Sunday, December 18, 2022

Jackie Torrence

Jackie Torrence, The Story Lady, was born in Chicago in 1944 but was sent to live with grandparents on a farm in a small town in North Carolina. It was there she developed a love for stories and telling stories. When school started, she moved in with an aunt in Salisbury, North Carolina.

She left college to get married to a minister which took her all across the South to impoverished churches. Sadly, the marriage ended in divorce and Jackie back in North Carolina with a young daughter. She took a job at the library in High Point where, after telling a couple of children a story, her life changed. She soon became known for her storytelling, the way she told them, her gestures, and facial expressions. She quickly learned that she could make some extra income telling stories at birthday parties, book groups, and schools. After an appearance at the National Storytelling Convention, Jackie was soon traveling across the country to tell stories. She had newspaper interviews and appearances on late-night talk shows alongside her usual appearances at schools, conventions, and corporate retreats.

Sadly, Jackie Torrence died in Salisbury, North Carolina, of a heart attack in 2004. She was only 60 years old. She has a story, written by but not read by her, in our school district's eighth grade Language Arts textbook. We read the story, discussed it, and then watched a few videos of her actually telling a story. The students enjoyed the stories we watched, were surprised to discover that she was Black woman, and that she died relatively young.

Here are two stories from Jackie Torrence. One was one that we watched, The Golden Arm, and the other is a special presentation episode from 1981 that aired on CBS, Two White Horses: A Mountain Tale.

And that, is the end of that.