Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tom Weakley's The Stories

Stories written by Vermont Storyteller Tom Weakley

Available for $19.95 + $5.95 shipping and handling from

Reviewed by Linda Goodman
I have been a big fan of Tom Weakley's gentle wisdom and homespun humor ever since I first saw him at the Three Apples Storytelling Festival in Harvard, Massachusetts in the early 1990's. His CDs RFD Vermont and Harry and the Texaco Boys are favorites of mine.

Weakley retired from performing in 2008, and I was sad to hear that. His delicious stories, though, will live on, not only on his CDs, but also in his new book The Stories, published by Highland Publications. His words paint images so exquisite that I stopped to read them over and over until I could do instant replays in my head. Reading them was like watching the Andy Griffith Show, but Weakley's version of the fictional Mayberry has a dark side.

Esther, as near perfect a ghost story as I have ever heard, is the eerie story of a ghost trying to make amends for a tragic accident. In the heartbreaking Sleeping Outside Eden, a father and grandfather bid farewell to a lost loved one at the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC. Adrift on the Alfalfa Sea shares the lonely life of an aging storyteller and dares to voice the words that every professional storyteller has pondered: “As she came to look forward to the money she began to worry that her talent mightn't last as long as she did. What would be the first to go, she wondered. The voice? The stories? Maybe her memory. If I can just concentrate, she thought, maybe I can postpone its coming.” What horrifying, but completely logical, thoughts for an elder who makes a living spinning tales!

Humor is also evident in Weakley's stories. Two Pickpockets, Directions, and The Good Lookin' Suit provoke belly laughs to counter balance the more serious stories.

Teen angst is evident in Do You Love Me Mary Olson?. In Tommy, a young boy learns a hard lesson about coming when called. An unfaithful husband lives to regret his betrayal in The Raspberry Affair.

There are a total of twenty stories in this book, each one a gem. Stories told use eye contact, facial expressions, voice, body language, and movement to make you see what words alone do not express. These stories use just words so effectively and artistically that we see in our minds every element that oral story presents. Tom Weakley is a fabulous storyteller who has performed on the main stage at the National Storytelling Festival, and deservedly so. As fine a storyteller as he is, however, he is an even more gifted writer. Like Pat Conroy, he paints pictures that we have all seen, but in such a way that we relive the moments simultaneously as we read them.

Christmas is coming. If you have story lovers or book lovers on your list, this book is the perfect gift for them. Please buy this book!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Devils on Horseback and Other Odd Journeys

Devils on Horseback
And Other Odd Journeys
CD Review
Stories written and performed by Geraldine Buckley

$15.00 for the CD or $12.00 for the MP3 download at

CD Reviewed by Linda Goodman

Those listeners who have heard Geraldine Buckley’s first CD, Destination Slammer, will welcome this new recording, which invites us to join her on yet more of her “hilarious, true, inadvertent adventures.”

Devils on Horseback, the title track, holds forth lovely memories of Geraldine’s Aunt Eileen, a loveable eccentric who shares Geraldine’s love of wrestling. Ringside excitement and, curiously, a new restaurant menu item combine to create a new family “character.”

A quest for a fabled Midnight Feast at a convent boarding school leads to hilarious escapades with results quite different from those found in Enid Blyton novels. Lemons are made out of lemonade, however, and adventure still wins the day.

Those of you who saw Geraldine win the National Storytelling Festival’s first slam have already heard a piece of Hitchhiking, in which her mother’s desire for her to have adventures leads to a strange ride. What you did not hear were the tender moments between mother and daughter that followed. Sweet memories linger long after the story ends.

Dinner With Bob recalls Geraldine’s attempt to get over a bad break-up by turning her attention to a new romance, even though she knows that “men are not like socks. You can’t just exchange them one for the other.” The replacement relationship fairs no better than the first one, but years later, a random meeting produces new understanding that makes for a lasting friendship.

Daddy’s Ashes introduces the listener to Geraldine’s father, a man who loves the Mediterranean; who lives to laugh and to make others do the same. Discoveries of forfeited dreams produce sad realizations, yet deepen appreciation for opportunities resulting from such sacrifice. Even a soap opera-like turn at life’s end cannot prevent a woman on a mission from carrying out her father’s wishes.

The stories end too soon (have 75 minutes really passed?) with Celtic Blessings for God’s protection and peace. This CD is part hilarity, part heartbreak, and 100 percent truth. Geraldine’s talent as a writer and performer leaves listeners who have never heard her before feeling like they intimately know this woman. What a wonderful gift!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Love My People

Stories and Songs
CD Review

Oba William King, the Poetic Storyteller

$15.00 + $2.50 shipping and handling. To order, email

Reviewed by Linda Goodman

            This CD begins with The Creation, a James Weldon Johnson sermon that I have heard numerous times, but never with the depth of feeling given it by Oba William King. A dramatic teller, King becomes one with the story, his deep, full voice painting God as practical, artistic, wise, and loving. 

