. I can’t even get denture cream anymore that ain’t pomegranate flavored. Ain’t nobody wants to drink pomegranate moonshine. You stick with the recipe. You hear me?

 

MIRIAM

Granddaddy has two rules when it comes to makin’ shine: stick to the recipe.

 

CALVIN

And don’t get caught.

 

ED

And don’t forget, it’s good for what ails, ya, too.

 

CALVIN

Granddaddy said there was this doctor, took care of folks around here. Never had a sick day in his life, ‘til last winter we got lots of snow and ice. He called up the operator and said he wasn’t gonna make rounds.

 

MIRIAM

Before Granddaddy knows it, there’s a knock on the door. Sheriff’s outside. Granddaddy’s’s just made a new batch of brew, and was about to violate rule number two.

 

CALVIN

He ain’t got time to hide it, and figures, 

 

ED

Well, I’m going to jail.

 

 

STEPHEN

Take it easy, pappy. I ain’t here to arrest you. I’m on official business.  I need a gallon of your recipe. Medicinal purposes. 

 

ED

Medicinal?

 

STEPHEN

Gladys called and said Old Doc is sick. Folks ‘round here need him pretty bad. Last time I got the bug, Missy poured me a little of your stuff, and by morning, I was good to go. So pappy, I need a gallon to bring to doc, sos I can nurse him back to health. How much I owe ya?

 

ED

Well, usually is 50 cents a jar, a dollar fifty a case, but since it’s professional courtesy, let’s say double half price. Just kidding. A George Washington and we’ll call her even. 

 

MIRIAM

Here’s the Sheriff, in his uniform, in his marked car, making a transaction. He carried the moonshine over to Doc’s place, Doc took a good snort, fell asNANCY p, woke up the next morning fit as Granddaddy’s fiddle. 

 

ED

Like I said, good for what ails ya!

 

CALVIN

Tell you what. You ain’t gonna see that nowhere but Rockingham. Cause we got the original—the Rockingham Brew.

 

GREGG

I have a story, not about Rockingham, but closer to Rock Hill- that’s in South Carolina. Well, it’s a bit further past that in Union, South Carolina, where our musicians tonight come from. There’s a place there where you are bound to find your favorite thing. It is a combination Antique store, get your taxes done, and have your pet spayed on Mondays, right in the heart of town. 

 

LEE

That is a very strange assortment of businesses.

 

GREGG
Well, the store is a strange assortment of objects. When a StoryTown play was being produced there, the script called for a scene to have one of those old transistor radios from the 1950’s.

 

LEE

Oh, a sputnik crystal radio! My mother had one of those. 

 

GREGG

Well, nobody seemed to have one in Union. Freddie suggested the team take a trip to the Antique Tax Pet Spay place. Well, just hearing about that place made the team want to go.

 

LEE

I’ll bet! I want to go right now.

 

GREGG
They got there, and room after room was filled with items from every decade of the 1800’s and 1900’s, but there was not really any order. 

 

LEE

How could you find anything? 

 

GREGG

Exactly. So the owner came out and welcomed the strangers.

 

TIM

Hi there, folks, what can I help you with?

 

GREGG

They explained that they’d been looking for one of these radios all over for more than a month, and couldn’t find one, and were about to have the set designer make one out of wood or cardboard and paint it. Then the owner said, 

 

TIM

Oh, a Sputnik radio? Do you want the green one or the red one?

 

GREGG

He had not one, but two of these radios, and knew exactly where to go. In 30 seconds flat, he produced it. 

 

LEE

I guess he had his own filing system.

 

GREGG
He sure did. And found it right away. He let the team borrow the green one, but they stayed around a while just marveling at all of the items in the store, and found a few more props that had been impossible to find to that point. Before they left, he told them.

 

TIM

Come by if you need something else. I reckon I have a little of everything.

 

GREGG

They asked him, Well, sir, how many items do you have to have before you have everything? And without a beat, the man answered back.

