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CHRIS MALCHER PERFORMS AT SPRING STORIES FROM BROOKLYN AND BEYOND SHOWCASE

Life Story Club Contributor

April 29, 2021

So this is an Irish song called the Gypsy Rover, or otherwise known as the Whistling Gypsy Rover. So, here we go.

The gypsy rover came over the hill,
Down through valley so shady;
He whistled and he sang,
Till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

Ah di doo ah di doo dah day,
Ah di doo ah di day di,
He whistled and he sang,
Till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

She left her father’s castle gates;
She left her own fond lover,
She left her servants and her estate,
To follow the gypsy rover.

The father settled up his fastest speed,
He rolled up valleys all over,
He sought his daughter at great speed;
And the whistling gypsy rover.

Ah di doo ah di doo dah day,
Ah di doo ah di day di,
He whistled and he sang,
Till the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

He came at last to the mansion fine,
Down by the valley [inaudible 00:01:58.723],
And there was music;
And there was wine,
For the gypsy and his lady.

“He is no gypsy my father,” she said,
But Lord of these lands all over;
And I shall stay till my dying day,
With my whistling gypsy rover.

Ah di doo ah di doo dah day,
Ah di doo ah di day di,
He whistled and he sang,
‘Til the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

The gypsy and his lady made a family,
With three beautiful children
And in few short years he passed away
And said was a heart of a lady.

The gypsy was proud of his own sweet wife,
She missed him whistling and singing,
After 50 years, her time had come,
To hear him sing in heaven forever.

Ah di doo ah di doo dah day,
Ah di doo ah di day di,
He whistled and he sang,
‘Til the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

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Chris Malcher reads at Stories from Brooklyn and Beyond Showcase

Life Story Club Contributor

December 12, 2020

How do I summarize everything I want to say about Chris? Chris is a constantly shining light in our workshops. This is actually her second time reading at one of these events, and I am so happy that she is back with us today. Chris brings a positive, fun, and radiant energy to every Life Story Club meeting she partakes in. Over the past few months, Chris has shared stories of a home that has been in her family for generations and of the various forms of dance that she partakes in and of her journey to learn the ukulele during this time of staying at home and so many other things. She has even played the ukulele for us on several occasions! Which trust me is a treat, she is very talented at it. So please welcome our next storyteller, Chris!


I’m going to tell a story about our Thanksgiving table, and then I’m going to read a Thanksgiving poem. So here goes the story.

I live in our 100-year-old family home. Throughout these years we inherited family furniture, which I still have today. One of the pieces that belonged to my father’s mother was an old wood, round table. The top of this table consisted of two half-circles, and when separated and leaves added, the top would become a long, oblong shape. The night before or the morning of Thanksgiving, we would pull the sides and base of the table apart, go upstairs in the attic, bring down the leaves, place them on the wood extension slats, and then close the table up.

White padding was laid on it to protect the wood. Then we took out the navy blue tablecloth, ironed it, and laid it down on the table as well. Each place setting consisted of my grandmother’s heavy, and I mean heavy, yellow, ceramic plates, as well as old silverware napkins and cups. It was the kid’s job to prepare each place setting and to put the chairs around the table. At times there were 17 family members who attended our Thanksgiving feast.

The kitchen was filled with many aromatic smells. After the relatives arrived, we loaded up the table with the delicious food. There was turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn rolls, sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and of course, black olives. All the kids loved these black olives, they were so delicious, and the food was delicious.

When it was time, everyone sat down for the tasty meal. My dad and then later my brother would say grace. Then all the dishes were passed around the table for this family-style meal. Conversation flowed with loads of laughter while we all ate. It was a wonderful time. Today, it brought back many fond memories. Although this elongated table has not been used for a very long time, we continue to have Thanksgiving feasts together at other relatives’ homes, except for this year. I hope we can get back to this family tradition soon.

And here’s my Thanksgiving poem.

The Thanksgiving poem is made up of sentences related to the first letter in the word Thanksgiving. T is for the traditions we hold dear in our hearts. H is for good health, which we strive for and cherish in every way. A is for our attitude and appreciation for the things we have today.

N is for the neediness of people during this time of the pandemic. How can we support them? K is for the kindness was spread to everyone, to friends, family and strangers we do not know. S is for the simple gifts that God has given us on this Thanksgiving Day and always.

