Storylistening, Storytelling

A Conversation with Florence Fichman (93 years old) and Sara deBeer, Teller in the Saturday Night Olio concert, Sharing The Fire 2016.


Florence: Sara’s a storyteller and I’m a storylistener. I’m at the point when I can’t read, so this is very helpful at this particular time. In essence, it’s a good thing for me, as I think it would be for other people.

It’s eye-opening for me. Listening to those stories has reawakened my interest in other countries that I have not visited or have no knowledge of. I have learned about many other countries and cultures that I was unaware of. I was aware of the countries but not of the cultures. That helps me, broadens my view. It makes me think about things that at this point in my life, I probably wouldn’t think about. And also, if I were young, the stories would make me want to travel. I love traveling. I would go to some of these places where Sara’s stories bring me. (But she would have to go with me!)

When Sara’s telling me the stories, I try to understand the end before she gets to it, predict where it’s going. I don’t always predict correctly. After she leaves and the story has been told, I sometimes make up a different ending to the story. Or I think about the country that is represented. I find myself, as Sara is telling the story, I find myself comparing the circumstances of present life in West Hartford. This is a comparison that’s good and bad: how much alike my life is at the moment, and how different my life has been in the past.

I imagine a lot of things and I can put myself into the situations and how would I react? Would I react the same way as the people in the story? It’s mind-building.

Sara: And sometimes when you and I are having a conversation about something serious, like death, and I know a story about that, it makes it possible for us to talk about topics that people don’t ordinarily talk about.

Florence: That’s true. If I were to mention death, because I’m at the twilight of my life, most people joke back and they don’t want to hear what I have to say. I don’t blame them. I never wanted to talk about those things either. So that opens up, I can relate to some of these things very well.

Sara: You’ve said that sometimes we’d be talking about something and you’d look over at me and you would say “Sara, you’re thinking about what story to tell me.”

Florence: Because you always connect, whatever I say, you connect it with a story, because you’ve got a headful of stories.

This article first appeared in HearSay, the newsletter of the Connecticut Storytelling Center.



Sara will be one of six tellers at the Sharing the Fire Olio concert, 7:15 PM, Saturday, April 2, 2016 at the UMass Conference Center. Tickets are included in your conference registration. They can also be purchased online at or at the door for $10; $5 for students with current ID. 

 Learn more about Sharing the Fire and register today

 Learn more about Sara at



Storylistening, Storytelling — 1 Comment

  1. Sweet, Sara! I love this conversation and want to know more about how your times with Florence came about. Looking forward to hearing you at the STF Olio!

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