Remembering The Story Barn

March 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

barn-int-books-and-angel                                                                                                                                        The Story Barn  as it was, the bookshelves full of resources, the angel.  Photo credit: Mary-Eileen McClear

Last evening at Stories Aloud, my reflection was on stories, what they mean for us, what they do for us as listeners. I recalled my first night participating in the place called the Story Barn in Baden that is now closed. I honour the memory of that place and Mary-Eileen McClear who founded it and her husband, Ted Derry, who helped to create that place.

Candles lit on the window frame, books of stories lined the shelves, lights turned down so we focus on the teller and the story. Ah, and there was an old pump organ or piano (trying to remember which it was); it’s been gone awhile. It must have been quite an operation to get it up those stairs. I understand, too, that Mary-Eileen and Ted’s family hosted Christmas up there. Another operation, but likely a pleasant one. Carpet on the floor, various styles of wooden chairs with an even greater variety of cushions on them for comfortable sitting. There was a lazyboy chair too that a certain listener would choose each month. The stories put him to sleep every First Friday of the month. A pot-bellied stove that took time to get a fire going, much different that flicking a switch to start a furnace, but warmed our hot apple cider.

barn-interior-4                                                                                                                             This is how it looked with storytellers and listeners engaged at Stories Aloud.  Photographer unknown

I remembered my first night there and how I went home with stories in my head. Stories told from the heart. It was a warm and welcoming place, the tone set by the one who set the place in motion. It was a forgiving place too. If a teller lost the way in a story, there was usually someone who could help the teller get back on track. The place became a character in a bigger scene of storytelling. People learned about the Story Barn and came to experience it, came back again and again—like me.

Stories carried me home. Well, my car did, but it seemed as though the stories had a part.

Here’s a snippet of what I shared last evening:

A story starts with a “What if…?” question. There could be a thousand “What if’s” but this is the question that began the poem: What if a story barn is turned into a workshop for a woodworker?

We gather to tell, to hear stories, like a cloak that keeps us warm, protects us from the night. They remind us; they take us on adventure and bring us back again.

barn-int-double-door                                                                                                                          One last set-up to remember the place as it was, waiting for people to come.  Photo credit: Mary-Eileen McClear

Guess I’m a little lonesome for that place. It’s now a workshop for Ted, a place to create things from wood, a storyteller in a different form. And I wonder if he remembers a lot of stories told there as he creates new things in that place.



Entry filed under: arts, books, friendship, photography, storytelling. Tags: , , , , , .

Michele Braniff– 2014 Artist in Residence for Cambridge Centre for the Arts– a workshop this week! Coming up at Cambridge Centre of the Arts with Artist in Residence, Michele Braniff

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