Message from the Editor

Message from the Editor

Why couldn’t they all just go home? Don’t they notice me up here, trying to go to sleep?!

My parents are in the backyard, having a party. Everyone is there. I recognize the sea of faces as the float around Daddy’s smoking charcoal barbeque.

And it seemed to me from my bedroom window above that the louder they get, the more they have to turn up the music to hear it.

I flop on my afghan and wail by displeasure to anyone who might dare to hear, but somehow my mom seems unimpressed: “She’ll get over it,” I hear here say to one of her laughing friends. Between sobs and loud, dramatic gasps for air I hear a voice say: “Let me see what I can do.”

…and before I know it, there’s a soft knock on my door and standing in the glow of my Cinderella lamp is Mr. Tucker, my dad’s old friend. “Now, now,” he says, “can’t get to sleep?”

I know this man. I’ve seen him at the center of circles of other men and women many times, my dad included, saying things that seem so interesting and important that everyone is paying him lots of attention. They lean in towards him when he speaks, as if he’s whispering secrets, then lean away and laugh and smile as the warmth of his words spreads around the room.

At all of five, in my summer p.j.’s and braided hair, hugging a dolly and feeling tremendously sorry for myself, I somehow know this is a moment to remember. That I’m being invited into the circle. That somehow, something is about to change for me.
“How about a story?” he says.

…This is NOT the magic moment I expected. A story?! Are you kidding me? Stories are not a novelty in my house. I’ve been read to for many years, but not wanting to be alone in my room and lonely, listening to a party get better and better around my swing set, I take him up on his offer. I reach for a book, but he says, “No, no, now. You get under your covers and cuddle with your doll and I’ll sit over here and tell you a story. This is a story about the amazing Princess Susan and her beautiful baby – what’s your doll’s name?”
I make up a name on the spot. And off he goes, weaving a magic tale, with me providing the colour.

…THIS is the magic moment. This is the moment when story began to shape my understanding of people and places and experiences. It has enriched my life; it has made the unbearable somehow bearable; it has played an important role in my career choices and my private pursuits; and it has helped to define who I am.

The night of my parent’s party, my storyteller eventually gave up. As the Master of Ceremonies at my wedding many years later, he told the story of this night and how he had bragged to my parents that if anyone in the world could bore a 5-year old to sleep by talking, it would be him.

…But he met a worthy opponent it me.

He was Otto Tucker, one of the first recipients of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, a recognized educator and heritage activist, and a member of the Order of Canada. He was considered to be one of Newfoundland’s renowned master storytellers.

Otto is certainly a personal inspiration for me as editor of the City’s first blog page, Our City. Our Story.

But what really inspired this project is the stories of connection that my colleagues and I have heard over the past few years from newcomers and long-time residents, business-owners, City employees, hard-working residents and children – all of whom feel deeply connected with St. John’s.

We are very excited to be collecting and curating your stories about this place. Your parks and playgrounds and pools, your neighbourhoods. We hope you enjoy these stories, too and feel inspired to tell us about what connects you to St. John’s.

- How about a story?

by Susan Bonnell, Manager of Communications and Office Services, City of St. John's.