Obit: Carolyn Moore storytelling mentor May22 2010
Subject: Obit: Carolyn Moore storytelling mentor May22|
Date: 30 May 10 - 08:43 PM
On May 22, 2010, one of the unsung founders of the storytelling renaissance passed on.
Many know the origin myth of the storytelling revival in the United states, how the mayor of the little town of Jonesborough, Tennessee founded the National Storytelling Festival in the 1970's, and things just took off. What isn't usually mentioned is that he didn't do it all by himself. People like Carolyn supported and encouraged both him, the festival and the storytelling movement.
I think that the first thing I heard about the festival was from a duo that had been there from the beginning. They described being cold and tired, and how Carolyn put them up in her house in a room with a parachute draped on the ceiling, and how she brought them hot chocolate in bed.
Ah, that house... It was a 19th century house that had been added on to over the years without anything looking tacked on at a later date. Inside it was almost as though it had been designed by Escher. You thought you were headed to the kitchen and you found yourself visiting in the library with a storyteller. There was antique glassware lining the dining room wall, and six foot posters from the 1960's adorning the entry hall. Hung discreetly on the side of a hutch was a framed invitation to JFK's inauguration from 1961. Rumor was that she simply forbade dust.
The house reflected the owner. She had the old fashioned qualities of courtesy and good manners (the closest I ever heard her speak ill of someone was to say, "I was so mad, it was all I could do not to be impolite."), but that did not mean that she suffered fools gladly. Our visits were a highlight of my time at the festival - intelligent, no matter how great or small the topic, impassioned but still relaxed, so that you came away invigorated, not exhausted. She did not sit me down and give me advice, but in less than a dozen words, she could teach me what I needed.
Carolyn beat cancer twice, and tried anything once. In the early years, she hosted the after performance parties, then attended them when they shifted to other houses. She was the sort of person that could be described as a pillar of the community, a lady (and a Southern Lady at that), a member of a Red Hat Club, and many things besides, and they'd each of them be a compliment.
Her tagline on emails, or when we parted company, was to wish traveling mercies. And so do I to her, now.