G is for the grief for our loved ones we sorely miss. I is for the inspiration of God’s love and for the beauty of this season. V is for the valued doctors, nurses, scientists and essential workers who work tirelessly during this training time, and we pray for them every day.

I is for the images of thanksgiving days of old. N is for nature and the foods that nourish us. G is for the gratitude that we have for life.

Let’s count our blessings. And I count my blessings for Linnea, the Vita Story Club, and all the members of our group, and the Brooklyn Public Library. Thank you.

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What Personally Brings Me Joy

Life Story Club Contributor

November 5, 2020

There’s a lot of things that I do for myself that are also done with other people, but I get so much enjoyment out of it that it really makes me happy. And the one big thing is I love to listen to hymns and I play handbells. I folk dance, I’ve taken Zumba classes, and I play the ukulele. I’ve just started this in July. And later on, I’d like to do something for everyone because I’ve got an assignment from my ukulele teacher. I also love to look through memorabilia.

I hate to throw memorabilia out, that’s one thing. My place that I feel so content, which I’ve mentioned before is like Geneva George Williams college. And I love to sit on the pier or rock in the rocking chair. I volunteer through Special Olympics and Rainbow Hospice. One of my favorite things I’d love to do this summer is to sit out on my patio in the back. And it just became so peaceful this summer. I’ve been in this house all my life, but I’ve never sat on the patio as many times as I’ve done this summer.

And I also love to do jigsaw puzzles, and I particularly like to do them on my iPad, then I don’t lose any of the pieces. I put puzzles together, too, and I framed them. And when we go down to Florida, I always have to bring a puzzle for the group to do when we’re there for a week. As I mentioned, I’m taking ukulele lessons. I’ve taken them since early July, but the assignment is to play and sing a song when you’re not looking at the music out of the 14 songs that we worked on.

So I picked one of the songs and I played it once before for somebody. And then I’m gonna play for my cousins before December when we have to announce what we’ve been playing. And the other thing I wanted to say is I really am a very shy person. And so these Zoom meetings have been so wonderful to let me speak my stories and all the things that I do. So thank you very much.

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Extravagant Exhibits at the Gaylord Palms Hotel

Life Story Club Contributor

December 3, 2020

My cousin has a home in Florida. And we always go down right before Thanksgiving, and we kind of find new places to visit there. And so, one day I found an advertisement for ice at the Gaylord Palms. And this is an exhibit that they have every year that focuses on an aspect of Christmas or the holidays, and it’s all made out of ice. The exhibit consists of 2 million pounds of ice. They’ve got figures. There’s a slide you can go down. There’s an ice bar, all sorts of things. And we went in the year of 2014. And the temperature there in the exhibit is 9 degrees, and they give you coats to wear, and usually, you layer up as well, and they have mittens because it gets very cold.

But the year that we went, the theme was “The Nutcracker,” and they had exhibits like “The Nutcracker,” where Clara and the magician in front of a Christmas tree, they had the prince and Clara on a ship. They had sugar plum fairies. They had presents. They had big lollipops. They had Spanish dancers and Russian dancers. They had a flying unicorn, and the prince and Clara and a sleigh leaving. They had a frostbite factory of different things. They had a snow globe with a snowman in it, a teddy bear box. And they showed you how they shaped the ice.

And these ice figures are all in different colors. And you can look at them on YouTube. And they have an ornament doorway. And one of the things at the very end that they have is a nativity scene and an angel singing with candles beside her, and that is all clear. So, I would highly recommend that if you want to see something extra special that you look on YouTube. They also have a ice bar, and you can order non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks. And one of the drinks was a Johnny Appleseed cider, where they pour the cider in a hole on top of a Christmas tree, and it flows all the way down, so it’s nice and cold when it gets into your cup.

Other themes for each year were “Twas Was the Night before Christmas,” “Shrek the Halls,” “Merry Madagascar,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Charlie Brown’s Christmas,” “Christmas Around the World,” “A Christmas Story,” “Polar Express,” and this year was “I love Christmas movies.” So my sister and I, and my cousin went, and I do have a picture of that.

