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Monday, July 30, 2012

Florence "Dinghy" Sharp

This month with the National Storytelling Network conference and the pictures of storytellers from the late Mark Wilson, the focus has been upon the entire world of storytelling.  Before leaving it I want to include a Michigan storyteller, Florence "Dinghy" Sharp.  The site Michigan is an online version of our state's email newsletter of storytelling put together by Yvonne Healy, editor, with Judy Sima, managing editor, to which I add information on the various state storytelling organizations, a bulletin board for late or expanded news, and an In Memoriam page of brief obituaries of Michigan storytellers.

I never knew Ms. Sharp, but long had heard of her because of her great-great grandfather, Clement Moore and her work with Detroit Story League.

A fine article with the above photo appeared in the current issue, June/July, of "Storytelling Magazine", the official magazine of the National Storytelling Network.  The information was provided by her close Detroit Story League friend, Amy Jackson.  Besides contacting NSN, I emailed Amy to verify the date Florence Sharp died.  Along the way I received a copy of the eulogy Amy wrote.  It has wonderful details, but when I looked at the space used for other storytellers on Michigan, I realized it was substantially more than I offered for other storytellers there.  This gives me an opportunity to share it.  (After it, I have the answer Amy also gave me about that intriguing nickname of "Dinghy.")


A woman of "means," but didn't have a mean bone in her body.
A woman of wealth - who shared her wealth of knowledge with students
and teachers, alike.

A woman with "connections," yet gave of her time and interests to
connect people across cultural,
racial, and ethnic divides - a Goodwill Ambassador!
A woman of riches, who gave freely to enrich the lives of others.

A woman of generosity, who gave monetary gifts to students she never
knew, and to schools she never attended
Dinghy was just incredible!

She was a woman of musical talents that sang in the choir, until she
couldn't; yet, left a song in my heart
and in the hearts of all who knew her - her joy for life and for
literature, in song as well as in verse.
A woman who could tell stories that would make you laugh 'til you
cried; as well as, stories that could
change your tears to laughter in minutes - literally!

While in Michigan, she left a lasting legacy with the Farmington Public
Schools, for starting "The Bucket Brigade" there (a volunteer program
of parents, helping children with learning disabilities). She was an
active member of the Detroit Story League, and the 1st Caucasian member
of the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers.

In Arizona, she was a member of the Green Valley Tellers of Tales; and
somewhere in Jonesborough, Tennessee she has a brick honoring her
contributions to the International Storytelling Festival. Dinghy
gathered stories from everyone and from everywhere. She gave workshops
to inform others of the positive influence of storytelling in the
A favorite, was the workshop she and I did together in Toronto Canada,
for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International: "Teaching the Culture
of Peace through Storytelling."

She was an Urban-Suburbanite - as comfortable in Motown, as she was at
a Country Western Hoedown, the Opera, the Symphony, or at a church or
jazz concert.

With all she had, Dinghy wasn't selfish. She shared her accomplishments
with integrity, and with a warm, caring spirit and presence. She was
wonderful, really!

She was my friend - and a friend to so, many others. Not perfect, but
it was her imperfections that made her glow and become the humanitarian
she became.

She loved holidays of every kind, but Christmas was her favorite. She
had a fabulous collection of Santas - so large, that they were
displayed in a separate room. Her book collections were equally
astounding, and she shared them. She even did the audio for the writing
of the book, The Visit, that related back to her Great-Great
Grandfather, Clement Moore. Dinghy was always busy creating, and doing;
giving to, and inspiring others.

Dinghy died on December 31, 2011, surrounded by her loving husband,
Larry and family - becoming a treasured memory to them, and to all of
us who knew and loved her.


If you're like me, you probably wonder why she was called "Dinghy."  I was told: The nick-name "Dinghy" was given to Florence Amelia Spalding Sharp by her mother, because of her love of sailing in the summer, on upper Michigan lakes and rivers.

A great reason for a Great Lakes Storyteller.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rose Is Alive!

I'm perfectly delighted to print a retraction .  Never again will I look the same way at the Mark Twain quote about his death.  It has been variously given, but a reproduction of a May 1897 note says "the report of my death was an exaggeration."

After printing the first of the series of photos by Mark Wilson, two storytellers were shocked to see me list Rose Owens as being "stilled in this world."  I had a remembrance from my ever-rusty memory of seeing this on Storytell, but the list has undergone various transformations over the years and only recently has had a dependable archive that disappear whenever software or hardware changes occurred. Since it was moved to the NSN website I hope that an archive will remain.

The questions stirred up by my posting this led me to look once again into Rose.  I had not been able to find an obituary, her website hadn't been updated since early 2007, she was no longer a member of NSN, and I received no response to an email sent to her.

Several long distance calls and emails seemed to do nothing to change what little I could verify.  As I asked various people including the two whose questions prodded me, "How the heck do you prove somebody is or isn't alive these days if they aren't in social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Professional Storyteller) nor answering emails and not otherwise written up?"  

Today I am so happy to say I received an email with the Subject heading: Rose is Alive!

This was the message Rose sent:

Dear Lois,
I am very much alive.  It's one of those "domino" things.  The Civprod email was abandoned when it got too much junk mail.   Which meant that when then email sent to renew my website was sent, I didn't read it.  So the website was purchased by another rose.  Once I discovered this, I bought  I have not yet had time to locate the websites that link to my old email and let them know that I have a different website.   My mother-in-law lives with us and she broke her hip and I have been very involved in her care.   I continue to tell stories but have not actively been advertizing.  So my storytelling activities have diminished but my love of storytelling has not.  I have not updated my website recently but plan to do so later this summer.  

