I always had to be in my son’s bedroom at 8:30 p.m. for bedtime stories. It never mattered if I was in Madrid, Javea, Boston, Tucson, or Westport Connecticut (where a minibus took me to the Metro North RR into NYC). I had two boys (never together at the same time sadly due the loss of my first son to Burkett’s Lymphoma). My Mother’s family, the Hotts and the Dunns, were fascinating storytellers, whereas my Dad’s family, with the Greek and the German heritage, sadly were not.
I needed to tell Alex and Daniel bedtime stories because I was often never home during the workweek, and I had to hustle to arrive before each child was tucked into bed. Both boys always checked me out and they readily acknowledged ‘they had been waiting.
The subject for the bedtime stories actually came from William Frank Dunn’s investment in real estate at the turn of the century in a new resort, Boyd’s Mason Lake Resort. Dunn was Publisher and co-owner of the Chicago Journal, and it was a difficult job to purchase reams of newsprint from Chicago Jobbers, until a colleague in the Christian Science Monitor suggested the Park Falls lumber and paper company on the Flambeau River.
Dunn took the train to Park Falls and entered into a purchase agreement with the lumber company for reams of newsprint. For a moment imagine: There were no checks, and no credit cards. Payments were strictly ‘cash.’ Dunn arrived with cash and a nickel-plated revolver, that he always carried empty. While there Frank Dunn bought land in the Boyd’s Mason Lake Resort. This purchase allowed my brother John and I to spend summers in the beautiful North Woods, where we enjoyed boating, fishing, water skiing and to develop a relationship with paradise.
The background for my storytelling was the North Woods, and the bedtime stories began with the invention of the irascible beaver that stole freshly baked pies from my maternal grandmother, Meme’s kitchen. The beaver’s strategies were very creative: he would appear camouflaged as a small tree and edge his way toward the delicious, freshly baked cherry pie cooling on Meme’s window sill.
The story worked too well. Both boys were intensely alarmed, “Bad Beaver!” The joy of being s storyteller allows for the manipulation of the narrative: In this case, Meme baked more pies. I had a blue-eyed and a hazel-eyed captive audience in my hands and we went to where magic and fantasy led us.