Saturday, June 18, 2011
Rat There I Had It, Rat There I Lost It
A long time ago or just yesterday there were storytellers in this world. One young girl who loved to hear laughter and see delight in peoples eyes, decided to carry on the tradition of telling tales to anyone who would listen. So she began reading and learning folktales and myths from around the world.
Along the way she learned about the universality of the human spirit. She met truth and justice, good and evil, lies and greed, courage and fear, tasks and quests, wishes and dreams, defeat and victory in her stories. She also learned about the indomitable spirit of womankind and mankind to overcome great obstacles in their lives. Early on she leaned toward the more light-hearted trickster tales of Brer Rabbit, Anansi the Spider, and of stories where children trick or outsmart the greedy and wicked or overcome every day problems.
One day she told the Appalachian folktale "Soap, Soap, Soap" to a group of Rotarian's. It was the story about a little boy who needed a bath but his mamma didn't have any soap. So his mamma said, "Boy, you go into town and buy me some soap, and don't you be forgetten' what you're goin' for. You hear me?" Now the little boy started walkin' to town singin' "Soap, Soap, Soap," till he came to a slick spot in the road and fell. When he got up he couldn't remember what he was goin' for, so he began to mumble, "Rat (right) there I had it, and rat there I lost it." Now the little boy kept running into problems as he walked to town, not remembering what he was going after but he kept on singing various refrains until he saw a woman washing her kids down by the river. Then he remembered, "soap, soap, soap."
After she told the stories that day an older gentleman banker stopped her in the hallway, and thanked her for telling the forgetful little boy's story. Since one story always leads to another, she genuinely listened as he told his story.
"Once when I was a little boy my daddy sent me to town to buy three things: coffee, tobacco, and a sack of nails. It was a long hot walk to town, and by the time I'd found the proper walking stick, played in creek that ran along the road, and then stopped to nap under the big cottonwood tree I'd forgotten what I was going after.
I kept walking to town just knowing I would remember what I was going after, but I didn't. With my head hung low I slowly climbed the two giant steps to Purcell's General Store. "What's wrong Ronnie, you look like you lost your best friend," asked Mrs. Purcell. I showed her my money and said, "I come to buy three things for my dad, but I don't remember what they were. Can you help me, please." "Well, let's see how much money you have Ronnie, and then we'll begin to figure out what your dad likes." The Purcell's counted my money and then began to name things that my daddy might need. At last we had our list of coffee, tobacco, and a sack of nails."
"I'd long since forgotten that moment in my childhood, but your story took me on a trip back in time. I thank you for the memory and I hope you keep telling those stories." The storyteller was touched and knew she had accomplished what she set out to do.
The other day I was dressing to take Lucy for a walk and had all of my clothes in a pile, I reached for my tennis shoes and socks only to realize that I had no socks. I walked to the bedroom to pick out a pair, but when I got there I couldn't remember what I was going for. I studied the furniture and then my mind slipped into a long ago story, "Rat there I had it , and rat there I lost it." I paced around the bedroom to no avail, singing quietly "Rat there I had it, and rat there I lost it." No one came to my rescue, so I walked into the kitchen, picked up the paper and my tea and retired to the porch to relax and read. Before long Lucy nudged me and I jumped up. "Oh, yeah I was going to take you for a walk but I didn't have any socks.! Socks, socks, socks, I repeated until at last I was dressed and out the door walking my dog.
Sometimes even storytellers forget the tasks, but never the story. Socks, socks, socks!
Posted by Letty at 11:50 AM