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Papa Joe  ~  Travel Notes

PJ's Travel Notes

PJ Tour Notes #7


November 6, 1996 Amarillo, TX

We met Fran Stallings this evening. She invited Sues and I to dinner with a Pueblo teller by the name of Eldrena Douma "Blue Corn". 'Drena has been telling professionally only three years. Her need for support and encouragement were incredible. I had arrived with an agenda of topics which I had hoped to discuss with Fran (principally: Village Telling), but it became obvious in minutes that the evening would go to feeding 'Drena. No regrets. When I look back on my history of telling, the third year stands out as a personnel hell. I wonder if others had the same kinds of experiences.

That was the time my savings were gone. I was living in my truck and gathering much of my meals from the forest (maybe some day I'll share the recipes). The shows were so sporadic as to make budgeting impossible. I'd spend weeks lining up jobs, be so busy doing them that I couldn't seem to line up others. Then I'd be in the same place again. People asked me why I didn't just get a real job. There were plenty of times I thought they were right. But the calls did come in and there was always one more contract to complete. And quitting was always put off. I would talk to the other tellers and they would tell me of the hard times they had had and I'd remember that we all have to pay our dues. One of the biggest things to get over was charging enough money to pay the bills.

So Fran and I spent the evening giving support and remembering the times we had received the same. It is good to give back. Fran, we'll meet again. As for Eldrena, she is already a worthy teller. I'd bet on her making it through her first decade and coming out as one of our leaders. It might not even take that long. I was honored to meet her.


November 7 - 10 to Albuquerque, NM and back to Amarillo, TX

For a city, it's very easy to get around in Amarillo. We never saw a traffic jam, no matter when we drove through. That's a good thing 'cause it's not easy to avoid. It seems all roads in the Panhandle lead to Amarillo. And we found free city and county RV parks near any community we worked in.

The Panhandle children I met all had very strong story background. It was always easy to convince them to step inside the tales.

I learnt a little more about the Blue Bonnet Awards. Children reading to earn the right to vote on stories. I think it's a wonderful thing. I'd love to see that done in more states. 'Drena invited us to stay at her place, a quiet farm in the county. We met her husband, Tim, three children, three cats, and three dogs. Tasha Tripod and Zaque loved them (well they really didn't make friends with the cats).

Fran had mentioned coyote. 'Drena told us the story. She and Tim were watching coyote tease their dogs from the lip of a playa lake (a dry hollow) out in the pastures. The youngest dog wanted to chase it down into the hollow, but the eldest dog kept warning him to stay in the yard. After awhile Tim noticed more coyotes hiding down in the hollow. The one had been trying to lure the dogs down to the pack. Trickster coyote in the act.

The kids are storytellers themselves and I got a tale from the two girls. It was the same story, but they had marvelous differences even while the tellings were back to back. I had just told them my version of the Old Woman and the Pig. They gave me their versions.


The Rooster was invited to his uncle parrot's wedding in New York. He was dressed in his best tux and all cleaned up when he saw some strawberries and he just had to have them. 'Course, he got berry juice all over his beak. He went to the grass and said, "Grass, wipe off my beak so I can go to my uncles wedding in New York."

But the grass said, "No!" From the grass to a sheep (eat the grass), to a wolf (bite the sheep ), to a dog (chase the wolf), to a man (spank the dog)...

Man went to spank the dog, who chased the wolf, who bit the sheep, who ate the grass, which wiped the beak, and the Rooster went to his uncle parrot's wedding in New York. <smile>


We spent most of the weekend in the National Forest Southeast of Albuquerque, NM. The weather was great and we enjoyed pinion wood campfires at night. Saturday night, the coyotes came out of the canyon and up the mountain to our camp. We were worried about how our dogs would act so we put them in the Vardo. A fellow camper had just told us how one of his dogs had been raped by a pack. Pretty eerie hearing the howling less than a hundred yards away.

Most of Saturday had been spent at the All Pueblo Cultural Center in the city. It was a festival day so we enjoyed the dancing, drums, and booths. The food was excellent. The Artists were incredible. Most of the silver smiths claimed there were stories behind their pieces, but none of them told the stories. :( I did hear a very sad story. I'm trying to figure out how to tell it. It wasn't for general audiences. More of a Storyteller to Storytellers story.

November 11 - 15 Panhandle Libraries to Oklahoma

Back in Wellington, TX, Sues found a915 Funk & Wagnall's Self-help series called Mental Efficiency. We've decided to ask for it via interlibrary loan. She said the book she was reading was more insightful than what she's been able to find on the web. One of the added values of working in a hundred libraries a year is that we get to peruse so many different book collections.

The fog was deep from Amarillo all the way into the hills of Oklahoma. After dark, all we cared to do was find somewhere to camp.

I was invited to tell at a school, in a small Oklahoma farm town. That morning, Tasha Tripod and I took a walk around. It wasn't a long walk. Most of the store fronts were boarded up and several in serious degrees of decay. The one that stood out to me was the library. It's door was boarded, the windows were gone, the paint had mostly peeled, and the roof had fallen in. The sign could still be read. So sad to see. I remember a report that in 1993,7 libraries had closed in Massachusetts alone. I took a picture. Hopefully I'll get it up on the web with a warning. "Don't let this happen in your community." How many libraries will we lose before we figure out their value. The only buildings in that town left open were the town hall, bank, post office, and the bar. Go figure!


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