In the article you wrote, I hope you said nice things about me!   Please spread the word that I am very much alive and share my current email address. 



I strongly recommend Rose the Story Lady's original website.  We can all look forward to her return to activity on a new site and any additional storytelling activities she may offer.  In a way I was correct in listing her as a Storyteller We Miss, but I'm glad she's going to return to whatever storytelling activity she can manage.  She requests my posting her email, but I will do that on the Storytell list to avoid losing her again to an email account overflowing with junk mail.

Just this past week I told the story about the father brought back to life by his son's unflagging questions that sent out a search party which found the father's bones, then the bones were made into a skeleton by one son, given skin by another, and brought back to life by the breath of yet another.  The father was grateful for the help by his older sons, but credited the questions by the youngest son as bringing him back to life.  

This wasn't quite as miraculous, but it certainly has a wonderful ending.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mark Wilson's home

Mark enjoyed Jackson, California, up in the mountains where he lived.  It's what made him my "WP" or Western Pal.  The package he sent had his wonderful sun-dried tomatoes, coffee, and so much more packed with the love he freely dispensed to his storytelling friends.  Enjoy the view!
Ye olde clothesline (LSK: Yes, that's Mark's description and the first view of his place other than the one  of him standing next to his beloved and fabulous tomato plants which opened this series)
Pond I put in last year (LSK: That would be 2005)
Another shot of the pond with 'orchard site of the future' beyond it

Box o' maters

More termaters

Start of drying process
Tomato plants

View off the back porch
Flowers and cactus

Close up

Another back porch photo

My truck
A store in town (one I like)

Me at the gallery tour in Bellingham

Your storytelling family will miss you, Mark!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

National Storytelling Network parades

I know some of these photos are from the Providence, Rhode Island conference.  Because Mark also sent photos from the Denver, Colorado and Bellingham, Washington conferences, some of these may also be from there.  As before, any further information is appreciated.

The final photos by Mark will be the next post.  It will show his home and what he loved in that area.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Storytellers as Viewed by Mark

Mark sent me 45 photos.  Many were of his storytelling friends and acquaintances.  Look out!  If you were ever at a National Storytelling Conference with Mark, you may be here!

These "family photos" are posted in no particular order except as they came in the envelope to me.  The identification also was made by Mark.  There are a few mysteries here, so feel free to tell me if you know of identifications missing or incorrect.  (Spacing is due to the quirks of Blogger working with the different size pictures.)
Jack McGuire and Mike Myers
Margie MacDonald and Jeff Gere
Marnie Gillard
UPDATE: Mary Hamilton has confirmed she's the other person in this photo.
Kevin Cordi and ?
Pleasant DeSpain
Leeny Del Seamonds
Granny Sue and Doug Elliott

Margie MacDonald
L to R Granny Sue, Angela Clark, Vickie Dworkin (and Bufo the day she got him?), ??, Batsy, and Jane Crouse

Linda King Pruitt, Priscilla Howe, Angela Klingler
Denver Storytell Swap

Denver Storytell Swap

Dr. DeLight

Andre Roche (LSK: ? Antonio Roche with wig?)

Liz Weir

Karen Chace and Dianne de Las Casas in Denver

Tim Sheppard at Denver Swap
Tim Sheppard, Mary Grace Ketner, and I'll remember her name in a minute
UPDATE: Tim Sheppard's confirmed the third person is "the lovely Sheila Darr."                                           

Mark and "I don't remember her name (just loved the colors in her clothes)"


O.k., I lied.  Saved two of my favorite Michigan storytellers for last.
Judy Sima

Yvonne Healy

The next posts will be from the Providence and possibly Denver National Storytelling Conference general parade.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mark Wilson and other storytellers we miss

My "WP" for Western Pal, storyteller Mark Wilson died recently.  At the 2012 National Storytelling Conference, I brought to the Storytell swap photos Mark sent me and offered everybody their choice of one.  I've decided to broaden that offering by posting them online to let others see more about Mark and many storytellers he photographed, starting with others no longer with us.

On Michigan there's a special page called In Memoriam that  attempts to recognize Michigan storytellers deserving our remembering.  It can only be complete if we remember those who helped build storytelling.  Just as the African story of “The Cowtail Switch” (found in the book of the same name by Harold Courlander) ends, “For it is a saying among them that a man is not really dead until he is forgotten.”  Let the stories of our storytelling family never be forgotten.

First of all here's Mark.  His note on the back says "Me and my tomato plants (top of my hat is about 6 1/2')"

Mark sent me many photos to help me get to know members of STORYTELL and other storytellers before I ever had a chance to attend any conferences.  We kept hoping we'd get to the same conference at the same time, but he was very much a WP and didn't make any of the same ones I've been able to attend.  Because the 2012 conference especially remembers Those Who Have Gone Before, here are some of his photos for storytellers whose voices have been stilled in this world.
Brother Blue

Chuck Larkin

Rose Owens "The Story Lady"

The next photo is of a storyteller who, as far as I know, is alive, but seems to have gone silent.  He is missed by those of us he mentored.  Wherever he is, the Storytell community has wished he would get in touch with us.
Papa Joe, "Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?"

This was the first of four posts of Mark's photos.  The next post will be of current storytelling members from those past conferences Mark attended.  After that will be a post from the Providence and possibly Denver and Bellingham conference festivities -- NSN clearly had a lot of fun!  The final post will be of Mark's home area.

There has been a wonderful development from this series.  Please see the latest article for this month titled "Rose Is Alive!"