            King accompanies himself on the drum as he sings Red, Black, and Green, a song meant to teach children the colors of the flag of the African people. In a call and response format, we learn the significance of the colors: red is for the blood; black is for the people; and green is for the land.

            I Love My People is a multi-voice anthem celebrating the courage and spirit of the African People:
            “No matter what the world puts us through
             We come out on top in all we do.”
This self-affirming testimony is sung to a catchy tune that makes those who hear it listen twice, so that they can sing along.

            In Emma Young’s poem Kimberly Ann Elizabeth Hall, a young girl discovers on her first day of school that other children have skin that is a different color from her own. On the advice of her mother, she reaches out to those children and learns that they have much in common. King is the voice of wisdom here, counseling that skin color is not as important as a person’s heart.

            The Sad Girl features a child, much like Cinderella, whose step-mother is mean to her. As the girl cries at her mother’s grave, she is given the comfort of material things, but her step-mother destroys them. Can true love release her mother’s spirit so that the girl can be saved and live happily? King tells this story with just the right touch of sentimentality and hope.

            The Bridge, a story about two loving brothers who somehow become enemies, is a favorite of mine. An unexpected visit from a wise carpenter teaches them both a valuable lesson.

            Would eagles who were raised with chickens think that they were chickens? That is the case in The Eagles Who Thought They Were Chickens, until a wise older eagle teaches them that if they spread their wings they can fly, if they really want to.

            Other tracks on this CD include a drum solo (Imani), a Muddy Waters song (Signifying Monkey in Blue), and an ode to playing in the snow (I want to Play in the Snow).

            This charming album will appeal to all ages. Oba William King knows how to use his voice to best effect, changing it with each character and encompassing the emotions that draw the listener deep into the stories. Whether he is being playful or somber, he hits the perfect notes. With his undeniable talent, he makes the stories his own.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halos in the Darkroom

This is the story that I will tell if I am selected to tell at the Secretly Y'all Story Slam tonight. The theme is Behind the Scenes: Unauthorized Transgressions and Expressions.

