by Joyce Slater
I learned about storytelling in 1991. There was a storytelling class listed in the newspaper and I decided to try it. I met so many friends in that class, most of whom became lifelong friends. Jim “Two Crows” Wallen, Steve Otto, Tim Manson, Melva Hargett, Jackie Rozine, Shirley Long and Geneva Greenfield were a part of the group. Those classes led to many storytelling adventures.
Somehow, we became acquainted with Donnis Rogers, a storyteller in the KC area. She was listed as a master storyteller, and she was willing to pass on her knowledge to us. A Master Class was established and most of us joined. We worked hard developing our stories, our voices and our stage presence. In our near future we would be good enough to tell a story at the swapping ground at the MO-TELL Riverboat festival on the Goldenrod in St. Charles, MO. We all did just that. The festival began on a Friday night and continued to Sunday. There were storytellers there from all over the country. It was amazing.
On stage were people I would later get to know, Jackson Gilman, Bobby Norfolk, Michael Parent and more. The place was packed with listeners. We ate dinner together and listened in awe to the talent on stage.
Perrin Stifel was the President of this organization called MO-TELL, Missouri Storytelling Inc. He introduced teller after teller throughout the night. I could tell he loved what he was doing, and I wanted to really make storytelling a part of my life. Sue Hinkel was his second in command. I knew we would become friends too.
That first encounter with MO-TELL and the festival stuck with me. I traveled to St. Charles every year to be a part of it. Friendships grew and my storytelling skills improved until I was good enough to take to the stage of that riverboat and tell my own tale.
There are so many people and organizations to thank for my continued love of storytelling. Perrin Stifel and Sue Hinkel and MO-TELL rank high on my list of reasons I am a storyteller today. Thank you.