 

TIM

I’d say 800. Once I accumulated 800 things in this store, nobody seemed to leave without finding hat they came for. OF course, some people come to look and find things they didn’t know they needed, too. So, yeah. If you ever want to feel like you have everything, just get you 800 things, and there you go. 

 

JASON

And that was a true story from Union South Carolina.

 

KATY

And to bring us some of the sounds of Union County, South Carolina, we’ve the town of Buffalo to be specific, we’ll have Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner come up to the stage. But first, if you’re just tuning in, you’re listening to the StoryTown Radio Show on WETS 89.5 out of Johnson City, Tennessee.

 

BRETT
Music 30 seconds, Ladies choice skate. 

 

KATY

And we’re back, And so are Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner, on our episode of Favorite Things, you two have got to be one of my all time favorite music guests. 

 

FREDDIE AND BRANDON play 2 songs.

 

KATY

I love the sound of that Piedmont Blues, don’t you? We’ll ask them back on a little later in the show. 

 

JASON

Now, we’re going to get back to some favorite things, but we’re going to go back, back, into the past for this one. 

 

KATY

That’s right. It’s time to check in with one of our favorite segments we like to call:

 

ALL

Ask the historian!

 

TIM (Alf Taylor)

I have the honor of filling in for your usual historian this evening. Anne had some county business to attend to, and she knew I was in town. She also told me tonight’s program was about favorite things, and I just happen to be somebody’s favorite.

 

JASON

Former Governor Alf Taylor, this is a surprise!

 

TIM (Alf Taylor)

It shouldn’t be. Jonesborough’s sesquicentennial is tomorrow, big to do, so of course I’m here. Sit, sit, let’s sit and catch up. These old bones creak more than they used to, but they still hold me up. I’m accepting the monuments tomorrow, that big obelisk in honr of Jesse Walton and the Boone Trail Marker gifted by the Daughters of the American Revolution. I’m accepting them on behalf of the current governor. He couldn’t be here, so of course they sent me. I’m better to look at anyhow, wouldn’t want to show the poor fellow up if he was here. Best if I just do it myself.

Course, this party was supposed to be last year, but I know the town was installing the sewers. Glad for it. Town smells better than it used to. 

That obelisk is a public drinking fountain, but I have yet to see it work, so don’t get your hopes too high or your throat too parched.

I’m staying next door at the old Chester Inn, which happens to be one of my favorite things. So many memories in that building. Last time was 1911, right before, right before Our Bob passed away. He was a character, but I don’t have to tell you that. He did a show here that September, up there at the school auditorium on the hill. We performed the Fiddle and the Bow, one of our favorites. Afterwards, there was a large reception at the Russell Hotel, and then, we all came back to the Jonesboro Inn and played and played until the sun came up.

I don’t play the fiddle  much anymore, my fingers are stiffer than they used to be, and the music doesn’t sound as good as it once did.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back to this place, afraid of the memories, maybe, but I knew I needed to visit, for Bob.

Congressman, governor, senator, those were our day jobs, but our favorite thing to do was fiddle. We played Jobe’s Opera House in Johnson City, such a beautiful venue, but of course it’s gone now. Good thing the Chester Inn is still around. It’s need of some work, but I’m sure that’ll come.

Jobe’s Opera House, now that was an establishment. I can still hear the music, Fiddlin’ John Carson playing behind us.

“Goin' to Cripple Creek, goin' ter roam,

Goin' ter Cripple Creek, goin' back home.”

 

I can hear my brother telling his jokes from Yankee Doodle and Dixie. “Mason and Dixon’s line is still there, but it is only the dividing line between cold bread and hot biscuits, and there it will remain as long as the Yankee says, ‘You hadn’t ought to do it,’ and the Southerner says, “I’ve done done it.’”

 

I’ve seen many of our old friends on this trip, and it’s been good to reminisce. Remember our campaign against each other for governor in 1886, the War of the Roses, they called it? Our war was somewhere in time between the fight with the Lancasters and the Yorks for the English thrown and the fight for Women’s Suffrage right here in Tennessee. I can’t say Bob stole the election from me when he won, but he did steal my speech once on the campaign trail. I was out greeting guests, letting him speak first that day, and next thing I know, I hear my own speech being delivered, but not by me, by my younger brother. I never let him speak first again, but that was Bob, always the rascal.