Halos in the Darkroom
©Linda Goodman 11/2/2012
                I was newly separated with a child to raise. The ad in the Help Wanted section said “Staff needed for Virginia Studio, a new photography venture at Triangle Shopping Center, Portsmouth, Virginia.”
                I needed a job. If the place was new and needed to hire an entire staff, there must be something I could do. I called and made an appointment for an interview.
                The owner’s name was Gerald. “I have only a sixth grade education and I make $100,000 a year,” he told me, adding "and I can make money off of anything. A friend of mine bet me $1,000 me I couldn’t make money on a photography studio. That’s why I’m opening this place. I’m planning to win that money. I only have to stay in business three months to do it.”
                Gerald decided to hire me for the front desk because I was well-spoken and looked cute. Men might see me through the front window, he said, and come in to get their picture taken just to get to know me. He hired a friend of his, Bill Henry, someone with experience, to be the photographer. He then hired two other “girls” to work the phones (telephone solicitors) and his staff was complete.
                We got a few walk-ins the first couple of days, but the serious business started coming in after we ran a newspaper ad offering a free 8 X 10 portrait to anyone who walked through the door. The ad ran on Saturday and, since the Blue Laws had just been rescinded, announced that we would be open on Sunday so that folks could get photographed in their “Sunday go to meeting clothes. “ That’s when the business starting pouring in.
                A few weeks passed and the studio was succeeding beyond Gerald’s wildest dreams. The great majority of our clients bought packages that cost $35 or more (a small fortune for photos in those days), and the money was piling up.
                While Bill and I were having lunch one day, I mentioned to him that I wished that I had more marketable skills so that I could earn a better paycheck (I had seen Bill’s paycheck stub, which he had left on his desk – WOW!).
                “There’s no reason for you not to have marketing skills,” he advised me. “Tell you what – I’ll teach you to shoot portraits.”
                “Really?” I asked.
                “Sure,” he replied. “Just don’t let anyone know. No one is supposed to get near that camera but me. Gerald paid a lot of money for it.”
                The next afternoon, when business was slow, Bill started teaching me his craft. I, who had never held a camera before in my life, learned to focus the camera, pose the subject, set the lights, and put folks at ease so that their smiles would look natural. Thanks to the tripod, my shaking hands were not an issue.
                The next day, Bill did not come to work. I called and left a message for Gerald.  When Clients began arriving for their appointments, and the lobby was filled to capacity, I decided to shoot some portraits myself. Bill could always offer retakes later, if necessary.
                Gerald showed up the next morning. “I got your message about Bill. I checked around and found out he was arrested. He’s in jail.” Bill, it seems, had broken into the appliance store next door , one of Gerald’s competitors, and stolen two televisions. 
                Gerald was a nervous wreck. “I’m gonna lose that bet for sure!” he complained.
                I thought for a moment. “Maybe not,” I said hesitantly. “I shot the portraits for our clients yesterday.”
                “Are you kidding me?  Bill let a rank amateur use that expensive equipment! He was NOT authorized to dot that!” Gerald was about to explode.
                “Don’t get mad at Bill,” I protested. “He was just trying to help me learn some new skills.”
                “Well, Miss Know-It-All, we’ll just see if those portraits you took sell. Who the hell learns to be a photographer in one afternoon?” he scolded.
                That afternoon the proofs of the portraits that I had taken the day before came in. I must have forgotten to check the light meter. My first session had been with a handsome African American family. They were all wearing dark clothes and I had used a black background for them. I had forgotten to set the lights. All you could see in the proofs was their eyeballs. Other portraits that I had taken had similar issues.
                To my surprise, however, the clients were thrilled! “Highlighting our eyes like that!” they exclaimed. “What a brilliant idea! We have never seen anything like it! It’s art!”  Gerald was both surprised and delighted. “A star is born!” he proclaimed. “I knew the minute I hired you that I had struck a goldmine.”
                The next day, knowing that eyeball pictures would eventually grow old, I remembered to check the lights and set them properly. I centered each of my subjects’ heads in the center of the lights behind them.  When I received the proofs the next day, all the family photos were fine, but the individual photos caused a near riot. Every one of them showed a halo around the head of the subject.
                “You’ve made my baby look like the angel that she is!” one mother gleefully shouted.
                “Now I know what I will look like in heaven,” sighed another happy client.
                “You have a gift, young lady,” said another.
                I started getting appointments specifically for halo photos. They were so popular, I had a waiting list.
               All good things come to an end, however. An elderly lung cancer patient died shortly after purchasing his halo photo. Two weeks after that, a little girl that I had photographed was struck and killed by a car. My once satisfied customers were now making frantic phone calls, wanting to know if I could remove the halos from their photos. The local newspaper even ran a story about these “pictures of death.”  Once that happened, business came to a complete standstill. People were afraid to walk past our shop, much less come inside and, God forbid, have their portraits taken.
                Gerald could not be consoled.  “I can’t believe I’m gonna lose that bet!” he moaned. “I have to stay in business at least 3 months to win. We still have a month and a half to go. I can’t believe I trusted you to be my photographer.”
                We were bringing in no income. The only thing we could do was lower expenses.  From the middle of July until the end of August, the air conditioner was shut down. Our telephone solicitors were let go. The lights we used for atmosphere were turned off. Office supplies were not ordered when inventory became low. No more ads were placed and no flyers were created or mailed.
                At the end of August we closed shop. I subtracted our expenses from our income, and we ended up with a net profit of $245.94.
                Gerald slapped me on the back. “Well, kid,” he said, “we didn’t make a killing, but I won the bet. For a while there, I thought you were going to make me a millionaire.”
                He locked the door for the last time and handed me an envelope. “Just my way of saying thanks,” he grinned before walking away.
                I opened the envelope. Inside was a button that had “Gerald’s Little Helper” stamped over top of a photo of a voluptuous woman dressed as an elf. There was also a coupon for 10% off of a new refrigerator at his appliance store. I threw them both in trash barrel and went to look for a real job.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Linda Goodman at Chesterfield County Libraries

I am pleased to announce that I will be doing my program Melting Pot: Tales from Around the World at eight Chesterfield Libraries during the month of November. This is a family program that reaches out to all ages with the theory that, even though we are from different cultures, we are much more alike than we are different.

The schedule for this show is as follows:

Saturday, November 3. 2012

10:30 - 11:30 Central Library, 9501 Lori Road, Chesterfield, VA 23832 (804)796-7029

2:30 - 3:30 Meadowdale Library, 4301 Meadowdale Blvd., Richmond, VA 23234 (804)318-8778

Saturday, November 10, 2012

10:30 - 11:30 Chester Library, 11800 Centre Street, Chester, VA 23831 (804)706-1650

2:30 - 3:30 Enon Library, 1801 Enon Church Road, Chester, VA 23803 (804)530-3403

Saturday, November 17, 2012

10:30 - 11:30 Bon Air Library, 9103 Rattllesnake Road, Richmond, VA 23235 (804)320-2806

2:30 - 3:30 Midlothian Library, 521 Coalfield Road, Midlothian, VA 23114 (804)768-7907

Saturday, November 24, 2012

10:30 - 11:30 Clover Hill, 6701 Deer Run Drive, Midlothian, VA 23112 (804)318-8922

2:30 - 3:30 LaPrade Library, 9000 Hull Street Road, Richmond, VA 23236 (804)276-7755

Hope to see you at one of the shows! Bring your friends!

Thanks to the Chesterfield libraries for sponsoring this event

Monday, October 1, 2012

Kentucky Folktales Given New Life

Book Review
Kentucky Folktales
Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies
Mary Hamilton’s email:

Reviewed By Linda Goodman

            Reading Mary Hamilton’s new book, Kentucky Folktales, is like taking a storytelling master class that leaves you with its full text instead of sketchy notes and skimpy handouts.  Through the use of scary tales, tall tales, folktales, and family tales Hamilton sheds light on such issues as fear, parental neglect and abuse, healthcare, hunting, war, kingly challenges, smart women, and raising babies.

