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    Posted August 13, 2011 by
    Guilford, Indiana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Boot camp: Pick your story

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    Two houses, different uses (4th try)


    I was taking Margot Leitman’s Storytelling and Solo Work 101 class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles when I received an invitation to the 200th Ewbank-Smith Family Reunion. Though neither of my cousins were attending, this would be an opportunity to meet kin I’d never laid eyes on before. I mailed our registration.

    Several weeks later, I loaded suitcases and my 87-year-old mother into my Honda CRV and drove 600 miles from my home in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Guilford, Indiana. On the way, we stopped at Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, where Carrie McGavock, a relative on my mother’s side, cared for Confederate soldiers injured at the Battle of Franklin in her home and later donated land on her property for a cemetery for those who failed to survive.

    In memory of my deceased father who had more than a passing interest in bourbon whiskey, we toured the Jim Beam distillery located just off I-65 in Clermont, Kentucky. We proceeded on to Louisville to tour Churchill Downs where I purchased a 12-ounce Kentucky Derby 137 julep glass.

    We were gathered with nearly 200 relatives at the home of our ancestor John and Ann Chapman Ewbank on August 6, 2011, when we heard that John was a strong abolitionist who participated in the Underground Railroad and an even stronger teetotaler! You can imagine the surprise this created falling on Southern ears that, while not as appreciative of whiskey as Daddy, do admit to enjoying a glass of wine on occasion. These drastic differences discovered during the Civil War sesquicentennial raise an important family thought, “Two houses separated by only 300 miles, drastically different uses.””

    Sharing life story is nothing new. Travel to anywhere in the world and you are likely to hear true stories told conversationally at home over casual dinners, at work around water coolers, and at local bars lubricated by a wide assortment of beverages. What may be new is that storytelling is booming in venues across America. The Moth, a non-profit, has been hosting sold out events in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit, since its inception in 1997. Live and online storytelling has served as test marketing/audience building that resulted in lucrative payoffs for the successful including Moth storytellers Katherine Russell Rich (Dreaming in Hindi) and Elna Baker (The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance), Sh*t My Dad Says tweeter Justin Halpern (www.twitter.com/shitmydadsays), and bloggers Rees Drummond (www.thepioneerwoman.com) and Heather Armstrong (www.dooce.com). True life storytelling has become so popular that even stand-up comedians like Mike Birbiglia have left joke behind to embrace it.

    I want to share my personal life story of "family surprises" gained on this trip through photos and live recorded text on my mother and I as a chance to practice my conversational humorous storytelling skills. Pick me! Pick me!


    I'm having trouble uploading more than one file at a time. So, I put four photos in one image file:-)

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