 

Some people are worried about politics today, say we’re too divided. But if Bob and I could campaign for different parties, Bob was a Democrat, and you all know I’ve always been a staunch Republican. If we could run on different tickets and both serve the State and our communities, then I think we’ll be all right. Maybe we just need more fiddle music?

 

I see Bob everywhere in this town. There he is now, standing on the Chester Inn porch, deciding where the best seat is and how he can beat me to it. I wonder how many other people are here, too? How many people who used to work here, live here, vacation here? Are they all in this town with us?

 

If so, I hope Bob is telling them a good joke. He had some whoppers, and some duds. I’m 82 now, may be joining my brother in a few years. But right now, I have some monuments to accept. If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna find my room for the evening and work on my remarks. 

 

KATY

Thank you, Alf, for that wonderful trip through time. 

 

JASON

Katy, we got one of these new language translators, so we’re able to bring a story toe stage me might not otherwise be able to.

 

KATY

Oh, wonderful, Jason. Where is this person from?

 

JASON

That’s just it. It’s not a person. 

 

 

KATY

Beg pardon?

 

JASON

It’s a dog! Finn, a fun loving pure-bred East Tennessee Yard Dog and family pet. We’ve got a story about Finn’s favorite things. 

 

KATY

Because dogs have favorite things, too. 

 

JUANITA

Hey, Finn. Want to play football? Go long.

 

CALVIN (Finn (overly-excited, rushed)

Football? Football! Football is my favorite! I love my football. It goes farther than the other balls. I’ve gotta go catch it. I’ve gotta. . . wait, what’s that? My squeaky toy. I love my squeaky toy.

 

SFX (squeaky toy squeaks)

 

JUANITA

Finn, what is this? This isn’t your football? 

(squeaky toy squeaks)

 

JUANITA   

You want me to throw it?  Go get it.

 

CALVIN

I love my squeaky toy. It’s gotta be my favorite. It squeaks and squishes and got it! I’m gonna take it back to Mom and . . . oh, there’s my rope! I love my rope.

 

JUANITA

Finn, where’s your squeaky toy? Okay, okay. Rope it is.

 

CALVIN

I love Tug-a-Rope. It’s my favorite. I can shake my head and my cheeks flap against my teeth. And Mom even lets me growl at her. Ooops. She got the rope. Don’t throw it. Don’t. . . she threw it. . . into the bean bag.

 

JUANITA

Well, go get it.

 

CALVIN

Now, there’s only one thing to do. . . Jump on the bean bag! Jumping on bean bags is the best! And you can roll around in them and they crinkle and you can bury stuff under them . . . under the bean bag, wait a minute. Yep- there it is! My bone! I love my bone. I remember I buried it under the bean bag to keep it safe because it was my favorite Christmas present. Awe, I love Christmas. I love Santa at the pet store and the stockings and the candy cane bones and the presents.  Wait! What’s that? What’s behind me? What just moved? I gotta get it. Why—can’t—I—see—it?

 

JUANITA

Did you find your tail, Finn?

 

 

CALVIN

My tail! I gotta get my tail. How is it so fast? (panting, slower) So fast. Hey, sunlight. I like sunlight.  Maybe I’ll just lie down here. 

 

JUANITA

Well, Finn, I think you’ve worn yourself out.

 

CALVIN

I like napping in the sun. I like the warmth and the heat and the stretching.  Oh yeah, the stretching. And the dreaming. Dreaming’s my favorite.  Maybe everything’s my favorite. Life is pretty good. I mean, have you ever tried peanut butter? (slee pily) Yeah, that’s good stuff.

 

PERRY

Finn! I’m home!

 

CALVIN

Boy? Is that my boy? Is he really home?

 

PERRY

Hey, boy. I missed you.

 

CALVIN

My boy. My mom. This—This is my favorite.

 

PERRY

You’re a good boy, Finn. Good dog.

