10/08/2006

Stories and the Star Spangled Banner


The Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore is a cool place. I was there today to tell stories for their "Fall into History" series. I loved being there. All the exhibits are set up proclaiming they are "stories". That is logical - history is the story of what happened - when, where, and with who. But somehow the word history also gives off vibes of offical, pompous, and boring. Where the word "story" draws us in.
Is it because history is taught in school where it is serious and stories are known to be fun.

There was a young woman history-actress who was having a lot of fun with the story of history.
A fifteen year old aspiring actress, she has researched the history of the woman who sewed the giant Star Spangled Banner flag which flew over Fort McHenry in 1814. Dressed as the 14 year old daughter, she tells how General Armitage came to her mother and ordered the flag. The woman made it " 30 feet hoist and 42 feet fly". Now does that paint a picture for you? The young woman was seated in a rocking chair before a large and rather dull painting of Fort McHenry with the "shells bursting in air" and the flag flying proudly through it all. Her well done five minute presentation was an enchanting encounter with history. I hope she continues finding people who interest her so that she can share them.

My stories featured names. Your name is your story, right? Do you know your story?


I could not resist working in the story about how our grandson got to be named for Francis Scott Key. I know you all remember that Francis Scott Key is the man who wrote the Star Spangled Banner. Well for years there was a story in his father's family that they were related to the lawyer-songwriter. Under scrutiny the myth exploded. Oh, Scottie is named for Francis Scott Key that's true, however Key is not a relative, he is the man "who came to dinner." Makes a good story.