Tag Archives: story

On The Radio… update!

What fun I had last Friday speaking with Annette Rochelle Aben as her guest on Tell Me a Story, a presentation of The Magic Happens Radio Network!

I appreciated the opportunity to talk about my blog, my family, and the story I contributed to the latest book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back. I was especially happy to talk more about Nannie, my grandmother, and what a powerful influence she was on me and anyone she ever met.

So many kind comments came after the interview and I appreciate those more than you know. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but Annette’s professional and laid back style enabled me to take a breath and get on with what I wanted to say!

Some who missed the live radio show have asked for the archived link, so I’m attaching that here:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/themagichappens/2015/08/28/storyshucker-stu-perkins-on-tell-me-a-story

Thanks again for reading, listening, and the constant encouragement.

Stuart M. Perkins

Original blog post announcing the interview:

I may be more comfortable writing than talking but talking I will do… this Friday, August 28th at 1:30 p.m. EDT when I join Annette Rochelle Aben as her guest on Tell Me a Story, a presentation of The Magic Happens Radio Network!

We’ll likely discuss a little about my blog and a story of mine included in the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back, then move on to something less interesting…me.

Below is the description provided for Friday’s show along necessary links to join in on the fun.

I hope you’ll log in and listen!

Stuart M. Perkins

Storyshucker Stu Perkins on Tell Me a Story – no need to pinch yourself, it is actually happening  Friday, August 28th. We have tried a couple of times but the 3rd time has indeed been the charm for us here at The Magic Happens Radio Network. Visiting Stu’s blog, Storyshucker, and reading his tales is like taking a step back in time to when people took priority over popularity and family was the ‘inter-net’ where you learned everything.

Oh, and that blog address is http://www.storyshucker.wordpress.com/ so be sure to head over and catch up the archives and see what heart-warming story has been shucked of late.

Also, keep an eye open for a brand new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back, because Stu Perkins is one the contributing writers. We cover this and more in Friday’s Tell Me a Story, a presentation of The Magic Happens Radio Network. Find us at:

http://www.themagichappens.com/

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/themagichappens/2015/08/28/storyshucker-stu-perkins-on-tell-me-a-story

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A Little Chicken Soup…

I began blogging a little over two years ago thanks to the encouragement of two close friends. I didn’t expect it to morph into such an enjoyable adventure!

Coming from a large family and a long line of storytellers I was born pre-loaded with the urge to regale anyone who would listen with anecdotes about family, friends, and everyday observations. So, encouraged by those two close friends, I hesitantly put the first post out there for the entire world to see. Then held my breath…

No need for nerves. Kind comments, constructive criticisms, and many a simple “thanks for that” poured in after the very first post. Fun interaction with other bloggers has been an unexpected bonus.

We write it because we want someone to read it and blogging provides a great platform for bouncing thoughts and stories off of others. I appreciate comments from readers and have been flattered many times by those who’ve asked whether I’ve ever been published.

In response, I’m now excited to announce that a story of mine will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering and Giving Back due out later this month!

I’m proud of the accomplishment and happy that the story includes and is based on a quote from my grandmother. Nannie was an extremely positive influence on me and her entire extended family. She had a calm way of teaching by example and she’d be proud, though modesty would prevent her showing it, to see that I learned one of her valuable lessons and tried to pass it on.

Stuart M. Perkins

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Tend the Garden

A longtime friend commented during dinner that her next door neighbor’s son was on the path to nowhere and constantly in trouble. She thought herself clever referring to him as “a weed in the garden of life”. Although an avid fan of barbed words and wit, I found her comment harsh directed at a kid who was barely a teenager. He was dismissed and labeled as worthless. A weed.

“But maybe he’s a pokeweed!” I said in a positive tone.

She rolled her eyes. I recognized the look of resignation on her face. The look many of my friends have when I spit out a puzzling one-liner and they know a story is coming. She sipped her drink and grinned, arms crossed in silent permission for me to proceed.

Years ago I had a yard packed with plants. It was full of boxwoods, azaleas, and geraniums surrounding a dogwood centerpiece. A problem area at one end of the garden saw pokeweeds sprout thickly every spring. I chopped them back, broke them off, stomped them down, but still they sprouted. I finally spent a day digging up the massive roots and unceremoniously dumped them in the woods.

The very next weekend I was in the woods again to dump my centerpiece dogwood which had spent two years dying a slow death until I finally cut it down. I noticed that some of the pokeweed roots dumped a week earlier had sprouted while simply lying in the open air.

A week later, back in the woods to dump grass clippings, I saw that all of the sprouting pokeweeds had died except for one scrawny stem with two leaves. It leaned feebly towards the light. I pondered the struggle of that weed and impressed by its determination, I picked up the withering root and took it with me. In the hole where my dogwood had once grown I replanted the weed. Right in the center of my garden.

In only two days the frail sprout became sturdy and turned a darker green. I watered the pokeweed daily and even fertilized the baby beast. It took off.

When friends dropped by they told me, as though I didn’t know, that I had a weed growing in the center of my garden.

“Why are you leaving that there?”

“What’s that doing in your garden?”

“What is that awful thing?”

“It’s my pokeweed.” I responded each time.

My grandmother loved to garden and I learned all I know from her. Nannie said about various plants in her own garden, “It’s only weed if you don’t want it.”

I wanted this pokeweed.

Summer passed and the pokeweed grew. And grew. It was soon taller than me. Huge dark green leaves and red stems were supported by a thick reddish stalk. I trimmed and trained the pokeweed as it grew and by the end of summer it was a massive umbrella of a plant and a beautiful centerpiece in the garden. As fall approached, hundreds of tiny white flower clusters transformed into huge bunches of purplish-black berries. Cardinals, robins, and mockingbirds feasted for many days. Friends continued to drop by.