            Each tale is followed by a commentary that relates Hamilton’s sources for her tales and notes on how she adapted them for her own storytelling performances. Most of the stories are also followed by the script of one of the original tales, making comparisons and detail mentioned in the commentary easy to follow.

            Experienced tellers reading this book will see old tales in new ways. I have been telling stories since 1989, and never would have realized that a story like The Princess Who Could Not Cry could be used to advocate for healthcare.  ”…Just as having car insurance does not mean we can always afford to pay a mechanic to keep our car running, having health insurance does not mean we can always afford to pay for health care,” a poor woman’s daughter tells a queen, and my own head begins to fill with numerous tales that can help to spread that message through the charm of story, as opposed to rhetoric.  I wish that I had read Hamilton’s family tale This Is the Story  ten years ago. It may have saved my daughter’s family from three years of sleepless nights as my youngest granddaughter wailed away each evening.

            New storytellers will find this book to be an excellent “how to” source that speaks in a language easily understood by novices. Particularly useful are Hamilton’s step-by-step instructions, following the text of her version of Kate Crackernuts, for creating story and word maps. She also shares here questions that she will ask and answer for herself to deepen her own understanding of the story so that she can share it in a more meaningful way with her audience.

            Educators who read this book will find what they need to relate storytelling to their curriculum. The commentaries will be particularly useful. The Enormous Bear Comparison Chart that follows the story The Enormous Bear is a good education in how stores stories change from teller to teller.

            In her introduction, Hamilton calls this collection “oral tales frozen in print” and reminds us that true oral storytelling is amorphous: No two tellers will tell the same tale in the same way, and no storyteller will tell a story the exact same way twice. This book is a springboard to bigger and better things: unfettered creativity, imagination that knows no bounds, and a platform for outside the box education.

            If you take storytelling seriously or want to nurture a wider scope of telling, this book should be on your shelf.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Don't Miss the Vote!

Effective July 1, 2012, Virginia passed a new Voter ID Law.

All Virginans who are registered to vote should receive a new voter registration card by the end of the first week in October. If you have not registered, you must do so by October 15 to vote in this year's elections. If you are not sure whether or not you are registered, you can check your registration status at

When you vote, you must bring at least one valid ID to the polls. Contrary to popular opinion, your ID does not have to be a photo ID. Acceptable forms of ID include:
  • A Virginia voter registration card
  • A Social Security Card
  • A valid Virginia driver's license
  • Any other ID card issued by an agency of the Commonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States
  • Any valid student ID card issued by a Viginia Institution of higher education
  • A valid ID card issued by an employer containing a photograph of the voter
  • A current copy of a utility bill with voter's name and address
  • A current copy of a bank statement with the voter's name and address
  • A current copy of a government check with the voter's name and address
  • A current copy of a paycheck that shows the voter's name and address
  • A concealed handgun permit.
If you do not provide ID, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot ( a paper ballot placed in an envelope marked "ID-only"), and your ballot will not be counted unless you provide an ID to the local election office by noon on Friday, November 9, 2012, by fax, mail, or email.

If you have questions or problems voting, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

The future plot twists in your country's story will be affected by your vote in one way or another. Please educate yourselves about the issues, listen to what all of the candidates have to say, and vote your conscience.

The above information was provided by The Martin Luther King, Jr History & Public Policy Center

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Giulia Goes to War

Legion of Honor
Book One
Giulia Goes to War
An eBook by Joan Leotta
Published by Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc.
Reviewed by Linda Goodman

            This enchanting historical romance novel has everything needed to capture a young girl’s heart: forbidden love; intrigue; and interesting historical data. Set during World War II, Giulia, its young heroine, leaves her sheltered life with her staunchly Italian family in Avocatown, Pennsylvania to support the war effort by working with her cousin Carmie and her friend Helen at a shipyard in Castle Hayne, North Carolina.
            Giulia must pass tests to get the job she wants and receives such high marks that she is assigned to a top secret project in an area called the “live wire.” This is where the intrigue comes into play – a German spy is desperately trying to infiltrate the “live wire” and steal information about the secret project. Giulia, of course, becomes the means to his end.  At least, that is his plan.
            Young ladies supporting the war effort are also expected to attend the USO dances, where they are warned not to share more than a few dances with each soldier. All three girls find love, but Giulia suffers the  misfortune of falling for an American, knowing that her parents want her to “stick with her kind” and marry an Italian.
            Giulia’s love affair with John is all the more tantalizing for its chastity. Their handholding is as passionate as a kiss, their fervor all the more desperate because of the secrets they must keep.
            Teens will enjoy the book as much as adults. When I was in the sixth grade, my English teacher used to give me teen romances to read as a way to keep my overly serious mind from dwelling on somber topics. I can see Mrs. Mabry giving me a paperback copy of Giulia Goes to War (no eBooks in 1963). I can just as easily see myself taking it to bed with a flashlight, eager to find out what was going to happen next without rousing my mother in the next room.
            Leotta confesses to taking some liberties with history. Avocatown, for instance, is a fictional place similar to small coal towns near Pittsburgh. Dishes served in the book are real, however, and can be found in the Desert Breeze cookbook. The blend of history and imagination is so skillful that the reader forgets that the characters are not real. In fact, they are real enough that they linger with the reader well after the book has been read. This is the mark of a gifted writer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kudos to the JustStories FaceBook Festival

