By Rick Houser –
As anyone who has read my column knows I like to tell a story or two. Sometimes I might bring up an old legend or maybe an old myth. Now here is where I got to wondering just what the difference between the two is. I know a legend such as the one about Princess Smyrna, an Indian maiden around 1800 from a tribe near what is now Felicity. She fell in love with a settler and the tribe disliked this so much they burned her at the stake where Smyrna Cemetery is today. The legend says that late at night a bright light shines over the cemetery and it is her spirit that will never be able to come to rest. Okay, there might have been an Indian princess but the story has grown to the point where it is out of real belief. This I think is a legend.
Then there is the story of the hook man and the young couple at Lover’s Leap. They have the radio on and it is reported that a mad man has escaped from the insane asylum and was very dangerous. He had only a hook on his right hand. It wasn’t long until they heard a scratching sound on the car. The girl goes frantic and orders him to take her home. When she gets out of the car, they see a bloody hook embedded in the car. From what I understand this one is by all means a myth, a story blown way out of proportion to make its point. We hear these a lot around Halloween and camp fires to try to scare those in attendance.
As for me, I like to tell stories about my life and events that I feel might be of interest. Of course there is nothing better than a well- told story and I try my hardest to tell them to you the reader as best I can.
You see I learned the art of storytelling from my older and only brother Ben. As far as I am concerned, Ben was the master storyteller or what he at times would call “spinning a yarn”. Whatever you want to call it, he was good at it. This might have been one good reason he made a success out of practicing law. He only told his stories when there was a crowd and to Ben a crowd consisted of one or more listeners.
Ben was my brother and I tried to listen to his every word. The thing was I had heard those stories told over so many times that I could sit there and say them line for line right along with him. Even though I knew them by heart I never left as Ben might add or change a word that might make the tale a little better. When my brother would pull up a chair to a group or lean in the doorway so he had his audience trapped, he’d wait until there was a break in the conversation and lean back and start with “Well now that reminds me of a time.” Then would come the story that fit the topic and probably would be followed by a couple more. Yes, my brother Ben was a storyteller.
A storyteller is telling the listener about an event and or folks he might know or have known and the listener knows what they are hearing is factual in a very well-spoken way. That describes my brother Ben. Ben passed away suddenly a little over seven years ago. His loss to family and friends was and still is a huge loss.
Without a doubt his ability to entertain family and friends with a good story is one part of what we all miss. You see, Ben never wrote down those stories and when he passed the stories did also. I felt it then and continue to feel the loss of the tales I will never hear again.
So I have done the next best thing and that was to try to pick up where big brother left off. Yes, I too love to tell the story and yes, the rules for telling are about the same. If there is a crowd of one or more I will tell you about an event that I can recall that you just may enjoy. One thing is different though. I write my stories and save them. I also have been blessed with the permission of some of the newspapers to share my stories. You see the myth here is that my ego has a limit. If it does I haven’t reached it yet. My wife says she is glad I am sharing these stories as she has had to listen to me tell them in front of her hundreds of times. (She might be exaggerating.)
I have a long drive to and from work every day and therefore I have a lot of time to think. The other evening the thought of the legends, myths, and tales came to mind. Similar, yet they are very different and I couldn’t go too deep into this topic without talking about my brother Ben. As any sibling one has lost we miss them and can never replace them. But through what I am doing with my writing I feel somewhat connected still. I hope you don’t think this too much but this article I am dedicating to my big brother Ben. Now I can ask you if you ever heard the one about an article about you? Did I ever tell you how hard it is to not have your big brother around to watch out for you? Well that is true.
Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont county and loves to tell stories about his youth and other topics. If wishing to read more of his writing he has two books published “There are Places I Remember” and Memories ARE from the Heart” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.