Monday, September 1, 2014

Our Love for Storytellers

I come from a line of wonderful women who have enjoyed sharing stories. I strongly believe that every family needs one or two storytellers. 

There have been storytellers among us since the beginning of time and as we know everyone has a story. Some storytellers have an undeniable urge to stretch the truth just a little into something somewhat fictional but incredibly interesting. 

For most of us, our own life stories seem average at best and probably somewhat predictable and uninteresting. I have heard the question asked, “Who would ever enjoy hearing a story about me or my family, we are boring?”

Newell Anderson

Recently members of my family have been reminded of their Uncle Newell Anderson who served in the Army Air Corp during World War II. He did his flight training in California and Washington state. At one point, he took a leave and went back to his home in Annabella, Sevier County, Utah. His siblings, nieces and nephews were enthralled by the stories he shared of a world they had never seen. 

For many years since, some have remembered Newell telling them he was engaged to be married to a beautiful, movie star of which he named.

Newell, a teaser by nature, was a very handsome man with multiple musical talents. It was purported [by family members of course] that these talents helped him become quite a lady’s man during the war. Newell's sisters claimed he used these talents to became acquainted with and eventually engaged to the star. 

In October of 1943, Newell and his squadron were ordered to Nuthampstead airbase in England. 

A year ago, I was able to obtain some letters Newell wrote to his brother Dean. One written April 2, 1944, spoke about his former girl friend and others he had written to. [Please excuse the cuss words.]

Nothing in Newell's letter to his brother was ever said about a movie star or an upcoming nuptial. One week later, on April 9,1944 Newell was killed in a firey airplane accident. 

Afterwards, many members of the family claimed to have seen a wedding band returned with Newell's effects. This only helped the movie star story grow. 

Curious as to the family tale, I looked into the possibility of its truth. With a little research, I noted that it was popular during the WW II era for the motion picture industry to produce life-like movies about the war. In fact, local Hollywood newspapers printed that Newell's supposed fiancé/movie star had had a couple of nervous breakdowns while filming war movies during the time. 

Amazingly enough, even after 70 years, this tidbit of new information was the perfect fuel to keep the family story burning--at least with my mother, her sister and anyone they could share it with. From then on, it was assumed that the movie star was bereaved and suffered terribly after learning about the death of her beloved serviceman/fiancé causing her breakdowns.

In more modern times, a family member was able to obtain a list of Newell's effects. To my surprise, a wedding-type band was on the list. 

It is unlikely the story about the movie star can ever be confirmed. But what if the story continues to be passed on and on and on? Perhaps by the time the story is shared with the fifth generation, it will not even closely resemble the original, and the original was pretty sketchy anyway. 
Nonetheless, I cannot imagine a world without stories. Storytellers are found in every culture. They can be a valuable means of entertainment and education as well as a way to preserve our moral values. Stories can enter our minds and thoughts forcing us to visualize how a character might look and act. They touch us and interact with our emotions in ways no other medium can.

Without a doubt every family has their stories. Maybe they are true and perhaps not. Hopefully the stories we are leaving behind for our posterity are worthwhile and a real value. And who knows maybe the next storyteller in the family will leave a wonderful story about us. 

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