This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, November 18, 1998

November 18, 1998 - Tellabration

There's a group, really, called "The National Storytelling Association." The first time I heard of them, I suspected it was a nom de plume for the Arkansas branch of the LaRue clan. They couldn't tell the straight truth if they got paid good money for it.

See, in their home town of Mountainburg, population 454 (most of them my kin), nothing much goes on. Ever. So anything that does happen gets a remarkable dose of embellishment. The chief form of entertainment is stretching out a minor incident (say, Joyce went to the store for a sweet potato and brought home an onion) into a two hour long, highly dramatic yet thigh-slappingly funny saga.

Nobody was better at this than my late Uncle Bill Rogers. Properly speaking, he was a LaRue only by marriage. But as he might have put it himself, he perked up the line considerable. He once completely enthralled my wife and me for most of an evening with a story I was sure was pure fiction.

It was all about how a down-on-his-luck California crooner named Tony Alamo found Jesus, then came to Alma, Arkansas and started a restaurant. He staffed the restaurant with wayward, pregnant teenagers. Then he sold off their babies on the black market, mostly to rich folks.

Then Tony's evangelist wife got cancer and died. The slave laborers of the restaurant put her in a special freezer that had a permanently illuminated, internal switch. When Tony's wife came back to life -- as a result of a 24-hour-a-day prayer vigil that had been going on for a couple of years -- she'd just have to hit that switch with her elbow.

Not only would the freezer pop open, but the sounds of Elvis (her favorite) would swell through the refrigerated air. The event would also set off an alarm in the main restaurant.

Uncle Bill filled in the story with a side narrative about how the Tony Alamo followers had taken over the political machinery of the little town of Alma, to the consternation of the locals.

I didn't believe a word of it. Not that that slowed down for a second my appreciation of the tale.

Imagine my surprise when two weeks later, the same story hit Time, or possibly Newsweek. That's the trouble with a really good liar -- you never know when he might be telling the truth.

Which brings me to this week's topic: "Tellabration." The brainchild of the aforementioned National Storytelling Association, this is a national event that whoops up the ancient art of stretching the facts.

The Douglas Public Library District will observe Tellabration on November 21.

At our Highlands Ranch Library, storyteller Brad Bowles (who happens to be Chairman of the CU Theater Department) will provide a program at 10:30 a.m. There will be music. The audience will have a chance to join in, and I hope they take it.

At the Castle Rock Starlighting Ceremony, Brad Bowles will regale families on the 2nd floor of the Masonic Hall, located on the northeast corner of 3rd and Wilcox.

(Incidentally, I strongly urge you to stand across the street on the south side of this remarkable, historic building. Look at the windows. They do not line up. But it's perfect. The two floors manage both to complement and to ignore each other. I love that building.)

Shortly after Bowles's presentation (from 3:30 to 4 p.m.), Santa Claus, I have been informed, will make an appearance.

Finally, at our Parker Library, Liz Masterson and Sean Blackburn will present a medley of stories and songs from classic western movies. In 1998, two key cowboy crooners -- Gene Autrey and Roy Rogers -- Went West. Here's a chance to remember some of their songs, among others. Sean adds some eye-popping rope tricks. While this performance is mostly geared toward adults, older children will probably find lots to enjoy as well. The time: 7:30 p.m.

Anyway, that's my story. And I'm sticking to it.

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