 

CALVIN

You’re a good boy, Joseph, Good boy.

JASON

Oh, I’m with Finn. I think Family is my favorite, too. If you’re just tuning in, you’re listening to Jonesborough’s original storytelling radio show, StoryTown on WETS 89.5 FM out of Johnson City, Tennessee.

 

BRETT

30 Seconds of music- All skate.

 

JASON

And we’re back. And so are Freddie Vanderford and Brandon Turner!

 

FREDDIE AND BRANDON play 2 Songs.

 

JASON

Oh, that was just incredible. And I believe they’ve got some CD’s available for sale after the show tonight, and you can also listen to them online at (Jason- get Freddie’s website and put here. __________________________)

 

 

CATHERINE

My favorite things are a collection of letters. All in my father’s handwriting. I was born when he was off at War, fighting overseas. The first letter he sent to me was when I was a baby. And as the war dragged on, I got older, and he still wrote letters to me. It’s how I knew him. Almost every single one says, “I’ll be home soon, and then we will all be together. We’ll be a family again soon. SO be a good girl, help your mommy with your brothers. Love, Daddy.” 

I love pulling those letters out, and seeing that handwriting. The clear, block letters he always wrote in. It’s a military thing. I knew his handwriting before I knew his face. He’s gone now, but I’ve got his letters. Each year, at Christmas and on my birthday, I pull those letters out, and read them. They are my presents to myself. I keep seeing those words, over and over. One day, we’ll be together again. And I believe it He’s gone, but one day, I know we will all be together again, our whole family, and nothing will keep us apart after that. 

 

Miriam:       

Oh my lands!

 

DAUGHTER

Her fingers fluttered to her neck when they saw me, warming where I would rest on my delicate chain, just below the divot of her collar bone.

 

MIRIAM

But can we afford it?

 

DAUGHTER

Tenderly, she lifted me. Resting me on her rough fingers, as her thumb rolled over me and the silver leaf at my side. Her finger nails were mauve and long and oval. Their smoothness making it easy to unlatch my clasp. They slid me around her neck, letting me fall on the spot she had warmed.

Every night, her fingers slid me off and hung me next to others. And every morning, I would return to the divot below her collarbone. Over time, her skin began to loosen around her neck, and I could no longer find the spot she had warmed for me. Her flesh became thin, and I could feel her wavering breaths beneath it. Her fingernails still remained perfect ovals but could no longer open my clasp.

 

KATHLEEN

Here, Nana. Let me help you.

 

MIRIAM     

I can get it.

 

KATHLEEN

It’s okay. I don’t mind.

 

DAUGHTER

She may have been young, but her nails were short and uneven. Eventually, other necklaces were chosen. Ones without clasps. Ones where help wasn’t needed. Until one day. . .

 

LEE

I think Mother would want you to have this.

 

KATHLEEN

What is it?

 

LEE

Well dry your eyes and look.

 

 

KATHLEEN

Oh I couldn’t. It’s so beautiful.

 

DAUGHTER

She took me lightly in her hands. Her fingers were soft and smooth. Her thumb slowly rolled over me and the tarnished leaf at my side.

 

KATHLEEN

But it must be worth so much.

 

LEE   

I know she’d want you to have it.

 

DAUGHTER

I recognized her short, uneven fingernails as they unclasped my latch and draped my silver chain around her neck. A neck so small, I fell well below her collar bone, landing above her heart. There I could feel her pulse. Her excitement at first kisses and her sorrow at heartbreak. The unsteady pulse of anticipation and the jostling laughter of friendship. All of it happening just beneath me, until my tired chain wore out.

 

KATHLEEN

Here it is. I found it.

 

DAUGHTER

She lifted me cautiously from the ground, her thumb caressing me.

 

KATHLEEN

Just until I can afford a new chain. . .

 

 

DAUGHTER

The box was cloth and heart-shaped and incredibly dark inside. On occasion it would open and a stray earring would drop in to be forgotten. Sometimes, she would lift me up, her thumb rolling across me.

 

KATHLEEN:       \

One day, I’ll be able to afford just the right chain.

