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Teller strikes gold in Alabama girl’s Civil War-era diaries

September 8th, 2013 5:25 pm by Staff Report

Teller strikes gold  in Alabama girl’s Civil War-era diaries

During her stint as Jonesborough’s teller-in-residence this week, Delores Hydock will share the story of Sallie Independence Foster. Photo courtesy of International Storytelling Center.

Dolores Hydock was looking for a story about the Civil War when she struck storytelling gold: 26 years’ worth of diaries archived at a local university, dating back to the first year of the conflict.

Those diaries belonged to a girl in north Alabama, Sallie Independence Foster, who started writing when she was just 12 years old. As Jonesborough’s next storyteller in residence, Hydock will share the girl’s story.

“It is a very unusual look at the war,” she says. “It’s not generals and battles. It’s not even a grown-up view. It’s this innocent girl whose world is being turned upside-down, and she writes about that experience. At the same time, she’s writing about boys who she has crushes on and assignments that she has for school. She was living in this extraordinary time, and she’s writing about her canary.”

Hydock likes examining history through the eyes of regular folks.

“The truth is, we’re all living in extraordinary times,” she says. “We always are. We’re just unaware. Like Foster, we’re living in a time of incredible international turmoil and economic distress. There are huge things going on in our world. But where do most of us spend our time and energy? It’s on our day to day. Our lives are not the Battle of Antietam. It’s the choices we make every day that end up making history. That’s what connects us.”

In addition to her unique Civil War set piece, Hydock’s weeklong residency, Sept. 10-14, will include special themed concerts that will change each day. She plans to share a wide variety of historical stories, personal accounts and folk tales from around the world.

In Hydock’s hands, the oral tradition of folk tales — much like a young girl’s diaries — shine a light on our strong connection to human history.

“To me, folk tales are the self-help books that people had 200 years ago,” she explains. “They were the Dr. Phil. They were the way that people shared what they knew about how to get along instead of reading a self-help book about how to be successful or how to be organized.

“We’re all looking for the magic bullet to a better life. That’s what these folk tales were. I could find a folk tale to demonstrate every single one of Stephen Covey’s seven secrets of highly effective people.”

During her residency, Hydock will also explore subjects as diverse as the true tales of immigration to Ellis Island, a personal account of a high school reunion, and the paintings of Norman Rockwell.

Matinees are scheduled for 2 p.m., daily in the Mary B. Martin Storytelling Hall, an intimate theater in the heart of the International Storytelling Center. Shows are appropriate for all ages, and reservations are strongly recommended.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $11 for seniors, students and children under 18. All ticket holders will save 10 percent on same-day dining at The Olde Courthouse Diner, The Dining Room, Jonesborough General Store and Eatery or Main Street Café.

Hydock is the latest storyteller to perform for the teller-in-residence (TIR) program, which is curated by the International Storytelling Center. Also known as the Storytelling Live! series, the popular concerts attract a parade of world-class storytellers to Jonesborough through the month of October.

Information about all TIR performers, as well as a detailed schedule for 2013, is available at

The International Storytelling Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Storytelling Live! is sponsored in part by Eastman Credit Union. Media sponsors are News 5-WCYB, FOX Tri-Cities, Tri-Cities CW, Johnson City Press, Kingsport Times-News, Herald & Tribune and Cumulus Media.

For more information about Storytelling Live! or to make a group reservation, call (800) 952-8392 ext. 222 or (423) 913-1276.

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