By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Every well-told story is made up of two things: a great plot, and the material that comes with it. Comedic delivery, voices, energy, and tone all can make a good story great. Regi Carpenter knows the anatomy of a good story like a heart surgeon understands a chest cavity. On Wednesday, March 3, patrons of the Walpole Public Library joined Carpenter to hear her tell a selection of her collection of stories, "Where There’s Smoke, There’s Dinner."
After a brief introduction to her stories, Carpenter got right to work, transporting her audience to her childhood street in Clayton, New York, with her storytelling. Carpenter wound her audience through the history of her family and their roots in Clayton.
Carpenter told three stories throughout the evening. Her first revolved around an incident Carpenter and her sister had while playing a typical game of cops and robbers. The game turned memorable when Carpenter split her chin open while pretending to get the electric chair. Included in the story was Carpenter’s spot-on impression of two siblings calling their mother for help: “Mom! Regi needs you! I didn’t do it.” The incident ended with stitches.
A second story revolved around a trip to the Clayton dump. Carpenter set the stage: it’s a Sunday, after church, and her mom wants a break from all of her children. When her mother asks if her father would like to do something with his children, he replies, “I am. I’m reading in the same room they're fighting in.” Carpenter has two distinct voices for each of her parents that she uses to great effect, her father’s being a drawl while her mother’s had a chirpy tone. Carpenter’s mom ultimately convinces her dad to take all of the kids out for the day.
Carpenter filled her second story with sound effects and different voices, but it was her imagery of the local dump that caught her audience’s attention. “My father crosses an unseen line and a green ooze bubbles up from the earth, the sky blackens, the flies are now as big as hummingbirds. There’s an acrid stench in the air. Our eyes water, our nostril flair, a metallic taste lingers on our tongue,” spoke Carpenter. “Oh my gosh. Could it be possible? Could it be true? Yes, we are going to the dump!” Her father gathers the kids up and they begin their trip into the dump to find furniture. “We stand on the precipice of a putrid paradise,” she added. Her father finds a television set that they take home, adding to the collection that her eccentric parents have amassed over the years.
A simple game of cops and robbers and a regular trip to the dump were just two of the stories that wowed listeners Wednesday night. A third story about a trip to the library only added fuel to the fire. Carpenter took the rest of her time to answer questions from the audience. Unsurprisingly, there were just as many questions as there was praise for the talented storyteller.