 

DAUGHTER

And then the lid would close again, leaving me in darkness. Until the day it didn’t. That day, as her thumb rolled over me, I noticed her fingers had grown rough. Tenderly, she slid me onto a chain and draped me around her neck. The skin there was looser, and caused me to fall just below the divot in her collar bone. She moved in front of the mirror. Her fingers fluttered to me, warming the flesh around me. Once her fingers drifted away, I caught a glimpse of us in the mirror, and I couldn’t help but whisper, “Oh my lands.”

 

 

MAGGIE

My mother kept recipes. Handwritten on the backs of envelops, torn corners of note pads, whatever paper was handy, she would write down a recipe for anything she tried that was new, that she liked, that the family liked, and would eventually want to cook again. She kept them inside of an old cookbook her mother-in-law gave her. I went through it one weekend, and pulled out about seventy-five hand-written recipes. I thought about typing them up at first, but then, I thought, no, I pieced them together, in her handwriting, into a little booklet and had copies made. Now, I could share with all of my brothers and sisters the secret recipes my mom made, in her own writing. These were the meals and desserts and wonderful joys she created to feed her family. It wasn’t just about the ingredients, it was about the care and joy she took in making something we all loved- she wanted to remember how to do it again. But the real secret ingredient isn’t just the carefully remembers teaspoons and portions of this or that. Her secret was her love and her care, and that’s what made everything so special. 

 

ANNI

There must be something about food that stays as a lasting favorite memory. Our daughter had moved out almost a month ago from the old family home that my sister and I grew up in.  It was now empty, and the grass was becoming unkempt.  I owed the little cottage now since Mom had passed away, but to me it would always be Mom’s house.

 

I called my sister over, and while waiting, I stood on the small porch and the memories of a lifetime kept flooding back.The years of sitting on the porch in the evening telling about the early years- remember her stories about-

 

MARCY

when automobiles were few and the panther and wild cat still roamed the mountains in front of the house.  Those were the days when whippoorwills could be heard in the evening around dusk.

 

ANNI

Growing up, this was the only place I had ever lived.Mom and Dad moved from the cove shortly after I was born.  We didn’t want to leave Grandma alone, so we convinced her to live with us. 

 

PHYLLIS

The house we moved into was small but was a perfect place for closeness and happiness.

 

ANNI

My sister arrived and pulled me out of my daydream, but only for a moment.

          

As I opened the door and went into the living room, one could almost hear the conversations of the occupants and smell the fresh forest smell that drifted thru the open windows. 

 

PHYLLIS

Look. The old oil stove that was in the room is gone but the faint smell of pungent oil must have permeated the wooden floors.Doesn’t it remind you of the cold winter days when we hovered around the stove?

 

ANNI

Yeah. And I remember when it was really cold going in to the kitchen with mom.

 

PHYLLIS

That’s where Mom and Grandma made the wonderful meals that I looked forward too. 

MARCY

The cat- head biscuits, the wonderful garden produce and the wonderful victuals that were made using my closely guarded secret recipes. 

 

ANNI

Grandma was a most wonderful cook. 

 

MARCY

My expertise came from raising a houseful of children and feeding them three meals a day. 

 

PHYLLIS

She would take a handful of flour, a little sugar, and a couple of eggs and make a stack cake that was five or six layers. 

 

ANNI

She would put anything from jelly to apple butter between the stacks.  I would always ask what made them taste so wonderful, but she would only smile and tell me

 

 

MARCY

It’s part of my secret recipe.

 

ANNI

Apparently, Mom also had a few of these secret recipes.The Christmas fudge that she so proudly made was excellent.  I wanted to know exactly what was used and how it was done but she would never give away the secret recipe that was used to make it so smooth and tasty.

 

Her famous recipe was the deep-dish strawberry cobbler. 

 

PHYLLIS

She must have used double secrets on this one because it was always requested for church socials. 

 

ANNI

The food prepared from Mom and Grandma were simple dishes that were perfected, and time tested for years. They always assured me 

 

MARCY

I’ll share our secret recipes, don’t you worry. When the time is right, you’’ have them.

