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Telling a story that mesmerizes

I am amazed at how some people can tell a story that mesmerizes an audience from the opening remarks to the closing comments.



I am not one of those people, but when I heard Peggy McLaughlin Keener, I knew she was definitely one of them. Peggy’s stories produced smiles, chuckles and enthusiastic laughter as she told about her adventures in Asia as a young mother whose husband’s job kept him away for long periods of time.

The crowd of 45 enjoyed stories of Curity diapers, uncomfortable girdles, and a 24 hour ride in a pea green C54 cargo plane with propellers that didn’t have enough fuel to cross the ocean. Peggy was a wife and mother, but she also had a career on Japanese TV through the government’s effort to teach their people to confidently speak English. Peggy has compiled five years of stories into a book called “Potato in a Rice Bowl.” The title is a reference to her feelings of being an obvious outsider in her new home, but she seemed to expertly convert her insecurity to a spirit of adventure while she learned to navigate in a new culture. Peggy is currently at work on a sequel to Potato and has promised to return to talk about it when it is complete.

 Telling a story

Speaking of stories, I am excited to announce that the Hormel Historic Home will be the site of a storytelling event on Oct. 30-31. “…And That’s My Story” will resurrect a popular event that last occurred in Austin in 2007.  In addition to local storytellers Michael Cotter and Bev Jackson Cotter, the event will feature three professional tellers and the music of Jack Koppa. A workshop to inspire other aspiring raconteurs will also take place. Featured storytellers will be Chuck Suchy whose ballads describe the rugged beauty of the Great Plains and the people of North Dakota. Rose McGee’s repertoire includes her story of sweet potato pie as the sacred dessert of the black culture. August Rubrecht tells of his unusual childhood in the Ozarks.

There are three opportunities to participate in the event.  Friday evening, the 30th, there will be a reception and dinner followed by the show.  Tickets are available for entire night for $30 or for the show only for $15.  The Saturday workshop ticket is $10.  Tickets can be purchased at the Hormel Historic Home.  Call 507-433-4243 for more information.

History Happy Hour

The History of Mill Pond

5:30 p.m., social and snacks, 6 p.m.

presentation Monday, Sept. 14

Tim Ruzek will talk about the past 150 years of Austin’s Downtown Mill Pond area. Swamp to state park to highly valued commercial/industrial sector with flood walls. Free for members of the HHH, the Mower County Historical Society, and the Friends of the Public Library. $5 for non-members