By Linda Goodman

            Racebridges’ JustStories Storytelling Festival, a three day FaceBook event devoted to stories about race relations, pride and pain, tears and laughter, and the ongoing search for the amazing American identity and our global family was held August 1 – 3.  I was on the road on during that time, but I was able to listen to only four stories, all well crafted and flawlessly told by respected storytellers. I loved being able to read the comments that followed each story. The quality was so good that I felt like I was watching a program on PBS. I did have a little trouble with volume on two of the stories (not sure if my computer or the festival technology was the cause of this).

            How is this different from live telling? The fourth wall was most definitely in place. Storytellers gear their stories to suit the audience, and in the cases of the stories that I saw, the audience was the camera. At a live show, I feel as if the teller is speaking directly to me. JustStories felt like high quality TV. That is not a criticism, just an observation. I happen to like television. Also, at a live show, I would have been part of an audience whose members would have fed off of one another's enthusiasm. I missed hearing the laughter, the sighs, and, most of all, the applause.

            This is a medium that will be of great value to the storytelling commuinity, and will be a godsend to those story lovers whose traveling is limited due to health, finances, or time constraints. Storytelling at your fingertips is a good thing, but I hope it will be a companion to live telling, not a successor. Both forms have significant value. 

Kudos to Susan O'Halloran and Racebridges for bringing us such a high quality first virtual storytelling festival! 

Thoughts from other viewers who had more time to spend with the festival:

From Sandi, mother of 5 (Sandi is a stay at home, homeschooling mom ) via FaceBook:

            OH SO GOOD~I am really, REALLY enjoying all the stories!!!!! Some favorite tellers so far, and I wish I could just sit and enjoy this all day to find more! LOL! Alton Chung, Olga Loya, Nancy Wang, and Judith Heineman. I'm sure I'll find more to follow in the weeks to come. Any of the wonderful tellers will be welcome to stay in my home and share a meal if they come to the Richmond area.

From Lynn Haynes, via email:

            I have been listening to Juststories. It kept my mind occupied while my daughter-in-law had open heart surgery. I love what they've done. Some years ago I told Jane Crouse that the National Storytelling Festival was a sabbatical for me, from all that might be wrong in my life. It lifted me up and fixed everything. I haven't been able to attend that festival since 2007. I needed the lift. Juststories has done it for me, and we still have another day to go. I emailed non-tellers about it three times to tell and remind them. I was tickled to see some of them "Like" it.

            I first begged tellers to video tape performances back in 1990. It is the absolute best way to showcase themselves and for others to be their sales force when they share those videos.

What Juststories has done is excerpts from longer stories, excerpts that tell a complete story (unlike an annoying clip) yet leave the viewer wanting more.

            For years I bought every video I could get my hands on. I think I own about 60 storytelling videos, which I used to host storytelling chili parties in my home for folks who had never experienced storytelling. As a result of my storytelling video chili parties, every single person who ever attended later paid to attend other storytelling performances. Two attended the very next National Storytelling Festival and have never missed a year since. One traveled to storytelling festivals in three states. All ended up being paying listeners. One, for a time, was in a position to hire storytellers, and did. I'm just one person. Without those videos I couldn't have made that much of a difference. I also took those videos to the nursing home across the street and played them for the residents. Now that I am physically incapable of attending festivals, an event such as Juststories really does make a difference in my life. I am grateful.

            The Juststories audience seems to be primarily other storytellers. If tellers only tell to each other, how can storytelling grow as it should? This festival is making the right start, using a mainstream social network, to reach beyond those boundaries. It takes time. It has been a good festival. It will grow. Everyone needs to tell everyone on all their lists all about it.

The only negative I see for this event is not at all a negative for the listener, only for the tellers. It is free. To monetize the event would, for tellers, be ideal. I however, hope they don't. The shorts as part of larger stories are wonderful teasers that, with a broader audience, should lead to paying jobs for tellers. Give-aways are often a good marketing ploy. Juststories has been a grand give-away. Again, I am grateful.

Stories are still available for you listening pleasure at or

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Linda Goodman's new programs

I have added three new programs to my repertoire. They are:

For Children's and Family Audiences:
Mo and Oz: The Stories of L. Frank Baum
fantastical stories from the acclaimed author of  the Oz books, including The Wizard of Oz, and The Magical Monarch of Mo.

