By Bernard R. Smith
An Introduction By Larry Smith
Storytellers are special. They evoke images and memories from days past through recollections of people, places and events. Some people tell stories about things, but they aren't necessarily what you would call storytellers. Facts and figures spill out of their mouths and are easily forgotten. But with a storyteller, something is different. You don't need to have personally known or experienced the people or events that a storyteller tells you about. Simply by their telling it, you will feel that you knew or experienced what has been told. Being a storyteller has more to do with how the story is told, rather than with what is being told.
My dad has always been a storyteller. I've always known that. Although he never attended a college to obtain a degree in the art of storytelling, my father is an accomplished one. I can remember Sunday evenings after church, when my parents would take us kids to join Warren and Lib Stiffler for a pizza at the Claysburg Pizza Shop. Dad and Warren would trade stories about the past - about people they had known, who by then had passed away - about hunting trips to Clinton County - about my grandfather and my dad's grandfather - about Danny Musselman and... But I don't want to tell his story; I'll let him tell it.
Now by calling my father a storyteller, I certainly don't mean to imply that he prevaricates or tells fictional tales. I mean it in the sense of passing on to the next and next generations, by oral means, the record of things that happened in the past, as he experienced them. They are things that reveal family life in the Appalachian hills of Pennsylvania throughout the 20th Century. (He was born in 1919, and so experienced the better part of the 20th Century). They are things that provide glimpses of the "Americanized" European families he descended from who farmed, worked in factories and occasionally made moonshine liquor during prohibition days. They are things that, as a child, he experienced, growing up in the company of grandparents who still spoke German around the house. They are things which are necessary to be perpetuated in order for his descendants to know what made him who he was. And they are things that the community of which he always was a part will recognize as familiar.
I had to coax my dad a little to take the time and effort to write these things down. To make it easier, I gave him a computer and showed him how to access and save files. As with most everything else that he has tackled in his eighty-some years, he has befriended the computer and confided to it his stories. I hope that everyone who reads the following Reflections will find as much enjoyment in them as I have over the years.
My Family – The Smiths And The Bowsers
My Early Childhood – Growing Up In The Country
Home Life In The 1920s And 1930s
Our Smith Corner Neighbors
Ours Was A Christian Family
Bean Days And Visiting Relatives
I Come From Good Claar And Walter Stock
Some Recollections About Smith Corner Folk
I Witnessed The Coming Of The Industrial Age
I Go To High School In The Big Town
It’s Broiler Breeding And Raspberry Pickin’ Time!
My Marriage To Grammy Nofsker’s Little Girl
Granddad Bowser – My Best Friend
The Good Influences On My Life
The Musselman Brothers And Other "Influences" On My Life
Hunting And Such
The Sawmill Days
to be continued...
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