The storyteller

(Submitted by Peter Elias)

Perhaps it was his interest in classical literature and poetry and his ability to memorize, but my father loved stories, and was a good story teller.  

This skill was already apparent at a very early age, because his older sister talked about how he helped her get to sleep by telling her bed time stories in the dark from the next room.

As children, my sisters (Joan and Margaret) and I loved his Johnny Raindrop stories. These featured a well travelled raindrop having adventures in all sorts of settings, always with happy endings. Johnny would fall and land somewhere (having jumped from a cloud) and participate in (or observe or facilitate) some human activity, always described in considerable detail and often related to what was happening in our lives at the moment. He frequently finished his adventure by traveling along streams and rivers to a lake or the sea, where he could evaporate and be ready to entertain, comfort or educate us at some future date.

As we got older, we were introduced to the stories about Count (Graf) Bobby and his friend (Baron) Rudi. Based on caricatures of a pair of not-quite-bright-enough aristocrats with little common sense but impeccable mannaers, these popular stories poked fun at Viennese aristocracy and culture. They were adapted to become an underground way to ridicule the Nazis during the war. (The stories were anthologized and became the basis of several post-war era movies.) Although we knew them by heart, they never seemed to lose their charm. One of my favorites recounted the cold January day when Rudi visited Count Bobby, whom he found sitting and shivering in his living room. When Rudi said it was only 2 degrees outside, Count Bobby immediately jumped up and opened the window, saying: "In with the two degrees." ("Herein mit dem zwei Grad.")  

Along with the stories, I will never forget the seriousness with which he told them, always belied by the sparkle in his eyes.

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