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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Spars

A Gem of a Gem!

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Barbara Clark, who was nominated as this year's Regional Gem of California. This is an award presented by SAC every year to a storyteller for their lifetime of work. It usually alternates between Northern and Southern California, and this year Barbara was representing Southern California.

The event was held in St. Albans Church in Albany, CA, near Berkeley. While there were only fifty in the audience, they were fifty of the finest storytellers from around the Bay Area including Cathryn Fairlee, Linda Yemoto, Sara Armstrong, Tim Ereneta, Ed Silberman, and so many others.

Barbara told stories about her childhood in the country, including a tale about going to a family grocery store ("the juice store") where she befriended a young Jewish boy, a tale about drinking frog broth to cure herself of whooping cough, and a beautiful story about coming of age and going to prom in a dress sewn by her young aunt. All of her stories brought out laughter from the audience, and the last one moved everyone to tears.

I was able to open for her (along with Jeff Hanson), and we each told personal stories about our young. I told the story about canoeing the upper Gasconade River in an effort to "talk" with the river as Siddhartha had done in Hermann Hesse's book. It was such a positive event with such a supportive audience that I wasn't even nervous. I loved seeing Barbara's face in the audience, her expression one of fierce concentration!

SAC: Regional Gem Concert, St. Alban's Church, Albany, June 1, 2019


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