 

ANNI

but time slipped away.

 

PHYLLIS

We never took the opportunity to sit with them and record the recipes for these wonderful treats.

 

ANNI

But that day, as we were clearing mom’s things, we found a box.

 

PHYLLIS

Look! What’s this? Let’s open it.

 

ANNI

In the very back of the box, covered with paper was a small wooden box.  On the front of the box in small letters was “Mom’s secret recipes”. 

 

TARA

Here’s a secret ingredient you don’t want to find. I was reminded of it a few weeks ago. My mom found an old photo of me and our birds. I loved these birds so much. The memory that comes to mind whenever I see photos like this one is the following: My father and I share our love of birds and also a love of cookies. Specifically chocolate chip cookies. Many years after this photograph was taken and our birds had passed from age, I ventured to the extra freezer in the basement where I had seen a container of cookie dough. It felt surprisingly light so I opened it and found Iago, amongst others of our childhood parakeets. I screamed and dropped the container. The birds went flying (well falling, as they were very dead) and I sat there a bit in shock until I just picked up the birds, put them back in the empty cookie dough container, and went about my day cookieless and slightly concerned about whether or not the dog was somewhere in there too.

My Dad and I didn't speak of this until last Christmas 😂 He had planned on having them taxidermied (or whatever the verb is for stuffing birds, and I don’t mean like for Thanksgiving.) Which ultimately he did not do. But. Just for any other fathers with that interest, I would recommend labeled containers or something less likely to be opened such as COOKIE DOUGH containers for storing beloved pet corpses. Anyway, sharing a love for birds with my father is my favorite thing. Finding them years later in place of cookies will have to line up with my least favorites. But that’s for another show.

 

JASON

Wow, Tara. As a Dad, myself, I will keep that in mind. Note to self- do not keep beloved pets in containers in the freezer…or anywhere else. That’s another lifestyle tip from the StoryTown radio show. Now here’s Sadie.

 

SADIE

My mother had a tea set collection that was passed down to her. When I got to be in third grade, she trusted me with it. I don’t mean the big size tea sets for grown-ups, but tiny porcelain children’s tea sets. They were very fancy. Some had flowers, some had colored stripes. My favorite was a tea set that was blue, and it had a dragon, white and gold- on the teapot and the cups. A raised dragon, made out of pottery. She got this set when she lived in Japan. I only took it out with my most special friends. The ones I knew that were careful, and wouldn’t break them. It was so special. It was kept in a wooden box with straw. I think the straw came all the way from Japan, too. I take care of my mom’s tea sets the same way I take care of my little bother and sister. Very carefully. Especially the dragon one. I brought the set out one day, and my Aunt said the set must be worth a fortune. I was so happy when my mom said she would never sell it. And neither will I. I’ll always keep it. Some things are too special, even for money. 

 

KATY

We’ve been telling stories tonight about favorite things- these are real-life stories we’ve collected from around the region, and our cast has been performing them. But I thought it might be fun to put our cast on the spot, and ask them- not as actors portraying our community members, but just as themselves. Tell me- what is your favorite thing?

 

Cast shares one by one favorite things- about 1 -2 sentences each. We will line up and create order at rehearsal.

 

 

KATY

I feel like I know just a little bit more about you all. Thanks for that glimpse into your favorites. And Jason, do you know what my favorite is?

 

JASON

What’s that Katy?

 

KATY

That we get to do another season of these stories- and they are all my favorite.

 

JASON

Me too, Katy. Well, that looks like all the time we have in our show tonight. We’d like to thank Freddie Vanderfod and Brandon Turner.

 

KATY

And of course, our sponsors, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Wild Women of Jonesborough, Nancy Hope and Odie Major and Main Street Café and Catering.

 

JASON

And we’d like t especially thank you, our listening audience. Be sure to tune in the last Wednesday at 8PM on 89.5 WETS FM to hear our program, or listen on line to WETS.org on HD channel 1. 

 

KATY

Goodnight everyone!