If you’re a frequent reader of The Daily Journal, then the name J.A. Bolton rings a bell.
Bolton is a storyteller here in Richmond County, who through his columns talks about how life was growing up on the farm. The stories are must-reads each Wednesday and shed a little light into Bolton’s life growing up in Richmond County and interesting adventures along the way.
Bolton, however, is dabbling in a different endeavor. Telling fibs. And his fibs are gaining notoriety.
The Bold Face Liars Showdown took place on Saturday at the Storytellers Art Center in downtown Laurinburg. A lot of local people and people from all over the south showed up to take place in the competition that stretches back eight years. A diversified group ranging from first timers to veterans of the event participated to see who could tell the biggest tale. Like anything else, it takes practice, and Bolton likes to write his stories down and index the high points.
“It’s all about filling it in according to the crowd,” Bolton said.
Bolton’s story was titled “Here’s Why” and chronicled a day spent in Ellerbe with his first wife, a snake, local police officers and EMT, his dog, Ol Blue and his neighbors. The list of characters alone is enough to peak interest. Needless to say, the snake causes a lot of trouble for everyone involved. It’s not just about the story though, Bolton said.
“It’s about eye contact and the way you tell the story,” Bolton said. “You have to have a big imagination.”
Every storyteller has between three and seven minutes to tell their tale. Anything said in that time span can be big and unbelievable or small and practical and everything in between. The choice is up to the narrator.
“Every storyteller is different,” added Bolton. “No two are alike.”
This was Bolton’s fourth time participating in the competition, but the Storytelling Spinner’s Guild meets the third Monday night of every month at the Storytelling Arts Center in Laurinburg. The next big event will be the Storytelling Festival on the first weekend in April at the John Blue Complex in Laurinburg. Everyone is invited to attend to listen or tell stories and admission is free of charge.
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Below is J.A. Bolton’s second-place story:
I got married to my first wife and we lived under the bright lights of Ellerbe. We were both raised on a farm and we both gardened.There wasn’t enought room for a garden on our lot though. She liked to raise potted plants but the weather man said to get the plants in cause of cold weather.
She gets in the plants and I clean up. There’s a little green garden snake in one of the pots. She sits the pot next to the heater vent so the snake crawls around in the living room. She see hims crawl under the couch, lets out a big scream and drops both plants. I had just got in shower and heard the scream so I ran out there with nothing on but a pair of glasses.
I get down on all fours looking for the snake and the family dog cold nosed me from behind. Well, I thought it was snake so I fall on the floor moaning and groaning. My wife calls EMT and they put me on the stretcher. The snake comes out from under the couch and causes the EMT to drop the end of the stretcher and it breaks my leg. The snake’s still in house though so my wife calls the next door neighbor. He comes over armed with a rolled up newspaper.
He can’t find the snake, so he figures the snake crawled out during all the excitement.
The wife is relived, sits down on the couch and puts her hand in between the cushions. The snake is hiding there. She passes out and requires mouth to mouth resuscitation from the neighbor.
The wife of the neighbor sees him doing mouth to mouth and thinks he cheating on her. She’s carrying canned goods and knocks him out with a can.
The first wife sees the man on the floor unconscious and thinks he’s been bit by the snake. She finds a bottle of whiskey and pours it down his mouth to revive him.
Two police officers arrive and see the man on the floor, see blood, smell whiskey and determine a brawl and are going to arrest everyone. They call the EMT, come get the neighbor and the wife. As the officer is walking out the door, the snake comes out again. He shoots and misses the snake. His missed shot hits the leg of the end table and knocks down the lamp sitting on the table. The lamp catches the drapes on fire. The officer takes his coat off to put the fire out but falls out the window and onto the dog, Ol Blue.
This scares the dog and he runs out into the street where a Cadillac is coming. The car swerves to miss the dog and collides with the two police cars and totals both.
The neighbors across the street call the Fire Department. Halfway down the street, the Fire Department puts the ladder up and knock down the power lines. This knocks out the power. Times passes and everything goes back to normal.
The house gets repaired, Ol Blue comes home and the police get two new cars. I made my way over to the couch with crutches. I’m watching the news and my wife sits down. There’s a special on the news about a weather report. There’s going to be a cool spell tonight. Better get the plants in. She says you think we need to get them plants in? Say what, I reply. That’s why she was my first wife.