So, even though if we don’t go every year, because most of the time we’re in Florida before the exhibit opens, we can watch them on YouTube, and they do a walkthrough, so you can see all of the exhibits without actually being there. So, there are a lot of great videos. After that, we went and they have a giant Christmas tree that’s all decorated in this big hotel. And then they have a performance with singers, and dancers, and acrobats coming from the ceiling. It’s just spectacular. And then you can walk through the middle of the hotel, and it’s just a beautiful, beautiful hotel.

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What I’m Grateful for

Life Story Club Contributor

November 19, 2020

I know when we were kids, we would do statements related to the letters of the word thanks, and so I just wrote one. T is for the traditions we hold dear in our hearts. H is for good health, which we strive for and cherish in every way. A is for our attitude and appreciation for the things we have today. N is for the neediness that people have during this time of the pandemic. How can we support them at this time? K is for the kindness we spread to everyone, to friends, family, and strangers we do not know. S is for the simple gifts we share on this Thanksgiving day and always.

So that’s my poem. This week, I was attending another Zoom meeting and there was a lady on there who was also in the meeting. And she said to put your hand over your heart and be grateful for all the work it’s done all these years for you. And so little did she know I was leaving early to go to a cardiologist appointment, and I’ve had some heart issues where my heart hasn’t been in rhythm, and so they’ve done cardioversions. And then this newest doctor did an ablation, which means they laser the parts that are giving problems.

And my heart is now in rhythm, it’s been in rhythm since December, and so I appreciate all the doctors, as well as my heart getting all better. So that’s that. I did hear there has been, you know, the food reliance and all that. So one of our grocery stores here had soups and vegetables and pasta that was on sale so I went, I got some stuff and took it to the food pantry, so that people could have, you know, help with Thanksgiving dinner and later on.

I’m thankful for all these Zoom calls, whether it’s ukulele lessons, or coming here, or going to support groups, or folk dancing. It has made me have a good attitude and it’s gotten me through this. So this has been really, really, really important to me, and I think a lot of people too, there are places I would’ve never gone to.

In fact, on Thanksgiving, I’m very grateful for my brother. He’s the last one, well, besides my nephew and his family in this area, that’s still alive besides my cousin. So he’s been a big support if I need something or whatever …. he lives in the same town as I do. We talk often, several times a week, so I’m very appreciative of him. He works at a hospital in the supply area, so he thinks that some of these people that are working aren’t as safe with this COVID situation. So he’s not going to come over for Thanksgiving, and I’m not going to go to my relatives for Thanksgiving either because that’s what we usually do.

But due to Zoom, when my sister was alive for the Thanksgiving weekend, she would go to a folk dance camp in San Antonio because she lived in Austin, Texas. So once on Thanksgiving, there was going to be a folk dance weekend. And one of the first ones she went to, there was a great teacher. And once, you know, he’s teaching, and she bought me a CD at the time. I didn’t know any of the dances. And I had taken classes with him up here, and the last time I took it with him I sprained my ankle, and they had to take me in the ambulance to the hospital. So he’s not the best, but it’s good.

The other thing is that we would always have a family picture. When my relatives from Texas would come or whatever, we’d always have to have a family picture on the stairs. So that’s our house in Skokie, it’s 100 years old. I’m not moving, the house is transferred into my name, and I enjoy living there and I don’t want to move.

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Memories of Brutus and Other Furry Friends

Life Story Club Contributor

November 12, 2020

We’ve only had one pet when I grew up, and I haven’t had any pets as an adult. But my dad passed away when I was 12. And shortly after that, we got a dog. And it was a small Maltese, white dog. And so we had to think of a name. And so I came up with the name Brutus. He wasn’t a mean dog. He wasn’t that, but I just thought it was a funny name for this small white dog. He was very friendly.

But he had one characteristic that I haven’t seen any other dog do. And we don’t know why, but he had a very awkward gait. We don’t think he had arthritis. But when he would sit, instead of having all four paws on the ground, he would sit on his back hind leg and perch up. I mean, he never had all four legs on the ground when he was sitting. He was kind of an unusual dog. He did walk on his two paws often, so he was just a fun dog to have. When we were in high school, my mom agreed to have homecoming floats, to have a homecoming float built in our garage. So our friends would come over and work on it. And one day, one of the girls was in the yard, and Brutus peed on her. We don’t know why, it just sort of happened.