For grown-ups:
Women: Wondrous, Wacky, and Wise (great for Women's History Month in March or for Mother's Day). Stories included in this program are:

Tale of Two Teachers - A student learns from a beloved teacher that books can play an important role in a child's life.

Santa and Me - A grandmother's attempt to answer the question: Is there a Santa Claus?
The Bus Ride - An ordinary bus ride becomes a lesson in courage, kindness, and motherly love.

Men: The Good, the Bad, and the Lovely (great Father's Day show). Stories included in this program are:

The Punishment - A story about a young girl who learns a valuable lesson about parental love.
Bad Boss - A single mother and her unreasonable boss must come to terms about the rigors of the workplace.
Second Daddy (also titled No Elvis) - Can a man really love a child who is not of his own blood? This story answers that question twice.

Also, you can now order my CD Bobby Pins and my book Daughters of the Appalachians directly through my website, in addition to being able to purchase them through CD Baby and My re-release of my CD Jessie and Other Stories: A Linda Goodman Sampler (originally released in December 1992) should be ready by the end of September, just in time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its creation.

I hope that you are all having a happy summer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Best Birthday Present Ever!

This is the story that I used as a "starter" for the Senior Citizens that I worked with for June's Intergenerational Storytelling Workshops, sponsored by Arts on Wheels, in conjunction with the Richmond YMCAs.

The Seniors shared their stories with middle school students, who then transcribed the stories and created an illustrated cover that highlighted "the most important thing" about the story. Elaina Fejes was the gifted young artist who worked with the students on their illustrations.

Both the Seniors and the students enjoyed this process and are eager to do it again.

The Best Birthday Present Ever!

© 2012 Linda Goodman

                In February 1962, a few days before my tenth birthday, my father said to me, “Linda, your tenth birthday is a special birthday because it marks the end of your first decade in this world and the beginning of your second one. What would you like as your present on your special day?”
                On all of my prior birthdays, I had awakened in the morning to find a present waiting for me on the kitchen table.  Sometimes I got paper dolls. Sometimes I got a board game.  Sometimes I got a book (my favorite present - I loved to read). I had never before been asked what I actually wanted, though. Without hesitating, I squealed, “A bicycle!  I want a bicycle for my special birthday!”
                Few kids in my neighborhood had bicycles, but those who did made good use of them. Boys would put baskets on the front of their bikes and get jobs delivering the daily newspaper. Some kids used their bicycle baskets to carry home groceries for people who could not make it to the store themselves.  A bicycle could quickly (much more quickly than walking) get me to wherever I needed to go.
                My father did not seem to share my enthusiasm for the bicycle, though. His eyes ceased to twinkle and took on a worried appearance when he heard my request. “Let me think on that,” he responded.  I knew that meant that my request would most likely not be granted.
                The next day, after supper, Daddy took me aside and said, “Linda, I stopped by the Roses Five and Dime Store today, and the cheapest bicycle I could find there cost $15.95. There is no way that I can get that much money together before your birthday.
                Even though I had expected this, I still had to bite my lower lip to keep from crying. “Yes, Sir,” I whispered.  “I understand.”
                “Now don’t despair, Linda Sue!” Daddy urged, cupping his hand under my chin. As I looked into his gray eyes, I could see that their twinkle was back. “If you're willing to wait for six months,” he offered, “  I will put away $2.50 every month, and in August I can buy you that bicycle. Can you wait that long?”
                “Yes!” I gleefully shouted.  “I can wait!  I can wait a year if I have to.”
                Since my baby sister Evelyn’s seventh birthday was in August, Daddy and Momma decided we would have a dual birthday. There were two cakes, chocolate for me and yellow for Evelyn. There was a gallon of chocolate ice cream (we both declared chocolate to be our favorite ice cream flavor).  Best of all, we each got an ice cold sixteen ounce Lotta Cola, all to ourselves.
                Evelyn opened her present first: Barbie paper dolls! She was ecstatic! She loved Barbie, who at that time sported a long blond pony tail and did not have an occupation.
                After that, Daddy excused himself to go see a neighbor.  Five minutes later, he came back through the front door, escorting  a hot pink, twenty-six inch girl’s bicycle! It had a silver seat, a white wire basket, and a horn! I jumped up and down with excitement.  It was definitely worth the wait.
                I gave both Daddy and Momma bear hugs, all the while chanting, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”  It was the best birthday ever! Until I noticed my baby sister Evelyn, standing by my new bike, crying.
                If she had been sobbing loudly or throwing a fit, I would have had no sympathy for her. After all, that is what a spoiled child does. But Evelyn was just standing there, looking at my bike, with her lower lip quivering and threaded waterfalls flowing freely from her eyes.
                Then she turned those eyes on me. “Sissy,” she whimpered, “I’m glad you got a bicycle. It’s real nice.”
                Something inside me melted. I got a tissue and wiped her eyes.  “You know what, Evelyn?” I said gently. “I do a lot of homework, and I can’t ride a bicycle when I’m doing homework. So if you don’t mind, we can share that bicycle.”
                What a joy to see the smile that spread across her face as she realized what I was telling her!
                “Oh, Sissy!”  she cried as she threw her arms around my waist. “You are always so nice to me!” The fact that I was not always nice to her did not bother me. All that mattered was how good I felt at that moment.
                As I returned her hug, I looked at my father, and he winked at me.  I knew that wink meant that he was proud of what I had done.  And that was an even better birthday present than the bicycle!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

CD Review - Destination? Slammer!

