Remember The Twist, Chubby Checker unveiled it in The Dick Clark Show on this date in 1960
I hope you can join us here this Saturday for Andy Offutt Irwin’s Tall-Tale Workshop.
Come and have a good time exaggerating the facts to reveal the truth.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Are you a broken record? I am. There are some expressions I go back to over and over. One of my most recurrent is, “We live into the stories we tell ourselves.” And quick on its heels, “Tell a story worth living.”
Growing up in Virginia, I was surrounded with stories. Stories of Jamestown, the Revolution, the Civil War, The Great Depression, WWII, the Korean Conflict, but mostly stories of my family. The stories that had the biggest impact were those my dad told of his life.
My dad’s dad, James Lloyd “Pie” Turner, died in 1942. Daddy was 13. My grandmother, Reba, a stay-at-home mom, was lame. She had what was known as “Milk Leg”, a consequence of an infection she developed nursing her youngest. She was one of 13 and her siblings rallied to help. But Daddy as the eldest son (he had a big sister and a little brother) stepped up and did what he could. He delivered groceries and prescriptions after school; he delivered the morning paper before school. He hustled to find chores he could do for others to contribute to the family’s coffers.
I don’t ever remember these stories being told as prescriptive, but my dad was always intentional, so I’m sure he had a reason for telling them to me. Probably, to gently remind me to appreciate the difference between my comparative lap of luxury childhood and his. It worked; in that I can’t ever remember not recognizing the great “hand I’ve been dealt” in life.
Equally significant, these stories laid the foundation for my belief in myself.
My strategic management professor in college referred to my business strategy as “Hustle”. When he first said it, I smiled remembering my Dad’s admonition to “Do something. I can fix wrong. I can’t fix nothing.”
All of this is to set up a story my 89-year-old mom tells about me when I was 12.
During this period Momma used to type up the menu for a local restaurant. She had a small mimeograph machine. (I can still smell the fluid.) I came to her with my “resume” written on a piece of notebook paper and asked her to type it up and make me 20 copies. I got dressed up in my charcoal gray slacks, white shirt, tie and my Navy-Blue blazer with my school’s embroidered shield on the breast pocket. I polished my cordovan Bass Wejuns and set off to find a job.
Later, that morning Momma said she got a call from the owner of a florist shop a few blocks from home. He said, “Mrs. Turner, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a job for your son. But rest assured he will do well in this world.” Momma only bought flowers from Fuqua & Sheffield from then on.
I did find a job that day. And today’s date, August 6, is important to this story. You see on this date in 1960, four years before this story happened, Chubby Checker introduced his song, The Twist, on The Dick Clark Show. In the neighborhood, there was a little health food store called The Honey Shop. They “hired” me as a commission-only salesman. They provided me with a sample Twist-O-Matic to go door-to-door demonstrating and taking orders.
The Twist-O-Matic was a revolutionary weight loss platform. Think a Lazy Susan made of hard plastic. You would stand on The Twist-O-Matic and dance the Twist. The motion was supposed to be good for trimming your waistline and burning calories.
I wasn’t even 5’-0”” when I entered high school two years later, so I’m sure answering the door and finding this big-eyed, little fire plug demonstrating the Twist dressed in his Sunday Best must have amused many an unsuspecting neighbor. Although I doubt it was much of a shock as I had knocked on many of these doors in the past soliciting newspaper subscriptions.
Throughout my life many people have asked me where I’ve found the strength, courage, will power to sell. And once again my dad’s words spring to mind, “The man who knocks on the most doors and hears the most NOs, makes the most sales.”
In all sincerity, I have no memory of whether I was successful selling The Twist-O-Matic. What I do know is my dad’s stories showed me others had been successful in the past. And his and my mom’s belief in me fueled my belief if “they” can, then I can.
It’s a story I have to remind myself of when I’m weary. Mr. Fuqua’s faith, my parent’s faith, the faith of those who’ve hitched their future to mine lifts me up when occasionally I forget: I Can. I have in the past and I Can again.
Remember, You Matter! Your Stories Matter, So, tell stories worth living and tell them well. Because some days you may be their most important audience.
Consider The Ad Below
The banner ad below is promoting an audio book of three of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories: Morella, Berenice, and Ligeia.
I encourage you to check it out.
We’re about to release our next e-book, Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Dark Humor. I’ll be going into the studio shortly thereafter to record it as an audio book.
I Want to Hear from You
Drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know what stories or storytelling topics you’d like me to explore.
I’d particularly love to hear stories of folks rebounding from life’s traumas.
Til next time,