Monthly Archives: August 2011

Story Journal: Part 2

Over the past several months I’ve become nothing less than obsessed with Twitter. There are a lot of reasons I enjoy this social media outlet—and I’ve found one more: storytelling. Tonight has been a night of school work and crazy storms. As I’ve sat at my desk, looking out the window at the weather—I’ve tweeted. I just looked back at my tweets for the night and realized that they begin to tell a story or they could be used as a great prompt for a story.

This makes me wonder—could twitter be the storytelling form for a web 2.0 culture? Twitter was first defined as a micro-blog. Many have dismissed this early definition of the forum. Depending on the user I think twitter can be a micro-blog or micro-story site.

Tonight’s Tweets:

• There’s some cool lightning happening outside my window—an awesome backdrop for late night school work.

• Ok. Cool lightning just turned into scary lightning. The thunder woke up my husband—so it must be bad.

• This lightning is so creepy I’m expecting Vincent Price to walk into the room and offer to tell me a spooky story.


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Story Journal: Part 1

For one week I kept a story journal as a final assignment for the Storytelling class I took this summer.The idea of the story journal is to capture my thoughts on how story is present in my daily life. I found no shortage of things to write about. For the next few posts I will be sharing the journal highlights here on my blog.

Written on the Ceiling – July 23, 2011

My favorite show, Chicago Tonight, just aired a story on what is arguably Chicago’s most important mural. It used to be on the ceiling of the foyer in the Chicago Daily News building. During renovations to the building, developers placed the mural in storage. Renovations are long completed, but the mural remains hidden away. According to Chicago Tonight, the mural tells the story of how news is printed and distributed. I think murals are created for many reasons. From an aesthetic perspective, they’re a great way to brighten up a large space—they’re decoration to scale. But murals quite often serve to tell a story.

Chicago Daily News Building | Image from

Chicago is a city with lots of stories and lots of murals. I think it’s interesting that the Daily News mural is tucked away. When commissioned, the mural told a vital story—distributing the news. The people who worked in the Daily News building in the early part of the 20th century—their lives revolved around news. The mural told a story that mattered to them. The Daily News is no longer around. The Daily News building is just an office space run by a real estate developer.

If the mural were to be restored, I doubt it would resonate with the building’s tenants in quite the same way that it likely resonated with Daily News workers. Today’s tenants may have little or no connection to a newspaper entity. Beyond that, the story of how news is distributed has changed. The mural contains printing presses and an airplane flying out to bring the paper to the masses. A modern day adaptation could include a thirty-something typing “” into a web browser—or surfing Twitter for the latest news updates. This makes me wonder, at some point do all murals lose their story only to become decorations? This may or may not be the case. Nevertheless, the mural is still a work of art, and I’m sure its story still comes through after all these decades. It would be great to see it on display for the public to enjoy.

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A Train Tale

Since beginning my work in a children’s library, I am amazed at how loved our train books are. A couple of my train-loving patrons inspired me to write this story (for my storytelling class). I wanted to call this story “The Little Engineer That Could”–but that title’s taken. For now, it’s “A Train Tale.” This story is dedicated to the Bancks family, to wish them well on their journey.

JP Bancks woke up on his 4th birthday and just knew it was going to be a great day. First of all, it was his birthday. Second, he was taking his very first train ride. Now, you have to understand–JP Bancks LOVED trains. JP and his family lived 2 blocks away from the train depot, so he spent hours each day, in his bedroom, watching the trains go by. JP called it a hobby; JP’s Mother called it an obsession.

When he opened his eyes that morning, he smelled bacon–so naturally he rushed down to breakfast. When he reached the table, his birthday present was waiting in his chair wrapped, in a big green box with a big blue bow. JP had no clue what it could be, the only thing he’d asked for for his birthday was a train ride–and he knew he was getting that. He slowly peeled away the ribbon and paper to find a pair of genuine railroad engineer overalls and a genuine railroad engineer cap. “This is amazing!” JP exclaimed. Then it hit him–JP paused, then looked to his Mother and Father and asked, “Does this mean I’m an engineer?”

His Mother smiled and said, “Sure JP, you’re an engineer.” Father said, “Yeah, I bet they’ll even have you drive the train today.” JP couldn’t believe it. He scarfed down breakfast as fast as he could and ran back up to his room. With care and attention he put on his genuine railroad engineer overalls and genuine railroad engineer cap.

When he got downstairs Mother and Father were ready to go. Father was holding the tickets and Mother was holding her purse. The walk to the depot was only a hop skip and a jump away–but Mother insisted on walking slowly in her high heeled shoes while Father fidgeted with his pocket watch.

Mother and Father were paying JP no attention, so he decided to walk ahead. When he reached the depot, the train was already there and a group of people were waiting to board the passenger car. JP waived at them and headed to the front of the train, to the engine. He figured if he was driving it would be silly to board the passenger car. When JP reached the engine he grabbed the railing and started to step up on to the train. A cole man turned around just as JP was stepping on to the train.

“Where you goin’ kid?”
“I’m JP Bancks, I’m driving this train today.”

“Nice to meet you Mr. JP Bancks but my money says you aint drivin’ this train today.”

Just then JP heard the voice of his Father say, “and my money says he’s not driving the train today.”

Father grabbed JP by the overall straps and started to carry him away.

“But wait!” JP exclaimed. “Mother said I’m an engineer–and you told me I was driving the train today.”

“JP, they don’t let little boys drive trains!” Father said.

“But it’s my birthday!”JP replied.

“Even on their birthday.”Father said.

“You lied to me.” Said JP.

“I was joking son” Father replied.

JP was crushed. Just then a tall stocky man stepped out of the engine room. He was wearing genuine railroad engineer overalls with a genuine railroad engineer cap. He looked at JP and said, “Actually kid, it’s my policy to let little boys drive trains on their birthday–especially if they’re wearing genuine railroad engineer overalls—and most especially if they’re wearing a genuine railroad engineer cap.

JP couldn’t believe it. “You mean it?” He asked.

“I do.” The Engineer turned to JP’s father and said, “Sir, you can take your seat. JP and I will take it from here.”

This was the greatest birthday ever. JP Bancks turned four that day, he rode in a train—and drove a train in his genuine railroad engineer overalls.

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