True Tales of Life and Laughter

Recorded Live on July 25, 2010 at Beans in the Belfry Café in Brunswick, MD

Available from CD Baby or directly from Geraldine Buckley at
Email:  Snailmail: 5256 Bamburg Ct., Frederick, MD 21703.
$15.00, plus $1.00 shipping and handling.

Reviewed By Linda Goodman

            Geraldine Buckley, a former British convent schoolgirl, is a comedian, a poet, a philosopher, and, above all, a storytelling evangelist. Listeners will fall in love with her self-effacing humor, rapier wit, unique wisdom, and her eagerness to share all the she has learned from life.

            There are eleven stories on this CD, each one a gem. The Night That Changed Everything chronicles Geraldine's first trip to the largest men's prison in Maryland where she teaches poetry to the inmates who have gathered to fill time, but who end up filling their minds with eloquent verse and sentiment as they realize that they are in the presence of someone who feels their pain.  “Yay! Yay, God!”  they cry in a climactic, heart-stirring moment. There is more than one way to “take down” a man.

             Tatton Hall, set in Knutsford, Cheshire in the North of England, details Geraldine’s childhood love of reading and her quest for adventure, inspired by  Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five and Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew books. The story culminates in her discovery of a secret passage, to the chagrin of her by-the-book teacher, Miss Lemming.

            Paradise proves to be quite dreary in Bored in Paradise, until a bus load of nuns knocks at the door. Will a little something extra in the Sangria quench their thirst?

            Teachers do not know everything, as The Interview’s Mrs. Blythe proves when she prophecies that her student will find her niche working for the BBC.  Geraldine tries her best, and, in spite of a pair of ill-fitting panty hose, she gets a job working behind the scenes at the fabled network. Will it be everything she hoped for?
           A lost love in Austin, Texas, a job as a radio salesperson, and a parental visit set the scene for Liz Carpenter’s High Hillside, a story that shares the beginning of Geraldine’s life-long friendship with Lady Bird Johnson’s Press Secretary, a woman who knows how to live life without wasting a minute of it.

            Anyone who has ever tried to be the third person to answer a question correctly for a radio show contest will appreciate the humor of Lady in Red. When you are on the radio, ears are everywhere.

            In Hitching Up My Wagon Geraldine talks about the “Road to Damascus” experience that led to her becoming a Pentecostal minister. This short piece segues nicely into The Correctional Academy, where Geraldine must prove her ability to shackle an inmate and “take down” a man before she can secure the job of chaplain for the facility.

            In The Bus, a meeting with a prison gang leader recalls a long ago bus trip to Delhi, India in a bright pink bus, filled with unwashed bodies and Hell’s Angels. This story gave me chills as Geraldine lovingly yet firmly established her turf and saved her prison service. What insights this woman has into human nature!

            This CD ends appropriately with  An Extract From a Franciscan Blessing that wishes for all to be blessed with those things that bring about heartfelt living, justice, and generosity.

            The cover that Andrea Stasulis created for Destination? Slammer! is as colorful and unique as the wonderful teller it showcases. This recording boasts the best CD insert I have ever seen, with liner notes for each story and information about Geraldine’s work.

            This CD is the winner of a Storytelling World Gold Award, and deservedly so. This world is filled with uncertainty, fear, and pain. Geraldine Buckley has found the secret joy that lies within the darkness and these stories bring that joy to life. You will not soon forget her men behind bars, or her fearless, selfless quest to be of service to them. Her blessing to you is these stories, which bear testimony to her belief that, with God, anything is possible. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

On Graduation

(c) Linda Goodman, 1970

They said, “There’s a cold, cruel world outside.
Please listen to us and try to abide by our rules. Stay Inside.”          

So we did.
And some met failure, and some knew success,
And some didn’t bother; they couldn’t care less.

And now the time’s come. We’ll be sheltered no more.
We’ll run to be free.
We’ll unbar all the doors.
And we’ll say we want peace, yet we’ll follow the road
Where God is the plotter and Man is the mold.

And we’ve worked hard and achieved to our best  
And our souls have grown weary and ready for rest,    
Then we’ll remember these fast flying years   
With laughter and wonder and warmth and tears.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lost and Found

CD Review

Written, collected, and performed by Denise Bennett.
Available from
Recording by Meredith Brooks, Designer Studio, Richmond, VA
$12.00, plus $4.00 shipping and handling

Reviewed by Linda Goodman

            Lost and Found is a CD that combines music, personal stories, and traditional tales to create an enticing sampler of the variety and diversity of the powerhouse storytelling of Denise Bennett.

