Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A storyteller's impact -- jcarolek

Paul Harvey passed away this past week. When I heard the news, I was immediately taken back more than twenty years. I used to catch Paul Harvey's "the rest of the story" during my lunch break, or on my drive home from work. Most of the time I found these little nuggets interesting, made more so by his delivery, to be sure, but part of it was truly that he told stories about people and things about which I simply did not know... he educated, in just a short couple of minutes storytelling time.

The story which had the greatest impact on me was one he told about a young aspiring actress, a teenager, a dancer, a talented youngster who was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. She was, in fact, bedridden with her affliction. She was so crippled she was unable to walk for a year. And she agreed to subject herself to an experimental treatment, a treatment derived from cow urine.... weeks and months of treatments, in bed in her parents' home, a home she'd left to go to New York to realize her acting career.

And the treatments were successful. In the end, she was back on her feet, one leg shorter than the other, admittedly, but she was back on her feet. And with perseverance she set about to realize that dream. The world came to know this young lady, this talented dancer and actress, as Lucille Ball.

Now, I did not have a TV growing up and I really did not follow Lucille Ball. I remember when we were kids and my grandparents were staying at our house for a few days on their way from Kennebunkport, ME to West Palm Beach, FL and they carried with them a small black and white TV. They had it on in our living room and the sitcoms were playing one after the other. I recall my grandmother turning the TV off, with a disgusted click of her toungue, when the Lucille Ball show was on, and I asked her why she turned it off. She declared it was just too much screaming...that Lucille Ball was too loud.

So, not that I was a big fan of Lucille Ball or anything, but I did know who she was and I was amazed that anyone could have suffered as she had in her teen years and emerged with the talent she demonstrated on stage and in film. And, in my mind, every time I think of Paul Harvey, it is this story I recall. And when I catch a snippet of Lucille Ball performing, I marvel again at her story.

There are many ways to tell stories, some more effective than others. I am certain many have learned a little something from the man with "the rest of the story."

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