Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Portraits

Yesterday's afternoon Tellabration was a different model from most. Usually there are five or six performers who go one after another on a stage, sometimes with a featured storyteller. That's what happened in the evening performance at Maple Woods Community College.

In the afternoon, we were at the John Wornall House Museum. There were performers in each room of the house, telling to different groups as they came through. The listeners arrived in twos and threes with a tour guide, also a storyteller, so everyone got a chance to hear stories all through the house.

Because it's a historic house (nope, you can't get me to use the indefinite article "an" with the word historic, as we DO voice that h in American English) and because most of the listeners were adults, I told The Portraits to three groups. The portraits in my story were probably
painted in the 1840s, before the Wornall House was built (1858) but it's close enough.

This is the portrait from the story. It was most likely done by an itinerant painter who had all the forms done and just filled in the faces. My mother found out that it was painted on a bedsheet. Though in the story I say she's my great-great-great grandmother, in fact she's my five-greats grandmother, Sarah Visscher Schuyler Hoyle. I was truly afraid of it as a kid, and of the portrait on the other wall. That's the seed of truth from which that story grew. My brother Mark has the portrait of the Bishop, Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe (the Bish added the e to DeWolf, "to add tone" and it was later removed).

I usually only tell that story to fourth grade and up (age 9 or 10) but in Iola, a bunch of younger kids told me they'd listened to it on the website. They liked it.


M said...
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M said...

I've always LOVED that story, so I'm very pleased to meet, after so many years, your honourable ancestor...
Well, she looks thiner than I fancied.