Dads2Dads: Children are never too old for story time

Dads2Dads: Children are never too old for story time

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:00 pm

Tom roared with laughter when he heard the story about his dad and his dad’s brother playing a joke on their brother-in-law-to-be. The victim of the prank arrived at the house in his horse and buggy to pick up the boys’ sister. Yep, horse and buggy. While the suitor was inside the house, the Tozer brothers unhitched the horse and re-hitched the poor creature backwards, facing the buggy. The boys ran off into the woods to watch the ride to nowhere. If there was to be any romancing that evening, it would be diluted by a large dose of embarrassment and suppressed infuriation.
Tom also vaguely recalls a story that involved the relocation of an outhouse while it was occupied. The details are fuzzy and probably for the better. Apparently the Tozer boys were renowned in a rather rundown area of western Pennsylvania dotted with tannery shops and washhouses and chicken coops.
Many of the details are lost and the stories somewhat sketchy in recalling tales of Tom’s paternal grandfather, a burly blacksmith, who, with his rowdy cronies, would crash the town saloons and vilify the scab laborers — those out-of-town workers who replaced local striking workers — until fists started flying in all directions. It was a weekend ritual soon after the train arrived and dropped off the invading laborers. The story goes that some of those “scabbers” never made it off the train.
Lost in translation
So often those rich stories were second- and third-hand renditions, passed down through family friends or distant cousins — most certainly incomplete or shamefully embellished.
It would be the exceptional teenager today who would ask his or her father to sit down and share boyhood stories. Tom and his brother certainly never did. It didn’t seem important. Life was too busy. The Rev. C.P. Tozer worked long hours and was on call 24/7. The boys only showed their faces around meal times. Conversations were brief and revolved around schoolwork and house chores.
Digging for gold
Years later, of course, those stories are buried treasures. If only dad were here so that the boys could spend the time and pull those stories out of him.
Now to the point. Dad, it’s unlikely that your teenagers will be intensely curious about your stories. If they are, you’re most fortunate. It’s highly likely, on the other hand, that your grown children will come to realize the value of “story” much later than you’d like. Perhaps too late.
Stake your claim
So, dad, here’s your assignment. You have stories to tell. They are revealing about your family, and replete with unique characters. Create “story time” in your home. This won’t be quite like years ago when you sat someone on your knee and read about the lost balloon or dripping faucet. But it’s important that you stake a claim on your children’s time and share your family story. It’s their story, too. One day they will be grateful.
For more information, contact Tom Tozer of Nashville and Bill Black of Murfreesboro at or visit

Published in The Messenger 4.25.13

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