Community fills the seats for laughs, memories with storyteller Adam Booth
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Speak Story Series founder and storyteller Adam Booth, of Shepherdstown, entertained the series’ audience with tales from his childhood and humorous retellings of familiar fairytales in Reynolds Hall on Aug. 13.
Booth, who always draws a large audience to his home performances, indicated the crowd size both pleased and intimidated him.
“Wow — this feels really good, and really scary,” Booth said, with a wide smile. “The hometown crowd, for some reason, is always the hardest.
“I have a few new stories I’d like to share with you all right now. But before that, I’d like to tell you an old story that I told during our first season,” Booth said, mentioning that he recently saw the Cincinnati Reds play, which reminded him of the story, which talks about his grandfather’s love for the Cincinnati Reds and baseball in general.
“Pawpaw was a natural. There was a bit of family lore, that when he was a teenager, he would join the Cincinnati Reds’ spring training for experience,” Booth said. “That lore slowly disappeared, as he became an adult and had a family to support. He had, by then, moved his family from Cincinnati to Huntington, West Virginia.
“My childhood was great. Until I turned eight,” Booth said. “That day, Pawpaw took me down to sign up for Little League. We had white pants and blue shirts, and we were the worst team in League 3 that summer. I was the worst player on the worst team in League 3 that summer.
“I’d pray, ‘Please don’t go down the batting roster and get to me.’ But my name is Adam Booth,” Booth said, as he laughed with the audience.
“I just wasn’t any good. It’s pretty safe to say, I got hit more by the ball, than hit the ball that season,” Booth said, before remembering the highlight of each game day. “Pawpaw would still meet me at the end of every game and would give me a box of Cracker Jack, and would say, ‘You’re one in a million, kid.'”
According to Booth, his grandfather bought tickets for them to go see a Cincinnati Reds game together for the first time. But several hours before they were supposed to drive up to Cincinnati, Booth’s grandfather passed away.
“That morning, I lost my biggest fan. And I lost all interest in baseball,” Booth said.
While Booth carried his audience through the joys and sorrows of life in one story, he was also able to entertain the audience with a modern retelling of the fairytale, “The Elves and the Shoemaker.”
“Each year, one of my friends and fellow storytellers, Sheila Arnold, and I, tell two versions of the same folktale. We don’t tell anyone what the story is — we let the audience figure it out. If you’d like to hear the sibling story, you should seek out Sheila Arnold,” Booth said, mentioning he and Arnold perform together occasionally. “See if you know this one. See if you can figure it out. Look back at your childhood.”
Booth closed the evening by premiering a new story, which questioned what qualities are actually necessary to make a man.
“It’s rare I get to premiere a story at home,” Booth said. “The interest thing about that, is the next time you hear me perform, it may be entirely changed.”
To learn more about the Speak Story Series, visit www.speakstoryseries.com.