            Diminutive in stature and soft-spoken in conversation, Bennett seems to grow several feet taller when she takes the stage. Her storytelling is flavored with quick wit, rare insight, and more than a little wisdom.

            This CD begins with three stories about Nasrudin, a wise fool of disputed origin who seemsto me  to be an ancient version of the absent minded professor. Anywhere I Go is a personal story about a trip to Ireland and a search for roots that culminates in the realization that, while heritage can be evasive, “mutts” have their own brand of culture, and that is okay.

            The Lost Child is a beautiful Scottish tale about a mother whose child is taken by the fairies, and her quest to get the child back. She is given good advice by one familiar with the She (another name for fairy folk), and she has the wiles to use it effectively. But will the strategy work? The fairies are a wily lot themselves.

            In Mr. Hunter, Bennett shares memories of a well-loved teacher. My Grandmother’s Garden is a nostalgic ode to a special place that Bennett visited often while growing up. Her time spent there spawned beautiful memories that begat heartfelt stories, like this one.

            Interspersed between the stories are musical pieces featuring Bennett singing and playing the harp, both music to my ears. Her rendition of Robert Lowery’s How Can I Keep from Singing is especially pleasing.

            The cover of this CD features a glorious purple iris drawn by Marshall Roach. The depth of its beauty is an apt metaphor for what lies within. I have waited a long time for Denise Bennett to make a CD.  This CD is definitely worth the wait.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


(c)Linda Goodman 2012

My mother, Ida Pauline Tackett Wright, was born on March 29, 1929.  She shared her parents' attention with her twin brother, Paul, and her older sister, Helen.

When I say that she shared her parents' attention, I do not mean their affection. Her father, William Tackett, was a man who heard voices that told him what to do, and he obeyed. The results were usually one or more injured children or a badly beaten wife. My grandmother, Roma Gilliam Tackett stood by while her children incurred his wrath.  Was she afraid he would make their suffering worse if she interfered? Or was she worried that her meddling would turn his anger on her?  The answer to that question varies, depending upon which of my relatives  is telling the story.

I will not record here the graphic details of my mother's childhood. Suffice it to say that, prior to marrying my father, she never went to bed without wondering whether she would live to see another day. I consider it a small miracle that, considering what she endured, neither I nor any of my siblings were abused in any way.

I once read an article about concentration camp survivors.  The author said that these survivors tended to be infantile in their eagerness to please, to shudder at unfriendly words spoken to them, and to be plagued by nightmares and anxiety.  My mother mirrored all these symptons.

When I was a teen, I came to the decision that my mother was mildly retarded.  She never understood jokes, never read a book, and never learned to use a seat belt.  After my father died, she came to live with me and my family in Connecticut. Phil spent hours teaching her to use the microwave oven and the TV remote.  She was scared to death of both of them.

My doctor examined her and told me that her time was short.  Take her on walks, he suggested.  Build up her stamina to buy her more time.

Those walks were a godsend.  They got my mother talking about her life and her views of what was going on in the world, as compared to what had been.  I was shocked to learn that there was a deep well of wisdom that had been shut up tight inside her all her life.  During those walks, she taught me how to get along with a surly teenager, to descern and extend true friendship, and to appreciate a good man. Not too long after she came to live with me, she told me that the bank had made a mistake on her account. I checked behind her and learned that she was right; the bank had made a $10.00 error, just as she had said. Statistics tell us that ninety percent of the people in this country cannot reconcile their own banks accounts.  My mother, with just a sixth grade education, had reconciled hers.

My mother, who had been treated like a half-wit by both friends and family, had an active and very sharp mind that she had kept hidden for over fifty years!  Because of my own misguided assumptions, I had denied myself access to that treasure.

In a fit of anger, my mother once told me that before she died she was going to write letters to me and my siblings, and that we were going to be surprised by what those letters said.  I knew that whatever was going to be in those letters would be scathing.

My mother returned home to Virginia just four months before her death. She passed away quietly in the night on March 1, 1989. My sister met me at the airport in Norfolk two days before the funeral.  She told me that Momma had left letters for both of us and our two brothers. I shuddered at the thought of reading mine.

I was indeed surprised.  Instead of recounting all of the hurtful things that I had said and done to her, she thanked me and Phil for taking such good care of her.  She asked us to be good to one another, and she expressed the belief that we would see each other again in God's time.  My mother's last gift to me was forgiveness.  She absolved me of the guilt that she knew would be my be my constant companion otherwise.

If I could see my mother today, I would wrap my arms around her and hold her tight. I would tell her how sorry I am for all the pain I caused her.  I would tell her that I love her and am proud to be her daughter.

I pray that I will one day have her courage, grace, and strength of character.

Happy Mother's Day, Momma.