Told by Mary Hamilton
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About the Story
Many years ago, while sitting at the kitchen table of my storytelling friend and colleague Cynthia Changaris, I told her I felt it was way too easy for me to remember times when I had felt wronged, and I wondered what I would tell if I wanted to capture a time when I had been treated with great kindness. Immediately the memory, “When I was in first grade, an older girl, Anna Jo Hinton, taught me how to run into the jump rope” sprang to mind. Of course such a brief memory does not a told story make, so I had work to do. Why questions — Why do you remember this? Why did it matter then? Why does it matter now? – were followed by the challenge of finding words to show what happened and why it mattered, instead of directly saying to the audience “I want to tell you about an act of kindness I have never forgotten.”
You can read more about Mary’s development of “Jump Rope Kingdom” from the briefest of memories into a tellable tale in the family folklore section of her book, Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies published in 2012 by University Press of Kentucky, available both from the publisher and on Mary’s website www.maryhamilton.info. Mary’s book is unusual because it not only contains stories retold and tells where they come from, but each tale is followed by an essay that provides additional information about the story while also commenting on some aspect of the art of storytelling.