by Chris Swymeler
My Grandpa Swymeler was a great story teller. And man, did he have stories to tell!
The Dust Bowl. Great Depression. Breaking horses. Backwoods Missouri living. The good stuff.
To be honest, I can’t share most of his stories and probably just as well. But, what I can share is how he told his tales. He had a terrific technique. One that was perfected around the campfires of days long ago. They were his art. They had form and function. Rhythm and cadence. They were organized and ready at will to spring on his audience of any age.
I can remember his eye contact. His intensity was legendary. He would start by staring deep into your eyes. No eye contact, no story. It was that simple. He never had a “throw away” story. Every story had a point, punchline and a purpose. They were intentional, truthful and amazing. Not a single story had a lie in it, because he lived them. They were never hearsay. They were his stories. He was there. The truth would make you tear up. He counted on it. He waited on it. And, you would not be alone. He would be on the story’s journey with you. His vulnerable tears rolling right beside your own.
Grandpa Swymeler was a master at the table-time story. His stories lasted about as long as it would take to butter and eat a slice of bread. He would always leave us wanting more. He would seemingly…carelessly drop a name here or a side adventure there during his tale. We would beg him to go down the rabbit trail; to take us on this other adventure. He would oblige. But, he would usually need another slice of bread and maybe with a little molasses this time.
Stories are still incredibly important to me. I want to hear a good one. I want to tell an even better one. Stories drive my heart and my mind. How about you? Where do you stand on the power of a good story?
“Stories aren’t the icing on the cake; they are the cake!” Peter Guber