Scattered around Philadelphia’s Historic District, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, are 13 benches featuring Once Upon a Nation storytellers.
All narratives are of a “short story” variety, told by professional storytellers, and take listeners back to the time of privy pits, water wells, and buildings without air-conditioning. These stories, all set in Philadelphia, are historical, educational, and entertaining. Think of it like listening to an audio book with its animated narrator seated with, or standing right in front of you.
Being a romance reader/author, I relished learning how a tall, beautiful young widow, Dolly Payne Todd, met a short, stout, and much older, James Madison, and went on to become one of the most famous First Ladies in U.S. History. While we recognize Betsy Ross as the woman who sewed our first flag, Betsy was married and widowed three times (twice under tragic circumstances). I heard about the young and vibrant British Loyalist, Peggy Shippen, and her romance, marriage, and influence over Continental Army General, Benedict Arnold.
Also, among the many stories shared:
n Esther De Berdt Reed, who after arriving in Philadelphia from London as a young bride in 1774, became a passionate American Patriot. Esther founded The Ladies Association, a group that raised money and sewed clothes for the soldiers in the Continental Army,
n Francis Daymon, who acted as translator for Benjamin Franklin during secret encounters with Julien Achard de Bonvouloir. Bonvouloir was a French agent who was meeting with Franklin to gather information, and offer French support, in the colonists fight for independence,
n Lila, a fox terrier who belonged to General William Howe, a British officer. During a battle in Germantown, Lila got lost and was found by one of General George Washington’s aides. When Washington discovered Howe’s name on Lila’s dog collar, he instructed the aide to return Lila to General Howe with Washington’s well-mannered, hand-written note.
A "shout-out" to the Once Upon a Nation storytellers for the fantastic job they do!
For more information, check out the websites listed below,
Have a good week, Everyone!
(photos c/o facebook.com/historic philly/; facebook.com/phlvisitorcenter)