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Family and Community

Home  >  Family and Community  >  Family Collections  >  Barnett
The Schooner Tapes
By Curt Larson

Joyce's brother, Curt, lives in Seattle, and has kept in contact with his young niece Katelyn through writing and sharing stories. Curt has written poems for Katelyn and included them in her birthday cards. Below is Curt's version of how a play called A Tale of Two Cats came to be, and what happened when he sent an audio version to her. Katelyn hadn't been told initially where the play came from. Her mother, Joyce, wanted her to be completely free to use her imagination, "It was a fantasy -- we wanted her to enjoy it as it was. We didn't want to say, ‘Uncle Curt produced it.' I'm a firm believer in fantasy for children…let them live dreams and fantasies as long as possible."

* * *

Curt Larson
The first Schooner tape I made for Katelyn was recorded somewhat by coincidence. I had found a broken tooth from a large mammal on a beach near Seattle and wondered if Katelyn might like to have it. I decided to make it into a necklace for her, but when it was finished it didn't look very interesting to me. It was just an old tooth dangling on a piece of string. So I also made up a little story about our cat, Schooner, and sent the recording to Katelyn along with the necklace. In the story, Schooner gets into trouble for biting and has to be sent away to live at the zoo.

Katelyn and her friend, Suzanne, were listening to the story together when Katelyn, her sympathies in full zeal, decided she had to rescue poor Schooner from the zoo. "Well, I'm going to Seattle. Tonight!" she declared. Then the older, more practical Suzanne says, "I don't know, Katelyn. She sounds pretty vicious to me!"

That first tape was so much fun I decided to make a second one, this time from a premeditated script. We got several family members together, including Grandma and Grandpa, and started recording. I think there are three or four cassettes, which I sent to Katelyn, one at a time. Some months later the whole family listened to the story together while vacationing in Utah. I remember I had some apprehension about Katelyn, because of her age, whether she might feel duped in some way, discovering that what had been very real to her was, in the end, just a story. Just a story? To my relief, when my voice began on the tape, she pointed her finger at me and smiled.

Listen to Audio
IBM Text to Speech

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