So that’s my story of Brutus, our dog. We have a picture somewhere that we were going somewhere and I had a backpack on, and I was able to put him in the backpack, and I don’t know whether I was riding a bike or whatever. But he was there wherever we went. So other than that, with that dog, my cousin used to breed and show Malamutes. She only has one Malamute left, and she had a seizure dog that her husband trained. He had grand mal seizures, and he would poke him to warn him to lay down so that he wouldn’t fall. And now she is a rescue owner of Havanese. So she has about six Havanese. Other than that, those are all the pets. My other cousin loves cats, and when she would go out on vacation, sometimes she would bring the cat over, and we would have to babysit the cat for a few days.

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My Town’s Traditional Festival

Life Story Club Contributor

October 29, 2020

On the third weekend in May, the village of Skokie has held a Festival of Cultures featuring various cultures and traditions of its resident. The motto of the village is, “everyone is welcome” and you can see in signs on lawns of the homes representing the town’s diversity. In the 1970s, a large number of residents in the village were Jewish. On July the fourth 1977, anti-Nazi demonstrators were chanting at a park in protest of the possible future march of the Nazis in Skokie. After much litigation, the march did not occur.

A movie titled “Skokie” was made to represent the events of this time and Danny Kaye was in the movie. I was in college at the time all this had occurred. Skokie wanted to change its image, particularly because the village became multicultural. The first event was initiated and planned in the 1990s by a newly formed ethnic diversity committee made up of the human relations community, the village of Skokie, the park district, and the Skokie library. In the first event, there were 14 cultures that were represented with a thousand attendees. This year would have been the 30th anniversary of the festival. It has grown to more than three dozen cultures and 25,000 visitors.

The festival has received both state and national arts programming awards. The festival consists of a variety of activities, including ethnic music and dance, cultural booths, food, international children’s games, arts and crafts, merchandise bazaar, animal or train rides, films, and the iconic flag display. When you arrive, you obtain a passport with each of the cultural booths designated on a page. A passport is taken to each of the booths and a stamp is placed on the spot of the culture’s page. The object is to try and visit all the cultures and to try and get the passport filled. It is a lot of fun.

As I mentioned before, there are many countries represented at the festival. They may include Israel, Russia, China, Sweden, Norway, Armenia, Assyrian, Scottish, Bulgarian, Mexican, Japan, Korea, the U.S., etc. I particularly enjoyed watching of course the ethnic folk dances and the ethnic folk songs. The programs are varied and they are so amazing. There are fan dances, there’s Scottish reels and jigs. And I’m an immigrant of Scotland, so I love watching the Scottish group. And I know I participated in that group many years ago. The largest spectators skit of the weekend is always the Assyrian group. It’s like wall-to-wall people when you come and watch them and they sing and they dance and the people in the crowd dances, and it’s really exciting. It’s just a wonderful, wonderful exhibit. Some years they’ve had where you could dance with them and other times it was watching their performances. Some of the years I didn’t attend because everything is outside and it’s either too cold or too rainy, but they somehow … they still hold it every year. I’m hoping that next year I’ll be able to go and enjoy all the cultural events that occur in Skokie.

I didn’t go in the first few years, but I would say in the ’90s. I always loved Scottish music. But I know some of the dances or I can kind of pick up some of the dances that…from the various performing groups. And I just love to sit in my chair and dance with them.

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The Yellow Dress Incident

Life Story Club Contributor

October 22, 2020

It was my eighth-grade graduation, and at that time I didn’t really talk about clothes or anything. At that time I had just lost my Dad the year before, so it wasn’t really anything special. So we went shopping for a dress and it was this yellow dress, this beautiful yellow dress with lace. And of course being the tallest girl in the class, you know, I didn’t think anything of it.

Well, it’s the day of this graduation and we get on the stage. And wouldn’t you know it, the girl right next to me has the exact same yellow dress on. So I thought, “Oh well. That’s what it is.” And that’s at the time when there weren’t any robes, so everybody got to see everybody’s clothes they were wearing. So luckily when they announced names, I was the first one that went across the stage. And then the next name was a friend, Patty. So to this day, I just laugh that both of us got the same dress and I was the one that got to go across the stage first. So it’s funny.

And I just happened to be standing right next to her. you just happened to be standing right next to her? Right next. There was nobody else with the same dress except for the girl that was standing right next to me. And we didn’t discuss it at all.