“What a beautiful plant!”

“That’s amazing!”

“What is it?”

“It’s my pokeweed.” I responded each time.

In the end, this unwanted “weed in the garden of life” had given me weeks of enjoyment, triggered hours of conversation, fed countless birds, and for one summer became the centerpiece of my garden and was admired by people from all over. It took very little effort.

Amazingly still awake after that story, my friend at dinner leaned forward and took another sip of her drink. She grinned with understanding as she spoke.

“So, I get it. Instead of tossing this kid next door into the woods, train him a little, make him the centerpiece for a while?”

“He’s only a weed if he’s not wanted.” I shrugged my shoulders as I spoke. “It’s certainly worth the effort.”

As a reward for her staying awake during yet another of my stories I thought I would suggest we have dessert. My treat.

“So,” I began, “how about cheesecake, or maybe carrot cake?”

“I can’t this time.” She said. “I need to get going.”

Worried I’d irritated her with my pokeweed memories; I apologized and promised no more storytelling that evening.

“Oh that’s not it at all!” She declared.

“Was it something I said?” I asked.

“It certainly was.” She grinned as she stood to leave. “There’s a little pokeweed next door at home who might want to go see a movie or something.”

Stuart M. Perkins

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What Man?

“Y’all heard about that man, didn’t you?” Daddy asked when my sisters and I were kids.

“What man?” we responded.

Daddy grinned slightly as he gazed into the distance. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, slowly lit one as suspense built, then pretended he’d forgotten he asked a question.

What man?” my sisters and I repeated. We grinned and stomped a foot at him.

We were familiar with his exasperating style but we knew a joke was coming. Or was it a joke? With Daddy we were never sure. He told a joke in such a way that after we had a good laugh we still had to ask him whether it was true.

“Is that real, Daddy?” one of us asked after he delivered the punch line.

“I don’t know, that’s what they tell me.” he answered, then walked off to busy himself with Daddy things, leaving us still wondering.

Daddy’s joke and story telling styles were the same – set us up, draw us in, hit us with a good one, then walk away like he’d had nothing to do with the laughter he left behind. Clearly it was genetic because I saw similar styles exhibited by his siblings. All excellent joke and story tellers.

Just like many families gather around the television at night, our families walked across the field to gather on my grandmother’s back porch. Nannie enjoyed the fact that her children had homes next to her farmhouse, and we all enjoyed her back porch filling with aunts, uncles, and cousins. Story telling would soon begin.

My parents, aunts, and uncles would shift chairs around the huge screened porch as they asked Nannie about the garden, wondered out loud as to when we’d dig potatoes, or decided we ought to fix home made ice cream the next weekend. Eventually, they would settle into the random collection of old metal chairs that lined the porch. Amid the sounds of ice tinkling in the tea glasses, metal chairs being scooted into final position, or a cousin’s dog barking to be let onto the porch, one of them would finally say, “Y’all heard about that man, didn’t you?”

The games had begun.

Daddy or an uncle would stretch a story out for a while and the porch would laugh. The first story would trigger a second. The second story would give rise to a third. Then someone would remember a joke. More laughing from the porch.

At times, Mama or an aunt would feign disgust over a story or joke they considered remotely off color. “Thank goodness that’s all you told.” they might say. “I was afraid you were going to tell the one about the horse!”

A clear signal that the one about the horse should now be told.

Once the horse joke began, Mama and the aunts would sigh in disgust, then grin at each other between sips of iced tea.

The stories my family told were always funny, but I remember how much I loved their story telling styles. If Daddy told one, you may as well have a seat. He could stretch a knock-knock joke into a filibuster. One uncle might deliver lightning fast one liners, another might rival Daddy for air time. One aunt could hardly finish a funny story for all the laughing she did as she told it. I loved hearing what was told and couldn’t get enough of how it was told. There were many years of good story telling on that porch.

Earlier this year, both of my kids and I sat on the screened porch at my parents’ house. Daddy, eighty years old now, sat down to join us. As the four of us discussed what my kids had planned for the summer, I remembered my own summer evenings on Nannie’s porch listening to relatives do their story telling.

During a rare pause in Daddy’s conversation with the kids, I asked, “Y’all heard about that man, didn’t you?”

“What man?” they both asked.

“He’ll tell you.” I said, as I nodded towards their grandfather.

Daddy said nothing, but he grinned slightly as he gazed into the distance. He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, slowly lit one as suspense built, then pretended he’d forgotten I’d asked the question.

What man, Big Daddy?” the kids asked him.

Like the pro he was, Daddy slowly launched into one of his best. He stretched it out, paused when necessary, sped up when required, and hit the punch line hard at the end. Both of the kids doubled over with laughter and told him he was “awesome”. I could tell something was on their minds.

“That was funny, but was it true Big Daddy?” they asked him.

He looked at me and grinned from ear to ear. He remembered the old days on Nannie’s porch, just as I had.

Getting no response from him, the kids turned to me.

“Well?” they asked me. “Was that true?”

I grinned at the inquiring looks on their faces. I remembered that feeling when what I’d just heard had been hilarious, but had been told to me in such a way that I really wasn’t sure it was a joke. Daddy’s grin became even wider when I responded to my kids.

“I don’t know, that’s what they tell me.” I said to them. In unison, Daddy and I left the porch, leaving the kids still wondering.

Stuart M. Perkins

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