you old storyteller, you

Ann Richards. Barbara Jordan. Stacey Abrams. Molly Ivins. Betha Day Morris. Ann, Barbara, Stacey, Molly and Betha shared a common gift, storytelling, honed from their various Texas influences. I call them the OGs of storytellers I would be happy to sit and listen to for hours on this rainy South Carolina day. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I can still hear former Texas Governor Ann Richards, former US Representative Barbara Jordan, journalist and author Molly Ivins, political guru Stacey Abrams – the women we can celebrate during women’s history month for amazing achievements in their respective arenas.

Betha Day Morris wasn’t captured on YouTube videos, or sadly, any videos of her storytelling, but while the more famous others inspired me as an adult, my paternal grandmother was my greatest personal Star Storyteller. I paid homage to her in the preface of my first book Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing.

My roots are showing today – no, not those roots – my Texas roots which I never really outgrew. On my first visit to Texas from my new home in Seattle in 1968 where I had been for a grand total of three months out of my wise twenty-two years of life spent growing up in Texas, my daddy and I were quail hunting in a field in Fort Bend County when I began pontificating about the majesty, the grandeur of the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest. I had surveyed the lowcountry field of the southeastern coastal area as we followed Daddy’s hunting dogs Dab and Seth, making a remark something to the effect that the fields we were walking had to be some of the flattest lands God ever created. Nothing to see for miles except tall tan grass, why would anyone stay in Texas if they had the chance to move, even the quail might leave if they could. I went on and on. Dab and Seth ran with abandon but without purpose.

My daddy who was a documented fourth generation son of the Republic of Texas stopped, turned to look back at his daughter he adored and said, “Sheila Rae, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you’ll never take Texas out of the girl.” He was, of course, right.

I haven’t attempted to rival my grandmother’s stories, but I do have cousins who tell me I remind them of her. I consider that the highest compliment of my work. Stories and humor were the cornerstones of Betha’s life, and they became the bridges in mine.


Slava Ukraini. For the women.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in family life, Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is, The Way Life Should Be and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to you old storyteller, you

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Your memoir and family herstory sound fascinating Sheila and the preface is so well written. Kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting piece Sheila. Sounds like you’re following some strong roots. “I haven’t attempted to rival my grandmother’s stories, but I do have cousins who tell me I remind them of her.” What a beautiful compliment. Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wayside Artist says:

    You’re my favorite storyteller, Sheila. Right up there with the Originals you mention. Texas lost a treasure when you went East!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ann, you just made my day!!
      Ok – you just made my year!!
      My grandmother would love to hear you say that…you would have loved her stories…she was hilarious!!
      Thank you so very much, my friend in the north…
      May your kittens bring you joy, and may Ludo show them the love, too.


      • Wayside Artist says:

        I know I would’ve sat raptly listening to her every word. Tell me another!!
        Ludo is not taking to the kittens yet, but they adore each other. The little one is a goblin. Always looking for mischief.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We had a big “cat scare” this week at our house.
        Our two cats who are the beneficiaries of the legacy of Carport Kitty went missing on Thursday – just vanished.
        Friday came and went and they didn’t appear for their meals. Hm. Probably show tomorrow, we thought. Saturday came and went and no cats in sight at which point Pretty and I began imagining the worst. Pretty thought they had wandered into a space and gotten locked in somehow. I went straight for the they must have been eaten by a wild animal theory. We were devastated. I told Pretty I was never feeding any more cats in the carport.
        This morning I got up at 5:45 to check one more time on the cats – and happy ending – there they were in their regular spots gazing expectantly toward the kitchen door for their breakfasts. I practically fell apart with joy.
        Who knows where they were…but for sure they weren’t eaten by coyotes. They did look a bit frazzled, definitely hungry.
        End of story.Whew.


      • Ludo will come around, but if it takes a while, they will have fun with each other. Two kittens are a party – Ludo may be a crowd for a while.


  4. The preface was lovely. You’re a great storyteller and that would be why I enjoy your posts so much 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luanne says:

    I hope readers keep on finding your wonderful memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.