I had arrived at my destination. It was a strange neighborhood, someone else’s home. I parked on the street, turned off the car and sat, listening…listening, smiling, crying, and laughing. My drive may have ended but The Old Man and Other Stories, a cassette tape of recorded stories by Syd Lieberman, hadn’t. I had no choice. Physically I was in my parked car, but mentally I was soaring in a world of hope, surprise, and second chances I didn’t want to leave. I had to hear the last two stories.
This was my introduction to Syd Lieberman; a storyteller extraordinaire, a man who knows life is full of hard knocks but also knows hope is what makes the world beautiful and that you keep hope alive by opening your heart.
Syd’s stories have heart. He can’t help it. It is who he is. He is filled with the wonder of life and its tender mercies. Whether telling Jewish folktales, stories of growing up and raising a family in Chicago, the processes of scientific exploration and discovery, or giving voice to individuals long gone, Syd finds and shares elements demonstrating mankind’s potential for rising above the norm even if it is for only a moment. These moments, like Syd’s stories, build on each other offering us a new and brighter perspective.
But this isn’t all. With enviable panache, Syd tells classic literary tales of the macabre. From Beowulf to Chaucer to Poe, Syd can make your goose bumps pop and your breath gasp. The aura he creates during these stories is so powerful it was no surprise one year when all the lights at Mt. Timpanogos Park shorted out at the climax of his story during the Festival’s Shivers in the Night program!
Syd’s ability to find and share the soul of a story and of showcasing the story rather than himself is why Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the Smithsonian, the National Air and Space Museum, NASA, and the Van Andel Museum each commissioned Syd to tell their stories. Syd, and his wife Adrienne’s collaboration in creating stories about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, and the Gettysburg Address led to their current assignment of creating stories for the US Capitol Visitors Center with Syd teaching their 180 docents and volunteers how to tell those stories.
With four Notable Children’s Recordings awards from the American Library Association, three Gold Awards from Storytelling World Magazine, two Gold Awards from Parents’ Choice, Chicago’s Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching, and opportunities to teach and perform on stages from Disney World to the Kennedy Center, Syd is the perfect example that it is possible to grow up without losing the magical awe and humility present in childhood.
This summer, enjoy the stories of Syd Lieberman. It will strengthen your heart.