And my other quick story was, it was my confirmation year. And so, we had to wear a robe at church. So when it was time for a blessing, you had to go up to the altar and bend down for the Pastor to give the blessing. Well, I didn’t know that with this long robe on, that it got tangled up in my feet when I bent down. So when I stood up, I fell over in front of everybody. So every time I go up … well to this day when I go up to the altar I always think that I have to be very careful not to fall over when I go up for communion.

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Adventures After Folk Dancing

Life Story Club Contributor

October 15, 2020

Tomorrow, we would have usually gone up to our folk dance camp at Tower Twins College that I’ve talked about. And tomorrow will be our 50th anniversary of the camp when it first started. And so it brings back a lot of memories of seeing the lake and the room we danced in on the wood floor in the dining room that had bay windows all around it. So it was just a beautiful, beautiful sight. And we started dancing twice a year, once in the fall and once in May, so that the seasons…and walking through the campus and all the trees and everything.

So tomorrow night even though we’re not in, we’re not folk dancing, we’re gonna have a Zoom night for folk dancers. So in the camp, the college wouldn’t let us dance there anymore. And now we’re up in the canal walk, but that’s still not the same thing. But we also had a small weekend and that’s when there would be about 20 of us and they had a campfire pit. So we would have dinner and then I brought out my guitar and sang songs for everybody. And when I was playing my guitar, it would always be John Denver songs when I was by the campfire so…

And I didn’t have a go-to song. No, just anything … anything John Denver I would do, so yeah “Take me home, country roads.” I can’t think off the top of my head, the “Garden Song,” that’s all I can remember. And I loved doing the roasted marshmallows. We would always do roasted marshmallows. So it’s a lot of memories with that. And I usually like to…after my folk dancing, I usually don’t like to go home. So I kind of adventure around and I love to drive through the Kettle Moraine in the fall with all the beautiful colored leaves.

And then one year I decided to go north and I had no idea…I had just gotten my GPS and, you know they can…they got where you can look for attractions and hotels and all that kind of stuff. So I decided okay, and I had a friend and I was trying to look to see if there’s a diner that they would always go to, but I can’t remember the diner. But that was my goal, it was to go to this diner and have breakfast there. And so I went on my way and I found a hotel through the GPS and the gentleman said, “Did you want to go to the…” I don’t know if it’s Horican Lake or someplace where they have all the birds.

So I ended up traveling around the lake and then going for breakfast that morning. So I do take a lot of adventures. And then another folk dance event in Illinois, I was just driving and driving and I found a Japanese botanical garden by Rockford. And so I got out there and walked around. I have to go back again, it was beautiful. And then when I got back in the car, I tried to start my car and the battery was dead. So it took a couple of hours before the gentleman came in and charged it back up, and off I went.

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Peaceful Moments in Wisconsin

Life Story Club Contributor

October 8, 2020

I graduated from George Williams College and they had a campus. And they still have the campus, but it’s affiliated with the Aurora University in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and that’s my place of peace although I don’t go up there very often. It’s on the Lake and the main administration building faces the Lake, and there are rocking chairs on the porch. And it just is so peaceful when you look out into the water.

When I was in college, we had a class called September camp where we did a lot of outdoor education. And then later on when in the ’80s I belonged to a folk dance group and where we go for our retreats is Lake Geneva at George Williams College. So it was just a remembrance … and nature, it’s a beautiful place for peace. A friend of mine and I, every year we had a goal of trying to walk all the way around the Lake, but we didn’t do it all in one shot. We would go a distance and then come back. And then the next time where we ended up, we would drive our car and go to the next round. But she moved away to Washington so we weren’t able to finish it, but some people do it in one day. But we just had so many other things for dancing and things like that so our time was limited. And we would usually do it on Saturday afternoons. So whenever I go into Wisconsin in that area, I always have to stop by, get out of the car and sit in the rocking chair and just look out to the water and enjoy life and peace. So that’s my story.

And this was in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Williams Bay. And it also has a lot of … when you take the walk, there are a lot of mansions and so you have to go through different people’s land to get through and there’s really no path. So you kind of go in and out but people do that all the time. And the other thing is that when I was in September camp, we would go canoeing on the Lake. And so one time when I was getting into the canoe, I bruised my leg and I had a bruise that was about this big on my leg. And so I always have to go and sit on that pier where remember that moment of going canoeing in the Lake.

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