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Date:9/2/2014 7:05:10 AM
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Listening to Your Elders, Part I
First off, there's no story teller like a Southern story teller. A cool porch under magnolia or Georgia pine trees on a breezy Summer day with an old Grandpa or Grandma who has seen it all telling family stories; that's a memory that every young person should have. I especially liked "The Cajun Cook", Justin Wilson, when he would tell stories on his cooking show. Of course, I'm partial to Justin Wilson because he reminds me of my own Pa.

Up here in the Great North, as Jim Henson of "The Muppets" fame wrote in his short-lived cable series, "The Story Teller", "the spot closest to the fire was reserved for the Story Teller." Historically, one can easily imagine nights in a wigwam or teepee during "The Moon of the Falling Snows" when tribal members of all ages gathered around the fire to hear what the elders had to tell. Later, settlers would sit close to the fireplace or stove and listen to the old men swap stories or grandmothers teach family history to the children and young women.

Anthropologists have related how the oral histories of unlettered aboriginal peoples have been found to have been tremendously accurate in their description of previous events. The memory-training techniques of "primitive" societies have been lost to us but studies done by modern anthropologists have shown that the story tellers of these peoples had an almost photographic memory. It's as if the advent of writing served as a double-edged sword. It enabled the preservation of learning for the ages, but it also rendered obsolete the skills of the bard and the oral historian. Louis Lamour referred to the rote memory skills of the Druids in his novel "The Walking Drum". Farley Mowatt, the acclaimed Canadian naturalist and writer, discussed the amazing accuracy found in the oral histories of the "First Nation" peoples in Labrador. In short, the oral memories of the ancients are found to be as accurate as the written histories of more recent cultures.

Now how does this tie in to "Listening to Our Elders"? It means that the memories, stories, and wisdom of our elders must needs to be attended. C'est-a-dire, (that is to say) listen to what the elders have to say! It's important! (Scroll up for Part II) -- Gary
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