Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Day Sixteen: Once Upon A Time...

Day 16: Imagine one or more of your ancestors as the characters in a fairy tale or fable. What role would they play, and what is the setting? What would be their fate?


Teacher and students
If I had to put an ancestor into a fairy tale I think I would go to a side branch and not directly up the tree. I would choose my great aunt, Helen Ragsdale. Aunt Helen was born in 1893 in Fairfield County, South Carolina and she moved with her family to Greenville, South Carolina in 1907. She lived in the family home from 1907 until her death in 1999 at 105 1/2 years old. Aunt Helen was a teacher and school principal and although she never married, she had a huge family that was composed of the children whose lives she had influenced over the years. 


Elizabeth Ragsdale Isbell (95), Helen Elizabeth Forman (2)
and Helen Ragsdale (100)
She was a great believer in reading and not only did she read to me, but she read to my daughter (who was named for her) as well. I inherited some of Aunt Helen's early childhood teaching books, which contain wonderful stories and which are precious to me. It is not from those books, however, that I connect her to the concept of fairy tales. I do so because of my own experience with her. Aunt Helen patiently went through untold numbers of readings of The Princess and the Pea with me, her very persistent great niece. She helped me wear out the pages of my little book, as we turned them together, her reading and me raptly listening. As I remember, she was a very patient audience, who humored me as I acted out the story, time and time again. In those reenactments, she was the wise Queen, and I was the Princess who slept on the pile of mattresses, but still felt the presence of the pea. If I could reimagine this fairy tale, I would cast Aunt Helen as the Princess and I would be the Queen...and she would have her very own Prince!  

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